Can a man like Conan fall in love? He’s constantly fighting, always looking behind his shoulder for a backstabber and really has no time to settle down. Jason Aaron aims to prove he’s a lover in the seventh issue of Conan, entitled “Barbarian Love,” that sees the barbarian take a few sex workers on an adventure no one could expect.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
Not only is this a good standalone issue, it also progresses the larger plot forward ever so slightly. Writer Jason Aaron is clearly having some of the most fun in his career with this series, and it shows in the time and attention given to every page.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Many have said artist Stuart Immonen got better with every issue, and today I want to make it clear Mahmud Asrar is right up there with him. He simply blows you away on every page, be it a quick two panels to set the mood and location to start this book, or the reveal of the six prostitutes Conan purchases on page two. Asrar’s style is detailed, atmospheric, and always compelling. There is deep storytelling at work in every panel, from the setup page of Conan riding a horse ahead of the prostitutes to the very next panel looking over two of the women’s shoulders as he rides ahead of them. There are emotional stakes seen in every face and a sense of wonderment or adventure at just the right time. The art is spectacular and should be the first and last thing on your mind when the story closes.
The tale being told ain’t bad, either. Aaron keys into the adventure and mystery of Conan so very well and it’s obvious from the very start. Like the prostitutes, the reader isn’t quite aware of what Conan is up to, which makes you hang on every panel trying to find answers. The captions serve as a gentle narrator that’s not overtly in your face, but gently telling the story and letting the imagery do the talking.
This issue does two things very well — first is showing how the prostitutes Conan purchases on page 2 befriend and grow to trust Conan. The relationship they build pays off later and could have easily made the conclusion fall flat if not done right. The second is what this mission is all about. I won’t spoil a thing, but it does, in fact, have love in its crosshairs and adds a heavy weight on Conan that’s clearly driving him.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The only thing that took me back was how the prostitutes all seem very good at fighting. It’s established one of these women is quite good at sneaking and likely killing, but all six of them? It’s not really established where they are from or if they have training at all, but it’s hard to really believe.
Is it good?
Yet another good adventure that’s quite easy to pick up and enjoy whether you’ve been following this series or not. Conan is a complex character but might not seem so on first glance. Let Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar show you why Conan is the greatest hero of legend.