Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover: Esad Ribic
By Crom, Conan is back, and at Marvel no less! This month you’re going to notice that Marvel is going all in on Conan. Marvel’s launching two new ongoings with Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan done by Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney, an Age of Conan mini-series done by friend of the store Tini Howard and Kate Niemczyk, and a full month of Conan True Believers! For those new to the character that may seem like a lot, but Conan was once a Marvel Comics staple. With Marvel celebrating its 80th anniversary, bringing Conan back to the fold feels right.
Now I will fully admit that my Conan credentials may seem light. My dad was a big Conan fan. I remember reading through some late 70’s Conan as a kid, but I always preferred Thor. I was, however enthralled by the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan movies. In those movies, Arnold succeeded in making Conan larger than life and while a bit silly at times, the sense of adventure always kept me coming back for more. Besides, the sequel had Grace Jones as a badass warrior and Wilt Chamberlain…nuff said. Despite my eternal disappointment that Conan the Destroyer’s ending teaser was never followed through, I had never been motivated to check out the comics until now.
It was writer Jason Aaron’s enthusiasm for the source material that got me excited to give Conan a try. When the series was announced, he tweeted a photo of his bookshelf filled to the brim with Conan novels and comic collections. Since his Thor is one of the best comics coming out right now, I knew I had to give Conan a try. This issue did not disappoint.
Aaron’s love for the character radiates off of the pages. The book opens with a beautiful two page spread with art from the original Marvel era of Conan. It was nice to see the homage, but Aaron makes sure to deliver his take on the character. Similar to his Thor run, we aren’t seeing a story from just one period of Conan’s life. The Life and Death of Conan starts off while Conan is still just an adventurer but threads into his life as King Conan of Aquilonia. Aaron delivers a fast-paced and bloody first issue, filled with the brawls, and pulpy dialogue you’d expect from a Conan story.
Mahmud Asrar’s art more than keeps up with the pace of the story. Conan is the statuesque and legendary figure of myth, but the art remains kinetic and energetic. Matthew Wilson sticks with a heavy red and brown color palette helping set the tone, underscore the violence, and build the world.
This issue was a great start to the series, perfect for long-time Conan fans and new readers. I’m excited to see the rest of the new Conan line. If you’ve been jonesing for a fun fantasy romp, don’t miss this issue.