By Brandy DykhuizenAlpha King eschews any and all pretense and dives right into some giggles. Other-dimensional beings debate Tolkien metaphors amidst plots of revenge and landing a few piss jokes regarding bringing a water pistol to a shit storm. As someone blessed with the approximate sense of humor of a 14 year old boy, this totally worked for me. The banter wouldn’t be terribly out of place at your local watering hole after a sufficient amount of IPAs had been slammed back, once things start to get a little puffed up and a lot silly. In fact, you get the impression throughout Alpha King that beer not only drives the plot, it might have informed most of the decisions concerning the creation and execution of the book.

Simon Bisley’s artwork is of course incredible, conveying a prophesied king’s ragey revenge and the prepubescent ass-hattery of neighborhood kids with equal perfection. The colors pop off the page when they need to, or retreat into the hoppy sludge as required, which lets the action speak for itself. The visuals punch and hack their way deftly between worlds. It’s a gorgeous book to look at.

The small-scale brewer defending his wares against the evil rice king will surely appeal to beer geeks and brewers with strong opinions about craft beer’s current “hold out or sell out” dilemma. However, it was hard not to feel like I was reading a subtle commercial, mostly because the two plots failed to really gel and provide a smooth read. While the artwork is amazing and the book contained some undoubtedly excellent moments, the overall arc and pace is oddly syncopated, ending on a somewhat awkward note. You’ll raise a pint to toast it, but you might not remember what the fuss was about the morning after.

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Brian Azzarello and Nick Floyd.

Art by Simon Bisley.

Colored by Ryan Brown.

Letters by Jared K. Fletcher.

6 out of 10