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Advance Review: Conan the Barbarian #1

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Rain Partier

Postby LOLtron » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:21 am

An advance review of the hotly anticipated new Conan series.

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Brian Wood (W), Becky Cloonan (A/Variant cover), Dave Stewart (C), and Massimo Carnevale (Cover)
On sale Feb 8

In this sweeping adaptation of Robert E. Howard's fan-favorite "Queen of the Black Coast," Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling. This is Conan as you've never seen him, with the combination of one of Robert E. Howard's greatest tales and the most dynamic creative team in comics!

• A perfect jumping-on point for new readers!
• A bold, fresh take on the Cimmerian.
• "Queen of the Black Coast" is the most-requested Conan adaptation!


The epitome of manliness and violence, Conan the Barbarian is infamous for being one of the goriest and most intense fantasy action movies. In between sporadic indulgences into a fantasy-laden mythos, the movie engaged in some of the most aptly named barbaric battles in the history of cinema, launching the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger and turning him into a household name. For an introductory comic carrying on such a tradition, this comic is... well, flat out boring.

It was particularly frustrating to listen as Conan described what it was like to fight with some people. How hard is it to have a flashback? Comics do it all the time; and the big rule is to always show instead of tell, especially when it's a story that would present a more interesting visual.

Those not familiar with the world of Conan will be completely confused by the references to realms, countries, towns and gods that just don't exist in any other medium. There is a fine line between using backstory in order to set things up and dragging  that backstory on too long... this is neither. This is, "I really hoped you watched the movies to the point of a religious following, because otherwise you're lost." It would be like watching Disney's Hercules without knowing ANY Greek mythology. It would suck that much more.

The artwork is pretty impressive, although there isn't much actually going on. A significant portion of the book is a conversation between Conan and a man on a boat. When the action beat does rear its head, it is more than welcome.

The dialogue is by far the most compelling part. The narrative paints a picture neglected by the visuals. The interaction shows the respect due to Conan as a warrior, and how despite being an amazing warrior he isn't just a bloodthirsty maniac. He is a strong barbarian who can use his fighting prowess when he needs to. It shows a slightly deeper complexity than one would normally EVER give to such a character.

All and all this isn't a truly bad read, but it isn't what one would expect out of Conan. Anyone who loves the original will be disappointed by the lack of fighting and fantasy that truly made the series amazing, and people who never really got into the franchise will most likely be lost by the lack of characterization or other explanations. The lead in to the next book is a compelling cliffhanger, and there is a bit going on. Although you can say it really isn't a good comic, you can't say it's bad either. It's just a disappointment.

Two stars out of four.

Review by: Dan Kester, Outhouse Contributor



Postby sked » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:35 pm

You are aware this is a continuation of Dark Horse's Conan series which started back in 2004, right? And that Conan first appeared in 1932 in Weird Tales magazine, 50 years before Arnold came along? And that Conan was already a legendary comics figure in the 1970s? Just making sure.
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Zombie Guard

Postby Zero » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:17 pm

I've been looking forward to this since it was announced, shame that you didn't like it. I'll be in to agree\disagree from the perspective of a fellow Conan newb later this week.


Tip Top Dancer

Postby ramonesoa » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:01 pm

C'mon, it's Brian Wood writing Conan.
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Outhouse Editor

Postby GLX » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:38 pm

Conan the Barbarian #1 was easy to follow for me. :?

Hopefully, I can keep with this series. The first issue was choice.
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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:57 pm

Very excited for this.
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Staff Writer

Postby Punchy » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:53 am

Before you start, yes I only bought this for Wood and Cloonan. Call me a hipster or whatever, but I don’t really have that much interest in Conan these days, but with that creative team, who can say no? Wood/Cloonan (Or Woonan, if you like) have that same kind of synergy that the likes of Brubaker/Phillips and Bendis/Maleev do, they just go together so well. And this new start for Conan is no exception to that rule, this was a damn good comic. The story starts with a young Conan on the run from the law, leaping into mid-air to land on a boat, and then he begins a life of piracy. I really liked the cockiness of Conan here, and thought the way that Wood started the story with the character throwing such caution to the wind really worked in showing us without spelling it outright what kind of a man Conan is. I also really liked the pages with Belit, Cloonan’s art was really fantastic here, getting across just the right mix of sexiness and evilness. Cloonan may not be the most obvious choice for a Conan The Barbarian story, but it worked for me here, this is a younger Conan, one who isn’t really a hulking Ahnuld, but a wiry youth. Cloonan is perfect for that and her facial expressions were as fantastic as usual, Conan’s eyes glinted with character. After this issue I’m a Conan reader for as long as this team sticks around, and perhaps afterwards. Dark Horse have thought outside of the box for this relaunch, and it’s paid off, perhaps other companies should have done the same?
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hobo killer

Postby arcana » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:45 am

I really liked the art in this series and I've subscribed to it at the local comic shop. Young Conan is good Conan. Who needs Ahnuld Conan?

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