There is a certain magic to a good comic. Although I often give high praise and scores to comics with witty dialogue or gorgeous art, nothing in comics can come before a well paced narrative. The one thing that trumps all other aspects of the comic is the way the story flows and develops. This takes effort from both side of the creative team. Not only must the writer — Brian Wood in this case — write and direct the story so that it feels smooth to read, the artist must make sure that all of the panels look good together and tell the story through artwork. Last month I was gushing over this book and could not wait for this issue. Is it good?
Conan the Barbarian #20 (Dark Horse Comics)
Two lovers are on the run. Conan and Belit camp out in the depths of the Forest of Ghouls; they possess an ancient artifact that some would give their lives to protect. The very name of this relic is sacred and can only be spoken in hushed whispers. These are the Black Stones.
The two have already seen many people willing to go to desperate measures for the stones in the town they just visited. Unfortunately, the village is enraged by the taking of the stones and has now sent several of their finest military men to reclaim the lost items.
But have a couple military men ever stopped Conan? Hell no. He makes quick work of a bunch of warriors by dropping stones on their head or smashing their face in. Although up until this point all of Conan’s killings were justified, he has just crossed a line. Back in the village of the Black Stones Conan killed to protect himself and his loved one. Now he is killing for fun, even if it is to protect himself. He isn’t merciful with his slaughter and actually has fun doing it…that’s not cool bro.
What I did like about this book was the realism. Instead of having some far-fetched or crazy story about how Belit and Conan survived in an enchanted forest we get to witness their night telling stories beside a campfire. This makes the book more human and the story that Conan shares is a metaphor for some of the stories later events.
Keeping the story moving, the scene directly following the fight scene is an intense chase scene that the cover advertised. This sequence is interesting, very clear and easy to follow and the result of it is quite interesting. Without any spoilers I will say that there are two events that I in no way saw coming but liked very much.
- Great plot development and storytelling
- Fantastic use of language and dialogue
- Great art
- Glorifies violence
As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, art has a lot to do with how the story is told; and thankfully, this story is told with beautiful art. Although some of the expressions on the faces are inconsistent, the colors are just gorgeous and all the movements and action flow naturally.
Although I am not the biggest fan of the work Mr. Wood is doing on the X-Men book right now, I think that this book is really a great show of what this fantastically talented writer is capable of. His dialogue is awesome especially considering that he has to write in that “Conan way” and all of the narrations are perfect and really give us good insight into the story.
Is It Good?
Yes, most definitely. A great story moves along nicely accompanied by great art and equally fantastic writing.