When you see a Conan book on the shelf, what do you usually expect to find? Blood? Sand? Barbarians? Yeah, me too. Lucky for us, writer Cullen Bunn delivers on all fronts. However, instead of the same boring monologue that has plagued this franchise lately, Cullen adds his own flare of poetry into the narration. Which, to me, made for a far greater read than I had originally anticipated. And like almost all Conan books, since the days of Barry Windsor Smith, the art was fantastic. Sergio Dávila’s penicls and inks were dark and gritty, capturing the true essence of the Conan Universe. All of which was accented perfectly by Michael Atiyeh’s color palette.
My one big complaint for the book, however, was in the overall story. The trope of a king, brought down to earth by his hubris, searching for absolution is overdone. This same exact plot can be found in Captain America, Thor, X-O Manowar, Dejah Thoris, the list goes on. Redundancy such as this can lead a book down a dark path of uneventful predictability. Even in this issue, I knew half-way through that Conan would find a tribe that would give him sanctuary once they realized they were on the same side. BORING! Which is a real shame too, since I loved Cullen’s narration of the issue.
Like I said, though, at least the art was great. The double-splash of the battlefield, where Conan lost everything, was gorgeous. Not to mention the fight scenes that were packed with movement. Sergio also did a great job with pacing; he knew exactly what needed focus and the duration that focus needed to last. I also enjoyed Michael’s contribution this issue. In particular, I loved his choice of color between the past and present scenes. While most creators will do a sepia scheme for past tense, he chose a beautiful teal. Which synced perfectly with his oranges and reds in the present tense. His rendering of the grass also deserves some notice, since it made a few background-less panels pop out.
It is because of the art that I have to give this issue a 3 out of 5. Sergio and Michael did such a good job, they deserve the recognition. Same with the letterers Richard Starking and Comicraft. And while the story was bland, I also have to credit to Cullen for trying to bring out the beauty in an otherwise barbaric world. I wouldn’t buy it myself, but if you really need some Conan… go for it I guess.
Artist: Sergio Davila
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh, Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Lee Bermejo