Conan of Cimmeria never cared much for the arenas of civilized cities. Ignoring the many times he had been forced into such bloodsport himself, Conan had fought far too many life-and-death battles to take pleasure in watching others shed blood for the amusement of the rich and powerful Still, Conan had little choice but to endure such entertainment for a time, when his current employer went to the arena to lay down a bet against the champion – a warrior woman who would be pitted against three men at odds favoring her!
Conan was astonished to find his memory stirred once he saw this so-called wonder woman. Thoughts came unbidden of his youth and a girl he met at a clan meet on his first trip outside the hills of his home village – a girl named Yanna, who claimed to be from a clan made entirely of warrior women. Uncertain if this champion was the friend he remembered so fondly, Conan stole into the arena cells to speak to her… only to wind up enslaved himself!
The woman, for her part, does not remember Conan or anything of her own past and origins beyond the names of her strange gods. The barbarian’s words do spark something in her but the name “Yanna” he uses to address her does not quite feel right. The two have little time for words, however, when they are informed that they are to fight the next battle against one another!
Purists may find little enjoyment in Wonder Woman/Conan, save in picking apart the concept. They will question just why The Amazons – if they were to exist in the shared universe of Hyboria – would risk their queen traveling away from their island with her only daughter? Or perhaps ask why the infamously insular Cimmerians would ever meet with outsiders when the Howardian canon says they rarely spoke to members of other tribes and then only to make war on other races.
Such sophistry belittles the spirit in which Gail Simone has united these two characters. Her script does a fantastic job of establishing an aura of mystery around “Yanna”, leaving the question as to whether or not she is the girl Conan remembers from his youth unanswered. In the end, it matters little just how Wonder Woman has found herself without her memories or her powers in an Aquilonian arena. What matters is the ripping yarn of the struggle for survival, as two warriors are thrust together in difficult circumstances – a conceit that fits the oeuvre of both Conan and Wonder Woman well.
The artwork matches the script, strike for strike. Aaron Lopresti – who also penciled Simone’s beloved run on Wonder Woman – choreographs every action-packed moment perfectly. The inks by Matt Ryan are equally well-applied, outlining and enhancing without overdoing the shadowing. The color palettes are nicely varied for scenes set at night and indoors, resulting in a uniform, vivid look thanks to Wendy Broome.
The only respect in which this issue falters is in its cover, which spoils the final cliffhanger of the comic. Sadly, the synopsis of this issue made the same mistake, robbing the reader of any sense of surprise as to just how our heroes survive the arena. Despite this minor problem, this comic should be on the pull list of every fan of The Amazing Amazon and Conan The Cimmerian.