If you like women with swords, you now have a lot of options, thanks to Vault! This is probably my favorite trend right now, so I was delighted to see Barbaric #2 delve into the backstory of Soren, a witch who can pull swords out of the tattoos on her body. We get two flashbacks from her, one about the recent events of how she met Owen and Axe, and one about her childhood, where we learn that people wanting to set her on fire is a real theme in her life.
Our story picks up with our trio of characters (Owen, Soren, and Axe) waiting in a pub for Axe to sober up. The first issue of Barbaric was memorable for its on-the-nose humor and violent montages, thus introducing us to the characters and setting in a splashy way. This second one seems to settle into its identity as ‘The DND campaign you wish you’d come up with’ while still retaining a lot of the laugh-out-loud dialogue and the ‘chop everyone to pieces’ moments that you would expect.
The story being set up is interesting, but like the nostalgic tabletop roleplaying games with friends, the character interactions along the way are what make it special. Their designs and their writing are really precise here, with each character having a distinct voice, look, and color scheme. This makes for some really visually interesting color combinations when they talk and fight!
My only complaint is that I’m not sure if the current storyline matters. It’s an interesting concept, but this feels like it will be resolved in an issue or two when a main quest or storyline appears, which leaves me wondering if we spent a lot of time on the backstory of what feels like a sidequest. The stakes aren’t clear, and it doesn’t feel like interacting with this current task will get any of the characters further towards their goals. I’d love to be proven wrong here, but this isn’t a huge problem–After all, this issue is still a lot of fun and it delivers on its promise of blood, mayhem, and monsters.