Image Comics has introduced some of the biggest hits in modern comics. From The Walking Dead to Saga, Image has proven that sometimes the best creative strategy is to unleash your talent with no limits. That approach is what gives us Curse Words, one of the best new Image series in years.
“Once upon a time there was a wizard,” Curse Words begins, “then, everything went to hell.” Curse Words is created by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne. The former is a practicing attorney by day, ridiculously prolific comics writer by night. The latter is the zany mastermind behind God Hates Astronauts. Soule’s meticulous intelligence and Browne’s irreverent insanity are a match made in heaven, or perhaps the most metal corner of hell.
Curse Words follows a wizard named Wizord. He was sent to Earth by the dread lord Sizajee to destroy it. But then he eats a hot dog, walks on the beach, and enjoys a museum and he realizes the Earth is great, so he becomes its protector. But Wizord has spent an eternity as a dreaded dude himself, and heroism does not come easy to him. To say the least. As he struggles to fend off the other wizards he used to work with, the collateral damage starts to build up, and Wizord needs to seriously consider just what the hell he’s doing.
That premise may not blow your mind, but the execution certainly will. While the bare bones of the story is a typical reluctant hero narrative, it goes down so many twisting avenues that by the end of the first trade, it’s impossible to neatly summarize the story. Curse Words rejects comic book decompression and fills each issue with a solid storyline that never leaves the cast where they started.
More than that, the book is funny. Really funny. It stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the funniest books Image has ever put out. Wizord’s familiar/sidekick/best friend is a rat named Margaret who he transforms into a koala. Margaret immediately gets an internet following who may be a little bit… too into her koala bear features. The book translates wizard speech from the Langue Mystique into English, but also fish speech from the Langue Fishtique. Birds are kind of dumb though, they just speak Bird Language.
The character designs have a coherent aesthetic, but are completely insane. Wizord starts as the typical flowing beard kind of wizard, but he gets himself a hipster haircut, and starts wearing tacky Earth clothes. The other wizards, with names like Cornwall and Botchko, are each built around a weird theme, taken to the nth degree. They all come from the mind of the creator of Emperor Tiger-Eating-a-Cheeseburger.
What gives the comic weight, is the world Soule and Browne have given us. The wordplay and silly art give plenty of reason to pick up an issue, but the mystery of Sizajee and his apocalyptic home, the Hole World, are equally intriguing. The origin and mechanics of magic are just hinted at, enough so the reader can follow, but leaving plenty to be revealed as the story progresses. More than that, Wizord must also learn about a different kind of magic, the kind you get when you cry at the end of Titanic. Earth magic.
With the first trade Curse Words gives a sampling of what’s to come. It’s well-written and gloriously drawn, but more than that the whole thing is charming and intriguing. It adds up to more than the sum of its parts. There’s still no word on how many issues the series is planned for, but with any luck Curse Words will be here for a long, long time. #TeamMargeret
Curse Words Vol 1 TPB
Created by Charles Soule & Ryan Browne
Colors by Ryan Browne & Michael Garland
Letters by Chris Crank
Color Flats by Michael Parkinson
Logo by Sean Dove
Book Design By Ryan Browne