Comic Reviews: Conan The Barbarian and The Walking Dead!
Conan the Barbarian #1 (Marvel Comics)
Like Star Wars before him, the mighty Conan has made his return to Marvel Comics from Dark Horse. And also like Star Wars, he’s got Jason Aaron writing his new adventures. But that’s where the similarities end, because make no mistake, Conan The Barbarian, featuring art by Mahmud Asrar, is a truly brutal book, and marks a triumphant return to the publisher that made him famous in comics.
Spanning decades of Conan’s life, Conan The Barbarian #1 tells the story of the Cimmerian’s encounter with the Crimson Witch, a mystical creature that can control the dead. Believing that the Cimmerian’s blood is what is required to unleash her dark master upon the world, the Crimson Witch tricks a young Conan by appearing to him as an attractive woman and attempts to sacrifice him after poisoning him. Naturally, that doesn’t work out so well for her, and after Conan not only defeats her undead minions, but beheads her as well, he believes the matter to be settled. But decades later, when an older Conan is now King Conan, two children arrive, looking to finish the work the Crimson Witch started…
Jason Aaron’s a long time Conan fan, and it comes through in this book. As someone who’s read all of the original Robert E Howard stories, there’s a lot of similarities between this opening issue and those stories, but at no point does Aaron’s script seem like he’s ripping off or retelling any of Conan’s original adventures. In fact, Aaron’s script reads like something Howard wrote and never published. It’s both a familiar story for Conan fans, and yet has a enough new elements and perspective that it still feels new as well.
Mahmud Asrar made a name for himself on various X-Men titles, so putting him on a book like Conan The Barbarian is a bit a of a surprise, especially when Esad Ribic is handling the covers. While I’ll admit to thinking he may not be a great choice for the series at first, I happily ate my words when I saw the final results. Asrar delivers the goods, giving us a book that lives up to the title character. His Conan is brimming with power, and looks like he’s going to burst with violence at any moment. Asrar’s action sequences are fantastic too, and the small amount of creatures we see in this issue hint at the artist delivering some truly cool designs later on.
As someone who’s read the original Howard Conan stories and not much else, I didn’t really know what to expect from Marvel’s relaunch. But I’m happy to report that it’s a very solid start to what could be a unique series. While Dark Horse certainly used the Conan license to it’s full potential, Marvel is already showing that they’re not going to sit on the character either by having Jason Aaron write the series. While they’ve already announced too many Conan side series, having this type of comic from the publisher is pretty cool, and gives them the some title diversity that they desperately need. If you want some old school sword and sorcery in your comics, look no further than Conan The Barbarian.
The Walking Dead #187 (Image Comics)
While The Walking Dead TV show has seen it’s main character leave the show and the ratings dip, the comic from which the show came has had a pretty solid run of stories. The continuing comic book narrative of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors has remained consistently entertaining, which is no small feat when you consider how many issues this series has been running. Yet even at 187 issues, The Walking Dead still finds ways to surprise you, and nowhere is that more apparent than with Walking Dead #187.
After defending Governor Milton from Dwight, Rick Grimes and Michonne are worried that their time in the Commonwealth community is at an end. But surprisingly, Milton gives Rick her highest regard, and has him give a speech to the Commonwealth community. Elsewhere, Maggie sends Carl and a small group of other survivors out to investigate the Commonwealth for Rick and Michonne’s whereabouts, and a group of enforcers within the community start banding together to change their fortunes.
It’s a testament to Robert Kirkman’s skills as a creator that he’s able to keep things fresh and interesting at close to 200 issues. Part of that is due to the fact that Kirkman knows that longtime readers have come to expect certain things from the series, and that gives him the ability to upend those expectations, like he does here multiple times. Kirkman also gives plenty of weight to character’s decisions and actions, making you really believe that Michonne and Rick, while disagreeing, are still there for each other.
It’ll be hard to imagine a day when The Walking Dead won’t be drawn by Charlie Adlard. While he was never the original artist for the series, Adlard’s style is so deeply associated with the series that one has to imagine that he’ll be with the book forever. Like Kirkman’s writing, Adlard’s detailed style is still engaging, even in issues like this one where it’s primarily an issue where the characters are all conversing with each other and not fighting zombies.
I haven’t watched The Walking Dead TV show in about a season and a half, but I’m happy that the comic has still been entertaining. Reading a series for this long brings a real attachment to the characters, and Kirkman makes sure that his emotional moments count, which is probably one of the reasons why the comic has still been resonating with me in ways the show hasn’t. In terms of The Walking Dead, one creative team is a better fit than a whole team of writers.
Posted on January 2, 2019, in Comic reviews and tagged Charlie Adlard, Conan The Barbarian, Image Comics, Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, Marvel Comics, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.