Battlepug #1 is published by Image Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer and artist Mike Norton, colorist Allen Passalaqua, and letterer Crank!. The story begins with the last Kinmundian who is alone and stranded in a snowstorm. He speaks of adventures past and the lessons he has learned. But even as he reflects, he acknowledges that the time for justice is over. Now is the time for revenge. The perspective then shifts to a woman, Moll, riding the great Battlepug as the Kinmundian walks beside her. Her two talking dog companions, Colfax and Mingo, are along for the ride. The group has just arrived at the city of Ashkum.
As they enter through the main gates, a crowd has assembled. There, a man speaks to them through a puppet on his hand named Covfefe. As the newly “elected” governor of Ashkum he promises to fix all of the problems that the city faces. However, Covfefe also orders a man to be killed when it is pointed out that he is simply a puppet. Thankfully the Kinmundian is there to save the day and put a stop to the bizarre machinations of Covfefe and his handler. But soon the Kinmundian is summoned by an old friend and it seems danger is just over the horizon.
The story from Mike Norton is pure high fantasy absurdism. This is a world where people can communicate through gigantic floral arrangements, where dogs are sometimes capable of speech, and other times large enough to be ridden. But through this absurdism, Norton clearly wants to show the parallels to our world as well. This is done through Covfefe and the citizens of Ashkum. The parallels between this puppet, and his words, considering the current political situation in the United States are clear. In other times this may have been a little heavy-handed and as a result not as effective. But we live in absurd times and thus this absurdist approach feels, somehow, appropriate. When you compound this with the silliness of the overall setting, it makes for fun reading.
The art, also from Mike Norton, is the perfect complement to the odd story. Norton does not shy away from showing blood spraying from severed limbs. When paired with talking flowers and giant dogs it only serves to make Battlepug #1 all the more wonderfully surreal. Additionally, the colors from Allen Passalaqua are lovely. From the bright red sprays of blood to the lovely warmth of a setting sun behind the town. Passalaqua’s work gives life to the art and helps keep it both grounded while enhancing the absurdity. The letters from Crank! further bolster the strengths of this creative team. The onomatopoeias are brought to life brilliantly and this issue is stronger for it.
I truly wasn’t sure what I would be getting with Battlepug #1. Now that I’ve read it, I’m not sure what I expected, but I like it. The entire issue is so tongue-in-cheek and fun that it’s impossible not to smile while reading it. Clearly a love letter to Conan the Barbarian and old-school fantasy, it works on its own as well. If you’re in the market for silly, adult-themed fantasy then this is for you.
Battlepug #1 is available in comic stores everywhere right now.
Rating: 4.5/5 Severed hands