Pssh, like I’m going to discover a book about a barbarian riding a giant pug and NOT read the heck out of it.
When table buddy Sanford Greene told me about BattlePug at The Tangled Web’s Free Comic Book Day event, I knew I’d found a new favorite before I even opened the cover. Volume 1 of Mike Norton’s webcomic-turned-graphic novel follows the nameless barbarian, The Last Kinmundian, as he seeks to avenge the destruction of his home by killing the monster that obliterated it. Standard barbarian stuff, except that the creature that destroyed Kinmundy? It’s an evil baby seal.
And lacking a village to toughen and angst up his barbarian self, he finds plenty of toughening and angst when he’s rescued and enslaved by the Northland Elves. Who are basically Santa’s elves. Led by a dude who is basically Santa.
Did I mention that he also rides a big ol’ pug?
If you don’t already know what you’re getting into with this comic, these two panels sum up its style perfectly:
And those two panels tell me all I need to know to love the snortin’ heck out of BattlePug.
That said, for people who do not have an irrational love of pugs or comics conceived during Drink and Draws (as this one was. Obviously), it leaves a little to be desired. As mentioned earlier, its story is pretty standard barbarian-seeking-revenge fare, with its comedic elements (and mainly the pug) being the sole feature that make it stand out. There’s nothing particularly original or engaging about the characters, and the comedic elements are not handled in a way that makes them inextricable from the world. Kinmundy could have just as easily been destroyed by a giant kitten, and regrettably even the titular BattlePug could be interchanged with another similarly silly looking creature and still maintain the sense of humor.
A note for parents: While the main storyline is fairly kid-friendly (some blood notwithstanding), it’s told by the mysterious and sexy Moll, whose chosen article of clothing is a bed sheet, if anything at all. You rarely see anything more than a nice butt, but it’s worth knowing if your kid hasn’t reached a developmental stage that can handle butts.
BattlePug isn’t exactly a hidden gem, then, but readers looking for comics in the same ridiculous vein as, say, Axe Cop (another of my faves), will find some amusement here. Pug-loving readers like me, however, will likely be adding all subsequent books in the series to their collections. (In fact, I just requested the second from my local comic shop!)
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