Now this is an odd little comic. Starting out as your average hack-n-slash barbarian vs sharp-toothed, purple-skinned monsters tale, complete with retro sound effects (I’ll see your ‘koom!’ and raise you a ‘rraar!’ and a ‘thawack!’), manga-style visuals and the odd hacked-off limb, it morphs into a cautionary sci-fi story where the big, scary monsters are actually saccharine-sweet, peace-loving veggie good guys, and the hero is really a living weapon they grew to protect themselves from the nasty humans on the planet they crash-landed upon.
I’ll admit, I’m not totally sure what’s going on here, as I’ve missed the first two parts of this comic. But after a bit of a shaky start (the initial fight scene goes on for about a page too long) and some seriously corny dialogue – ‘Those fireballs are coming right for us!’ – Barbarian shaped up to be a decent and interesting read. Granted, the old evil-looking monsters as good guys storyline isn’t exactly original, but it’s presented here with a light, tongue-in-cheek flourish that gives it a refreshing twist. The art, by Jim Lai, is as big and brash as you would expect from a title with Conan-style characters, while the script, by Scott Amundson, clips along at a fair old pace, even if it does occasionally stumble over some clunky dialogue and cliched moments.
If you’ve read my previous review, you’ll know that I’m a bit of a lapsed comic geek, so Recondite Pictures isn’t a line I’m familiar with. However, on the strength of this third issue, I’d be happy to seek out the rest of the series – it’s available on the comiXology platform – and maybe taste a few other titles while I’m at it.