Today I am reviewing Barabaric: The Harvest Blades a new one-shot comic in the Barbaric series by Michael Moreci that is out from Vault Comics on the 13th July. I love the main series and was over the moon to be able to grab an arc of this one.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Like a punch in the privates, BARBARIC is back! Bloodier and more irreverent than ever. In this one-shot, Owen, the barbarian cursed to do good, is forced out of hiding and back to his old B.S.! A whole bunch of violence, ethically approved, of course, by his moral compass, the talking Axe! Find out for yourself why Entertainment Weekly, Thrillist, Screen Rant, and a whole bunch of other people called BARBARIC one of the best comics of 2021.
The first of many one-shots that further explore the world of Barbaric, whose second arc, Axe To Grind, arrives in July!
Barbaric: The Harvest Blades is a fully contained one-shot within the Barbaric series, which does an excellent job of not only adding to the canon of the world and to Owen the Barbarian’s adventures, but also acting as a wonderful launch point for anyone who isn’t familiar with the previous series. As someone who greatly enjoyed the previous Barbaric series this was a wonderful addition to the canon, and the way the premise -information that I was already aware of – was delivered for new readers, was just as entertaining with that knowledge in hand.
We essentially get two stories for the price of one in this volume, as the one-shot starts with what feels like the audience being dropped headfirst into one of Owen’s adventures but turns out to be a tale being recounted. I loved this because it offered such a contradiction to the main story and adventure, and how Owen is now, but also because it was fantastic to see more of Owen’s life (and as a keen rpg player, I had to appreciate the party dynamics and chaos in that adventure). The main story begins when Owen is approached with a request for ‘help’ (probably his most dreaded word) with dealing a swarm of devil bats about to descend on the town of Docimel, a request that he has to agree to as he is cursed to help those who ask for it.
Moreci has created an entertaining story in this one-shot, full of twists and turns, and plenty of bloody and brutal action – as is fitting for the story of a Barbarian and his sentient Axe. Despite the fact there is an early warning from Axe that there is something off about this request and the three that came to ask for help – Sir Carmody, La’Kandra the thief, and a Dark Mage, this is story that keeps you on your toes. While Owen and Axe continue to steal the show as the main characters, the characterisation of the other three is fantastic and I particularly enjoyed La’Kandra.
This one-shot has a different artist to the main series, and Wilson IV has done an absolutely fantastic job of capturing the energy and feel of Gooden’s art in the main series here, while also adding his own spin on the world and characters. The art is a perfect compliment to the story, capturing the serious moments as well as the humour that is such a strong point of this series, and bringing the fantastical elements and action to life. Wilson IV’s art is an excellent way to set this one-shot apart, whilst also demonstrating that the world of Barbaric has more scope than you perhaps realise (and indicates that there is so much more to see in this world!) The colouring by Duke and lettering by Campbell are the final puzzle pieces and help bring the art and story to the next dimension – the colouring is incredibly striking, often utilising a less-is-more approach and focusing on a more limited palette which gives more impact when additional colours appear and gives the panels such a distinctive and cohesive feel. The lettering is just as visually striking, and with the number of characters and so much going on, Campbell does a fantastic job of distinguishing all the various components so there is no risk of losing track of what’s happening.
Barbaric: The Harvest Blades is a fantastic new addition to the Barbaric series, as well as an excellent starting point for anyone who is new to the series. I would highly recommend this one-shot to anyone curious about the series, and I would recommend Barbaric as a whole to anyone who enjoys fantasy with a healthy dose of humour, action, and more than a little blood and violence, and I am very much looking forward to An Axe to Grind which comes out next month!!
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Forbidden Planet (Check out the variant covers available)
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic comic.