• Brad Gullickson

'Barbaric' Has No Tongue for Prayer, But a Stomach for Blood

Updated: Jul 5

The new Vault Comics series screams bloody bliss to those puny mortals who dare crack its pages.

God damn, this comic is the heavy metal nightmare your mother warned you about. When she got into your stash and snatched away your Iron Maidens, Judas Priests, and oh-so-holy Black Sabbaths, she was contemplating today. She foresaw the inevitable, gratuitous wretchedness that awaited you within the pages of Barbaric#1, written by Michael Moreci, illustrated by Nathan C. Gooden, colored by Addison Duke, lettered by Jim Campbell, and designed by Tim Daniel. A bunch of monsters.


The new Vault Comics series delights in its mayhem. The concept is soaked in raw Frank Frazetta machismo, and its pages leave your fingers slick with sweat. At least, you hope that's sweat. It could be blood, but it could be other stuff too. There is a slippery, textural experience occurring as you speed through the issue, as the images rupture your four other senses. You feel Barbaric. You taste Barbaric. You hear Barbaric. And, oh, god, you smell Barbaric.


Owen the Barbarian does not want to be your brute or your protagonist. Once upon a time, he enjoyed the simple things: sex, violence, and alcohol. Then he smashed headfirst into a curse and his new bosom buddy, a blood-guzzling ax that thirsts for the wet stuff that hides inside evil assholes. Whatever pleasures Owen used to seek no longer matter. He's got to feed the blade, and he's got to feed it well.


Barbaric is the type of story where you eagerly anticipate the savagery. Lurking around every other panel is some jerk needing extinction. These lecherous oafs stumble cockily into battle, proudly putting their mug nose-to-nose with the unasumingly named Owen. Sure, the Barbarian looks tough, but so does everyone else in this world. Thugs pick fights with him cuz that's how you kill time here, but as most learn, when you're not killing time, time is killing you. And Owen might have a goofy name, but he's also talking with his ax, and guys who talk with their ax are guys you should not challenge.


If Gooden's art does not belong in a museum it sure as hell belongs on the side of a van. He elicits all the appropriate hallmarks, painting a universe that could have been shot by John Milius' camera or slathered on a Weird Tales magazine cover. This is meaty stuff, made all the more visceral by Duke's mind-slapping colors.


Your'e not shaking Barbaric from your brain anytime soon. It's a clinger, and you'll wobble away from it a little drunk. Eventually, you'll sober up and get on with your routine, but in 30 days, issue two hits, and the bender will no doubt start all over. We shouldn't be concerned until the trade paperback drops. For now, one single comic every month is manageable. No one at work will be able to tell how Barbaric is slowly altering your perception.

Barbaric #1


Writer: Michael Moreci

Artist: Nathan Gooden

Colorist: Addison Duke

Letterer: Jim Campbell

Designer: Tim Daniel

Cover A: Nathan Gooden

Cover B: Joshua Hixson

Cover C: Nathan Gooden & Tim Daniel

On Sale: 6/30/2021


Synopsis: Owen the Barbarian has been cursed to do good with what remains of his life. His bloodthirsty weapon, Axe, has become his moral compass with a drinking problem. Together they wander the realm, foredoomed to help any who seek assistance. But there is one thing Owen hates more than a life with rules: Witches.


Welcome to the skull-cracking, blood-splattering, mayhem-loving comic brave enough to ask: How can a man sworn to do good do so much violence? Hah! F***ing with you. It's just...BARBARIC.