Barbaric doesn’t wear out its welcome and wraps up its first arc in a speedy fashion. Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden, and Addison Duke tell a fairly heartfelt fantasy story, but with buckets of blood, limbs flying, weird magic shit, and plenty of jokes. Barbaric #3 truly shows that this comic is a sword and sorcery tale without all the boring walking and exposition bits, all killer and no filler. The opening sequence is a bit talky with Soren struggling with the expansion of her magical abilities, but it provides an opportunity for our protagonist Owen to prove that he gives a shit and also poke fun at the concept of the afterlife. After that, it’s pages upon pages for Moreci, Gooden, and Duke to pile one-liners over riveting action scenes with heads flying and a color palette that won’t quit.
Although one of its main cast members is a bloodthirsty talking axe, Barbaric has a story of redemption and friendship at its core. Reading this book is almost like having dessert before dinner because you get the insanely kinetic double page spreads filled with weapons, blood, and bodies tumbling everywhere from Nathan Gooden, and then he and Michael Moreci slow it down and show that Owen genuinely cares for Soren and vice versa. Gooden takes a break from the big, splashy layouts to use more grids and close-up’s of their faces to capture the pain, disdain, and eventually camaraderie that they feel for each other. Barbaric #3 proves once and for all that Owen actually gives a shit about people and isn’t subject to the typical barbarian box of hating witches and magic and the supernatural even though he’d rather be hitting the magical people and objects. They make a good team in the end taking out weird cultists and even learning something new about themselves in the end.
Addison Duke’s color palette is not secretly one of my favorite parts of Barbaric. He shows off a range of tones with his choices this issue from dark despair to pink rage, red ultraviolence, and green decay as Owen’s snake demon foe shows himself in all his sickening Mayor Wilkins meets Shuma Gorath glory. However, Duke’s colors are what transform a great scene into one that’s truly memorable as he floods in golds and white in a page where Owen experiences a form of paradise that’s a little more sensual than the mainline Protestant conception of Heaven. It’s a gorgeous void and complements Nathan Gooden’s lightly inked line work as Owen realizes it’s all a ruse, and that he doesn’t deserve any kind of eternal reward and needs to get back to the raw red of reality and rescue his friend. All in all, the background colors that Addison Duke uses tell their own kind of story as the issue progresses.
Moreci, Gooden, and Duke definitely stick the landing in Barbaric #3 shooting for both big character and action beats while ending things on the jokey tone that has made this series so endearing. If you want a fantasy comic that isn’t full of shit and is self-aware, violent, and makes you deeply care about its (not so) golden trio, the three issues of Barbaric are worth seeking out.
Story: Michael Moreci Art: Nathan Gooden
Colors: Addison Duke Letters: Jim Campbell
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
Vault provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review