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COMIC REVIEW: FTN reviews Dark Horse’s Berserker Unbound #1

August 18th, 2019 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

Berserker Unbound #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Colorist: Frank Martin
Cover Artist: Mike Deodato Jr, Dave Stewart

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. 

The latest offering from writer Jeff Lemire and first-time collaborator Mike Deodato Jr will immediately draw comparisons to classic Robert E Howard character, Conan… and they aren’t without warrant.

The book’s hulking protagonist ‘The Mongrel King’ I suspect was greatly influenced by the former with his gruff demeanour, huge barbarian sword and formidable skill on the battlefield cleaving bad guys left, right and centre.

However, this isn’t your standard homage story.

The creative team are not intent on treading the same waters as before and instead have crafted a fish out of water set-up first issue that looks to be the main hook of the series moving forward.

Without spoiling the main story, the Mongrel King returns from adventuring in battle to find some tragic events have befallen his village, and himself. After some action scenes (beautifully pencilled by Deodato Jr), something happens to send him from his unnamed barbarian home-world to what looks to be ours: what may or may not be New York City specifically and it’s on that cliffhanger that the issue ends.

Lemire is an old hand in the comic business now, seamlessly sprinkling story beats throughout and keeping the issue well-paced.

While the issue is clearly foundation for everything to come, the issue and its sublime cliffhanger leaves readers wanting more.

I was never a huge fan of Deodato Jr in his most recent years at Marvel where he favoured a photo reference style but here, helped by Frank Martin’s fantastic colours, the artist brings a changed style, a pulp feel that really suits the book.

A fantastic fight scene midway through the issue really shows the team flexing their muscles, the fight itself so well choreographed that it feels like you’re moving with every frenetic hack of the Mongrel King’s sword.

We have seen from his past and present work like Sweet Tooth and Gideon Falls that Lemire loves to incubate a mystery, to play the long game until he hits us with a beautifully earned reveal.

While some may point to Marvel currently doing the same type of story with their revitalised Conan book in which they’ve shunted him into the main modern day 616 universe, I have a lot of faith in this creative team to give us a fascinating run.

Make no mistake, this is the bones of the story and the meat is yet to come.

4 out of 5 Nerds

I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.