Sunday, May 26, 2013

Conan The Barbarian #16 - A Review

Your enjoyment of this month's Conan The Barbarian may be dependent on your feelings on psychodrama in a sword-and-sorcery story.  Those who have disliked Brain Wood's more spiritual take on Conan in recent months will find little to like in this month's issue.  Similar to recent issues which had our heroes experiencing psychic dreamscapes and prophetic dreams, the focus of this issue is upon Conan and Belit - currently at leisure in the Ophirean equivalent of Plato's Retreat - deciding to drop yellow lotus together and experience a shared dream. 

Whether it's because Dark Horse Comics refused to show something positive coming of recreational drug use or because a comic showing two stoned barbarians dry-humping each other while having a shared erotic dream would be rather difficult to keep within the parameters of a 16+ series, things do not go smoothly.  Conan starts having a bad trip, including visions of the zombie corpses of the companions he betrayed to join Belit's pirate crew.  And that's just the first of many waking nightmares for our favorite Cimmerian as the issue progresses.  Wood's script is well-written but I suspect that many Conan fans would like to see Conan and Belit face a foe of flesh and blood, who cannot be outwitted or bargained with.  Let us see the blood and thunder a story set in Hyboria should have - not another psychodrama!

Thankfully, the artwork of Davide Gianfelice is enjoyable even if you are sick of these story-lines based around battles in the mind.  The artwork is a perfect complement to Wood's script.  I enjoyed Gianfelice's work on Daredevil: Reborn and his work here is similarly dark and atmospheric.

Personally, I found this to be an enjoyable issue of Conan The Barbarian.  I dare say this would be a good jumping-on point for new readers, though I would warn away those who turn to Conan expecting mindless action stories.  There's very little action to be had in this issue and there's nothing mindless about it.   

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