Leland Bjerg – writer and letterer, Josh Thompson – pencils/inks, Gabriel Roldan – colours
The hour grows late and the drinks are flowing. The tavern is filled with assorted lowlifes – thugs, pirates, mercenaries and throat cutters. Naturally the company turns towards the telling of tales. Well, we have all been in a pub like that at some time and there are certainly a few in North Edinburgh where you could find that sort of clientele. But not many where the tales would be of a legendary hard-nut man of the cloth called the Berserker Monk.
Writer Leland Bjerg’s Berserker Monk takes a look at the idea of the power of stories. The ancient bards knew that their songs and tales had enormous power – indeed they had the power to lay the mighty low. The late Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren once opined that if faced with a choice between the truth and a more interesting legend “print the legend” (or maybe he never said that and it’s just a legend.)
Each of the desperadoes has their own story of the origin of the Berserker Monk. What they all agree on is his indestructible nature and unstoppable fury. The legend of the Monk has a life of its own…one that is full of martial arts clichés it would seem. The simple man who wants to live a peaceful rural life but always finds himself forced to use violence. Whether these come from the legends or from some kind of truth is not clear. As the monk himself says “there’s a seed of truth in every tale”.
The nemesis that the monk faces is one who understands the power of stories. Like some kind of cosmic editor he is ready to take a blue pencil to the narrative…can the monk survive?
The tale is action packed and the art of Josh Thompson reflects that. The movement of bodies between and within panels is handled elegantly. Fists punch through heads, eyeballs go flying. Gabriel Roldan’s colours bring life to glowing magical weirdness and gory blood splatters alike and will satisfy the most action hungry reader.
I particularly enjoyed the character design. From outrageous and impractical axe-pistols to eldritch skull-jawed enemies there has been lots of fun in the creative process. Most of the tough guys and gals who have faced the monk over the years look like they have had rough lives. No chainmail bikinis to be seen (whether that is good or bad I will leave to the reader.)
Berserker Monk is a surprisingly thoughtful romp which uses kung-fu stereotypes to examine the nature of stories and legends. If you like your action with a little contemplation then Berserker Monk might be the book for you.
Berserker Monk issue 3 is launching September 25th on Kickstarter. Sign up now.