Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Art: Luke Ross, Nolan Woodard, VC’s Travis Lanham, Mahmud A. Asrar, and Dave McCaig
Release Date: February 5th, 2020
After being placed in a strange land by the evil wizard Kulan Gath (see SAVAGE AVENGERS), Conan finds himself wondering a desert searching for food and manages to stumble upon Las Vegas! However, there appears to be more in store for our favorite Cimmerian. Vegas is merely the beginning of this journey as the barbarian finds himself on a quest for the Serpent Crown of Atlantis! Let’s cut a swathe through this opening tale of CONAN: BATTLE FOR THE SERPENT CROWN #1 by Saladin Ahmed and see if this is an adventure we can’t afford to miss.
Saladin Ahmed takes a crack at everyone’s favorite Cimmerian in stride. Fueled by the current state of SAVAGE AVENGERS, Ahmed uses those narratives as building blocks for this side spectacle of a story. As a fan who has grown a new love for Conan over the past year and a half, I came into this series intrigued to see Conan interact with more of the Marvel Heroes we’ve all grown to love. To my dismay, that sadly wasn’t the case this issue. Readers will be a bit disappointed to see that two big appearances are made in this week’s tale but not until the issue comes to a close. Additionally, this reader was a bit disgruntled to see no reference made to a Serpent Crown what so ever. What’s the purpose of the title of this series? How can one issue go by without mention to the Serpent Crown or what it’s used for? Isn’t this the crux of the entire series?
Now, even though this reviewer was a bit dissatisfied with the lack of special guests and naming of the series, this issue still made for an entertaining adventure. Furthermore, Ahmed’s first shot at the voice of Conan (at least within the past couple years) splashed the pages beautifully. The inner monologue of the great Barbarian was fierce, confident, intimidating, and full of vigor. However, Ahmed portrays Conan as just a hair too brash, brutish, and headstrong, which makes him emerge too foolish and even reckless. This perspective was quite bothersome to this reader and hopefully as the series continues Ahmed can write the ship and guide our Hyborian Born Destroyer back in the right direction. Lastly, Nyla’s interaction (a new side character in the narrative) with Conan came off fake and trite at times. Her interactions with the square-cut, loincloth wearing thief seemed unnatural and unbelievable. This reader left the issue with a sour taste in his mouth towards the would-be supporting character and ultimately threw me out of the story.
On a more positive note, Luke Ross’ illustrations of the sullen-eyed behemoth are wildly impressive. On every page Conan is present, he looks like a force to be reckoned with. Ross draws the Cimmerian like this almost volcanic, fiery mountain of a man that towers over his prey making with movements that appear almost Panther-like in nature, which is exactly how Conan is supposed to appear. Ross illustrations our Barbarian exactly how he’s meant to be; formidable, dangerous, and a wall of a man. What an amazing job by Ross and his art team.
For Ahmed’s first go around with the Hyborian Born Destroyer, this was a great start. Sure, there may have been a few characteristics of Conan, as well as the supporting cast, that needed to be ironed out. However, overall this is a great starting point for readers interested in Conan as well as his interaction with a variety of Marvel Heroes. Pick this issue up, definitely add this series to your pull list, and let me know what you think. My hope is more clarity will come as the series progresses.