Sunday, 10 February 2019

Conan The Barbarian #1 - Marvel Comics

There can surely be little doubt that the hype surrounding the return of “Conan The Barbarian” to “Marvel Comics” following a fifteen year run at rivals “Dark Horse Comics” had plenty of the sword and sorcery hero’s fans analeptic with anticipation in January 2018. Indeed, even the New York-based publisher’s Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski got caught up in the company’s announced agreement with “Conan Properties International”, by stating that “It’s a legacy we’re now going to live up to with the talent we have lined up for the Cimmerian barbarian’s homecoming in early 2019. We’re excited!”

Some twelve months later and Jason Aaron’s narrative for “The Weird Of The Crimson Witch” arguably delivered upon that promise too, with a tale that should not only have sated the appetites of those readers who simply wanted to see the “black-haired, sullen-eyed” slayer of men just ferociously hack his way through a veritable army of opponents foolish enough to linger down in the fighting pits of Zamora. But those who also longed for the dark, magical elements of the Hyborian Age where a beautiful, partially-clad temptress can quickly transform into a wrinkled, undead witch and soon surround the hapless titular character in a writhing mass of hungry living corpses; “The dead flesh was soft and jellied. Held together by magic and maggots. But the teeth and nails were petrified and hard as jagged sea rocks.”

These sense-shattering shenanigans really do help carry the comic’s audience along at a terrific pace throughout the thirty-page periodical, and debatably don’t really ever slow down even when many years later, King Conan of Aquilonia walks across a victorious battlefield littered with Turanian bodies and subsequently challenges a pair of orphaned flesh-stealers who gleefully appear to be picking the juiciest of cadavers for their hand-pulled cart. This particularly gruesome sequence is admittedly somewhat dialogue-driven, yet soon turns the entire “all-new ages-spanning saga” upon its head when its revealed the tiny adolescents have been ‘mothered’ by the self-same Crimson Witch whom the Cimmerian had partially-beheaded so many years earlier “a league beneath the earth… in an ancient temple far older than Acheron, older than even Atlantis.”

Artist Mahmud Asrar also plays a prominent part in the success of this comic’s storyline, imbuing many of its ‘tried and tested’ action shots, such as Conan wrestling with the homicidal harpy he had moments before bedded or mercilessly carving through a ravenous horde of zombies, with plenty of pulse-pounding dynamism. In fact, the maniacal glint in the eye of this book’s main antagonist as her machinations reach fruition, along with the distinct feeling that the Turkish-born penciller was determined to populate as many panels as possible with swathes of blood, make every picture a compelling feast for the eyes.

First published on the "Dawn of Comics" website.'
The regular cover art of "CONAN THE BARBARIAN" No. 1 by Esad Ribic

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