Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Conan the Barbarian #1

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Becky Cloonan

I think that putting Brian Wood on Conan is a strange choice.  When I think of Wood's writing, I think of the extent to which he places real locations front and centre in his stories.  DMZ and Local are obviously very grounded in their settings, but so are many of the stories in Demo, and Northlanders.  Usually, Wood is a very urban writer (I would argue that Northlanders, with its frequent themes of progress and change is full of pre-urban urban stories).

Now, I'm not terribly familiar with Conan, either in comics form or the original books, but I'm willing to snatch up anything that Wood writes.  Add to his name that of Becky Cloonan's and I'm on board for sure.  Whenever they work together (Demo, Northlanders, Jennie One), the result is pure comics gold, and Cloonan is one of about four or five artists that I would consider my absolute favourites.

This story looks terrific, and it has some good moments.  Conan narrowly escapes the constabulary of one coast town by jumping onto a ship at sail leaving the harbour, after having gotten himself in some pretty big trouble in the town.  He quickly wins over the crew of this vessel with his charm and tales of his exploits, and soon the captain is telling him about Bêlit, a dangerous and slinky pirate witch woman. 

I enjoyed this comic, but it kind of feels to me like a waste to have someone as talented as Wood work a story that is just an adaption of an earlier novel.  Not knowing the source material though, I have no idea how faithful he is being, or if he's been given the freedom to move off in his own direction.  This was perhaps not as mind-blowing a comic as I had hoped, nor as introspective and beautiful as previous Wood/Cloonan collaborations, but with these two working on it, I'm going to be sticking with this title for a while.

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