The Wizard – Conan the Barbarian(1982)
“Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!”
I been eagerly awaiting the return of Conan to the pages of Marvel Comics since I heard the news that Marvel was getting the franchise back from Dark Horse Comics.
Dark Horse Comics did a great job with the franchise, but Conan not being at Marvel always felt strange to me. With over 650 issues from 1970 to 2000, Marvel brought the adventures of the sword wielding Cimmerian in Conan The Barbarian, Conan the Adventurer, Conan the Savage, and Savage Sword of Conan, among other titles. Conan was always one of Marvels cornerstone characters and titles.
I was introduced to Conan not through the comics but through the novels published by Lancer books. My dad had all of them. In 1966, Lancer Books decided to do trade paperback editions of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, and they would supplement the works with new Conan stories. These stories were written by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, who would do some new stories while also finishing Howard’s unpublished works. These paperback books were very popular, especially due to their stunning Frank Frazetta covers.
I was hooked. Around the same time the movie, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan, was also released. It was if the Frazetta covers from those books had come to life. The movie captured the feel of those stories perfectly.
But the most pivotal development that occurred in my comic collecting and Conan journey at this time was the comic book shop that opened locally. No more riding my bike to every 7-11 and grocery store each week to try and get my favorite comics. Now I could get the comics I collected. I also discovered other comics that were not sold at 7-11’s and grocery stores. Best of all………THERE WERE BACK ISSUES!! BOXES AND BOXES OF BACK ISSUES!!! And lo and behold, there were Conan the Barbarian comics!
I have been a Conan comics junkie ever since.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artwork: Mahmud Asrar
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 2nd January 2019
The Esad Ribic cover is gorgeous.
Aaron’s story gives the reader a pretty good introduction to Conan and the world of the Hyborian Age.
The story begins with an homage to the past era of Marvel Conan comics, highlighting images from great Marvel Conan artists such as Barry Winsdor-Smith, John Buscema, and Neal Adams and then goes into three splash pages. The first two show the bookends of Conan’s life, his birth on a battlefield in Cimmeria and his rise to power as the king of Aquilonia. The third brings us to the beginning of this story. The storytelling structure is similar to that of Aaron’s run on Thor: God of Thunder, where he told a story split between three eras of Thor’s life.
Aaron does a good job at being aware of the history of the character and he delivers a story that both celebrates and expands upon the work that has come before him. The villain he introduces is a witch of an elder god who torments Conan at various times throughout his life. Aaron ends the first issue with a great cliff hanger, alluding to considerable things to come.
Asrar’s art fits perfectly. He does an excellent job depicting Conan, violence and the dark magic of the Hyborian Age brilliantly.
The only gripe that I have is that Aaron played it safe. The story is a pretty standard Conan tale. For a long time reader, such as myself, the story is comforting, fun and very good but not very ground breaking. I hope Aaron brings the sweeping fantasy chops that he displayed in his Thor stories to the pages of Conan.
Rating: 9 Male Adolescent Power Fantasies out of 10