Berserk volume 1 : The Black Swordsman
by Kentaro Miura
Dark Horse Comics / Digital Manga Publishing
Translated by Jason DeAngelis
BW, 288 pgs
$14.95 US / Higher in Canada
Berserk volume 1 introduces Guts, the Black Swordsman, a feared warrior and bearer of a gigantic sword, an iron hand and the scars of countless battles and tortures. He wanders countryside reminiscent of medieval Europe, searching for someone or something. He’s a mystery for the better part of the first volume, and while we do get glimpses into his past and the motivation for his travels, there is still plenty we don’t yet know by the time this volume ends. This sense of not yet knowing but needing to know is what will draw me further into this series because volume 1 didn’t offer much else.
We only meet what appear to be two main characters in volume 1: The aforementioned Guts and an Elf (more like a fairy by standard fantasy reckoning) named Puck, who tags along with Guts because of a sense of duty (Guts saves its life in the first episode in volume 1) and curious desire to see things it had only heard about in stories. Puck brings a margin of civility and joviality to the first volume 1, which is important because Guts is a morose and uncaring character. If it weren’t for Puck, the darkness of volume 1 would suffocate the reader.
Anyone who interacts with Guts is doomed to die as collateral damage in his war against demons. (Saving Puck was a side-effect of killing some thugs.) His philosophy is that everyone needs to live their own life and if they can’t survive on their own then they don’t deserve to live. It’s not his job to save them. As such, he doesn’t care if destroyed innocents are among the trail of carnage he leaves behind. (more…)