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Advance Review: Conan the Barbarian #1

Written by Dan Kester, Outhouse Contributor on Tuesday, February 07 2012 and posted in Reviews

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

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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