There are cases where a story doesn’t necessarily have to be happening in reality to matter. Look at The Matrix or Vanilla Sky and you’ll see stories that aren’t happening in the real world, but do matter because they affect the character’s psychosis. Conan has been on a vision quest the last two issues and that quest ends today. Many folks might think this story doesn’t matter, but maybe it does for Conan mentally. I digress, and ask the question, “is it good?”
Conan the Barbarian #18 (Dark Horse Comics)
If you missed our review of Conan the Barbarian #17, check it out here.
Two issues ago Conan took a pill that dropped him into a vision quest along with his lover Belit. He’s tromped around in the north, fought spirit bears and, in the final pages of the last issue, met his son. This issue starts off there, as we see Conan live on a remote island making babies with Belit.
This issue will be remembered more for artist Davide Gianfelice’s fight sequences than anything. As Conan takes on some leather clad thieves he and his son take them out with violent clarity. It’s well rendered action and should satiate any fans looking for some barbarian action. That said, the remainder of the issue, in all its wistful, dreamlike nature, doesn’t add up to much.
Is that a party favor?
Essentially writer Brian Wood is showing us a potential future where Conan retires as a father, but even then he can’t stay away from bloody violence. I get what he’s doing—he can’t change Conan’s future because it’s already been written—and while it’s a good way to show us how Conan might perceive such end, there isn’t much for the reader to come away with. If anything this story seems more focused on showing us this future rather than saying anyting of merit.
Fighting is rad!
By issue’s end I was so bored and done with this storyline I couldn’t remember why I liked it in the first place. It seemed to have been going in the right direction with some deep character development between Belit and Conan going on, but it ends with a pointless flourish of Belit and really nothing of merit. It’s possible this vision quest will weigh on Conan in future issues, but as it stands nothing was said with any merit and Conan never confirms how he feels about the visions. Unless of course you count his admitting Belit is all that he cares of, in which case her death may mean more to him now that we’ve seen these visions.
How badass do you have to be to request death?
- Great action sequences
- Potential ramifications of the story…in the future
- Not much is said or confirmed on what we’re supposed to think
- A wistful sort of story
Overall the concepts driving this story are good ones with high potential. That said, there’s nothing here by story’s end that live up to the promises you’d hope from this series. It’s possible Wood is holding his cards on this for future stories, but as it stands this story arc feels limp and unsatisfying.
Is It Good?
Meh. It’s always the most disappointing when a story that has potential falls so flat.