CONAN THE BARBARIAN #25/ Scripts by JIM ZUB, LARRY HAMA, DAN SLOTT & PRIEST/ Pencils by CORY SMITH, PAUL DAVIDSON, MARCOS MARTIN & ROBERTO DE LA TORRE/ Inks by ROBERTO POGGIO, PAUL DAVIDSON, MARCOS MARTIN & ROBERTO DE LA TORRE/ Colors by ISRAEL SILVA, NEERAJ MENON, MUNTSA VICENTE & JAVA TARTAGLIA/ Letters by VC’S TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Typically I try and review first issues of new series or new creative teams. This is partly because I think most people turn to critics like me to find out if something is worth reading before they give it a try, and that’s far easier with new series. It’s also far more interesting for me as a writer, as I get to spend more time focusing on the meat of the issue rather than recalling the Greatest Hits of Chris Claremont trying to explain everything you need to know to understand this month’s issue of X-Traneous X-Men.
That being said, how could I not comment upon this week’s release of Conan the Barbarian #25? Or Conan the Barbarian #300, if we use the old numbering scheme.
If you’ve never read a Conan the Barbarian comic before, this issue serves as a decent introduction, offering a sampling of adventures from across Conan’s career as a thief, a mercenary, a pirate and a king. If you’re already a Conan fan, the adventures contained here will offer you more of what you already enjoy.
The opening story by Jim Zub picks up where last month’s issue ended, with a flash-forward to Conan and his first love, the pirate queen Belit, exploring a tomb best left untouched. The artwork by Cory Smith and Roberto Poggi is much like the story; simple in its design yet complex in its execution, with the colors by Israel Silva crafting some amazing finished artwork, with torches that seem to glow on the page.
The second story, “A Civilized Man,” pits a young Conan against a horde of Viking raiders. The action is as thrilling as one would expect from a Larry Hama story and the artwork by Paul Davidson and Neeraj Menon suitably bloody. The same is true of the closing story by Priest, which depicts an older King Conan, in what might well be a vision of his final adventure, with intricate artwork by Roberto De La Torre and vivid colors courtesy of Java Tartaglia.
“Night of Oblivion” is an odd note in this anthology, but it is not a displeasing one. This silent tale by Dan Slott is told entirely without dialogue, leaving the burden of its story to artist Marco Martin and colorist Muntsa Vicente. It is a burden they shoulder quite well, though the style is brighter and more animated than a standard Conan story. This fits, however, as the tale depicts a drunken Conan going through an adventure on autopilot and proving more capable than his sober comrades.
Conan The Barbarian #25 is a worthy anniversary issue, offering an introduction to the Cimmerian hero for those who might need one and more epically illustrated tales of high adventure for those who know him already. If sword-and-sorcery be to your liking, make haste for the nearest comic shop and claim your copy today!