reflection

A bloody and action filled-return, Aaron and Asrar's King Conan #1 is a great start to this follow up to their prior Conan work, and a solid addition to Conan tales as a whole.
Writing/Plot
Pencils/Inks
Colors
Letters

Review: Maggots, Sharks, And Snake Gods In KING CONAN #1

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Writer Jason Aaron (Conan The Barbarian, Scalped) and artist Mahmud Asrar (X-Men) return to the Hyborian Age to tell tales of a Cimmerian with a crown in King Conan #1. With Matt Wilson on colors and Travis Lanham on letters, this opening chapter is full of the exact kind of thundering action and blood sport one would expect from a Conan story. With a fun, fitting script and stellar visuals, this is a great start to this follow-up series and a solid addition to the legacy of Conan tales as a whole.

“CONAN’S LAST STAND AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD! Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar return to the saga of CONAN in an all-new adventure that takes the story of the Cimmerian further than has ever been revealed in ANY media to date! As Robert E. Howard posited, when King Conan grows restless on the throne, he sails west, toward land and adventure unknown. Now see the first step of King Conan’s fateful journey from Aquilonia, as an old and terrible danger threatens to end the saga of the Cimmerian once and for all!”

Writing & Plot

As with his prior 2019 series, Jason Aaron pens a fitting script for this well-trodden world in King Conan #1. His scripting is full of the grandiose narration and dialogue used in all the tales of the Hyborian Age. Aaron’s first chapter here is a simple retread of what many Conan tales are like. This time there is the wrinkle of his now being the King of Aquilonia, and the responsibilities he is escaping. Much like in Howard’s original writings, Conan’s hardened exterior hides the complexities of his character. For a long time Conan reader, watching the legendary Cimmerian develop into a man who struggles with the weight of massive responsibility is cathartic. Don’t let this fool you though, this is a sword-swinging barbarian tale through and through.

Aaron’s careful pacing makes the most of this comic’s 22-page length with some solid action, revealing flashbacks, and a great cliffhanger. Even with the reintroduction of a classic Conan foe, this comic isn’t going to blow your mind if you’re a long-time Conan fan. However it’s still a a great start to this mini-series.

Art Direction

There is a strong argument to be made for Mahmud Asrar being the premier contemporary Conan artist, and King Conan #1 builds more of that case. The X-Men artist’s truly epic framing and visual style makes every panel look like a piece of mythic tapestry. His heavy inks and thick pencils capture detail and atmosphere in this comic’s desolate environment. Asrar’s take on this older, graying Conan  posits him as every bit the cunning and eager warrior he always has been, albeit a bit wiser. The aging Cimmerian is captured here at his most regretful and contemplative. He reflects on the choices he’s made that have led him to the throne – and this cursed island. Asrar draws Conan with the needed complexity across multiple flashbacks and in the quiet moments in the current plot.

Unsurprisingly, he also still draws some kickass fight scenes. Conan has scarcely looked more fearsome than when drawn by Asrar. The kinetic power that the Cimmerian is drawn with matches some of the best Conan artists in the character’s history.

Matt Wilson’s colors in this book perfectly fit the vision crafted by Asrar. The rich, dark tones used on characters and the foreboding island lend a sense of timeless myth to the story. Natural tones clash with the dark-magic and supernatural purples and misty greens that arrive with Conan’s nemesis.  Conan’s chiseled, scarred appearance is on par with that the best of the color interpretations done by colorists past. Travis Lanham’s lettering is sharp and easy to follow, with a classical font on the narration for that “scroll” effect. This is a stellar looking comic that’s visually on par with many other great Conan books.

Verdict

King Conan #1 is a wholly entertaining opening chapter to this addition to the Conan mythos. Jason Aaron’s script keeps Robert E. Howard’s vision intact while still crafting a story in his own style. The visuals from Mahmud Asrar and Matt Wilson are deep and full of energy, bringing more complexity to the story. Be sure to pick up this #1 when it hits shelves on 12-22!

 

Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.

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