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Barbaric: Axe to Grind #1 Review

4 min read

The delightfully fun title returns for an all-new arc.

Creative Staff:
Story: Michael Moreci
Art: Nathan Gooden
Colors: Addison Duke
Letterer: Jim Campbell

What They Say:
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the start of an all-new arc of BARBARIC!

Follow Owen and his magical companion, the tender, talking Axe as they spread kindness and hope in a world gone bad…just kidding! Owen, Axe, and Soren are back, and so is all the mayhem and bloodshed that follows them wherever they go! This time, they’re out to settle an old score against Gladius, a wicked a$$hole who did Owen wrong way back in his barbarian days. As always…it’s just f***ing barbaric.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The discovery of this series is one that delivered a lot of what I was looking for in something like a classic sword and sorcery piece but modernized in the right spots. I’ve enjoyed a number of projects from Michael Moreci over the last few years and working the original story around just three issues really makes it stand out all the more, even knowing there’s a range of projects coming out for it in the future. That future hit recently with a special and now this new storyline and series. Nathan Gooden and Addison Duke are on board for the artwork once again for it and through them, we get some fantastic character designs and a great sense of power to it overall that really delivers. There is a ton of material here and it works incredibly well to deliver a cohesive, coherent, and engaging world to sink our teeth into.

There’s a lot to like here at its core as we get a lot of action and violence and a healthy dose of humor along the way as well. The first half largely focuses on a fight that Owen, Axe, Soren, and Steel are engaging in a fight against the vampire that has controlled Steel for a hundred years or so. It’s an absolutely delightful fight as Axe does not like vampire blood as its thralls are all tainted and it’s all made more complicated by the fact that some of the vampires are actually giants. There’s a lot of chaos here and some hard moments as Steel can get only so much revenge because of his being a thrall. It’s a lot of fun to watch the pair fight the vampires, Soren to use her magic, and to see Axe really struggle with the whole situation.

But what also comes from it is that Steel reveals that a part of their problematic past has surfaced again in the form of Gladius, a warrior orc leader that they both learned from ages ago. He’s causing trouble in the north, which is why giants have shown this far south, and it means that both of them need to step up and deal with said past. That puts us on a journey again but one where we see just how hard things are for Steel as not being under the control or influence of someone has him trying to understand his own place in the world, especially since he’s still a vampire of some sort. We get a really great sequence on board a ship as their journey continues where a whale gets attacked by a Kraken and that leads to a lot of problems for our gang here and it’s just fantastically illustrated in a way that makes it thrilling. Not always easy with action sequences like this but the blending of everything hits pitch perfect as it sets up the basics of what the Gladius storyline will deal with.

In Summary:
Barbaric in its opening run – which ended a year ago next week – was an absolute blast. I’m glad it was given the time to be done right for more as I enjoyed the special we got recently and then getting into a new storyline here. It’s beautifully illustrated and colored, the script is fun, and the dialogue hits right. This is not a fast read even though it has a ton of action but it also manages to feel like natural dialogue during the action without just being constant quips. There’s a ton to love with this opening installment as it puts all the right pieces in play and reconnects us with our cast well. I’m excited to see what’s to come and to have more adventures with this group as the concept grows and becomes more realized.

Grade: A-

Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Vault Comics
Release Date: August 17th, 2022
MSRP: $3.99