Thursday, January 17, 2013

Conan the Barbarian #12

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Declan Shalvey

There are a lot of things to like about Brian Wood's Conan series, but one of the things that gets overlooked, but is key to the book's success, is the way in which Wood writes short story arcs, mostly of just three issues in length.  I find this to be a very effective way to tell a story long enough to engage the reader, without getting too bogged down in unnecessary complexity, or too decompressed and stretched-out to fit a trade.  This way, the story is just the right length, and still packed with action and character development.  The other great thing is that it means that there is always a new artist coming on board to be excited about.

This issue finishes off 'The Death', the arc that has Bêlit and the crew of the Tigress down with a mysterious illness, with only Conan healthy enough to try to care for his lover and to protect her ship from hostile forces in the town where they've pulled in for shelter.

The last issue raised the question of whether or not Conan would abandon his love and new lifestyle, which she had urged him to do.  I don't know Conan well as a character, but Wood makes it clear that he is not someone to run from his problems, as he stands his ground on a couple of different levels in this issue.

Declan Shalvey has done a terrific job on the art this arc, and I especially like two things this issue.  There's a scene where Conan faces off against a small mob on the town's docks, and I love the way in which Shalvey has him returning a spear that has been thrown at him.  Later, Conan is sitting on the deck of the Tigress, waiting for news of Bêlit's health.  In the foreground on the deck is a dead rat.  It's a small detail, but it absolutely makes that scene.


Arion said...

Good point about shorter arcs, I'm tired of the typical 6-issue arc that doesn't amount to much. I love your blog, and seems like we have a lot of titles in common. Feel free to check out mine:

thingslikei said...

Thanks for the comment Arion. I have checked out your blog from time to time, and I agree that we have some similar tastes. You do some good work on your site.

My biggest complaint about the 6-issue arc is that we really only get two stories a year (unless it's a Marvel book that comes out almost every week - there we get one story a year and some 15 tie-ins to crossovers).