Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Mahmud Asrar, Matthew Wilson, and VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Price $4.99
Release Date: January 2, 2019
Review by Matthew Brown
SPOILERS AHEAD (Spoiler free conclusion at the bottom)
By Crom, Conan is back and kicking some serious ass!
As someone with no history with Conan in comic books but being a big fan of the Schwarzenegger movies as a kid I was super excited to hear that Marvel was bringing the character back especially with the great Jason Aaron behind the wheel and this first issue sure as hell didn’t disappoint.
The book starts in the present day with a solid intro setting the tone well showing Conan’s birth on the battlefield and Conan the King on the throne. The intro does a great job setting the stakes for the series promising that would not just be a tale of how Conan lived but how he died before going back to a younger Conan where the story begins in the fighting pits of Zamora.
A younger Conan is competing in the fighting pits in a brutal battle royal to the death with our hero and the mysterious Islander mowing through the competition towards an inevitable showdown between the two. The Islander seemingly being the hometown favorite bets are coming in thick and fast in the crowd for the mysterious brute until a beautiful woman appears to place everything she has on the Barbarian.
The action of Conan fighting in the fighting pits really allows the Mahmud Asrars art to shine depicting a brutal fight to the death between our hero and the mysterious Islander. Anyone who complains these days about Marvel being ‘Disneyfied’ over the last few years really need to make sure they pick this book up as there are no punches pulled whatsoever in terms of violence and gore and goes out of its way to maintain the brutality that we love about its title character.
In a total shocker Conan ends up defeating his challenger Conan exits the pit and begins to enjoy the spoils of his victory with wine and some local wenches when the beautiful stranger approaches him. Some really well-written reparte follows between the two resulting in Conan and the beautiful stranger predictably romping into his chamber in sweet embrace.
In what I found depressingly relatable Conan’s new seemingly perfect Paramore reveals herself as a witch poisoning Conan with poisoned fingernails dragging through his back waking in the Witches chamber with her declaring she would be using his blood to awaken her dark lord Razael.
Some more quality back and forth between the two characters before Conan breaks free from his restraints followed by another great action sequence taking on the witches army of undead ending with the brutal decapitation of the evil witch and Conan escaping the cavernous abyss but not before she prophecies his ultimate doom.
The book then skips forward back to present day and King Conan finishing another successful battle and spots two small Children collecting corpses. Conan questions the children on why they are collecting corpses they respond that it is for the glory of Razael! With that the children’s adoptive mother the Crimson witch reveals herself and another battle takes place with the book ending with Conan seemingly in serious peril after this second encounter with the witch and her devil spawn decades after they first meet.
SPOILER FREE CONCLUSION!
This was the kind of book that you put on some Pantera and pour a neat whiskey on the rocks to read. It was really everything I love about comics, compelling characters, a little sexiness, brutal action and a real rollercoaster of a story topped off by an interesting and cool if not entirely unpredictable twist at the end. For a first issue it really set up the story well and Jason Aarons dialogue, especially between Conan and the Crimson Witch, was really well written and kept me hanging on the next word and the book was topped off with some really great art and colors especially in the action sequences.
This book will put hairs on your chest and have you speaking several octaves lower than you did before.