Co—-errrr whoops. Wrong Barbarian.
Dark Horse has unleashed on us Jeff (Black Hammer) Lemire & Mike (Avengers) Deodato Jr.’s stranger in a strange land series! It’s a bit light on story, and we’ve been here before: Barbarian king spewing purple prose about his life being filled with blood and steel. He’s a mongrel, a warrior, a king. He had a wife (strongest woman he’s ever known) and a child. Things escalate and before you can answer the riddle of steel — our Berserker finds himself in a modern city here on Earth!
Now look, Lemire has yet to write a mediocre or predictable story. So it’s okay with me that this all feels very been there, done that. It’s either going to dive into new unchartered waters, or it’ll be the best damn savage in the city tale done in the modern era (sorry Crocodile Dundee!). The star of this is the unchained Deodato Jr. Along with Colorist Frank Martin, Deodato’s first foray away from Marvel in almost two decades is a visual feast. Look out Conan, your mighty Marvel comeback story just got interrupted by a battle axe to the face. 3/5 Conan the Biblarians.
The lead up to me reading this book was equal parts excitement and apprehension. The Future Foundation is one of the best concepts to debut at Marvel in the past decade. Unfortunately, not everyone that tackled this concept after Jonathan Hickman’s run quite nailed the landing. While the voices of the characters all seem intact, the overall characterization itself never exceeds one-dimensional clichés. The multiple points of view narration feels jarring and some of the dialogue is incredibly generic and exposition-heavy.
Jeremy Whitley‘s plot is interesting, although it never feels fit for this team. For every one thing his story did right, there was another thing that goes awry. I’m normally a fan of Whitley’s work; however, the team having to plan a jailbreak in an intergalactic prison didn’t play to the strengths of this team’s core concept. More so, this book comes off like generic teen super hero book #42 and not what it was supposed to be– a big ideas book about young prodigies pushing the boundaries of what we know about science.
With all of the mentions throughout the story, did Whitley intend to write an Avengers Academy or Power Pack book instead of the Future Foundation? The irony of a concept that Hickman created — guest starring a character that’s blatantly copying the movie version (Yondu), after Hick’ gave a spirited diatribe about how erroneous this practice is — didn’t go unnoticed. The villain reveal at the end, while interesting, does make Alex Power look like a complete moron in the end.
While Will Robson, Daniele Orlandini and Greg Menzie seem to gel together well and created some fun and bubbly scenes, with the cold blue halls of said prison allowing the bright colors of their costumes and powers to pop, Robson’s art was so overly animated that it was hard for any scene to feel like it had weight. Once again, this is a kids book, but it feels like the creative team had to beat us over the head with that in every single panel. 2.5/5 FF Bibles.