Thrud the Barbarian coverTHRUD THE BARBARIAN (In stores September)
Writer & Artist: Carl Critchlow
Publisher: Titan Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I hate all things CONAN. Comics, movies it doesn’t matter; there’s never been one ounce of the mythos I’ve ever found intriguing. The only Conan I like has red hair and a heaping case of enabling self-deprecation. It turns out though, I don’t hate barbarians. Especially when that Barbarian makes satirical deep scathing cuts into the tropes that have often bored me. THRUD THE BARBARIAN is a complete tongue and cheek farce that never once takes itself seriously. There’s no morality, no search for redemption and the only quest is to see how many heads need to get chopped off to gain access to a deep brew grog.

I honestly thought I would grow weary during this 142 page homage to might and magic, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whoever wrote the rule that things are funnier in threes has never read THRUD (or seen an episode of Family Guy). Each time there’s an overly complex situation where one thinks guile and cunning are in order – THWAP – off goes the head of the troublemaker trying to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Middle Earth is the staging ground for adventure, well at least a reasonable representation of Middle Earth that is. Through the book’s five chapters THRUD traverses the highest snowy peaks to the bowels of fiery volcanoes and all points in between. This change of locale is important since THRUD’s modus operandi of hit hard and drink beer remain forever steadfast and unwavering. Equally important to the change of locale is how Critchlow infused story elements from the days of Barbarians all the way through the Knights of the Round Table – there’s also a little gnomish like steampunk going on to ensure coverage of all geek bases. In each tale there is always someone in trouble, a villain that needs to be vanquished and copious amounts of heads ripped off to solve the problem. Don’t get me wrong though, each head that is ripped off is done so in a delightful and amusing manner. One may be a sorcerer, the other a king, but in all cases seems always work out in the end – well at for THRUD.

Critchlow has a unique artistic style that can best be described as scratch-fantasy. Every panel is detailed, but it’s also ugly and visceral. There’s a cartoony element to THRUD that never transcends to cute or heavily juxtaposed to the carnage. It’s all very very hard to explain, but once you see it you’ll decry how perfect it is in tonality!

This collected edition also comes with some fun bonus material. If you’re going to collect a book you better damn well have extras – thank you for respecting that Titan.

While THRUD is the antidote for the brooding barbarian, I think fans of the uhhhh…barbarian…genre will delight in seeing their fandom through hyperbole. I know I’m always first in line to pick up anything that flambes’ my favorite genre of Sci-Fi. Give THRUD a chance – even if you’re a barbarian hater as a comic fan you will appreciate what Critchlow has accomplished.