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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Graphic novel review: Curse Words by Charles Soule & Ryan Browne

 


Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charles Soule is a New York Times-bestselling, Brooklyn-based comic book writer, musician, and attorney. He is best known for writing Daredevil, She-Hulk, Death of Wolverine (inspiration for the film Logan,) and various Star Wars comics from Marvel Comics, as well as his creator-owned series CURSE WORDS from Image Comics and the award-winning political sci-fi epic Letter 44 from Oni Press. His debut novel The Oracle Year will be published in 2018 by HarperCollins

Publisher: IMAGE Comics Length: 756 pages (Omnibus edition)


I love Urban Fantasy and protagonists with a faulty moral compass. If you’re like me, then Charles Soule’s “Curse Words” is the comic book series for you. This delightfully irreverent series pulses with magic, mayhem, and a hefty dose of dark humor, and it’s every bit as chaotic and entertaining as it sounds.


The powerful sorcerer from another dimension, Wizord (nope, not a mistake, he’s not subtle), arrives on Earth to destroy it, only to discover he kinda likes it here. Which won’t sit well with Sizzajee, the baddest bad in the entire universe and his master. Long story short, instead of destroying Earth, Wizord sets up shop in NY and becomes a wizard for hire. Sizzajee gets angry and sends Wizord’s old pals to annihilate him. But fear not! Wizord’s trusty (and shape-shifting) sidekick, Margaret the Koala, is a resourceful creature.


Soule’s writing won’t appeal to everyone - it’s not subtle, but it’s sharp and witty, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It balances the absurdity of the premise with some genuinely heartfelt moments, particularly in the dynamic between Wizord and Margaret, and later with Ruby Stitch. 


The stakes remain high; the magic is wild, and the humor is dark. Soule has a knack for combining the fantastical with the mundane, which makes the story unpredictable and consistently entertaining. I mean, it’s packed with magical mayhem, including turning a client into platinum folk singer or fighting a hogtaur. 


Ryan Browne’s art is spectacular. I enjoyed his vibrant and detailed style that perfectly complements the chaotic energy of the story. The colors pop off the page, and the character designs are as imaginative as they come—Margaret the koala is a particular standout. As an artist, Browne’s able to capture the grandeur of epic magical battles and the humor in more mundane character-focused scenes. 


As you probably guessed, I loved the story. But I’m not blind and need to emphasize its offbeat humor and over-the-top scenarios may not be to everyone’s taste. If you’re looking for a grounded, serious exploration of magic, this isn’t it. The tone is irreverent, and the humor lacks subtlety, which might be off-putting for some readers. Additionally, the plot can sometimes feel all over the place, and rapid shifts in pace and tone don’t always help to get a clear sense of direction. 

With that said, I literally devoured the Omnibus in two sittings and enjoyed myself a lot. Curse Words is a magical romp that I found hilarious and heartfelt. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is all the better for it. It’s wild, different, and unabashedly fun. If you’re in the mood for it, you’ll have a great time. 

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