Not pictured: an axe

Publisher: Vault
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Nathan Gooden
Colourist: Addison Duke
Letterer: Jim Campbell

You may recall that Barbaric #1 was my top pick for the June Bigger than Capes podcast roundup. I loved the worldbuilding, the humour, the action, the talking axe. It was a really fun read and I am delighted that issue 2 takes the setup we were left with at the end of the first issue and runs with it.

There’s a great reveal at the start when we learn the witch’s name. You may recall we didn’t find out what it was before the end of issue 1 but the way it’s dropped in here, in what is already a rather humorous opening, is really nicely done. It basically draws attention to the fact we haven’t known her name before now. A subtle nod to the reader I, for one, really appreciated.

Having Soren in the mix with Owen and Axe has added a great new dynamic. Soren can, after all, understand Axe so the banter that goes on doesn’t need to be interrupted by the joke of ‘talking to your axe?’ (which is a brilliant joke and I hope we have more in future issues because it never gets old). Owen, of course, is not fond of witches so it’s not exactly a friendship made in heaven. Or even hell.

We learn quite a bit about Soren’s background which directly links to the evil we glimpsed last issue. She went to the abbey seeking help. Soren doesn’t especially like being a necromancer. But then, who can blame her? I wouldn’t be too fond of such a close association with death. However, it turns out the monks are not exactly what they seem. They are basically, well, a bit demonic evil which is how Soren ended up nearly being burned to death last issue.

The flashback is very nicely done with some nice subtleties in the colouring to make it stand out as a flashback, a tale Soren is telling Owen, who remains somewhat unimpressed. Still, it sounds like his kind of quest so off he goes with Axe and Soren insists on coming along for the ride. That’s basically the plot for this issue.

The art is still really good. Axe always looks suitably weirdly demonic for an axe that’s a moral guardian. The scene in the pub includes some hint of things barbarians should like – drinking and nude women – just in the background but so the reader is aware. It’s a reminder of what Owen thinks, well he has, lost. The art really helps show the creepy atmosphere of the abbey too. And Soren’s powers are very nicely depicted, especially in contrast to Owen’s brute strength.

The humour I loved in the first issue is here still. We’re dealing with death and destruction but you can count on Owen and Axe’s observations to keep things light. You know even with undead Monks. It stops the book getting too caught up in deep dark themes and allows the characters to shine.

Having said that there’s also another really poignant flashback with Soren as well. The balance is just so well done. We get the feeling of a developing respect between Owen and Soren even though Owen hates witches. It does feel like these two have some shared ground even though they have total opposite pasts. They are both cursed in their own way and have both suffered for it in their own way.

I am glad to say Axe does to get to do the killing thing. There is some nice hellish action. The issue also ends on something of a cliff hanger. I am very keen to see where that goes next. Barbaric continues to be a really good fun ride.

Overall this is an issue that’s just as good as the first and I loved the first issue. If you want a wisecracking barbarian with an axe and a witch out questing and investigating evil then look no further.

Five axes out of five with a bonus taking one.

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