(W) Jim Zub, More (A) Cory Smith, More (CA) Geoff Shaw Parental Advisory In Shops: Sep 08, 2021 SRP: $4.99
CELEBRATING 300 ISSUES OF CONAN THE BARBARIAN… AND THE RETURN OF BÊLIT! By Crom and Mitra, it’s been 300 issues since Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith first brought the Barbarian to comics in 1970’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1! CONAN’s oversized 300th-issue spectacular kicks off with Jim Zub and Cory Smith’s ongoing saga, as we return to Conan’s much-lauded days sailing with the queen of the seas herself, BÊLIT! But – past, present and future will collide in ways unexpected and strange! Sharpen your blade for three additional, all-new tales from across Conan history! Dan Slott enters the Hyborian Age with Marcos Mart n, for an untold NIGHT OF OBLIVION from Conan’s thieving days. Larry Hama and Christopher Priest at last return to the saga with their own new stories – from a hotheaded young barbarian in battle to an aged KING CONAN, who must defend his kingdom from the re-emergence of WRAARL, the DEVOURER OF SOULS!
(W) Jim Zub (A) Cory Smith (CA) Geoff Shaw Parental Advisory In Shops: Aug 25, 2021 SRP: $3.99
A PERFECT STORM! • CONAN sails home from his adventures in Khitai…but crossing the sea will prove to be his deadliest experience yet! • If the crew is to survive, they’ll need to pull together against the forces of nature…but is there something else at play? And who can Conan trust? • It all leads up to the landmark 300th issue next month and a shocking return to a fan-favorite Conan era!
(W) Jim Zub (A) Cory Smith (CA) Geoff Shaw Parental Advisory In Shops: Jul 14, 2021 SRP: $3.99
HUNTER OR HUNTED? • CONAN has been framed for the murder of the emperor and is hunted by the Imperial Guard. • But Conan has not survived the Hyborian Age without learning some hunting tactics of his own… • The dramatic conclusion to the Nightstar saga!
(W) Jim Zub (A) Cory Smith (CA) Geoff Shaw 32 PGS./Parental Advisory In Shops: Jun 09, 2021 SRP: $3.99
BY THE LIGHT OF THE EMPEROR! • CONAN returns the TOOTH OF THE NIGHTSTAR and is granted an audience with the holy EMPEROR OF KHITAI! • Few have ever beheld the emperor’s divine form…but what will Conan’s meeting portend for the nation? • Don’t miss the story that will rock the Hyborian Age and Conan’s untold history!
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: God Country
God Country has one of the more interestingly unique concepts in comics; that of an Alzheimer’s patient who is cured when his hand touches a twelve foot sword, only to be drawn into the soap opera like world of space gods that have more than a passing resemblance to the Greco-Roman pantheons. Written by Donny Cates, who also co-wrote The Paybacks with Eliot Rahal; that series looked at the other side of superheroing with a starkly funny focus on a group of knock off characters serving as superpowered repomen (and women) struggling to emerge from the crippling debt their equipment put them in. On the surface, God Country may have little in common with The Paybacks other than half of the writing team (and Geoff Shaw‘s art), that’s certainly true on a superficial thematic level, but at their core both series focus on something quite relatable: people and their struggles against every day adversity.
There is every chance that you probably recognize Cates’ name from his work on Venom, Thor and King In Black, and I’ll admit that it feels strange to write about something Donny Cates has written as being underrated, but this is a book that I don’t see people talk about as much as they should.
Emmet Quinlan’s family have been struggling with the horror of watching a loved one slip away whilst suffering from Alzheimer’s, and their struggles are haunting – if you’ve ever had to watch a loved one slip away while suffering this horrible disease as I have, then you’ll understand immediately how hard it can be. Donny Cates treats the subject with the respect it deserves without sugar coating the emotions that Emmet’s family face.
Of course, with this being a comic book called God Country, that’s not what the comic is about.
At least not in it’s entirety. You see Emmet finds a giant sentient sword that restores his mind in its entirety. While Emmet’s disease does form the backbone of his desire to keep his hand on the sword that returned his mind, it’s the conflict with the space gods who want the sword back that provides the more immediate physical threat.
If you enjoyed Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God Of Thunder then you’re going to find a lot to love here, from the heavily emotional sequences in the first issue to the more operatic space god scenes in subsequent comics, this is a powerful series – indeed, without Cates wry humour that appears every so often throughout the series, then this could easily become an almost too heavy story.
Ultimately though, this story is so much more than it seems on the surface.
God Country is that rare beast that uses a well thought out high concept science fiction or fantasy premise to tell the most human of stories. It is truly a work of art that had my eyes sweaty with respect – and that doesn’t happen very often when I read comics.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.
(W) Jim Zub (A) Cory Smith (CA) Geoff Shaw Parental Advisory In Shops: May 12, 2021 SRP: $3.99
THE DEADLY SECRET OF HENG THE INSURGENT! • CONAN must fight for his life against the Bandit King’s deadly power! • But will Conan have what it takes…even if it costs his very soul? • The barbarian’s surprising saga in the LAND OF THE LOTUS takes a startling turn!
