Advance Review – The Mighty Barbarians #1 (Ablaze Publishing)

Publisher: Ablaze Publishing
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Giuseppe Cafaro
Release Date: 19th April 2023

Set for release next week from Ablaze Publishing, The Mighty Barbarians sees one of my personal favourite writers Michael Moreci teaming up with artist Guiseppe Cafaro for an ensemble fantasy tale of truly epic proportions.

As setups go, this is a fairly straightforward one, with a realm-spanning threat being introduced (in this case the sinister “Aleph”) and a cast of ass-kickers being brought together in quasi-montage style to combat it, with each new addition being given a brief moment or two to showcase their skills before ultimately joining the team.

The real selling point of this series for me, other than Moreci’s involvement, is the roster of characters that are assembled by Morgan le Fay (yes, that Morgan le Fay) to battle the Aleph. Spanning the world of folklore and literature, we have Anansi the trickster, Inuit shape-shifter Nanook, Birka the fearsome Viking Shieldmaiden, and serving as de facto leader, Robert E. Howard’s “other” barbarian, Kull. A fairly stellar lineup, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Cafaro does really solid job with the visual side of this first issue, showcasing a real flair for blade-on-blade combat (which I feel is going to serve him rather well as this series unfolds) while also delivering some striking character designs and easy to interpret expressions. Granted there’s not a huge amount of in-depth emotion being conveyed so far, but Cafaro certainly does ‘angry’ and ‘sullen’ rather well, which is pretty much all that’s needed at this point

We also get a neat little prologue sequence introducing the Aleph as a central threat, which features the return to comics of Marvel’s Thongor, who debuted all the way back in 1972 and was originally introduced via a series of sword-and-sorcery novels by Lin Carter. A nice addition for comic book fantasy historians, and an exciting way to showcase the Aleph at the same time.

In terms of what the creators set out to do in this first issue, this has to be considered a success. Yes, it’s a lot of groundwork laying, and yes, other than the characters themselves there’s nothinghere we haven’t seen a hundred times before. But given the track record of the writer and the obvious talent of the artist, this is definitely a series that’s well worth checking out.  A solid enough opening then, but I’m eager to start getting into the real meat of the story now that the introductions are out of the way.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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