By Zack Quaintance — Dark Horse Comics’ new original series Wyrd is a pastiche of classic comics ideas used to uncover deep truths about country, contentment, and feeling out of place in a harsh world. Wyrd is a dash of Mignola, a healthy serving of the most twisted Captain America you’ve ever seen, and a foundation of a main character whose attitude has more than a little in common with John Constantine from Hellblazer. But in between all the homage, a unique writer’s perspective shows through.
That writer is Curt Pires, and in this comic he spins some of the best writerly dialogue in recent memory. There are nice turns of phrases throughout, usage of prose that would hold its own in grad school level creative writing workshops (as much as any prose ever does in those cruel things). Two examples stuck in my mind most clearly after reading. And I’ll get to them both, but first a brief summation of our plot.
Our main character is Wyrd, a freelance monster hunter/weird shit handler for the U.S. government. In this first installment, we learn that he’s troubled, maybe even suicidal, before seeing him shipped off overseas to hunt a super soldier out of control. It’s a relatively simple story in setup but not in execution. Within this solid framework, Pires and his artistic collaborators Antonio Fuso and Stefano Simeone do some seriously heavy lifting with mood, aesthetic, and tone.
Fuso and Simeone’s artwork gets pretty gruesome at times. I’m not always one to appreciate a violent comic, but I had no issue with the way harsher visual storytelling was deployed here. In other words, the proceedings never tipped into gratuitous or repulsive. There are in-set panels a plenty showing the damage Wyrd incurs as he fights, but all of them are necessary to establish his regenerative abilities (add Wolverine to our pastiche, btw). Simeone’s colors push the visuals a step further, especially in the flashback scenes that use a duller set of shades without deploying the sepia cliches. Wyrd #1 is by design a grizzly and rough-looking comic, and that’s good, it should be.
The forlorn beauty of this book is in its language. Let’s get to those promised bits of writing that really stand out. The first is the monster at one point telling Wyrd, I can see through you. Transparent. You’re a ghost in a man suit. A black hole covering memory. It makes sense in the plot but one also gets the impression that Pires might just feel that way period and is using this as a chance to express it. It’s these little gold coins that lead readers throughout the comic.
The second is the gorgeous soliloquy at the end about the joy and hope a child represents in the world. It’s a subtle moment. I might even call it understated if it didn’t serve as a coda for everything that came before, and I absolutely loved it. Wyrd’s self-destructive drinking and sarcasm would run the risk of feeling too familiar if it wasn’t bookended with the poignant reason for his discontent. A great decision by the storytellers that sets up a fascinating series moving forward.
Overall: Wyrd #1 is one part deep comics pastiche and one part introspective look at a troubled man, likely at a point in his (too long) life where he’s lost any belief in the systems. This is a solidly-constructed comic that might just grow into something really special. 8.2/10
Writer: Curt Pires
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Colorist: Stefano Simeone
Letterer: Micah Meyers
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.