A year ago, Marvel Comics announced that they had regained the license to perhaps the most famous character in fantasy- Robert E Howard’s Conan– with a new series to come in January 2019. We’ve had a year to anticipate it. So how was the Cimmerian’s return of Marvel Comics?
Conan the Barbarian #1 comes to us by Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, Matthew Wilson and Travis Lanham wrapped in a cover by Esad Ribic. It’s a great return to Marvel for the character.
After a brief recap of Conan’s life–including a stunning spread featuring a collage of past Conan comics–we meet our hero as a young warrior and pit fighter. It’s a thrilling battle sequence, showing who he is and what his goals are in life. We also meet a strange crimson-garbed woman who will become an important figure in Conan’s life, as the story flashes forward in its last few pages to his time as King!
Aaron’s story is immediately engaging and exciting. In four pages, we’re drawn immediately into Conan’s world and history. We’re given just enough of an introduction that you know what you’re getting into.
The story does fall slightly short in assuming that you’re already familiar with Conan. You can jump in with only a passing familiarity with the character, for sure. However, you still need at least a little knowledge, otherwise this may just feel like a standard sword and sorcery story.
The area where the issue just absolutely sings though is in the art. Asrar and Wilson’s work is incredible. This was a story that Asrar was born to draw. The art is visceral and brutal, and full of beautiful detail, bringing this world to life.
Wilson’s color work shifts here. I’ve really come to love Wilson’s color art thanks to the lush work he does on Thor and The Wicked + The Divine. Here he takes a different tack, with a world of rust, steel and blood. If Asrar gives the world life, Wilson gives it depth and dimension.
This is absolutely the first issue Conan needed in his return to the Marvel Universe, by Crom!
Conan The Barbarian #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.