January 1, 2019

Conan Returns to Marvel

"Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of... Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."

Conan the Barbarian #1 was first published by Marvel Comics in 1970.
Writer Roy Thomas and artists Barry Smith and Dan Adkins brought Robert E. Howard's greatest pulp hero to comics. Fueled by the increasing artistic abilities of Barry (soon to be Windsor) Smith, and later John Buscema, the book was a smash hit for Marvel, ushering in an era of numerous sword and sorcery heroes and comics. The main series would run for 295 issues, ending in 1993. Most recently the character had a run at Dark Horse before returning to Marvel.

Conan the Barbarian #1 (Legacy number #296) arrives this week from writer Jason Aaron, artist Mahmud Asrar, colorist Matthew Wilson and letterer Travis Lanham.  "The Life & Death of Conan" promises an epic scope. Indeed, the first chapter "The Weird of the Crimson Witch" begins in the early era of Conan's adventures, fighting in the pits of Zamora.  But we then flash forward to a battle weary King Conan. Conan's life and vast career are the tapestry of this tale. As you would expect from an epic story the villain is formidable. In fact, the narrator tells us that "This is the story of how he died." And the cliffhanger ending seems to suggest that this will be a short-lived series!

Even an epic comics story will fall flat if the art can not carry the story. Fortunately, Asrar is up to the task. The action is big and bold and loud. I fear color artist Matthew Wilson is going to run out of red. The Crimson Witch is seductive and menacing. The Children of the Blood-Red Doom are creepy and dangerous.

Aaron is no stranger to long form storytelling. See his run on Thor for example. And there may well be threads set up here that he will return to later. This first issue is an excellent reintroduction to the character of Conan and his world, and a fine story in its' own right. After reading it, I immediately wanted to dive into the next issue. Fortunately we only have to wait two weeks for the second issue.

Conan #1 is already sold out at Diamond, but Friendly Neighborhood Comics supported the launch with a strong order, and we have plenty of copies.

Don't have a comic shop nearby? FNC can satisfy your barbarian fix via mail order! Simply cleck here: