Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Ryan Browne
Colors: Ryan Browne + Jordan Boyd + Michael Parkinson
Reading Curse Words #1 was like dating someone from Manhattan. The book was oozing with style and panache but is ultimately hollow, pretentious, and pointless. This book is that person you know at work with the “food blog”. It’s that Bumble date that wanted to meet for brunch. And, so help me, it’s that person that goes to Equinox. That’s how much this book annoyed me. Don’t worry, I’m going to respect this book and give it a fair, earnest review but I just don’t know why Charles Soule wrote this during his spin class at Soul Cycle.
Ok, plot summary. A wizard named Wizord (no, really) comes from this other realm with nefarious intent. He has been charged by his master, Sizzajee, to destroy the world. While he goes around setting all that up, he realizes the city (NYC?) is actually not too shabby and thinks better of it. Wizord (ugh) and his talking koala-sidekick Margaret decide to make themselves public figures, they set up a shop as wizards for hire, and Wizord (gag) starts dressing like a hipster. Finally, Sizzajee gets wind that Wizord (such a stupid name) isn’t doing his job and sends a henchman after him. There’s a fight, the henchmen hints that Wizord (why?) has a dark past, future plot points are set up, and the next issue is teased.
I’ll be fair, there’s a decent amount of good in the book. I can absolutely see why some of you may find this book very entertaining and you can thank the art for that. Ryan Browne with his pencils and colors renders an incredibly vibrant and kinetic atmosphere for the book. Wizord’s (Jesus) mannerisms and body language emote the cocky, d-bag vibe Soule intends him to be. The fight scenes are colorfully chaotic and engaging. And I very much appreciated Browne’s attention to detail. He makes sure to draw in every wrinkle in clothing, every thread in beards, and every wrinkle in skin. It’s excellent work and is very reminiscent of Chris Samnee’s. The art alone does make this book worth reading.
But while the art may soar, the dialogue and plotting drown. Charles Soule is name that comic book readers know very well. Red Lanterns, Death of Wolverine, Uncanny Inhumans, Death of X, Daredevil, and Inhumans vs. X-Men are all high-profile titles that have benefited from his keystrokes. The one constant among all of these titles are the excellent and meaningful dialogues he writes. I’m accustomed to every Soule speech bubble having some sort of point, some sort of endgame in mind and I was shocked to find that no such inspiration is found in Curse Words. Instead we are given very trite, very mundane, expository dialogue that does little more than set up the basic premise.
Furthermore, Soule seems to be more interested in making Wizord (yeesh) stylish than giving him any substance. I can guess where the plot is going to take the book thematically but I shouldn’t have to. Soule should have positioned the story in such a way that his main idea is a just a little more apparent. He’s a veteran comic writer and I think even he realized that he made a mistake judging from the last page of the book itself. It’s a simple “letters” page to the audience from Soule that essentially says “hey, look this plot point is important and so are these characters we’re teasing – stay tuned!” Many #1’s do something similar but if you read it you’ll agree that this letters page was just a little too expository than it should have been.
Verdict: Ghost it.
This book thinks its way cooler than it actually is. Soule plunged himself too deeply into millennial culture and sacrificed substance for style. This book has only a faint semblance of purpose and contains dialogue as shallow as its, apparent, thematic intent. Browne’s art though is marvelous. There are many wonderful panels and splashes that make the book worth flipping through. The art single handedly saves the book from complete dismissal and I may check back to see how the other issues progress. But till then, ghost it like a bad Bumble date.
PS: all the character names are stupid.