Welcome to The Round-Up! This week, we get into the “Rotworld” crossover building in Swamp Thing and Animal Man, Becky Cloonan’s return to Conan and the latest issue of Sam Humphries’ Higher Earth!
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #7 / Written by BRIAN WOOD / Art by BECKY CLOONAN / Published by DARK HORSE COMICS
Review by FORREST HELVIE
With the close of “The Argos Deception,” Conan and Bêlit sail to the wilds of Cimmeria in this first part of “Border Fury” from Conan the Barbarian Issue #7. Wood slows the narrative down as Conan and Bêlit travel to his homeland only to discover all is not well. Not only are there problems awaiting the young warrior in the lands he once knew, but removing his fierce pirate queen from her familiar territory also creates a new set of challenges for the pair. Considering the slow buildup Wood used in the previous story arc, readers can expect more of the same quality fare as he begins laying the groundwork for Conan’s next adventure in this issue.
Becky Cloonan returns as the artist for this issue of Conan the Barbarian. One of the most noticeable changes in Cloonan’s work this issue is with her depiction of Bêlit. On The Tigress, she was depicted as fierce and sexual; in Cimmeria, however, readers quickly see the environment’s effects on her. Conan was often self-questioning in foreign lands and, so too does his pirate queen appear fare out of her comfort zone as Cloonan’s depiction of Bêlit shows her covered up, hunched over, or being led around by Conan. Further, the scene where she encounters a wolf tied up is a poignant one where both animals seem to come to a mutual understanding of feeling trapped. Dave Stewart’s colors also complement the cold and foreboding atmosphere the two wayfarers encounter in their northern travels through his subdued color palette.
Overall, readers will not want to miss the introduction to the next story arc featuring Conan the Barbarian and his Pirate Queen, Bêlit in Conan the Barbarian #7 as the seeds of conflict are sown both in Cimmeria and between the barbarian and his queen.
SWAMP THING #12 & ANIMAL MAN #12 / Written by SCOTT SNYDER & JEFF LEMIRE / Art by MARCO RUDY, STEVE PUGH, DAN GREEN, ANDY OWENS, VAL STAPLES & LOVERN KINDZIERSKI / Published by DC COMICS
Review by KAHLIL SCHWEITZER
After almost a year of set-up throughout both of these books we finally get a glimpse at the crossover event Snyder and Lemire have been building towards.
These two issues read as one cohesive prologue to the actual event, as Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire co-scripted both issues. The story itself reads as well as any other standalone issue of either book but what really stands out here is the dialogue and interactions between these two protagonists and their supporting family/ love interest. We’ve seen in the individual series’ how the Rot is affecting the Bakers and Alec Holland but in both #12’s we see how these two groups come together out of desperation and necessity. The scripting between issues is completely consistent which is nice as character, situation and plot flow seamlessly. And while Animal Man is a bit more of setup and recap, it still manages to maintain the gripping themes that make Buddy Baker so engaging as a character: his family ties and responsibilities.
Even though there are two different pencilers and colorists along with multiple inkers, the artwork between the two books flows extremely well. Steve Pugh manages to work in some absolutely gorgeous layouts that certainly rival Swamp Thing’s usual floral, expansive pages. Marco Rudy had a massive task in following up Yanick Paquette on artwork in Swamp Thing but he has managed to maintain the detailed appeal of Paquette’s work and fit it in with unusual paneling that flows more than it’s read.
There is still plenty left here for both of these stories to explore but I hope that the connection between these two characters and books remains long after “Rotworld” is concluded.
HIGHER EARTH #3 / Written by SAM HUMPHRIES / Art by FRANCESCO BIAGINI / Published by BOOM! COMICS
Review by DANIEL COLE
As we continue to follow Heidi and Rex on their reality hoping adventure, they find themselves on a planet where the cataclysm that doomed the dinosaurs never happened. It’s an interesting place and Humphries explains the use of such an Earth. But the issue falls foul of the amount of exposition that is presented here. It eats away at the rest of the narrative and gives us less time with our main protagonists.
The narrative jumps around a good bit as we finally get a glimpse of Higher Earth and the character work here doesn’t really ignite the page. Heidi’s show of compassion is probably the most interesting thing the character has done in a while but she reverts into a whining annoyance for the rest of the issue. There is a big reveal here but the way it is staged most readers could easily guess the outcome.
Francesco Biagini’s work is the big draw here. His work is dynamic especially when depicting the violence. His character work is expressive and it is impressive that he manages to convey emotions from a dying T-Rex. His creativity sells this world our characters find themselves and he litters the book with interesting visuals.
Although the art is wonderful, the narrative has too many problems and the characters fall flat.. It has a lot of potential, but at the moment ,that’s all it has. There’s not thing more worth coming back for.