Now that Conan’s been brought back to Marvel and is slumming it with the Avengers and everyone else in the 616 in Savage Avengers, it seems like it was the right time for Dark Horse to release their sword and sorcery comic about a warrior in a fantasy realm ending up in the modern world and dealing with all of these differences. Mike Deodato on the book is also a no-brainer — his style matches the aesthetic of these sword and sorcery books fairly well. Where this book seems more interesting, though, is in the choice of writer, Jeff Lemire. This isn’t a type of story one would expect from Lemire, so I felt it’d be an interesting experiment.
The story of the book is pretty cut and dry. The Berserker (who is referred to as Bez in the auxiliary material) is your standard Conan type, who monologues about himself for a bit of exposition before discovering that his home has been attacked. Wading through the wreckage, he finds out that his wife and child have been killed. We get a bunch of double page spreads of the Berserker killing some of the people responsible for the attack. Eventually, he crawls away into a cave to hide from the endless hordes, and is suddenly magically whisked to what is essentially the real world. Bez meets a homeless man named Cobb who tries to help him despite not understanding his language, and they spend the next few issues hanging out and trying to overcome their language barrier before being able to bond over lost family and drinking. The story ends on another fight with the sorcerer and warriors who killed Bez’s family, that ends with Bez and Cobb winning and going back to the Berserker’s fantasy land and going off together. It’s a nice little story without much substance, but it works far better as a complete story than it did in individual issues.
The biggest draw (heh) for this story is honestly Mike Deodato’s art, which unfortunately is not something I care very much for. For those who enjoy his style and artwork, this will probably end up being far more enjoyable, but for me it was really just a simple story that took far too long to be told. This same story could easily have been told in half the pages, but a lot of space was spent on splash pages and double page spreads of Deodato drawing grisly and gory fights. Lemire is a solid writer, but it very much feels like Deodato did the heavy lifting on this comic and Lemire just wrote dialogue after the fact — there’s very little by way of style in the story being told. It’s also a bit frustrating that the book is just two men being sad that the women and children in their lives have died — it’s not a very interesting dynamic, even if their friendship has its charming moments.
Ultimately, this book isn’t something you should get for the story. If Deodato’s art is your thing, you’ll probably get something out of this, but it’s not anything significant from either creator. It’s not something I regret having read, but at the same time I doubt I’ll ever go back to it.