Collective Consciousness: Curse Words #1

by stephengervais on January 17, 2017

Welcome back to Collective Consciousness, our weekly article where the staff takes one comic and puts it under the microscope. This allows us, and you, faithful reader, to get a good idea of how the comic fares against a variety of opinions. This week we're taking a look at new series from Image Comics, Curse Words #1.
Image solicit: “A wizard has appeared in New York City, and he's casting wonderful spells, getting famous, getting rich-it's great! But it's not. This wizard has everyone fooled. He is actually an EVIL WIZARD, and EVIL THINGS are on the way. CURSE WORDS is a gonzo modern fantasy, full of darkness, light...and MAGIC. “
Written by: Charles Soule
Art by: Ryan Browne and Jordan Boyd
Publisher: Image Comics
Hector A
Another day, another new, quirky, Image fantasy book. One of the most striking aspects of this comic is the absurd jokes that pepper every page of the book. Soule's sense of humour often clashed with what the readers in long-running Big 2 books like the Thunderbolts, but since he builds this universe from scratch, those jokes feel perfectly at home here. The weirdness of Wizord's world even rubs off on what would be the real life side of the book, which is mostly enjoyable but it does have its pitfalls. The Johnny One character, for instance, is very dumb. But the absurd tone of the book allows Soule put some great one-liners in the mouth of the random bystanders and assorted background characters that surround Wizord. Ryan Browne's art does a lot to carry the book as well. His kinetic style does wonders to bring the wizarding wackiness to life. But this is by no means a groundbreaking comic; it has the same traits that a lot of comics readers seem tired of. It starts with an in media res scene followed by a flashback, which is the structure that every single first issue seems to have these days. And the fact that the creative team chose to put an explainer at the end does betray that the issue doesn't really do a great job at conveying all the information that they felt was needed to enjoy the book. But for 40 pages, this is worth its price if the premise intrigues you or if you enjoy Soule's sense of humour.
Forrest Hollinsworth
What a fun – if somewhat overwhelming – issue!  

I was a huge fan of Soule’s, sadly cut short, Swamp Thing run and this has the same kind of fun, heady but palatable, things going on. 

Anti-hero wizard? Check. Badass action scenes? Check.  Promising backstory AND forward momentum? Check (both of which happening in a first issue is kind of rarity if we’re being honest). 

Wizord is a “hero” I can see myself getting behind, people capable of – and possibly having already committed – terrible acts are inherently more interesting than the heroic “boy scout”. Sure, it might be ground that’s thoroughly covered by this point but I think it still stands to reason, given that this is only an introductory issue, that there’s plenty of possibly unexpected ways to go from here.

The art, too, is a fun, colorful and hectic affair. Browne’s stuff is so engrossing, energetic and alive. The overly busy and somewhat confusing page layouts, unfortunately, detract from some of that impact but when laid out in a sensible way, Wizord, Koala friends, threatening combatants and the like feel at home here in a kind of sensational wizarding world crafted by Soule and Browne that I can’t wait to see more of.
Jason James
So after around 30 years I'm finally getting around to reading an Image book. I had no context for the book other then enjoying Soule’s writing in Daredevil. It was a bizarre book, but the good kind; a very unique read. It was what a good first issue should be, engaging enough that you don't want to put it down, it introduced enough of the characters to make you follow what's going on but left enough mystery that you want to read the next issue. The art was really good and is the kind of style that I enjoy. Considering the subject matter of a wizard sent to our world to destroy it, the pages are surprisingly bright and colourful. A good book that was very enjoyable
John White
Curse Words is a classic fish out of water story brought to us by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne, if that fish is a morally ambiguous wizard named Wizord and the aforementioned water is actually a slavery ridden universe full of magic, centaurs, and a tattooed ex-girlfriends. The first issue of any new series has a lot of pressure on it to be entertaining, original, and full of just enough mystery to have readers coming back for more and this book manages to succeed at all three. Between the exploding horse and shrinking baseball stadium there is entertainment in spades and Wizord is just so different from other fictional magicians that you will not mind that he is a retread of an increasingly common character type. The mystery is present from the opening page with the issue starting in media res, and never stopping long enough to establish any sort of complacency. If you are looking for a magical adventure that is just this side of weird, then Charles Soule’s and Ryan Browne’s Curse Words is for you, and that goes double if you like talking koalas.
Curse Words is a book that I have to say was really interesting and different. The book continued to surprise me and even after reading it. I’m not too sure how this book will progress but I’m definitely interested in finding out. This issue focuses on the main character Wizord and how he is adjusting to the modern world. We don’t really know that much about where he comes from, or why he is here for that matter. This book intrigues you into wondering whether he is a good guy or bad guy and what his real intentions are, but that’s what makes this book so cool. Anyone wondering whether they should pick this should definitely do it. 

