I've been mostly "miss" on a lot of webcomics recently. Even ones I'd regularly read, like Sluggy Freelance and more recently, Schlock Mercenary have fallen by the wayside. Mostly because something about the stories just petered out - though in Howard Tayler's case his stand regarding diversity and handling sexual harassment allegations at conventions had a lot to do with it as well.
So it was a pleasure to discover that a Nordic-focused webcomic a friend recommended to me was worthy of all the time and attention I could devote to it. Stand Still Stay Silent
Somewhere in our present day, a plague begins to spread. The initial symptoms are a rash. The prologue follows several groups of people as they find places to hole up as shipping gets cut off, and the various Nordic nations take steps, even lethal ones, to stop travel and quarantine their borders. Yes - there is a scene of a naval ship blowing a boat full of refugees out of the water.
90 years hence, we begin the main tale. A small sliver of humanity survives. Iceland, because it is an island, survives mostly intact but with the fewest immune people. Geography and sheer stubbornness help the Finns, the Norwegians, the Swedes, and the Danes, keep pockets of farmland mostly safe, as they begin to slowly expand back out away from a few strongholds.
The rest of the world is silent. No radio communication, nothing. Maybe other slivers survive but not with tech. The rest of humanity - and most mammals, have been changed. The human-derived monsters are called trolls, and giants are either trolls which did not confine themselves to human size or melded. Some humans have a form of psychic ability or magic that helps them better sense the presence of these beasts and trolls. Of the rest, some farm, some build and study, some hunt trolls, and some help reclaim the land with fire and explosives.
Into this silent world a small team sets out. To see what is there, and to recover some (invaluable) original books. Each member is related in some way to the first survivors we saw in the prologue.
While there are a few European sensibilities I recognize the touch of, the majority of the book simply assumes an environment that the great Col. Kratman would recognize as survival overriding programming. Few seriously paint trolls as just misunderstood, given their lethality and persistence of hunting humans. No enviro-weenies complain about the river locks, torching of land, and reclamation efforts. HUmanity is holding on, and on the cusp of having the means to begin discovering more than what kind of world they live in, but what may have caused it, and what lies beyond.
The characters, the dialogue, the personalities, and how they react to the world as it is instead of by some ideological lens, is on point and enjoyable as hell. The story takes turns from the touching, the sentimental, the joyous, to the horrifying and the depths of sorrow, all organically and naturally. The pacing is outstanding.
The art is amazing. Each page is rendered in a very limited color pallette that blends the best of both monochromatic and color work to good effect. Also worth noting are the beautiful charts and diagrams and maps. A special note is needed for the language. Not only is there a beautiful language tree shown, as well as charts of common words and how they differ in Icelandic, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, etc., but speech bubbles in mixed company or language use a small flag to denote the language being spoken. It's unobtrusive and effective.
In short, go read the damn thing already. It's a good place to catch up as the first major story arc has reached its conclusion.