Curse Words, Vol. 1
Writer: Charles Soule
Illustrator: Ryan Browne
Publisher: Image Comics
Welcome to an altogether different spin on comic-book sorcery in Curse Words, which combines the magician-as-superhero angle of Doctor Strange with the superhero-as-profit-generator approach of Booster Gold.
Meet Wizord, the best wizard in the world. OK, also the only wizard in the world, because we generally do not have those.
Then again, he is not from our world but another place (The Hole World), where he is the pawn of a more powerful, big bad spellcaster/dark god.
Sent to Earth to carry out his master’s bidding, Wizord decides instead to save us from it.
So naturally, Boss Man sends one flunky after another to terminate his traitorous butt and see that the plan gets carried out.
(Let’s just say the end result of the plan is the sorcerous equivalent of the planet having to make way for an intergalactic bypass.)
With his familiar – a talking koala named Margaret – by his side, Wizord thus proceeds to be defender, exploiter and at one point, even a dependent of Earth.
This Image comic is pretty nuts, and mostly, it works. The fun level is pretty high, not quite Thor Ragnarok level (a good or bad thing depending on your tolerance for silliness), and Wizord is definitely a multiple-shades-of-grey-type character.
On the basis of the first volume, I wouldn’t even label him an antihero.
Because, after all, he was this close to executing his master’s plan of destroying the world when he changed his mind. Why? Let’s just chalk it up to the little freedoms mankind has, the ones we take for granted and throw away with hardly a second thought – stuff that Wizord’s boss does not allow at all back home.
Wizord is not the easiest character to root for, but he is a complex and single-minded enough fellow that readers can easily overlook his devious ways. I particularly liked the arc where he becomes reliant on Earth for his source of magic, and (without giving away too much) this aspect of the book is a nice take on – here we go again – things we take for granted, but are actually pretty special when seen through new eyes.
As things back on Wizord’s home world get heated, and one enforcer after another is sent to Earth to rein in Wizord (and end him, if possible), the stakes get higher and the action, wilder.
Amusing interludes like comments and tweets from Margaret’s fan base are thrown in, and this is one aspect of the tale that could have used some exploring – not an entire issue’s worth, perhaps, but at least a back-up feature would have been nice.
I liked Curse Words, but didn’t love it because the main character takes a long time to grow on the reader (and even after that, he still seems like a distant and not very sympathetic figure).
Still, the premise is interesting enough to want to see how Wizord tackles future onslaughts by his erstwhile employer. And, of course, how much longer he can keep pulling the wool over humanity’s eyes.