Father, husband, stranger; it's interesting how the nameless can go by many different names. A name can bring fear, panic, or sometimes even death depending on the circumstances. If you speak the devil's name, chances are he'll appear. In the limited series The Untamed: A Sinner's Prayer from Stranger Comics, one name strikes terror into the hearts of the vagrants and villains in the deserted town of Oasis, and yet five issues in and it hasn't been uttered yet. All we know is there's a killer back from the dead, seeking revenge and collecting souls. We know him simply as the Stranger.
Seven souls in seven days. That's the deal the Stranger made with the devil, in order to save the souls of his wife and daughter. It seems not any soul will do, for it has to be the souls of seven different individuals that betrayed him many years ago. He lost his family, his life, and while he wasn't a good man to start with, revenge is a powerful motivator even from beyond the grave.
The Untamed takes place in a much larger universe, Asunda, first created by Sebastian A. Jones over twenty years ago. It's extremely apparent that Jones has been hard at work with the world-building, for it feels that every character and race has a rich, deep history. The Untamed is the first of many series set in the Asunda, with Dusu and Tales of Asunda also available through Stranger Comics.
The first thing that came to mind as I was reading the first five issues (of seven) was "Sebastian A. Jones is like the Robert E. Howard of our generation." The Untamed is like Solomon Kane mixed with Kill Bill, only shrouded with more mystery and twice the action. If you're a fan of the World of Warcraft videogame and comic, then I'd also highly recommend this title to you. Now that I think about it, a videogame focusing on the land of Asunda would be pretty damn cool as well. Jones, take note (I expect to get royalties as well)!
Swedish artist Peter Bergting excels at letting the art tell the story, as a majority of the action scenes are without sounds effects. You see one to several people being slaughtered at the Stranger's hand, and yet Bergting's art tells you everything you need to know. His style almost reminds me of Fiona Staples of Saga fame, only a bit darker. I do have one minor complaint, and it focuses on anytime a nude woman is portrayed; the anatomy is consistently off, making Rob Liefeld look like a genius with anatomy in comparison. I would suggest Bergting attend a few life drawing classes to get the breasts, torso, and shape of a woman down. The faces are superb, but whenever there's a full-on nude scene of a woman, it resembles a Picasso more than anything observed in real life.
Minor criticisms aside, the ongoing journey of the Stranger hunting down those responsible for his current unfortunate predicament is both engaging and thrilling at the same time. With only two issues left, how it ends is anyone's guess. It's a refreshing fantasy series amongst a sea of J.R.R. Tolkien knockoffs and George R.R. Martin wannabes (or any other fantasy author with 'R.R.' as his/her middle name). The only problem that I can see upsetting fans is The Untamed series hasn't exactly come out on a consistent basis; the first issue debuted in 2009, and the fifth issue was released just this month. If you're holding your breath for a trade paperback anytime soon, might I suggest taking a hit of oxygen at this point during the review.
I do applaud Jones and Stranger Comics for expanding this Asunda world though, for every other comics publisher trying to create their own little universe has either failed from the get-go, or expanded too quickly. The Untamed is a good jumping on point, and will entice readers to dive deeper into the Asunda mythos.
The first issue can be read for free, with the following issues available to purchase in the Kindle or iTunes stores.