Picking up immediately after issue one, issue two of Berserker Unbound sees the Berserker more-or-less befriending Joe Cobb, the transient he encountered after emerging from the cave portal. Though the two characters are unable to understand each other’s speech, Cobb invites the Berserker to his forest camp, where he bandages him up and provides him a tin of food. The next day, after disguising the Berserker in more common clothing, both make their way into the city to visit the food bank and a liquor store. The Berserker is perplexed by the squalor the other transients live in and awed by the skyscrapers of the city; however, when it comes to pass that Cobb is not able to help the Berserker further in his quest to find the wizard, he sets off into the city alone.
Issue two is an exposition issue, focused on trying to acclimate the Berserker to a present-day large city. The first half of the issue has the Berserker camping in the city’s park or adjacent forest, and despite the presence of the transient’s encampment, the setting is indistinguishable between an enchanted or dark forest one would see or read in a typical sword-and-sorcery tale. In a way, these pages recall the cult film, Mandy, which also weaves sword-and-sorcery with a modern-day, forested setting.
There are some lighthearted, yet gloomy, sequences in these pages. Cobb prattles off in a large monologue to a sleeping Berserker about how he prefers to be alone and chooses not to talk much. The delivery of the joke illicits a smile, yet the reader is immediately brought back into the harsh reality that Cobb lives as a transient, alone.
The trip into the city plays with jokes told in other films of a similar ilk, such as using antiquated currency of great value to pay for simple things. From C.H.U.D. to Trancers to even 12 Monkeys, diving into the world of the destitute and those left behind is always a somber experience. In his own time, the Berserker was renown for his skill in battle, and yet in the modern-day metropolis, he would be seen no differently than a homeless person suffering from a mental disorder. In a way, the Berserker’s sudden transformation from able warrior to transient echoes the fears many folks who live paycheck to paycheck have in today’s current economic climate; one day, you’re an able computer programmer and the next living in your car.
As with the first issue, the art of Berserker Unbound is top notch, balancing both the wonders of the new metropolis world and the iconography needed to root the story in the sword-and-sorcery genre. The Berserker still looks epic and powerful, and the city he explores is always alight in a golden glow, no doubt mimicking what the Berserker perceives the city as (much in the same way explorers and conquistadors would have seen new cities when exploring the New World).
Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (art, cover artist), Frank Martin (colorist, cover artist), Steve Wands (letterer), Andrea Sorrentino (variant cover artist)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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