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‘Berserker Unbound #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Berserker Unbound is a four-issue series from Dark House that brings the sword and sorcery genre straight to modern-day New York. In a similar vein to works such as the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Hercules in New York, the Julian Sands film, Warlock, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, and the upcoming Nick Mamatas book, Sabbath, the first issue of Berserker Unbound displaces the titular berserker from the fantasy past into a modern-day metropolis – New York.

The issue begins with the unnamed berserker, known only as the King of Mongrels, returning from a year-long journey of battles only to find his town in flames and his wife Rhona and baby daughter Elmy dead. A horde of barbarians converges on the berserker who is able to slice through the army using his sword, shield, and battle axe. A wizard intervenes, the berserker flees to a cave, and, upon pushing a glowing sigil, finds himself transported into Central Park in New York City in the present day.

The vast majority of issue one of Berserker Unbound is devoted to combat sequences, with the art not shying away from depicting flying heads and chopped-off hands. Many of the sequences in Berserker Unbound take advantage of the two-page spread, showing either the berserker alone in his smoldering city or severely outnumbered by the barbarian horde; however, in true heroic fantasy style, despite the outnumbered odds, favor rests solely with the berserker.

Since the majority of the issue is devoted to combat and getting the berserker to New York City, the writing sticks with the typical sword and sorcery tropes and cliches. Once issue two picks up and the berserker begins to explore the metropolis proper, that will be the opportunity to showcase Jeff Lemire’s writing chops. The art and coloring from Mike Deodato and Frank Martin are fantastic, really capturing that ’80s sword and sorcery visual style one would see in the Conan, Beastmaster, and Fire and Ice films. Fans of both Robert E. Howard and The Highlander will certainly be drawn to Berserker Unbound.

Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (art, cover artist), Frank Martin (colorist, cover artist), Steve Wands (letterer)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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