Berserker Unbound #2 is a semi-fresh take on the classic primitive meets present story with a superb creative team behind it. One of my statements I like to say often is “No one writes melancholy like Lemire” so when he gets the opportunity to put his style in a new context, I am always excited. Berserker Unbound #2 is another rock-solid entry into his canon, bolstered by Mike Deodato Jr.’s linework, Frank Martin’s colors, and Steve Wands’s letters.
Berserker Unbound #2 begins with the unlikely pairing of the Mongrel King (M.K) and the homeless Joe Cobb. Cobb treats the Mongrel King’s wounds, offers him food, a bed, and even clothes him (kind of).
Joe Cobb is a noticeably charismatic and likable character. The full page of Cobb rattling on to M.K about how he hates people who talk too much is ironic and funny, but very well written and exposes a lot of what makes his character tick. In some way Cobb and M.K are similar in that they both feel displaced from the present, it’s just that with M.K the displacement is obvious.
While the miscommunication between Cobb and M.K is funny, I don’t see this schtick lasting much longer as the joke feels worn out by the end of the issue. Hopefully, the translation difficulty gets sorted out soon, but it is not a total distraction as Lemire’s written dialogue is characteristically quiet and melancholic.
Berserker Unbound #2 is different from almost every Lemire story in that the main character is seemingly unimportant to the world around him. Perhaps this is another example of M.K being out of place, as Cobb would continue living in the woods and getting his stamps with or without M.K.
It is noticeably unusual to see Lemire’s somber storytelling in a story revolving around a savage barbarian murderer, and the difference in the typical tone these stories are told in will bore some readers expecting a swords and sandals action-packed chapter. But avid readers of Lemire’s work should know what to expect from a story with his name attached and Berserker Unbound #2 definitely meets his standards.
Mike Deodato Jr.’s line work and Frank Martin’s colors are breathtaking in this series. There is an almost photo-realistic quality to Deodato’s linework and Martin’s colors that heighten how jarring it is to see a prehistoric barbarian in present time. I personally love the disconnected layout of the panels with dividers intersecting almost every frame, yet somehow the works are cohesive. The way the panels are placed lets the readers enter the confused head of M.K and how he must see our world. This framing of the panels draws the reader’s eyes to when there is a still moment, such as the one between Cobb and M.K in the cave.
Berserker Unbound #2 is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to tradition Fish out of Water stories. But the creative team of Jeff Lemire, Mike Deodato Jr., Frank Martin, and Steve Wands more than puts this story over the edge. Some issues need to be addressed and corrected, but the chapter is an overall success.