[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
A warrior born wanders the lands of mist on the path back to his home village. He is the Mongrel King, the Berserker, and he longs to see his wife and child again. However, he finds his village burning, his wife and daughter dead, and a swarm of warriors bearing down upon him. He slaughters the first wave, but he receives a dire wound. The second wave is on its way, and the Berserker flees. He wanders into a cave filled with strange lights, and he falls through a portal that takes him to a world beyond anything he could imagine.
Berserker Unbound #1 brings us a new barbarian hero, one who had a wife and daughter to fight for before it was all taken away brutally. We don’t yet know much about his past, but we know how he sees himself and what he’s lost in his devotion to the way of the warrior.
The comparisons to Conan the Barbarian are easy even if they’re slightly unfair. Conan isn’t the only barbarian warrior hero in fiction; he’s just the most popular one.
The Mongrel King does have some interesting personality traits. He has an ego, but it’s fragile and dependent on his ability to protect his village and family. It covers up a degree of self-loathing, which we see pretty quickly.
The dialogue and narration are a little rough at times. The Berserker has a surprising affinity for the f-bomb that seems a little out-of-place in this comic. Beyond that, the Berserker mostly speaks in platitudes and sweeping Shakespearean statements that do a disservice to how complex a character he really is.
Mike Deodato Jr. is great artist for this kind of story. He draws the Berserker like a tank, and he knows how to texture and detail a world with seeming ease. Big fight scenes can get a little confusing, and, despite Deodato’s affinity for gore, blood and flesh wounds tend to confuse the visuals even further. Frank Martin’s color art is warm and atmospheric here, and it gives the reader a feel for the kind of world in which the Mongrel King lives.
Berserker Unbound #1 is a strong if somewhat flawed first step for this swords-and-sandals-turned-time-travel series. The Berserker is an interesting character, and the art style is largely appealing. That said, the dialogue and narration is lackluster, and the fight scenes get confused very quickly. All together, there’s more good than bad, and that’s why I can still recommend this one. Feel free to pick it up.
Berserker Unbound #1 comes to us from writer Jeff Lemire, artist Mike Deodato Jr., color artist Frank Martin, letterer Steve Wands, cover artist Mike Deodato Jr. with Frank Martin, and variant cover artist Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart.
Final Score: 6.5/10