The four issue Barbarian mini-series changes drastically each issue. It started out with a free online first issue that, despite having heart behind it, was one of the worst comics I have ever read. The second issue had some improvements, with the fourth issue following the same motions as the second. The third issue, the one I'll be going into detail about today, is by far the best issue of the mini-series. The execution and some artwork problems still make the issue an average one, but do make me look forward to more from its creators in the future, because they clearly have talent and the passion to do this. Just no idea how to pace the issue – a problem all issues of Barbarian share.
The Barbarian is a mysterious man without a name who refuses to talk and instead hacks and slashes his way to victory. This issue, he and his allies get captured by their alien enemies the Romisians and the origins of the aliens and the Barbarian are revealed.
Scott Amundson's plot is still confusing. The characters, and there are many, have no personalities since most of Barbarian has been made up of action scenes with no dialogue. The little dialogue that goes on between the characters is rather awkward, with one character telling his friend he loves him as he dies, which may have been a touching scene if we knew more about the characters. The Barbarian doesn't speak at all, but it does lead to an interesting moment when four characters, including him, are captured with their names displayed under each character except for the mystery that is the Barbarian. His character may not have much of a personality beyond growling and fighting, but it's enough for him. His origins are also finally revealed in this issue, which surprisingly make sense and make the first issue a little less confusing. His origin, told from the eyes of the leader of the alien tribe, was the best moment in the entire mini-series.
The evil creatures the Barbarian and friends are fighting against are the most interesting and unique, but can be a little too unique at times. Before telling the Barbarian's origin story, the leader of the Romisians tells the history of his tribe. The dialogue between the aliens in these flashbacks during the tales is also odd, and may be a little too unique. They associate with each other just like ordinary humans would, which would work if Amundson wanted us to feel sorry for these aliens. And for the most part, these feelings are achieved from the story, but the next issue makes these feelings completely moot, and those powerful feelings from this issue could have been used more effectively in the fourth.
The artwork coming from Jim Lai also has problems. The cover is great, but the rest of the artwork feels extremely inferior. The character design for the Romisians is good, if not an average idea of what a demon from hell would look like, but every human looks like the same Jackie Chan reject. The backgrounds (when there are backgrounds) feel lackluster with floors sometimes cluttered with simple squares and food looking far from edible. The colors from Michael Summers are also a problem. They are too bright and make the comic look too cartoonish when the tone of the comics becomes quite serious at times. The artwork needs a darker tone to fit the story.
And that's what makes the issue shine – the way the story is developed in this issue. In previous issues, more emphasis was put on battle scenes that did not need to be there. The origins of the Barbarian and the Romisians are fantastic and make sense in a sci-fi sense. The dialogue remained odd and the action scenes boring, but all was made up for with the origin stories. All of which were ruined by the fourth issue, which I will get into in another review, but the way the story was presented in this issue gives me hope that Scott Amundsen can write, and he can write extremely well. He just needs to write more narration that develops the plot more slowly and with less fighting scenes.
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.