- Conan the Barbarian #1
- Heroic Signatures & Titan Comics
- Written by Jim Zub
- Illustrated by Roberto De La Torre
- Colors by Joes Villarrubia
- Letters by Richard Starkings of Comicraft
- On sale August 02, 2023
Years after the battle of Venarium, a weary CONAN returns to his homeland to seek rest and solitude. However, a mysterious scout rides in to warn the Cimmerians of an imminent threat on the march from the Pictish wilderness. Will CONAN and his new ally be able to hold off this new horde of invaders?
I’ve been AFK for a bit, & as I was looking for something to get me back into the game, I felt like it had to be something special. I’ve strayed from the path of the larger publishers, letting my attention stick with the smaller independent comics that deserve more consideration than they often get. Whatever I tried reading, nothing jumped out at me… until I realized that I wanted to slip back to something more familiar.
“Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars…Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.”
– THE NEMEDIAN CHRONICLES
And there it was. Since I was a kid, those words carried the promise of high adventure and Conan, the mighty barbarian/mercenary/thief/king, became a fixture of my childhood (possibly a little earlier in life than he should have). It wasn’t until later in life that I realized just how far back the legend of Conan went, beginning in 1932 with Robert E. Howard’s original tale, The Phoenix on the Sword. Conan’s published stories took on a life of their own after Howard’s passing, and the brooding hero’s legacy changed hands again and again.
Now touching down in the library of Titan Comics, the wandering barbarian’s fate rests in the more than capable hands of writer Jim Zub. I don’t know, maybe you’ve heard of him? Or you haven’t, in which case you might want to see to that because the guy knows his fantasy. Whether he’s covering the adventures of Minsc & Boo for the Dungeons & Dragons comics line, or his very own original title Skullkickers, Zub can spin a web. Kicking off this new chapter for Titan, Conan is taking a rest from battle in a remote outpost and considering a prodigal return to his homeland of Cimmeria. Before he can make up his mind, Pictish scout Brissa storms into town on horseback, shouting a warning of invasion! From there, Zub refuses to give the young warrior a minute to think as the action flows over the page.
Handling that action is artist Roberto De La Torre. I can’t rave about de la Torre enough, as his work brings me right back to a childhood spent reading Marvel’s Savage Sword of Conan. Most notably, his art has notes of the legendary John Buscema, sharing DNA without simply parroting Buscema’s style. It’s an impressive feat, walking a fiendishly fine line between mimicry and originality… and now that I’m thinking about it, that’s a thing that’s been done to varying degrees of success throughout the telling of Conan’s stories, carrying on after Howard’s death. In this case, De La Torre’s work is perfectly suited to the new chapters for Titan Comics.
I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy Marvel’s recent handling of Conan, but they did tame the legendary barbarian a bit. I’m looking forward to seeing if these new stories can maintain the ferocity promised in this first issue (as well as the 0 issue released for Free Comic Book Day). If you’re at all interested in following along, lace up those sandals and get ready to start treading.
Final Score: 13/13