Pullbox Reviews: Conan Meets Robocop in Peter Ricq’s A King’s Vengeance

Created By: Davila LeBlanc & Peter Ricq

Written By: Davila LeBlanc & Peter Ricq

Art By: Peter Ricq

Edited By: Fronc NG & Philippe Ivanusk-Vallee

Fonts Provided By: Blambot.com

Publisher: League Productions

Available: via Peter Ricq’s website (peterricq.com)

So I imagine you find yourself, these COVID-infected days, sitting dreamily in your den/study/kitchen/bathroom/cubicle, pondering what to read. You’ve re-read your entire Gaiman, Zub, Simone and Vaughn libraries, tore through the entirety of the Hellboy’s history, and laughed your way through Archie’s trials and tribulations. But what to read next?!? An increasingly common conundrum.

And inevitably, as they do, your thoughts meander along the lines of, “I’d really like to read a revenge-based graphic novel with a seriously badass antihero, set in a semi-apocalyptic medieval world, but with steampunk engines. Oh, and dinosaurs. Mounted ones. Ooh—and swords that fire shotgun shells, and evil Sauron-like forces and maybe slightly-less-evil but we’re not quite sure yet necromancers who help the anti-hero get his revenge even after he bites it!”

I know, I know—it’s as though I’m living in your mind. Don’t forget to pick up milk and butter (the salted kind), by the way.

Well, thankfully, we’ve got Peter Ricq out there in the world creating his own curious brand of funny books, ‘cause he’s already taken care of that for you. Well, the first chapter of it, anyway (out of a planned three). Recently published via Kickstarter and now available through his website is A King’s Vengeance, the story of…well, a king wanting vengeance.

Apparently, that’s a thing when an evil long-defeated dread sorcerer (like I said, kinda like Sauron) seduces your wife with his dark magiks to offer up your one and only son as a vessel for his return to the land. You hop on your dino-raptor mount, lead your nation’s soldiers into a war they can’t win, and seek bloody vengeance. Like we do.

Ricq’s describes A King’s Vengeance as equal parts Conan the Barbarian and Robocop (with a li’l bit of He-Man), and I think that pretty well nails it. We are provided a narrative page at the beginning, catching us up on the story which starts in media res. Dialogue is brief and minimal, employed typically to introduce characters, plot points or necessary descriptors—this is an action revenge quest above all else, and all the talky talky just gets in the way (think Mel Gibson’s Payback, or that Keanu Reeves series, the one where he’s all worried about his dog). A lot happens, and quickly, the pace feels exactly as it should be—which with a story spanning this much action, is an impressive feat.

If Ricq and LeBlanc’s writing and story is R.E. Howard meets Edward Neumeier, then Ricq’s art is Mike Mignola meets Box Brown. Deceptively simple, highly stylized, a little cartoony and a whole lot gory, Ricq’s deeply-shadowed style is highly reminiscent of Mignola’s Hellboy, while his faces are a bit of Brown’s Is This Guy For Real (both identified as inspirations by Ricq himself). Per the writer/artist, he’d struggled to find a style he could produce quickly enough to publish the work inside of this lifetime, and stumbled into his Vengeance style having observed those and other creators.

Gotta tell you: he scored big. The art is just dark and creepy enough to maintain the serious tone, but just cartoony enough to get away with monstrous amounts of gore without overwhelming the reader. An excellent blend. In fact, the only complaint I’d have is that the color palette—all deep reds, violets, greys and blacks—can be a little overly dark and hard to pick up at times.

So, all in all a fun first chapter, with some great promise for the ongoing story. Those interested can contact Ricq (here) for both A King’s Vengeance and his previous work, volumes one and two of Once Our Land. Act quick though—I’m told he’s only got 200 or so copies left of Vengeance, and it’s limited/collector’s edition only for now…

(images ruthlessly swiped from Ricq’s Kickstarter campaign)

Score: 11 (of 13)

Review by Andy Patch

Contributing Editor

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