Ryan Lahaise
This issue was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the story and how it really pulled you in. There was so much going on you really had to pay attention to figure out exactly what was happening. This issue also is somewhat of an origin issue of Wizord, but I felt it wasn't delivered as well as the writer probably had hoped. We get to find out how he became the current Wizord who is here to help, but where actually did he come from? What is true origin? What was the mission he failed to complete? There are so many questions that I found myself asking but very little got answered by the end of this issue. Also there is a lot of history between Wizord and the main villain, and you can tell that history goes pretty deep. I would have loved a little bit more about why that history exists than just see them battle. The art in this issue also is a lot of fun and I loved the color palate chosen. The pinks and blues really pop off the page and give this book a unique look and style. This book is a little bit silly and over the top and the art really reflects this perfectly. Overall this was a fun issue and I am interested in checking out the next one, and maybe some of my many questions will get answered there.
Kalem Lalonde
Curse Words #1 comes from a writer whose past projects have often been hit-or-miss. Charles Soule started his career with a phenomenal run on Swamp Thing and failed to match that writing quality since it ended. Curse Words #1 is undoubtedly the best comic Soule has written since his first job. What is so admirable about the writing in Curse Words is how much story and character Soule is able to pack into the issue without turning it into an overloaded bore-fest. It perfectly sets up a simple story while hinting at a deeper mythology to be explored in future issues. Curse Words #1 is a victory for Charles Soule, Ryan Browne, Image Comics, and for everyone who reads it! 
Aaron Reese
Ever since Peter Jackson toned down magic in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it seems like powerful wizards became taboo. Charles Soule has no qualms about celebrating such a potent magical force. His main character, Wizord, can transmute Justin Biebers into metal and shrink stadiums to the size of walnuts. He possesses over-the-top, world shaking power, which is a delectable change of pace after 15 years of wimpy magicians. Heck, even Doctor Strange recently lost his power recently.

This is an explosive, colorful and promising start to a new fantasy world that celebrates magic, rather than downplays it. I’m all in.
Matthew Mahar
Who remembers the classic YouTube series “Will it Blend?”  Welcome to the comic book equivalent of that show, where a pair of creators are thrown together and the result is “Curse Words.”  When I say “Charles Soule,” the first word that comes to mind isn’t “wacky.”  When I say “Ryan Browne,” the first word that comes to mind definitely isn’t “coherent.”  Regardless of the conceptions, the two come together and balance one another out, just like a good buddy cop movie.  Wizord came to destroy the world, but found out he kinda likes the place.  So, with his talking sidekick koala by his side, he’s turning over a new leaf.  The story is straightforward with enough nonlinear pacing to keep things from being bland.  Overall, this is a very solid debut and gives us an interesting magic system and colorful characters that certainly out of the norm, but not as far out that as some of Browne’s other work.  If they keep up the balance between the creators this could be a fun book.
I came to this book with no expectations, as I’d not heard of it until I sat down to read it. But I’ve certainly heard of Charles Soule, and I dig lots of what’s been coming out of Image Comics of late. That’s not to say that I wasn’t a little concerned, given that Soule has taken one of my favorite characters ever (Daredevil) and made him all dark and broody again after Mark Waid’s run. I was pleasantly surprised, though. Soule and artist Ryan Browne have created a first issue that makes me want to read the second, and even think about adding it to my pull list - no mean feat, given that I’m picky and broke as a joke!
What really grabbed me was the art, especially the cover. I just adore this saturated, almost-neon candy-coated color palette. I’m also enjoying Browne’s line work and art style. One thing that sometimes annoys me about new books is art that keeps me from telling characters apart. That’s clearly not a problem here. I also enjoyed the visual touches that made the setting obvious, like the “Hamilton” poster in the subway car and the accurately-rendered script on the Nathan’s hot dog wrapper. I might also be going to Hell for laughing as hard as I did at the poor little fish being added to the wizard’s brew. Although the “be careful what you wish for” bit at the start of the book was clichéd (and so was the use of flashback for the bulk of the narrative), the story itself is fast and engaging. I particularly enjoyed Wizord’s “going native” montage. I’m certainly looking forward to the next issue!

Our Score:


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