Welcome to another new – well rather, a revamped feature on the blog – Comics Wednesdays. To kick this feature off, I’m taking a look at Barbaric #1. This is an indie comic from Vault Comics, and I took one look at the cover and knew that I needed to read it.
Owen the Barbarian has been cursed to do good with what remains of his life. His bloodthirsty weapon, Axe, has become his moral compass with a drinking problem. Together they wander the realm, foredoomed to help any who seek assistance. But there is one thing Owen hates more than a life with rules: Witches.
It was the cover that hooked me, but I fell in love with Barbaric from the moment I started reading. For one, the art is bloody (literally) fantastic and Gooden just does such a good job of expressing the characters. There isn’t a wasted moment, and each of the characters – whether minor or our main character Owen comes to life on the page because he just captures who they are in all ways from expressions to movement. He also does an excellent job of capturing the nature of the world – this is a violent, vulgar, brutal world and that is shown in gleeful detail (maybe not the comic for people that don’t appreciate violence or nudity, or loose body parts). The art is enhanced by the deft work of the colourist Addison Duke – and the cover really does give you a good indication of how this world and its characters are realised.
There are clear influences from media such as Conan the Barbarian, but Barbaric is very much its own thing. Moreci has created a solid, entertaining story that knows exactly what it is and wears its heart (and its innards) on its sleeve. It embraces everything that it is – the violence, the vulgarity, the fact that Owen our main character really isn’t a hero – and it does so with moments of humour, strong characterisation and momentum that pulls you constantly forward. I loved Owen from the moment we met him – he’s not a hero, or really an anti-hero – he’s a guy cursed to do good by witches, and seeking vengeance for that curse, and dealing with the situation as best as he could. I also loved his relationship with his axe – Axe (also I have such a strong soft spot for sentient weapons, and Barbaric scratches that itch perfectly).
This was the perfect combination of art, story and characterisation and while I knew from the moment I heard about it I would probably enjoy it, I wasn’t prepared for how much I loved it and I’ve already pre-ordered volume one (which collects #1-#3 into one volume). Barbaric is so much fun (as long as you don’t mind a little…or a lot of blood) and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Written by Michael Moreci
Illustrated by Nathan Gooden
Colours by Addison Duke
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Vault Comics
This week’s recommendation is perfect for anyone who loves D&D. Cloven Bloodlines is an indie comic which currently has four issues, and is created by the amazing Kit Buss who was also the artist for Critical Role campaign 1 Vox Machina. I love her artstyle, and the fact that the main character is a Tiefling (my favourite D&D race) and I am absolutely in love with the series and waiting eagerly for more. There is also a novel ‘The Secret of the Sound’ that is set in the Cloven universe and written by Matt Reitner (and there will be a review up for that later this month).