American Barbarian TPB ComicWow! Review

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Tom Scioli has worked on Deadpool, Elephantmen, Myth of *-Opus, Captain America: Hail Hydra!, The Incredibles, Godland, Strange, Transformers Vs GI Joe, Future Shock, Black Dynamite, Avengers, Satan’s Soldier, Fantastic Comics, Freedom Force, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, and more.  He is known for having a writing and artistic style similar to the legendary Jack Kirby.  This is a description and compliment that Scioli takes very seriously.

The basic premise of this story is that in a distant future, a family of seven “barbarian” brothers, led by Yoosamon, their wise father (think a human version of Master Splinter, but with a Red/White/Blue beard), protect Foretress Lionhorn, a peaceful but strong city-state.  It is an exception in a world filled with “roving mutant armies, legions of the risen dead, renegade robots, wild herds of genetic supermen, roving citadels on wheels, science experiments run amok, swirling matter-devouring black holes, re-animated dinosaurs, the sewer people of new new new new York.”

The brothers undergo a “sword in the stone” type ritual, and the youngest, Meric, ends up pulling all the swords away from the others.   This indicates that he is “special,” so he becomes the favorite among the seven – now six (one walked off with no explanation).  He becomes much stronger, and in addition to his red/white/blue hair, he now sports an American Eagle crest on his chest.  Although there is no other discussion of America or its meaning, everyone knows that he is “The American Barbarian.”

The father warns the King of an impending threat – one so very powerful and dangerous that the King should make peace with his current rivals, like The Two Tank Omen.  The Two Tank Omen is a giant with two main battle tanks as his feet.  He is the commander of a huge force of warriors and monsters.

The brothers, in a fit of pique, attack Meric en masse and lock him in a dungeon.  He escapes just in time to find that his family and the kingdom have fallen to the Two Tank Omen and his horde.  Receiving a key from his dying father, Meric becomes the guardian and wielder of the Star Sword.

Meric has to find a way to survive, stop the Two Tank Omen, and take his revenge on the monstrosity that destroyed his home and family.

The writing is over-the-top and deliberately camp.  There are many visual and verbal references from Star Wars to Thundarr the Barbarian to the American Rabbit, and beyond.  For the readers who remember Kirby, this is homage; for readers unfamiliar with his style, this can be a bit strange.  Kirby’s style was Poe-esque, in that he had imagery he wanted to bring forth, and he would build entire stories to showcase those images, an African American Knight in Armor on Skiis zooming through the spaceways as a post-modern Grim Reaper.  Scioli’s work is more reminiscent of his stint at DC, where he worked on a range of interconnected titles (New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle) and some that were discrete from his “Fourth World,” Kamandi and OMAC among others.  He also contributed to many other DC titles during that era.

Given the deliberately campy elements, Scioli is serious at creating those images.  He succeeds in re-creating a Kirby-esque saga, incorporating the visual and thematic elements that made Jack “King” Kirby’s work so iconic.

Written & Illustrated by: Tom Scioli

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