Conan is a character I’ve always liked but never been a fanatic for. However, Marvel’s re-acquisition of the character excited me, and the plans for him have excited me too. How has the title been in execution?
Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, Matthew Wilson, and Travis Lanham bring us the second issue, wrapped in a cover by Esad Ribic.
After last issue’s cliffhanger, we jump back in time. Conan finds himself facing a terrifying enemy in the heart of untamed lands. In the course of his adventure, he realizes that those he once considered his enemies may not be so different from him.
So one big thing I want to get out of the way first- this issue leans into an uncomfortable trope, the white savior. Conan is colored as lighter skinned than the people that he allies himself with, and eventually saves. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, and I don’t know if the mistake was in the script, line art or coloring, but it did make for for some uncomfortable moments in the reading.
However, looking past that, this is a great fantasy story. Conan actually has a bit more to do in this issue, and we see genuine character growth over the course of the story. Aaron also creates a great threat here, which feels both epic and frightening.
The art is simply gorgeous. Asrar has a great sense of motion, and is able to use motion lines and blurring to create images that feel full of action. He also feels more comfortable with his lead character here as well, with Conan seeming much more fully-fleshed out. Wilson adds so much to that, between his colors on the Ghost Snakes and the spurts of blood coming from them and their prey.
In the end, it isn’t a perfect issue. But it is good, it is enjoyable, and it is a near-perfect Conan plot. Hopefully the creative team can avoid any other negative tropes that comes from the past of the character and stay the course with otherwise excellent action stories moving forward.
Conan the Barbarian #2 is available now from Marvel Comics.