Title: Berserker Unbound.
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire.
Artist(s): Mike Deodato Jr..
Colourist(s): Frank Martin.
Letterer(s): Steve Wands.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if some of your beloved fictional characters were sent into a whole other universe, one that is unusually different from their usual setting? Bilbo Baggins in space? Sherlock Holmes in an underwater kingdom? Harry Potter at Disney Land? There’s nothing more discomforting for a character but to be in another environment where nothing seems familiar. However, even in the oddest corners of the universe, you’ll still look to survive, to understand what you’ll do next with your life. Having previously worked together on a short comic book series featuring Marvel’s infamous villain Thanos, writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike Deodato Jr. return together to tackle a brand-new creator-owned story called Berserker Unbound.
What is Berserker Unbound about? A tragedy strikes a merciless sword-and-sorcery warrior, sending him on a deadly bloodlust, desperately wishing to get his hands on the individual behind it. The sudden appearance of an eerie and evil wizard, however, invites questions to this unhinged man that forces him down a sketchy path and into a wormhole that will forever change his perception of life. Stranded in a modern-day metropolis where poverty reigns in all of its fury, he now meets and befriends a homeless man but their inability to communicate due to linguistic differences creates an odd yet heartwarming relationship that will help them find a new purpose for their respective lives.
Writer Jeff Lemire brings in a twist to Berserker’s legacy as he sends him to an unexpected corner of the world that is way too familiar to readers and tries to blend both the mythological fantasy elements to the post-apocalyptic elements. There’s a certain sense of understanding regarding this character showcased by the writer that is quite appealing as you dive into this self-contained adventure and see this rage-filled yet kind-hearted hero tries to make sense of the world to which he’s warped to. Immediately knowing a significant loss, witnessed early in this story, the protagonist is set up for an emotional journey that is somewhat rewarding by the end of the tale. It is essentially through his quickly-developed friendship with the homeless man Joe Cobb that the story creates an immersive tone and establishes this story’s world, character, and journey.
Within four issues, writer Jeff Lemire does achieve some pretty decent character development, especially between Berserker and his new friend, but it crumbles by the weight of the weak storyline that is introduced here. There is simply too much that was left unexplained that could’ve made the reading experience much more rewarding. The clever clash in cultural and linguistic realities offered some subtle comic relief but the rushed execution made for a story that barely scratched the surface of what might be a series, despite there not being any sequels currently being worked on. However, artist Mike Deodato steals the show here with his incredible visual story-telling. His character design is imposing and marvelous, his landscapes are epic and breath-taking, his panel structure is original and captures the brutality of this warrior, especially during gruesome highlighted fighting sequences that honours the violence this hero is capable of.
Berserker Unbound is a brutally beautiful yet regrettably superficial adventure focused on friendship amidst loss with an original world-building twist.