Conan the Barbarian #13

by Sean Tonelli on February 20, 2013

Conan #13
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Mirko Colak
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comickraft
Cover: Massino Carnevale
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

If you would have asked me a year ago what I thought of Robert E. Howard’s classic beefcake character, I probably would have responded with an indifferent ‘meh’. The idea behind what I perceived the character of Conan to be was not very flattering, despite my love of Schwarzenegger movies. Well it’s been a year and Dark Horse’s fresh approach to a stale franchise has paid off in droves. Even the most biased and opinionated of comic readers cannot deny that Brian Wood has made Conan relevant again. Something Hollywood has been trying to do for decades.

This issue is a great jumping on point as it starts a new arc and features a new artist as well. The Conan in this series is not some hulking warrior, but a young, naïve and in love. Falling for Bêlit, a pirate Queen, Conan and his young love now find themselves at a crossroads. The last issue left their relationship in dire straits as the weight of Bêlit’s miscarriage weigh’s heavy on their souls. Bêlit decides to visit her homeland of Shem, leaving Conan and her crew behind. Not one to sit around and tan, Conan decides to pursue his love across the vast scorching desert. After being attacked by some bandits, Conan now finds himself a soldier in a war that seems to have no purpose.

Since this is the start of a fresh storyline, the build-up is a little long winded. Wood uses a lot of narrative to drive home the fact that Conan is feeling really ‘emo’ right now. I chuckled to myself when Conan awakens to find he’s forced into a war, he kind of just goes with it. Nothing is more therapeutic than bashing in someone’s skull after all. Wood does lay the ground work for this arc quite well. There’s a mysterious new hottie roaming the castle Conan’s sieging, and the premise of war is quite enticing. There’s just a lot of narrative, I mean a lot.
This issue also finds Mirko Colak taking over for Becky Cloonan & James Harren in the art department. While Cloonan/Harren’s visuals helped make this series stand out, I find Colak’s approach to be a little underwhelming. That’s not to say his art is bad, as the scene where Conan is hunting shows an excellent eye for detail, it’s the way his characters look that I have issue with. This Conan looks similar to the previous incarnations of the character, jacked and slightly larger than life. Yet this is only a minor gripe, as Colak also provides some great battle shots showcasing a great and vast army.

While the issue was a little long-winded, with an overabundance of narrative and some questionable character design, Wood and Colak are still heading in the right direction. This is a good jumping on point for someone looking to grab single issues. However, I’d suggest grabbing the Queen of the Black Coast trade if you’re looking to find a reason to like Conan himself.

Our Score:


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