It’s been a while since we gushed about a new Vault Comics title, and this one definitely lives up its name. Barbaric follows the story of a Barbarian cursed to help people with a talking Axe, can this new series from Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden and company show itself to be a cut above the rest or will it deserve the chop?
Barbaric tells the story of Owen, a Barbarian whose care free lifestyle comes to an abrupt end when he is attacked by a trio of witches. Now, armed with his bloodthirsty Axe which only he can hear speak, Owen is cursed to walk the Earth helping the innocent and punishing the guilty. However, when investigating a ruckus outside a tavern, Owen and ‘Axe’ must come to the rescue of a woman accused of being a witch. However, could the revelations that come from this be the key behind Owen’s curse?
Michael Moreci has written and seriously entertaining comic within Barbaric. Fun, witty and exciting Moreci has created a concept that feels very much like Conan crossed with Ghost Rider. While the story is relatively light (given its setup/expositional nature), the highlight of this first issue is without doubt the dynamic of Owen and his Axe. The banter back and forth between the two is hilarious, with Owen considering Axe as a nuisance and Axe obviously relishing that role while also being Owen’s ‘jailer’ in regards to the curse. Both characters separately are intriguing, from Owen’s moody attitude to all he meets to Axe’s apparent alcoholism but for blood, but together, this is a fantastic coupling, the best I’ve seen since Cognition’s Cal and Sigma. Of course, the issue leaves questions outstanding such as why was Owen selected for this curse and what is the significance of this new witch, but the relationship between Barbarian and his weapon carries this book so tremendously that these types of question do nothing to interrupt it’s exquisite flow.
As for the art, Nathan Gooden produces some phenomenal work in this issue, with a style that so rough in it’s pencils that you can actually feel the brutality of the world his is drawing. Not only that, but Gooden adds a real eerieness to his work, exemplified by the design of Axe, which would be haunting if not so beautiful. Meanwhile, Addison Duke’s colours share in the art’s harshness, with shade reminiscent of Copperhead and some John Carter comics, which furthers the impression of a dry, hot, unforgiving landscape, one where a reluctant dispenser of justice like Owen is likely to find plenty of blood to spill (much to Axe’s pleasure no doubt).
Barbaric’s first issue is yet another in a long line of fantastic comics from the powerhouse which is Vault. Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden and the team have created an incredible comic with fantastic characters and gorgeous panels. Based on this first issue, Barbaric looks set to be, without a doubt, one of the finest titles Vault has published, an achievement enhanced by the fact most of Vault’s line is top tier stuff.