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Barbaric: Axe to Grind #2 Review

4 min read

The past is filled with dark acts.

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

What They Say:
The you-know-what really hits the fan as Owen, Soren, Axe, and Steele find themselves in hostile territory. We gain deeper insight into Steele’s vampire curse and Owen encounters a tree god who’s just itching to get chopped to pieces. Cutting down trees, after all, is what axes do!

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. Michael Moreci got things working well in the debut issue of this second series as it deliver what I expected from him. His work over the last few years and working the original story around just three issues really made everything work well and leave you wanting more. 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.

With a lot of ground covered in the first issue, this one builds on that and throws us a lot of action along the way. The group is definitely going through some tense moments but Owen is just intent on dealing with Gladius, and that has them dealing with orcs that they’ve fought before and locals that see Gladius as a way to power, including dealing with problematic people like Owen from the mainland. Owen’s issues are even bigger than this though when some otherworldly being kills its way into existence in order to try and deter him from going up against Gladius because Owen doesn’t understand who he himself is and the mix of curse and power that exists. And that it’s something that Gladius understands, hence attempting to lure Owen here as he’s managed to so far. For Owen, of course, he doesn’t care about any of that and just wants to deal with a dark part of his past.

With a bit of downtime in the mix before things pick up again, we get Steel and Soren spending some time in the tavern where he fills her in on more of his past with Owen, Deadheart, and Wizard. We see what finally broke the group in their fight against Gladius and the kind of brutal death that occurred, but for Steel, it reinforces how the years of fighting before that in various wars and other actions and then being brought into this had turned him into a monster himself. And we see that struggle in the here and now as he’s not keen on a lot of fighting. But when things turn really serious as they get closer to Gladius and overwhelming numbers of orcs are coming their way, we get to see that there’s a whole other side to him that he’s kept from Owen and Soren that’s darkly impressive as hell. It leaves you wanting to know more of it but also to see if there’s real power and substance behind it.

In Summary:
One of the things that I really love about this series is that while it does focus on the big action and fighting sequences and just the comedy of the axe that Owen swings, but it also gets into real dialogue. And not just platitudes or simple things. We get steel really going into what happened to him and why he’s so wary and weary with it all but continues to fight. And it explores more layers of Owen himself and how this curse has turned him even more in this direction. It’s strongly scripted and the artwork is just brutally gorgeous, especially the final sequence with Deadheart we get and how Steel changes along the way. I’m excited to see how it all wraps up.

Grade: A-

Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Vault Comics
Release Date: September 21st, 2022
MSRP: $3.99