Review: Conan the Barbarian #1

Conan the Barbarian #1

From an age undreamed…hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet…

Conan’s travels have brought him to the far reaches of the unkown, from his birthplace in Cimmeria to the kingdom of Aquilonia and all in between. As his fighting prowess allows him to carve his way through life, so too does it attract the forces of death!

Conan has returned to Marvel with Jason Aaron in the driver seat as the writer. Aaron has proven himself a leader in the sword and sorcery genre of storytelling with his epic run on Thor and he brings that talent to Conan the Barbarian #1.

With an expected literary device of using the past and present to weave the tale, this debut is a solid start to Robert E. Howard’s classic creation. The first few pages honor what has come before with an amazing two page spread bringing together art from across the comic ages of Conan. It’s a simple nod to remember what has come before and honor the creators who got the character to this point.

I myself and not the biggest fan of the character. I enjoy Schwarzenegger’s films and have read a bit of what was released by Dark Horse but the books and Marvel’s original works are something that never appealed to me, as I’m not much of a sword and sorcery fan. But, this first might change that as Aaron puts together a story that feels like an epic poem of someone’s adventures and conquests. His narrative doesn’t just embrace what and who Conan is but also feels like it honors the classic storytelling that was used to pass on the adventures of such characters in the past.

Aaron is helped by the art by Mahmud Asrar, color by Matthew Wilson, and lettering by Travis Lanham. The trio deliver an art style that nails the action and settings with just enough gore, grime, bones, and blood. The action is brutal and begs you to look at the details of which each small one tells a story and adds to the world.

Like the story, the art is solid though nothing groundbreaking. Conan the Barbarian #1 is just a really good comic that does everything well. The story flows with lots of action, the issue sets up the first arc really well with interesting framing, and most importantly, it left me wanting more. This is a really good debut that brings the classic character back to Marvel and into the hands of a creative team you can tell loves the character and world.

Beyond the comic, we’re also treated to the first of a twelve part prose story by John C. Hocking, the “Black Starlight.” It’s a solid reminder of the prose origin of the character. The story is great and feels like a bonus for the comic itself. It’s the cherry on top of an already solid read.

Conan the Barbarian #1 is a fantastic start to the new year and hopefully a hint as to the overflowing entertaining comics we’ll be spoiled with in 2019.

Story: Jason Aaron Prose: John C. Hocking Art: Mahmud Asrar
Color: Matthew Wilson Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover: Esad Ribic
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review