REVIEW: ‘Acursian’ OGN

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Acursian - But Why Tho?

Acursian is a graphic novel written by John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis and illustrated by Beni Lobdel and Rubine. It is published by Legendary Comics and originally debuted on Webtoon. On his 40th birthday, high-powered lawyer Charlie Stewart suffers a series of misfortunes. He soon learns that his ancestor Prince Charles Edward Stewart made a deal with the Celtic god of war Bregon in order to hold his power. However, Bregon ends up bringing a curse upon the Stewart bloodline when he steals the talismans of his sisters the Fates. Alongside the Fates and his estranged father, Charlie races across time and space to retrieve the Fates’ talismans and break the curse.

Barrowman is a rather prolific persona in the entertainment world, having written several novels alongside celebrated roles in genre fare such as Torchwood and Arrow. Many of the novels and comics he wrote were with his sister Carole, who also serves as an English professor and crime fiction columnist. Their combined talents help bring Acursian to life and is steeped in Celtic lore as a nod to their Scottish heritage. Much of the action takes place in Scotland, and all the major deities are of Celtic origin. Lewis is no stranger to mystical stories herself, having previously written Firebrand for Legendary/Webtoon. She also helps pepper Acursian with the same rapid-fire dialogue and worldbuilding that was a signature of Firebrand.

The Barrowmans and Lewis take time to truly develop their main character. When the story begins, Charlie is not a guy you’d want to spend time with. He pressures his wife to have sex on his birthday while his son is awake and crying, and he seems to care more about his fancy car than spending time with his family. However, he fights to reclaim them, even going so far as verbally accosting the gods themselves. By the end of the graphic novel, he’s more than willing to actually stay home and spend time with his family instead of working. Plenty of stories from A Christmas Carol to It’s A Wonderful Life have used a similar plot device, but the Barrowmans and Lewis make it feel fresh by focusing on a mythology that’s rarely touched upon in American media.

Rounding out the artistic team is Lobdel and Rubine. Their artwork has a rather photorealistic look to it; Barrowman is credited as “starring” in Acursian and Charlie bears more than a striking resemblance to one John Barrowman. Color changes based on the setting; the realm of the Fates is depicted as bright and sunny, contrasted against the perpetual night Charlie briefly finds himself in during an alternate future. This sequence has all the trimmings of a dystopia.

If there’s one thing that had me scratching my head, it’s a subplot including witches. It felt somewhat tacked on in order to add a new complication to the plot, rather than unfolding organically. Charlie had a lot to deal with concerning Bregon and the curse on his family. Witches felt like a bit too much.

Acursian is a love letter to Celtic mythology and showcases John Barrowman’s talents as a writer in addition to featuring a character tailor-made for him to perform. Fans of Barrowman’s work and fantasy stories will definitely want to give it a read.

Acursian is available wherever comics are sold.

Acursian
4

TL;DR

Acursian is a love letter to Celtic mythology and showcases John Barrowman’s talents as a writer in addition to featuring a character tailor-made for him to perform. Fans of Barrowman’s work and fantasy stories will definitely want to give it a read.