Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Becky Cloonan
What They Say:
Death has come for Conan and his fellow sailors in the visage of the privateer Belit! Rage and desire mingle in an orgy of slaughter as the barbarian and the pirate queen glimpse each other for the first time-as opponents in a battle to the last man!
With the opening issue of Conan, we got some really good stuff that showed us Conan “moving on” from a city that was proving to be a problem and ending up on the open sea through a bit of luck. The ship he ended up on, the Argus, proved to be a very good opportunity for him as he learned a lot about the area and got the basics about the main threat to ships in the area with Belit, a dark and sorceress woman who has considerable sway in the area. The more the crew and its captain talked about her, the more Conan wanted to go up against her to see what he could discover. With the way he thrives on challenge, Belit looks to provide exactly what he needs. And unlike how some books may go, they don’t wait long before the Argus come across Belit and her ship, the Tigress.
While the incident definitely is something that Conan wants, it doesn’t work out quite so well for the rest of the crew of the Argus. While there are attempts to escape, there’s no getting away from the Tigress and little by little the crew is whittled down. It doesn’t occupy most of what the issue is about though as its focus is squarely on Conan himself. There’s some great thrill, controlled as it is, with how he views the situation. It’s like he’s wound up and ready to pounce, but the distance is keeping him in control as are all the things he’s learned over the years with his warrior ways. The edge of the grin on his face and the glint in his eyes is priceless as it plays out.
When the fighting does commence, it has a really great flow to it. Doing straight on action can be really difficult in this form, where it’s either all about the visuals or it gets bogged down in too much dialogue that doesn’t fit. What works here is that there is some narration to it as we see him work through his archery skills and more up close and personal moments, but it doesn’t throw off the dynamic. You can easily ignore the narration, but it’s definitely worth reading in conjunction with the visuals as it enhances what he does, especially with the archery. It’s really engaging watching him do what he does best and the combination of the writing and the artwork makes it exhilarating in a way that really surprises me in how well it all comes together.
While material involving Belit directly is a bit slim here, she has some great scenes and the issue moves the story forward in a quick and exciting way. The focus is kept squarely on Conan and we definitely see how quickly lives can end here, either by his hand directly or just being near him when you get down to things. His role as a catalyst in life is evident here very plainly and it follows up what we got in the first issue very well. That gave us a lot of material about Belit from the sailors point of view and here we get just a bit more first hand material. Both of these instances serves to really entice us even more about her, to want to know more. And seeing how she gets as it goes on here, it practically demands you come back for another issue. I’ve always liked Conan on a basic level, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this enthused about the character in comic form.
Readers Rating: [ratings]