Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Nathan Gooden
Colourist: Addison Duke
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Here we are at the end of Book One of Barbaric. It’s only been three issues but I have very much enjoyed them. I have never felt short changed. It’s had everything I like in a book – humour, gore and likeable characters. I am glad that we will be getting Book Two in 2022 but that seems an age away. Still, if the quality of Book Two is the same as it has been for Book One I know it will be well worth it because this has been excellent.
At the end of the previous issue Soren had shared her deep, dark past with Owen and had garnered some sympathy from the cursed Barbarian and some friendly vibes from Axe. However, they stepped into danger with a monastery that was host to some seriously dark powers and poor Soren got caught up in the whole dark death power thing, as necromancers can.
This issue kept all the fun of the first two with just that added bit to tension relating to Soren and Owen’s situation. There’s a really great moment where it is clear that Owen is not going to do what everyone else has in Soren’s life and turn his back on her. For all his barbaric past, and his curse forcing him to do actual good (or at least slaughtering evil folk which is basically the same thing according to Axe) there was always a sliver of caring in there it seems. It gives an extra bit of character to Owen which I appreciated. There are hints too that there’s more in his past we don’t yet know about.
I also appreciate his sheer stubbornness and desire to slaughter every bad guy he encounters, egged on by Axe, who remains my favourite character. Axe has a great time at one point tasting new and different forbidden blood and gets very, very drunk. Drunken Axe is the best Axe. Having such absurdities as a talking axe really helps the humour. It also helps give another dimension to the whole barbarian stereotype or at the very least lifts it beyond that into a much cleverer sort of parody.
The art remains really fitting to the overall tone with that heightened fantasy feel. Not only that but when Owen is hacking and slashing and Axe is getting drunk the art pulls no punches with the amount of blood depicted. Yet it never feels like out and out horror gore. The gore is done, if not tastefully then with a clear idea of how much it can get away with, whilst at the same time offering some nice subtle touches in the way of beheadings and the like.
With the demons and the dark magic the art also really delivers. Hordes of creatures leaping all over Owen is one of my favourite moments, you can just see all the limbs in a massive pile, it’s so beautifully chaotic and really fits the mix of danger and humour. The way Soren’s expression’s change as she realises what’s happening and that Owen cares. Owen’s various angry faces are also really fun along with drunken Axe’s various drunken expressions.
The colouring really helps set the scene with the purple glow of ‘ the bad guys’ giving some real atmosphere. It definitely sets the cave apart as a place not quite as the monastery above. There are some impressive pages and panels just bathed in the purple light.
Then there’s the lettering which is such a great mix of human and non-human speech. Plus there’s quite a variety of sounds which are also shown really well, even going out of the panel. I do like solid lettering and, like everything else in this book, this lettering is really fun.
Overall this was such a great end to the first arc. With humour, great art and some interesting character work it’s so well balanced and has everything I really look for in a comic. Plus some really fun gore. I would say now we’re at the end of the first arc it’s time to check out Barbaric. It’s three issues of great writing, humour art, lettering and characters. Why wouldn’t you? I mean come on an Axe that gets drunk on blood? Worth the price of admission alone. The next issue in 2022 cannot get here soon enough.