New Comic Review- Barbaric: The Harvest Blades [Vault]
Last year, one of my favorite comic series was Barbaric from Vault. In the series, Michael Moreci and Nathan Gooden told the tale of the cursed barbarian, Owen, who is obligated to help those in need. You can read about the first issue here. Good news—Barbaric is back for 2022 with a new one shot- Barbaric: The Harvest Blades. This self-contained story builds out the world of Barbaric in preparation for the series’ second volume, Book Two: Axe to Grind that is slated to come out in August.
Barbaric: The Harvest Blades
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Robert Wilson IV
Colorist: Addison Duke
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Color Assistant: Andrew Misisco
This time around Micheal Moreci is joined by Robert Wilson IV on art as they share the tale of The Harvest Blades.
In this story, Owen is begrudgingly tasked to save the region of Docimel from Devil Bats. The winged beasts are set to attack the town any moment. He is recruited by Sir Carmody, the pompous representative of the Irik Kingdom, the colonial power over Docimel. Word has traveled about the cursed barbarian and the Irik Kingdom seeks to exploit it. The issue focuses on Owen’s journey to Docimel with his unconventional Party of Sir Carmody, La’Kandra—The Thief, and A Dark Mystic. Throughout the journey we learn how this the tragic past of Docimel and the truth behind the mighty Harvest Blades.
Moreci’s writing continues to be a strength for Barbaric. The Harvest Blades features a tight pacing that creates a satisfying issue. It feels very much like a standalone story in the overall universe of Barbaric, as it was intended. The nature of Owen’s curse is explained well enough for any casual reader to understand and pick up the story. This makes it a strong first issue for any new reader.
The main draw to Barbaric, though, is the witty writing and banter. Owen and Axe are the stars of the show as the reluctant Owen must not only deal with the vexing curse of helping others, but he must also deal with the talking magical Axe that speaks for the gods themselves. Moreover, Axe steals the show more often than not by being this dark voice of morality. Owen and Axe play off each other rather well which leads to a humorous streak in a very action-packed book.
The character writing isn’t limited to just there. La’Kandra is the other main character, and her story is slowly reveals her motivation and past. The big reveal is telegraphed throughout the issue. This is fine because the twist isn’t really meant to be such. Skilled writing makes the twist apparent to the reader and it shouldn’t always be this out of the blue revelation.
Wilson is a departure from Gooden’s style, but they deliver a strong performance with bold line work and character movements. Wilson’s ink work is the standout here. I found the bold lines to be visually appealing and leads to the work popping. The change in styles is not a bad thing. Instead, the comic has a different feel, but it still features the same flavor of the world.
The style is much more in line with classic adventure stories, and it clearly fits the fantasy feel of the series. Additionally, I love it when artist work in their preferred style instead of trying to copy the style of another artist. It is much more earnest that way. Wilson shows a command over action and dynamism that one would expect from a Barbaric comic and it is very much apart of the same connective tissue.
The transition between Gooden and Wilson is smoothed out with the colors of Addison Duke with assists from Andrew Misisco. This is a great example of how a colorist not only complement an artist but help set a common tone (literally in this case) in a series. This helps the issue even more so when read in collection. Instead of being a whiplash in style, the reader will find a book that feels connected in tone.
The differences in style feel minuscule when you view them under the same color palette and philosophy. Not only do Duke and Misisco’s colors feature a palette consisting earth-tones, they feature these brilliant pops of color in the action sequences that make them even more eye catching.
Final Thoughts on Barbaric: The Harvest Blades
Barbaric: The Harvest Blades is stated to be the first of many one-shot tales of Owen and Axe. I look forward to more of these side-stories. The issue reminds me of a stand-alone episode of a fantasy TV series. The plot is introduced and the main threads are wrapped in the same issue. Yet, there are threads laid out for future storylines to notice
I am excited to welcome Barbaric back to my pull-list with Barbaric The Harvest Blades. The story is a completely done-in-one and features some eye-catching art that doesn’t look like any other book on the rack today. Barbaric continues to be a witty and action-packed ride that I look forward to each week it is released. I eagerly await the release of Axe to Grind in August.
Verdict: Barbaric: The Harvest Blades earns a 7.5/10
Pick it up at ComiXology or at your local comic shop