Trade Watching – Curse Words #1

Collection development is a large part of a library’s budget and a librarian’s time. It can be difficult to develop a graphic novel collection development plan when the length between reading a review for a first issue and the time when a trade comes out can be affected by many factors, including printer issues and unscheduled delays. Trade Watching posts will consist of reviews of #1 issues with their projected trade paperback release date along with a reminder when that date rolls around.

2017-05-curse-wordsCurse Words #1
By Charles Soule and Ryan Browne
Colors by Ryan Browne, Jordan Boyd, and Michael Parkinson
Letters by Chris Crank, Ryan Browne, and Shawn Depasquale.

“Once Upon a time, there was a wizard. Then it all went to hell,” cold opens the new Image title by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne. Meet Wizord, a magician from another dimension sent by his master, Lord Sizzajee, to end the world. However, after days of spell preparation, a chance encounter with a hot dog vendor turns Wizord into Earth’s protector instead of destroyer. When asked, “How is it that they [people relaxing along the water] can spend so much time in idleness? Where are their masters?” Wizord gets his first glimpse at a world without slaves and masters, nobles and those in their services, and he admires. Staying on Earth, Wizord cleans up his look, but keeps his incredible hipster beard, rents an office space, and with his sidekick, a talking Koala named Margaret, starts his work as a Wizard for Hire.

In this issue, we discover Wizord’s origin, along with a few of his clients. His business has only three rules: no curses, no wars, no love. He’s extinguished wildfires, conjured food to alleviate hunger, returned a missing child to their family, and denied a nefarious looking general. When Johnny One, a baby faced musician who could be mistaken for a Canadian YouTuber turned Usher protégé, visits Wizord to become platinum, all seems to go well until Cornwall, an Elizabethan inspired wizard, attacks Wizord for his insurrection.

2017-05-curse-words-pg-7Browne’s art is arresting and vibrant, creating a colorful yet based in reality world for Wizord to inhabit. Panel layout plays a large roll in pushing the narrative for many comics and Browne’s use of irregular, yet straight lined panels invoke the mystical arts. Many of the panels feel like they are parts of a potion which must be put together in a particular way for the story to advance. The use of color injects a lot of symbolism into this book. The potion created to destroy the world is pink, but Wizord is paid in sapphires, has a blue staff and his magic is blue. Cornwall’s magic is also pink and his staff is rather phallic in nature. I’m excited to see how the symbolism continues in the next few issues.

I have been a huge fan of Soule since his run on She-Hulk a few years ago. He tends to write solitary characters with extraordinary powers like She-Hulk, Daredevil, and Swamp Thing. An immigration lawyer as well as a writer, it feels like Soule’s work with immigrants seeps into his books though the outsider characters he often writes. It is also interesting to note that this book does not have caption boxes, everything is divulged through dialogue and the occasional tweet, mostly about how Margaret is left out of some of Wizord’s situations. It is difficult to tell the relationship between Wizord and Margaret. Why is Margaret an animal? Is she a magician gone bad? In servitude to Wizord? We’ll have to wait and  see in issue #2 and beyond.

Curse Words Volume 1 is set to be released on July 25th, 2017.