Dark Horse Comics
(w) Jeff Lemire (a) Mike Deodato Jr. (c) Frank Martin (l) Steve Wands
It seems like Jeff Lemire is a busy man year round with multiple titles bearing his name at once. In this instance Lemire co-creates Berserker Unbound with Mike Deodato Jr., who truth be told I had no idea was still drawing interior pages. Dark Horse touts Berserker Unbound as a Fish out of Temporal Water, or The Future Is Shocking title where a character from a long distance past is mysteriously transported to the present day. These types of stories can be told quite well like 2015’s Amy Chu’s Red Sonja but it’s been done often enough that you need a twist that puts its own flavor in the overflowing pot. Sadly by the end of the first issue Berserker Unbound has nothing that sets it apart, other than a barbarian that same fuckers at his opponents, and some great art.
Bersker Unbound starts with man of few words but many thoughts Mongral King, or simply Berserker. Returning home from what we can assume was an epic battle Berserker happens upon his village in ruins with his beloved wife and daughter slaughtered. This is one of the few ways Berserker Unbound #1 stands out from the others. Usually in these barbarian, sword, and sorcery tales the ‘badass’ sword swinging main man isn’t settled down with a wife and kid, much less do they love someone as much as the Berserker does. Berserker doesn’t speak aloud often, but we are left with his thoughts in a few instances with his speech patterns matching with those of other sword and sorcery main characters. That’s when the problems start to arise, other than the fact he loves his family and drops fuck in to different instances – which is very weird for this genre – Berserker Unbound #1 doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
Walking into an ambush (which is magnificently drawn in two separate double-page splash’s from Deodato) that injuries the Berserker he then wonders into a mystic cave transporting him to our present timeline. Jeff Lemire has written some great heart wrenching stories and series in the past but with this new mini it seems he may just be phoning it in, or he has too many titles going on at once. Sadly in Berserker Unbound #1 it feels as if it was written by someone other than Lemire. Berserker Unbound’s saving grace would be the team of artist Mike Deodato Jr. and colorist Frank Martin, who both bring their A-game. Throughout the story Deodato paints Berserker’s world as dusty, bleak, and void of cities with Martin’s colors taking this barren wasteland a step further giving it a realistic feeling. These humanesque colors work in perfect harmony with Deodato’s art that makes Berserker Unbound seem like a page out of our own history.
Lemire leaves multiple pages void of dialogue allowing the art to breath making battles flow with blood, be-headings, and loss of multiple limbs in gorgeous two page spreads that should be laminated, framed and put in a museum. Another aspect of the art that shines is the fact that even with so many sword and sorcery comics with huge muscle bound men somehow Deadato and Martin make Berserker stand out more badass then any other barbarian around. With muscles that rip and flex as he moves Berserker looks like a man no one would ever want to fuck with, it helps that he carries his sword, axe, and shield on his back. This barbarian is more monster than man.
Hopefully in further issues Lemire and team explore new idea and twists, while presenting the type of stories he is famous for writing.