COMIC REVIEW: Curse Words TP Vol 1

Sometimes you need more than Harry Potter or Gandalf to save the day. Sometimes you need Wizord. Welcome to the wonderful world of Curse Words. This trade collects 5 issues under the title Vol 1: The Devil’s Devil.

A wizard has appeared in present-day New York! His name is Wizord, and he’s here to save us all from dark magical forces bent on our destruction. He’s the best wizard of all time! Or…he’s not, and he’s lying to everyone, and secretly is the dark magical force, but wants to hang out in our world for a while because it’s so much nicer than the hellhole he comes from.

If you’re looking for a wizard with a difference, Curse Words is for you. Written by Charles Soule (Daredevil, She-Hulk, Death of Wolverine), Wizord is a magical practitioner like non-other you’ve come across before. Sure, he has the long grey beard, but he also has a talking koala called Margret on his shoulder. Sure, he has a magical staff, but you’ve not seen it used like this before. The wizard uses it to grant a surprisingly literal wish early on. At this point, we’re not sure where Curse Words is taking us. Before long, a flying advisory named Cornwall has turned up speaking the Langue Mystique. A battle commences.

Then Soule takes us back to Day One. This is the ‘how we got here’ narrative structure. Which is fine and works well in context. Is Wizord who we think he is? When he arrives in New York’s Central Park he appears to be the traditional wizard we’re all familiar with. Until he deals with the Police and steals a horse. We now witness Wizord becoming acclimatised to life in ‘our’ world, while we learn some of his skills.

Wizord reveals himself to the public and becomes a bit of a hero type, even appearing before the UN. But is he all that he seems to be? Which is more rock ‘n’ roll that you usually get from the grey beard types. And we’re back to his battle with Cornwall. A face from another realm tells us that he believes Wizord is a betrayer. Meanwhile, during the magical fight with Cornwall, a baseball stadium full of fans has been shrunk to fit into Wizord’s hand. And this is still all in book one.

Over the next 4 issues, we learn a lot more about our protagonist’s past; where he came from, the origins of Margret, his failed love, and a whole lot more. All the while, there are fights and magical adventures. Soule has written a dense story packed with interesting and unusual characters. There is some wit and plenty of originality on show here. However, it is the art that really stands out.

I wouldn’t call Ryan Browne’s (God Hates Astronauts) art beautiful, but it is unrestrained and colourfully spectacular. Many comic books have fairly formulaic art – either house style (see Marvel) or dark and shadowy, that are prevalent today. Not Browne’s work here. Purples, greens and oranges are rampant, but no two pages are the same. The panelling is eccentric – ranging from standard square panels and the occasional remarkable full page to odd angular shapes and drawings bursting into other panels. I’ve no idea if this will translate well into the digital comic arena. While the characters are original enough, the story is so-so. Fun but not world-changing. The art, however, takes Curse Words up a notch or two.

An issue one variant cover by Skottie Young nicely illustrates the irreverence Soule and Browne have brought to this genre: Wizord is magically urinating on a traditional wizard hat, a pair of round glasses and a stripped school scarf. Enough said. Magic has rarely been this much fun or as dazzling.

Title: Curse Words

Publisher: Image

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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