Brian Wood, famed for the politically charged Channel Zero, DMZ and more recently The Massive, as well as Northlanders, has created a younger, more naïve Conan, attempting to make The Barbarian his own, whilst adapting one of the tales of old by Robert E Howard. This is not the hardened warrior we were all familiar with. In Northlanders, we were treated to timeless stories, albeit in a Viking setting, and here Wood is humanising Conan and the book is all the better for it.
In the part two of three of the Border Fury arc, there’s an impostor in Cimmeria, gouging his way through the lands under Conan’s guise. With Bêlit, whose difficultly with Northern culture continues, straining their relationship further, Conan sets out to terminate the scoundrel, with, one imagines, extreme prejudice. A journey which results in difficult decisions and perhaps lasting consequences for the Cimmerian and the Queen of the Black Coast; a source of disappointment, as so far, she’s a more than capable partner for Conan.
Vasilis Lolos, whose style is not dissimilar from regular artist Becky Cloonan, whilst lacking her incredible eye for detail, impresses with his landscapes, expertly conveying the wilds of Conan’s homeland and how hard life is there. Disappointing, however, is how Lolos portrays facial expressions and emotions. An incensed Conan appears constipated, after the death of an assassin. It is as if Lolos has reimagined Matt Kindt’s Immortals from the fantastic Dark Horse Originals series Mind MGMT, characters which death, no matter how dramatic, return. Perhaps this disappointment is heightened by Cloonan’s departure, whose art I’ve admired since Demo (another Wood creation). Lolos returns for issue #9, but on a more positive note, Declan Shalvey (Thunderbolts) then takes over. It goes without saying that Massimo Carnevale delivers another outstanding cover.
Wood’s different take on a classic character ensures I’ll remain on-board with this title for the foreseeable. And if Cloonan is to return, all the better.