I don’t know Robert E. Howard’s creations all that well. Say Dark Agnes or Solomon Kane and I’ll stare at you blankly. Still, Conan: Serpent War #1 is intriguing to me on multiple levels. It’s my introduction to those characters who join Conan the Barbarian and Moon Knight for the limited series. Going into the comic I was looking to see how well it introduces those characters. I also wanted to see how Howard’s characters gel with Marvel’s Moon Knight.
Written by Jim Zub, Conan: Serpent War #1 is a decent introduction to the various characters. They’re brought together to take on an Elder God. The story revolves around a dying James Allison, another Howard creation. Allison’s visions introduce us to the various characters as Allison experiences his past lives. It’s an interesting hook that gets to the point eventually, though slowly.
There’s a lot to pack in. We need to get a good sense of the characters and what we can expect and Zub succeeds in that. By the issue’s end, I have a good sense of the main characters, their archetypes, and some of their personalities. It’s enough I want to read what comes next making the first issue feel a bit like a chapter in a story in a way. Each character’s connection to the threat is presented and the vignettes set up what’s to come. It’s not a comic to read on it’s own but the start of the adventure to come.
Zub’s use of Moon Knight works well as his connection to Egyptian mythology fits with Howard’s world and “the Serpent God.” The disconnect that has happened with Conan meeting other Marvel heroes isn’t as present here though the adventure has just begun. The mythology as folded together feels a bit like a case is being made as to why it all fits together like a dungeon master taking ideas from various modules and mixing them to their own seamless adventure.
The art sequences are broken up between two teams. Vanesa R. Del Rey and Jean Francois Beaulieu handle Allison’s sequence while Scot Eaton and Frank D’Armata handle the rest. There’s a slight disconnect in the art in the beginning as the style differences are notable but as the issue progresses it’s less noticeable. The various eras and settings work well together and the teams present each page in the dreamlike storytelling that’s presented. Travis Lanham‘s lettering stands out as so many characters have a “unique” voice when it comes to that and it all enhances the read.
The issue also features extra material to enjoy in the form of a prose story by C.L Werner. It’s the beginning of a four-part adventure featuring Solomon Kane and feels like the cherry on top of an already enjoyable read.
The issue is a good one in that it checks the marks off as an introduction to the adventure and characters. As an opening chapter, it’s a good one but as a standalone comic, it’s just ok. This may be an adventure to read in one sitting as part of a trade or all of the issues but the issue has me wanting to read what else is to come. It feels like a menagerie of heroes come together for a roleplaying game adventure.
Story: Jim Zub, C.L. Werner Art: Scot Eaton, Vanesa R. Del Rey
Ink: Scott Hanna Color: Frank D’Armata, Jean Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review