Fantastic creatures, playful puns, and some of the most sublime art on the shelves these days and come together to deliver a wonderfully strange adventure. The action is fast and intense, the script is funny, and the world itself is constantly inventive. If you’re looking for something a little unfamiliar that delivers on the promise of a no-rules fantasy world then this is definitely it!
I had no idea what I would be getting into when I picked up Weirdworld, I’ve never read any of the original Weirdworld comics or even seen Arkon in a regular Marvel book. I suppose I had some notional sense that we would be getting a magical world with barbarians, and that the thing would look beautiful what with Mike Del Mundo on art duties. I definitely didn’t expect it to be so fun, or grand, or inventive, or for there to be instantly memorable characters and or that rarest thing of all puns that make you smile rather than groan.
The mighty barbarian Arkon remains a lightly drawn character; all we know about him is that he is a great fighter, he is possibly the lord of his realm of Polemachus, and that he has a very thick skull. But this is all by design, Arkon is our window on to the mysterious, dangerous, and slightly unhinged Weirdworld – he is a stranger there as much as we are, even if he has had time to draw a very detailed (if indecipherable) map of the place. He has two defining characteristics, both of which make him a compelling hero. First is that he will stop at nothing to find a way home (such is the power of his desire that he would rather headbutt a door until it kills him than let it get in his way), and second, that he is most likely just as crazy as the other citizens of Weirdworld (did you hear that door-headbutt story?)
The real star of this issue was not Arkon though, nor was it the lords of Apelantis (great though they are), it was Warbow the mightiest warrior of Crystallium. First appearing as a disembodied eye peeking through the cell wall we are introduced to Warbow in a way that should foretell of his madness. He is pure Alice in Wonderland, a talking eye that sees all, acts little, and patronises the ‘foolish’ Akron for trying to escape. And then he reveals himself, towering over Akron, and offering salvation. Warbow is fun because he is a picture of what Arkon might become (already is?) – he is a great warrior who was lost too long in this place and left his sanity behind somewhere, but the real magic comes from how straight the character is played throughout the book. He seems to have everything sorted out, he knows what he is doing and even has a map of his own, so when the final reveal comes and it is clear that he is a mad as a bag of crystals it is all the funnier. Yet it is also tragic, both for Warbow himself, whose cool, calm, murderous efficiency is all for naught, and for Arkon, who has just traded one trap for another.
Mike Del Mundo consistently delivers rich, deep, and beautiful pages and this book really is no different – every panel in this thing is marvellous. The sense of impact and movement, the almost tangible sense of scale, everything in Weirdworld is simultaneously glorious and somehow off, it all looks like it could kill you in an instant (as it probably could). The two page ape-fight in the depths is a true standout, but it is not without competition as the first reappearance of the dragon and the Crystar reveal are so brilliant too (seriously though, Warbow’s face when he says “And my best friend” is absolutely perfect).
I came to Weirdworld for the art, Mike Del Mundo is one of my favourite artists working right now and this book has so much to offer in that regard, and yet Jason Aaron’s inventiveness and fun writing has made the book even more worthwhile. The plot is incredibly simple, basically an a to b to c D&D adventure, but the cool monsters and smart gags bring it all together in a satisfying way. This isn’t comic book writing that will change the industry, but it’s a lot of fun, and the art is just perfect.
Weird World #2 // Writer – Jason Aaron / Artist – Mike Del Mundo / Colours – Mike Del Mundo & Marco D’Alfonso // Marvel
– Moltar is a tremendous name for a man made of magma. Plus, how great and Tron-esque do these lava guys look!
– Warbow and Arkon infiltrating the Baroness’ magma palace is a thing of greatness – Warbow’s rise from the lava alone is amazing stuff.