Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Butch Guice
Colors: Alex Guimaraes
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release date March 4 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Last we saw Conan, he was teamed with Doctors, Strange and Doom, in a fight with his eternal arch-enemy Kulan Gath. The three were severely out-matched by the sorcerer, and it was only by Gath’s own amulet that Conan wielded were the “heroes” able to death Gath. Conan was ready to continue their pursuit of Gath. Instead, immediately and without warning, Doom and Strange teleported Conan back to South America.
By the end of this issue, Strange comes to regret that decision. Our story has Dr. Strange using a sample of Gath’s blood to travel through time and witness the events that led to the rise of Kulan Gath, from a child-slave, to the most powerful sorcerer of both his time and ours (in the current 616).
The standard cover (seen at the top of this review) will fool you if you enter this intermission issue expecting any sort of Strange/Elektra team-up or romance-heavy story. Natchios’s role in this issue is relatively just to be a background character, someone for Strange to talk to; an excuse to explain to the reader what he’s planning on doing before he does it to provide exposition to us readers. This story is all about the ancient life of Kulan Gath as seen through Stephen Strange. There’s even really no Conan in this issue.
Both the art and the written story were entertaining. As far as the art goes, this book see’s its debut of Butch Guice, following this run’s previous pencilers Patrick Zircher and Mike Deodato. All three artists have unique art styles, but I’ve found they’ve all been great fits for this Conan book (let’s be honest, this is absolutely a Conan book more than anything else its parent company may hype it as…all the other “guest characters” are just a bonus cast). While reading this, I wondered if Kulan Gath’s origins, history, and rise to power was ever told before in any Conan story, or if this was the first time we’ve had this revealed to readers, as I worry if this wouldn’t have made more sense to share this in one of the primary Conan books, but I shouldn’t deny Gerry Duggan the chance to write this tale. I’ll admit, I’ve never really known much of Kulan Gath outside of him being Conan’s go-to arch villain, and an occasional villain of Red Sonja, the Avengers, Spider-Man, Mary-Jane (yes, that is factual)…if this book wants to up-sale the idea that Kulan is too much for even the combined efforts of Strange and Doom, this issue actual does Gath some service, and convinces me. Gath getting Shuma-Gorath would be catastrophic…
…but it also makes me wonder how some dude with a sword has been able to rundown this guy on so many occasions…there seems to be a huge power-advantage on Gath’s side, you know…
A cool-down issue that gives us some insight on the man that would become Kulan Gath. Though lacking on the epic battles and Cimmerian action of its previous issues, its a necessary step away to get our good Doctor (Strange) a better idea on exactly what he’s been pulled into.