Writer: Jim Zub
Penciler: Corey Smith
Inker: Roberto Poggi
Colorist: Israel Silva
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Geoff Shaw & Edgar Delgado (primary); E.M. Gist (variant)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Available: March 10 at Amazon, ComiXology and your wonderful LCS
The snow is melting. The sun is shining (ok, above the clouds, at any rate). Birds are signing. Spring approacheth, and with it: a new Conan arc from Jim Zub and company at Marvel!
He fought his way through the Crucible. He survived the Tooth of the Nightstar, a sentient sword bent on dominating his mind and…well…making a chaotic mess of things. Now, Conan wakes to find himself surrounded by soldiers and taken captive in The Land of the Lotus.
Waking from his sword-driven stupor having somehow journeyed to within the walled nation of Khitai, Conan finds himself captured by a sneering host of imperial guardsmen who regard his claims of possession and desire to restore the Tooth of the Nightstar to its rightful owner with naked contempt. Convinced the adolescent Cimmerian is a spy in the service of a local rebel, Conan is chained, caged and bound for the god-emperor himself. His fellow prisoners offering him only fearful distrust, the barbarian finds his only ally—and a questionable one at that—in Meiwei, a scholar documenting information for the royal record, who wants to interview this interesting stranger before his inevitable execution.
Out of the frying pan, it seems.
Oh, and somehow, despite having never spoken a word of it prior to his awakening, Conan can now speak Mandir, the native language of Khitai, with the fluency of a local.
Curiouser and curiouser…
Jim Zub’s reign on Conan has been a revelation, and continues to entertain. Reading his books, I’m reintroduced to the glorious Cimmerian barbarian of my youth, the savage rogue constantly finding himself in situations beyond his ken, employing cunning and force to forge his way through and living for today, ruing no yesterday. They’re great stories by an outstanding storyteller, whose own baptism into the genre was via some of the same tales as my own. Kudos to you, Master Zub.
And the work of the new art team, framed by Corey Smith’s pencils and fleshed with Roberto Poggi’s inks and Israel Silva’s colors, complete that triumphant return (and this is not a knock on previous Conan auteurs and artists!). The jungles of Khitai are as lush and dangerous as R. E. Howard could ever have imagined, the action as barbarous and the creatures as beastly. Barry Windsor-Smith and Big John Buscema would be proud.
Travis Lanham does a hero’s work lettering this one: having to maintain the flow of Smith, Poggi and Silva’s work while fitting in all of Zub’s extensive narration and dialogue can be no easy task. The greatest evidence of his success—as seems always the case for letterers, sadly—is that you don’t even notice his presence. The whole book flows and surges seemingly effortlessly. Damn fine work.
Conan #19, Land of the Lotus Part One will be available tomorrow, March 10, in both floppy and digital formats, via the usual sources for the ludicrously low-low price of only 399 pennies. A great hopping-on point for new readers as well as a satisfying segue into a new arc for long-time fans, it’s a book not to be missed!
Review by Andy Patch