The world of Barbaric is expanding and what better way to have it grow with an entirely woman-led series?
Queen of Swords, from Vault Comics, (c) Michael Moreci & Nathan Gooden (w) Michael Moreci (a) Corin Howell (c) K.J. Diaz (l) Jim Campbell (d) Tim Daniel (e) Der-shing Helmer, Adrian Wassel
As my fellow Co-Host of the Simply Amazing Podcast says, “Let the women do the work!”.
Barbaric is such a joy of a world. It’s chaotic, unapologetic, out-of-this-world, and yet down-to-earth at the same time. But the title book is led by a male barbarian and, while he’s great, the book is missing something. It’s missing a chaotic, unapologetic, out-of-this-world, and yet down-to-earth woman-led team. And holy hell, does Queen of Swords deliver!!
The best part of having a book with more than 2 lead women in it is the variety you’re able to see among the women’s personalities. The token woman stereotype doesn’t exist in Queen of Swords and it’s a breath of fresh air I’ve been needing since A Man Among Ye ended (and since Kelly Thompson’s Captain Marvel run is ending, excuse me while I go cry in the corner again).
On the right side of the above image, our barbarian, Deadheart, is basically a woman himbo; yes, I’m aware this means bimbo, but she is definitely not wearing pink and doing Pilates on Saturday mornings. Rather, she’s slicing and dicing as she talks to her sword, much like our lead in Barbaric is constantly swinging around his axe while his axe cries out for more blood. Deadheart has me cackling almost every panel she’s in! Ka (middle of image above) is our level-headed but stubborn leader, who I adore and definitely deserves a fun night out, and Serra (left of image above)? Well, she’s the gay witch that grew up watching Willow on Buffy but decided to follow in Faith’s footsteps for a while.
I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist the joke! This issue brings me so much joy that I couldn’t help it. I’ve fallen in love with all of these characters, to the point where I reached the end of the issue and said “EXCUSE ME!?!? I HAVE TO WAIT FOR MORE?!?”. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt such a strong connection to a comic book team! (looking at you, Krakoa X-Men titles… sigh).
Moreci’s plot construction is fantastic. I won’t give spoilers- however, the balance between present time and flashbacks helped me get a full picture of the world and the characters very quickly. Honestly, the pacing of Queen of Swords reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl- simple and to-the-point plot with some great layers underneath, a ton of action, and many quality character moments!
That said, Corin Howell’s art and K.J. Diaz’s colors bring Queen of Swords to life in a way that live-action otherwise can’t. My favorite parts are the textures of each panel, especially on a *burst* of action and emotion (once you see it…). As I go from panel to panel, I can vividly feel the actions and emotions of each character- even without the words. Even though comics are a visual medium, this is incredibly hard to do!! The transitions of each panel feel seamless and, as many pieces go into transitions between comic panels, the textures really stand out to me as group project leaders here.
Additionally, I want to touch on Jim Campbell’s letters, because he does something very unique here. Each speech bubble used in Queen of Swords is anything but a “normal” circle. Go ahead, take a look-
I really love this seemingly small detail because it’s actually a worldbuilding element. Everyone has an odd shape to their speech bubbles, meaning the entire world of Barbaric speaks in ways different from us as humans on this real-life Earth. However, they aren’t all the exact same odd shapes, allowing Campbell to still present characters as individuals through his lettering as appropriate. Truly, Truly brilliant!
It’s tough to directly praise editors for their work, as it is hard to tell what they edited and what they didn’t choose to, but a huge shout out to Der-shing Helmer and Adrian Wassel for editing this fantastic book!
If you’re missing a comic series that’s fun, action-packed, badass, hilarious, while still packing that perfect emotional punch- look no further, Queen of Swords: A Barbaric Tale is here! …Well, it will be soon. Be sure to check with your Local Comic Shop (LCS) and get your copy when it releases 5/10/23!
If you don't have an LCS or want to order online, check out Queen Of Swords A Barbaric Tale #1 Cover A Regular Corin Howell & KJ Diaz Cover - Midtown Comics
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