Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanhan
Marvel has a long and storied history with Conan. Roy Thomas first brought Robert E. Howard’s Barbarian to the Marvel world in 1970. Conan the Barbarian, originally drawn by the great Barry Windsor Smith, was an instant hit and soon spawned a sister title, the Savage Sword of Conan, a black and white magazine written by Thomas with artwork by the incredible John Buscema. Marvel held the property rights until 2000 when the finally expired and were soon picked up by Dark Horse Comics, where Conan has made his home since 2003. But in 2018 it was announced that the most famous barbarian in the world would be coming home to Marvel and this week saw the release of Conan the Barbarian #1.
Conan the Barbarian #1 is a beautiful return of the historic franchise to the House of Ideas. Set in the Hyborian Age, a time between the sinking of Atlantis and the beginning of recording our ancient history, Conan the Barbarian #1 begins with the birth of Conan on the battlefield of Cimmeria and ends with him as king of Aquilonia, the proudest kingdom of the known world. But the bulk of the story takes place early in Conan’s history, when he was still a pit fighter, whose deadly exploits were renowned throughout Zamora, the city of thieves. It’s Conan’s prowess in the pit that draws the attention of the Crimson Witch, priestess of Razazel, Arch Demon of the Elder Night AKA the Glorious and fearsome Red Rod of Doom. It seems that for Raazel to return the realm of the living he needs the blood of a great warrior, a warrior who has cheated death more times then they can count and luckily Conan fits the bill. As you can imagine Conan does not agree with this plan and has no intention of allowing his death to be used to summon the Arch-Demon of the Elder Night. Yet the Crimson Witch has plans for Conan, plans that will take years, plans that will lead to King Conan and the next chapter of this story.
Conan the Barbarian #1 was an incredibly fun read. Jason Aaron was the perfect choice to handle the honors of writing Conan’s return to Marvel. His knowledge and appreciation of the characters are apparent and if this issue is any indication he has long term plans for Conan. Mahmud Asrar’s artwork was a great addition to the issue, with his detailed images and wonderfully violent panels. Asrar may be best known for his work with super heroes and mutants but he apparently has an affinity for the Hyborian Age as well as his artwork melds brilliantly with Aaron’s story. I can only hope that this issue is the beginning of a new Conan epic and a long run from this incredible creative team.
Verdict: Conan the Barbarian #1 is a Buy! Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar have created a beautiful high fantasy tale of the world’s most famous barbarian. Any long time fan of Conan will be happy and if this is anyone’s first foray into the Hyborian Age they will close the issue satisfied and wanting more.