Northlanders #41 is badly written. Not because it has hokey moments or stilted lines or illogical plot developments, but rather because it tells a story in a very inefficient manner. It's amazing that, three pages into the issue, there is no indication of what the story is about. There is a page of slight, mostly pointless narration, followed by two pages of wordless panels. After 15 percent of the issue, in other words, the reader still has very little reason to flip the page and see what happens next.
I understand that these pages are meant to provide a mysterious opening. But in a 20-page one-shot, the writer has to get to the point, fast. A 20-page book is probably the equivalent of a 2,000-word short story. There's no time to build an atmosphere of mystery. Just get to the main conflict and then wow the reader with tight plot twists. Brian Wood uses a modern, semi-decompressed storytelling approach here, and the book fails as a result. Fundamentally, there isn't enough story in this issue to make it a compelling read.
The art, on the other hand, is excellent. The clean, simple line work, coupled with the faded color, gives the book an appropriately ancient feel. I'm not familiar with Marian Churchland, but I'm now interested in seeing more of her work. She has a quiet style, but I can imagine her being a very good illustrator of non-action stories.