Normally, confronting your past means something very different than what we see in Conan the Barbarian #9. When we think of it, it means our regrets, our failed dreams or our lost loves. For Conan – it means monsters…
Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, Matthew Wilson, and Travis Lanham travel into the dark with Conan in this issue.
Conan has found himself in a strange cave, accompanied by the most motley crowd of companions yet. To break free from this hellish labyrinth, he has to defeat the Undergod, an immensely powerful deity with the ability to confront men with their greatest fears and regrets. In Conan’s case that means the monsters he’s defeated, and perhaps also others he’s yet to confront…
I’m happy to see this second arc of the series continues to break away from the formula that the first arc hewed so closely to. Here, Conan has to deal with his past enemies and confrontations, which makes for a great action story on the surface. But below the surface, Aaron uses this plot to get us deeper into the hero’s head, allowing us to get to know the stoic Cimmerian better through his past successes and failures. One particular moment that sings is another mention of Belit, the Pirate Queen and one of Conan’s greatest loves- a tease that I want to see Aaron do more with.
Asrar and Wilson continue to do top notch work on the series. Asrar gets with cut loose with his action and horror chops, making the monstrous illusions feel real, scary and dangerous. He doesn’t do much out of the box in terms of layouts or structure, but that’s to the story’s benefit, as more standard layouts and splashes allow us to get deeper into Conan’s head with Aaron’s script. To compliment that, Wilson adds a sickly sheen to the colors, establishing a setting that feels wrong and unsettling.
Also, Lanham deserves a shout-out for his great work in this issue. He places the captions and dialogue perfectly to give it the most impact, breaking up statements and phrases in a way that suits the character and how he thinks. It’s strong work.
Conan has seen more than any other fictional character out there, and this issue is a great glimpse into how horrifying that is.
Conan the Barbarian #9 is available now from Marvel Comics.