Conan of Cimmeria has been many things, barbarian, fighter, thief, pirate, king. Now the most famous barbarian of all returns to his comic book origins with Marvel Comics and the release of CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1, on shelves now. What tales of wonder are left to be told of this warrior?

Conan the Barbarian #1CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover: Esad Ribic
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 2nd, 2019
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously in CONAN THE BARBARIAN: Conan the Barbarian originally appeared, in full form, to the reading public in the legendary pulp magazine Weird Tales. The December 1932 issue contained a story entitled, “The Phoenix and the Sword”, and was largely a reworking of a rejected Kull tale named “By This Axe I Rule!” The character quickly became the most popular of Howard’s creations. Howard, a contemporary of H.P. Lovecraft, even worked in references to various Lovecraft mythologies. While Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian #1, published in 1970, was not the first time the sullen Cimmerian found a home on the comic page (that was in 1952’s Cuentos de Abuelito #8 from Mexican publisher Corporacion Editorial Mexicana, SA) it is generally considered the first time the character was thrust upon the public media consciousness and integral to the creation of movies, television shows, games and cartoons of the character. After spending time at other publishers over the years, he now returns to Marvel Comics with a new series.

SOME MEN ARE FORGED ON THE DAY OF THEIR BIRTH

Our tale begins with a brief recap of just who Conan is and how he came to be. Born on the battlefield, lived among his people until his fifteenth year when he left his homeland to find adventures and riches unobtainable in his current life. He gained fame and fortune by taking it, making a name for himself, gaining riches, losing fortunes, loving hard and carling little. He was eventually crowned king of the land of Aquilonia. This tale, however, begins with a younger Conan, battling in the fight pits of the city of Zamora, spilling blood as others spill wine. The field of opponents dwindles until it stands to two, Conan and a massive islander. Bets are made, primarily on the islander, but a curvaceous blonde mystery woman covers all bets against Conan, perhaps seeing something the others did not. It is her coin bag which ends filled, and after a conversation with the winning Conan, her bed as well. But, all is not as it seems and Conan quickly finds he has been duped. The beautiful woman is, in reality, an ancient crone called The Crimson Witch and she has plans for Conan, plans which involve the return of the Red Doom. Conan awakens some time later, chained to an ancient altar, .the witch preparing to perform a sacrifice. As she tells Conan of her plans to resurrect the arch-demon Razazel, and part of the resurrection will be brought about by the blood of a man who refuses to die, blood which courses through Conan’s very veins. A slash across his massive chest provides the fount needed, and the crone cackles in glee as the blood of Conan gives a way for the Red Doom to return. But will Conan escape, and what does the future hold in this tale of the life and death of a warrior?

A VIOLENT, BLOODY AND DAMN SEXY TALE FROM THE LIFE OF CONAN

There are many, many tales told of Conan. With a publishing history of over eighty-five years, the number of authors which scribed those tales is also many. With this first issue, Marvel Comics brings us storied writer Jason Aaron (Mighty Thor, Doctor Strange) to the table as he tells us a story which has its beginnings in Conan’s early years and picks back up at some point in his later life. The setting is wonderful, and even for those new to the character, you quickly realize who Conan is and what kind of life he leads. The character of Conan is an arch-type, and Aaron manages to tap into the archetypical energy and present us with a Conan who is familiar and at the same time fresh. This, the first installment of the Life And Death Of Conan storyline is entitled “The Weird of the Crimson Witch”, and it successfully brings the feel of the old Savage Sword of Conan stories back.

But by words alone, a comic is not born. On the artistic front, we have Mahmud Asrar (All-New, All-Different Avengers, Wolverine, and the X-Men) bringing the characters to life on the page. Her grabs you immediately, first with a beautifully conceived splash page of the birth of Conan, and then with a powerful image of King Conan on his throne in Aquilonia. Much like Conan’s battles which occur throughout this issue, he keeps the visuals fast and action-packed and the blood flowing, but knows when to bring out the sensual nature of a beautiful woman. It’s wonderful, and with Aaron, he delivers a complete package of entertainment.

The action-packed tale we are presented visually would normally be enough to justify your purchase, but there is more. In a callback to the early days of  comics and magazines, we are also given the first installment of a prose novella by author John C. Hocking (Conan and the Emerald Lotus) entitled “Black Starlight.” When Conan and company travel to the village of Quenah, they find a mystery that will lead to death and destruction. It is a good read and a nice addition to the title.

BOTTOM LINE: A GLORIOUS RETURN HOME

I know that Conan has gone through several publishers over the years. I know those titles have won awards and been acclaimed. I know all of that, but to me, in my heart of hearts, Conan has always been at his best when he is published under the guiding hand of Marvel Comics. There is something about the feel of the stories, the look of the art, which does not garner the same reaction as the original series from the seventies did.

With this first issue, or if you go with the Legacy numbering (which I love), #276, Conan’s feet have been firmly placed on the battlefield of Marvel, and I say it is about time.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 may herald the beginning of one of the most interesting series of stories for the character in years, and I for one will heed its call.

Conan The Barbarian #1

87%
87%
A Glorious Return Home

With this first issue, or if you go with the Legacy numbering (which I love), #276, Conan’s feet have been firmly placed on the battlefield of Marvel, and I say it is about time.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 may herald the beginning of one of the most interesting series of stories for the character in years, and I for one will heed its call.

  • Writing
    9
  • Art
    9
  • Coloring
    8
  • User Ratings (4 Votes)
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About Author

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold. He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours. He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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