Marvel's Conan the Barbarian Issue 1

When I was of the wee age of seven my step-father took me to a local comic convention in Reading.  It wasn't like what my seven-year-old mind thought and I found myself rather disappointed to see booth after booth after booth of Tri-State comic shops selling old stock and collectables.  No Stan Lee, no Neal Adams, none of the few names I knew at seven; just pot-bellied old men trying to get 10-bucks for a comic about a scantily clad vampire with a silly name.

The one highlight for seven-year-old me though was the gift that I got from the check-in desk after my step-father paid for us to get in.  A 1978 Savage Sword of Conan magazine from Marvel comics.  It was large, black-and-white and filled with amazing tales of swords and magic, gods and demons ... and above all else, like a loom grim avatar of death:  Conan.  As it turned out my step-father had a huge Conan collection not just Savage Sword of Conan but also Marvel's Conan the Barbarian, Conan books, issues of Wierd Tales with Conan stories ... technically I wasn't allowed to touch these, but my step-father worked second shift at a steel mill so what he didn't know didn't hurt either of us.

Marvel Comics: Conan the Barbarian 2019
Shoot forward to last year when it was announced that Marvel had regained the comic rights to Conan.  I was overjoyed.  Yes, Dark Horse had produced some flatout amazing work on their run of the comic, but there is something special about knowing a character you love is going back to the people who had him when you discovered that character.  I was of course worried, Conan is not a good fit for modern sensibilities.  There is far too much that some would find problematic, and to strip those aspects away from Conan is to essentially make him He-Man (and I mean the DIC He-Man). Add to that Marvel's bullpen of recent years, so-so writers, bad artists, to much pandering to politics over storytelling and I started to think Conan's return to the Merry Marvel writer's room was doomed.

After reading the first issue I can say that I am hopeful.  Jason Aaron who had an amazing run on Thor post Civil War is doing the writing here and he channels the cadence and wording of the old Marvel comics beautifully.  This compiled with Mahmud Asrar's art and Matt Wilson's coloring go along way of finding a sweet middle ground between Barbarian and Savage with a little of the Darkhorse grit present as well.  Presentation-wise I was nothing but amazed.

The story is a long game, present a single event of Conan's past in his time as a thief and mercenary and projecting it forward to his final days as king as a cult of a demon lord who predates Atlantis wants to use Conan's blood to bring back their god.  The set-up for this is classic, and while I'm sure some people may get angry about Conan being bested and chained to a sacrifical table to be against the character, I disagree, and seeing how Conan escapes his plight (and just HOW Conan it is) is inspired at least one future event my 5e Barbarian will be involved in.  The part's that worried me were with King Conan and how heavily Aaron relied on the "aging warrior" trope.  Conan complains about his back, his muscles aching, etc ... Yes, this is a trope and can be done and has been done very well (see Dark Horse's run).  Here though I felt it was a crutch that didn't aid in deeping the character but in moving the plot and moving forward I hope Aaron irons this out or doesn't fall back on it after this issue quite so much.

Final thoughts - Marvel's main-stream appeal and eyes that are on the industry.
nan is a good Hard PG-13 take on the character which is the best we can hope for in the current comics climate and the


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