Crossoverhas been a rather interesting series. The story has gone back and forth between a series that stands on its own and a concept that’s “spot the pop culture reference”. When it has done the former, it’s a fantastic series and concept that’s been a wild ride. When it has done the latter, the story suffers delivering a choppy reading experience that’s focused more on visuals than the flow. Unfortunately, Crossover #6 relies a bit too much on its visuals to deliver.
While the issue isn’t bad, Donny Cates focuses on the couple of tasks our group must complete. Ellie and her group have shattered the dome and are surrounded by the chaos within. And that’s where the comic also falls apart. Within pages, the comic focuses on how many characters it can squeeze into a page. It’s spot the comic character that is focused on action but the story itself is a rather thin.
There’s a lot to enjoy with the issue. The action is fierce and flies at you. But, it’s really spot the other comic characters that’s the draw. A splash page is packed with characters that pop from the page. I myself found myself falling into it and trying to see how many of the characters I could name. But, it’s a distraction from a finale to the story arc that’s rather thin. It feels like a series of events as opposed to a real story. The drama is thin. The “twists” are predictable.
As usual, the art by Geoff Shaw is amazing. The series really is impressive. With colors by Dee Cunniffe and lettering by John J. Hill the blending of the “real world” and “comic world” is a sight to be hold. There’s so much packed into so many of the pages, it’s the draw of the comic, pun sort of intended. The entertainment and enjoyment of the comic comes from those visuals.
Crossover #6 feels a bit thin for the end of the story-arc. Its emotional moments don’t hit the way they should. The reveals are pretty obvious. It does its job but doesn’t excite and takes some of the air out of the balloon. The issue relies too heavily on its visuals to bring the entertainment instead of delivering heart.
Story: Donny Cates Art: Geoff Shaw Color: Dee Cunniffe Letterer: John J. Hill Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
(W) Jim Zub (A) Cory Smith (I) Roberto Poggi (C) Israel Silva (L) VC’s Travis Lanham (CA) Geoff Shaw Parental Advisory In Shops: Apr 07, 2021 SRP: $3.99
INTO THE WILD! • CONAN must escape the Khitai royal guard while stalking through an uncharted land and battling the forces of nature that would see him fall! • But is his new comrade MEIWEI everything she seems? • And what secrets do HENG THE INSURGENT and his roving bandits hide?
The God of Blades has been obtained. The team needs to hustle to get to their destination of the dome. A military attack stands in the way. Crossover #5 is an interesting comic that feels like something is missing but still generally flows in an over-the-top nature. A terrorist attack has forced the government’s hand. It has forced an attack on the comic characters that have bled over into the real world and the dome. This complicates matters as our group of heroes is caught in-between.
Writer Donny Cates begins to wrap things up in this penultimate chapter of “Kids Love Chains”. The issue isn’t bad but feels like there’s something missing. What happens due to the attack is explained but we don’t see the setup of the attack. The terrorist attack itself is a bit odd as the person that’s the cause doesn’t have the tell-tale signs of being from the comic world (the dots). It’s a headscratcher why his captors would so easily fall for things. From there, it’s a quick decision to attack the dome as well which again feels like a quick ramp-up of the situation, and things are skipped off-panel. In other words, the comic feels a bit rushed and choppy.
Cates dials back the self-referencing and the comic doesn’t quite feel like ego-inflation which has been danced around for bits of previous issues. The issue is focused on that action as the group must decide what to do with the bombing raid before them (which makes you also wonder why the US hasn’t done this before?).
This is an issue that feels more visuals than dialogue and plot and Geoff Shaw delivers. There’s some stunning pages, especially as the God of Blades is used and a choice is made in how to deal with a threat. Along with Dee Cunniffe‘s color and John J. Hill‘s lettering and design, the series as a whole has shined when it has come to the art. Here’s a prime example as pages are packed in with action and characters and the comic both does its own thing and pays an homage to action comics of the past. The Ben Day dots that indicate a character is from comics continue to be amazing and such a nice detail that stands out in a creative way.
With some fun pop-culture references and a big action sequence, Crossover #5 is a fun comic to read. It stumbles in that it could use a bit more of a setup. Steps feel like they’ve been missed and we go from 0 to 10 in no time at all. I thought I missed an issue when I first began to read the comic. Still, it delivers action, drama, and ups the stakes of it all.
Story: Donny Cates Art: Geoff Shaw Color: Dee Cunniffe Letterer/Design: John J. Hill Story: 7.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
(W) Jim Zub (A) Cory Smith (CA) Geoff Shaw Parental Advisory In Shops: Mar 10, 2021 SRP: $3.99
CONAN’S QUEST IN THE LAND OF THE LOTUS! CONAN’s march to Khitai has landed him as the prisoner of the imperial guard…but it will take more than chains to keep a Cimmerian down! As Conan plans his escape, what dreaded beasts lurk in the land of Khitai, and what new dangers will impede his quest to return the TOOTH OF THE NIGHTSTAR to its rightful master? The travels of Conan the Barbarian continue with the perfect jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers! Join us as we welcome new series penciler CORY SMITH to the Hyborian Age in this epic adventure!