Review: Berserker Unbound #1
In Berserker Unbound #1, a merciless sword and sorcery warrior finds himself blasted through a wormhole to a modern-day metropolis where he must protect those around him from an evil wizard determined to send him to hell.
There were two or three main reasons I picked this book up. One was because it was written by Jeff Lemire, one of the most exciting writers in comics today, the second was the premise of a barbarian warrior being dumped in our world in the present day really interested me and the third was simply the cover. It is wonderful. It told me everything I needed to know about the comic in all of five seconds. It’s also very indicative of the art style within the comic, as Mike Deodato Jr. provided the art for both the interior and exterior (though Dave Stewart provides the colors on the cover, with Frank Martin taking care of the interiors). I’m always happy when the interior artist also produces the cover art because it helps avoid a cover selling a book to a customer based on the art style only to have a totally different artist on the inside.
Berserker Unbound #1 opens with a fairly standard fantasy trope as the Mongrel King trudges across a barren badlands-esque landscape reminiscing over past battles and revealing his reason for the continuous fighting; his wife and daughter. Lemire crafts a compelling tale and weaves a lot of characterization into the Mongrel King during the first issue, helping him stand apart from the inevitable comparison to Conan and others of that ilk. With this being a Lemire book, my expectations were already high going into this series. Lemire took an axe to those expectations and left them bloodied in the dust. The story seems simple enough as a premise, and indeed the first issue ends pretty much where you would expect it to so there’s little surprise plotwise, but it’s how Lemire takes you to his destination – the narration, the pacing – and the way he toys with how you expect things to turn out? It’s wonderful.
Speaking of wonderful things, the artwork of Deodato Jr. is another such thing in this issue. The bleakness of the world, the savagery of the inevitable action.. everything about the artistic presentation of this book is phenomenal. Credit also should go to Martin’s coloring work, of course, which elevates the already great visuals to the next level. Colourists often get the short end of the stick when it comes to the credit they deserve. They shouldn’t. Berserker Unbound #1 is a prime example of a comic where both artists’ work elevates the book a step above anything else I’ve read so far.
When it comes to any story written by Jeff Lemire, I usually find there’s a slower start (though that doesn’t mean I’m not normally hooked within the first issue or two), but that’s not the case here. The opening salvo to this story grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and screamed: “READ ME!” So I did. And I’ll continue to read this series until it’s over.
Join me, won’t you?
Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Mike Deodato Jr.
Color: Frank Martin
Story: 9.1 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse provided a FREE copy for review. I’ve also added this to my pull list.