Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Colorist: Frank Martin
Lettering: Steve Wands
Release Date: 6th November 2019
Heading into the fourth and final issue of Berserker Unbound, I’ll admit to being a little bit sceptical about whether or not this creative team could provide a satisfying conclusion to the slow-burning series. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the series to this point, but the constraints of the four-issue format frequently leads to a sense of urgency in the storytelling – urgency which, to this point, co-creators Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato Jr. have been more than happy to ignore.
The first three issues have adopted an impressively measured pace where we saw the Conan the Barbarian-esque “Mongrel King” finding himself transported into the modern day world and forging a linguistically-challenged friendship with a homeless man living in the woods near a sprawling metropolis. The pair’s shared sadness and feelings of grief and isolation – not to mention their fondness for alcohol – helped to create a strong bond between them; one that is pushed to its limits here when the hordes of the Mongrel King’s past come charging into the modern world.
As with the first issue, the combat here is an absolute visual feast, with the Mongrel King’s blend of skill and raw brutality making for some truly eye-popping double-page spreads. I’m always a big fan of a good ol’ fashioned barbarian slice-em-up, and that’s exactly what Deodato Jr. and colourist Frank Martin deliver here as the Demon King’s henchmen are duly dispatched by our hulking hero.
More than just raw, beautifully illustrated violence, this issue gradually builds to a suitably poignant (and actually rather emotional) finale, capping off the story in style and effortlessly allaying any of my unfounded doubts going in. While I like nothing more than digging into a sprawling, epic tale, there’s certainly something to be said about a well-executed short-form story, and that’s exactly what Lemire and Deodato Jr. provide us with here.
A simple story beautifully executed, Berserker Unbound tells a gripping tale of loss, acceptance and wordless camaraderie, and as such comes highly recommended.