Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Conan The Barbarian (2012) #7 - A Review

In his time since leaving home, Conan has become a thief, a reaver and a slayer. He has journeyed further than any of his race dared before, from the snowy plains of Hyperboria to the lust pits of Zamora. He has faced dark wizards, foul demons and gigantic beasts alike without fear. But now, as he returns to his homeland of Cimmeria for the second time since beginning his wanderings, Conan must face his greatest challenge yet - introducing his mother to his girlfriend!

Brian Wood takes this broad concept beyond its' sitcom stylings and tells a story that is both serious and seriously good. True, there is a another subplot involving a raider who has stolen Conan's name and identity to attack other Cimmerians. But this story takes the backseat to the main drama which centers upon Belit and her discomfort among the Cimmerian people. It would have been easy to play off the fish-out-of-water comedic tropes here but Wood is (mercifully) a better writer than that. There is very little comedy here - merely character development as Belit is forced to cope with a place where her ability for command and noble heritage mean nothing as Conan himself must cope with the realization that the place of his birth no longer has any place for him.

Becky Cloonan returns to the art duties on this book with this issue and the title is all the richer for her presence. Under Cloonan's pencils, Belit manages to look uncomfortable without ever looking weak, despite her continual discomfort throughout the issue. Her Conan is, true to Robert E. Howard's descriptions, a wolfish figure one can easily see sneaking upon an enemy in a dark alleyway. And her backgrounds accurately convey the majestic grandeur of Conan's homeland. Colorist Dave Stewart also deserves praise for choosing a palette that perfectly captures the bleak splendor of Cimmeria.

If you haven't given Conan The Barbarian a chance before, now is the perfect time to give it a try!

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