Friday, November 16, 2012

Conan the Barbarian #10

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Declan Shalvey

Having not been a Conan reader before Brian Wood came along to take his turn with the character, I have no way of knowing if his actions in this book, which spends most of its time depicting the barbarian in the company of Belit, the pirate queen of the south seas, are in character or not.  I do know that I've questioned if such a land-based creation as a barbarian would be happy with the sea-faring life, but I've simply taken it as a given.

This month, Wood and artist Declan Shalvey take the time to portray the everyday life that Conan has been experiencing with Belit and her people, and they are careful to show both the monotony and the appeal of the pirate's life.  Much of this first issue of 'The Death', the new arc, is given over to Conan's daily life in this environment.  Belit herself worries that her bed and her chosen lifestyle will be enough to keep Conan interested, and so has the old soothsayer who accompanies her enter a trance to search for answers; disturbingly, the man spends many hours chanting the words, "The death."

Not long after that, the crew come across a derelict ship with a single, weakened passenger.  Anyone with a passing knowledge of plagues (or has just read Wood's Northlanders) can see where this is going, but it's still a very effective issue.

Shalvey is an artist I've come to associate mostly with Marvel's Thunderbolts, where he drew a number of colourful characters in colourful situations.  I like how he slows down the pace here and draws a story that is more contemplative and uneventful; he is a very talented artist.

If you've been on the fence about Wood's Conan, this is a good issue to start reading his run with.  It's new-reader friendly, and filled with a sense of the characters and the place of Robert E. Howard's epic stories.

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