If you’re not reading this book, then you have no joy in your life.
Alright, that’s a bit extreme, but seriously, the Barbaric comics from Vault Comics are hands down some of the most fun books you can read. Blood, gore, action, monsters, magic, bulky heroes, badass warrior women, this series has everything you could want in a comic and more.
In 2021 author Michael Moreci and artist Nathan Gooden brought us the first volume of what would be the beginning of an outrageous and spectacular new series. A loving rift on classic barbarian stories, Barbaric tells the tale of Owen the Barbarian, a brutal and debouched barbarian, doomed to hell for his sins, who makes a deal with a group of witches in return for his life. As such, he was cursed with a talking axe that gets drunk on blood, and the inability to harm anyone unless they are evil.
Cursed to only use his powers for good, Owen travels the land looking for evildoers to slaughter so that he can slake the thirst of his axe, while at the same time coming to terms with a past he has, up until his curse, done a great job of forgetting.
As the series has progressed we have learned more and more about Owen and the life he once led. While he started as a fairly two dimensional character, with each new volume of the series we have gotten more and more insight into just what drives him, and his own personal sense of honour. It’s been a rewarding journey, expertly told by Moreci, and each new volume somehow manages to be even better than what came before.
In the last volume, Barbaric: Axe to Grind, we learn that in the past Owen was part of a warrior party, who followed a brutal and beautiful warrior woman named DeadHeart. In the course of their adventuring, DeadHeart was slain by a monstrous Orc, bent on conquering the entire world through dark magics.
Following her death, Owen believed the evil Orc Gladius had been slain through the combined might of Owen and his last surviving partner Steel. However Gladius was resurrected, and has worked to become even stronger than he was before. This leads Owen, his former partner-turned-vampire Steel, and the witch Soren to attempt once again to put an end to Gladius.
The results were not great. Owen was transported to Hell, his curse was passed to Soren, and Steel finds his humanity slipping further and further away each day.
That that takes us to the first issue of the new volume of this series, Barbarian: Hell To Pay. Let’s crack this baby open and see what this amazing creative team has to offer us this time!
Here’s the blurb:
Barbaric is back and headed straight to hell in an all-new arc so big and bloody, it’s getting an extra issue!
While Owen tames a dragon with an old friend, Soren and Steel cross paths with someone else from our cursed barbarian’s past…who isn’t looking nearly as friendly. Hell hath no fury like a woman stabbed through the heart by an ugly f***ing orc.
Oh, wait! Who’s carrying Axe?
What a fricking treat this book is. As I said, I was onboard with this series from the first issue, and each new addition just gets better and better. From the glorious battle scenes crafted with brutal glee by Nathan Gooden, to the sharp and clever writing from Moreci, there isn’t a single thing not to love in this series.
Barbaric: Hell To Pay rewards the fans for their dedication to the series. Old characters introduced before play a major, but logical role in the story, and the idea of seeing some of these people team up for the first time is honestly worth the price of admission. Not to mention, as much as this series is about our badass hero own, the amount of incredibly well written and well developed female characters in this series is frankly impressive.
I love a strong female character in an action story, but way too often they are reduced to a bit of eye candy and are given more “feminine” powers, magic users and ninjas, not able to really stand toe to toe with their male counterparts.
The women in Barbaric are something else. Brutal, beautiful, intelligent, this is what female characters should be in a comic. Soren is one of my favorite characters in comics right now, and getting to see her cut loose in these books is amazing to see. Gooden’s art never fails to impress, and Moreci’s portrayal of her leadership feels like a natural evolution of the character.
Brutal, crude, beautiful, action-packed, and hilarious, if you’re not reading Barbaric you are missing out. Call your LCS and see if you can pick up the back issues; you won’t regret it.
That’s it for me this week folks! Until next time, Stay Safe.