Pullbox Reviews: Conan #3 – A story so good, even Crom has to sit up & take notice

  • Conan the Barbarian #3
  • Heroic Signatures & Titan Comics
  • Written by Jim Zub
  • Illustrated by Roberto De La Torre
  • Covers by
    • Doug Braithwaite (cover A)
    • Patrick Zircher (cover B)
    • Max Von Fafner (cover C)
    • Roberto De La Torre (cover D)
  • Available September 27, 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’m really not sure what to say… I tell myself that I can’t keep going back to the same well, reviewing the same title again. But, now & again I find myself wrapped up in a title that begs me to do that very thing. Just do me a favor and let me know if I’m going too far over the top. It’s tough to tell from my side.

Issue 3 of Titan’s new run of Conan T. Barbarian continues to roll along, gathering momentum like a boulder chasing an archeologist from a long lost tomb. In this episode, Conan & his Pictish compatriot Brissa make their way into the heart of a black stone tower. Their search leads them closer to the secrets behind the undying “Tribe of the Lost”, all victims of darkest magic whose trail has led to what may be the source of the plague. Also a prison cell full of ticked off Cimmerians.

Reading this issue, it clicked. I mean, I’ve known for a while that Jim Zub can write fantasy and adventure like no other. But now I get it, as I’m reading a comic that has several pages of very limited dialogue, the action given color commentary by Zub’s unseen narrator. I got about halfway through the book when it occurred to me that the narration reads like the old pulps, the episodic ‘zines where Conan was born! In other works, Jim Zub has a very lighthearted approach (check out the adventures of Minsc & Boo in Baldur’s Gate), but here he’s digging into the source material and channeling his inner Howard. My inner fanboy made an undignified noise, and I went back to start the issue over.

Now I have to get off of the Zub Train & sing some high praises to artist Roberto De La Torre. Without diminishing the story one bit, I’m going out on a limb to say that this title wouldn’t hold the fascination I have for it without De La Torre’s touch. He’s done an outstanding job of tailoring his style to meet & completely blow away all expectations (and boy, do I have expectations when reading Conan). The fact is that there have been GIANTS of the industry who have left their mark on Conan comics over the decades. Barry Windsor-Smith. Ernie Chan. Sal & John Buscema. I mention them all because as an artist coming into a Conan title, there has to be a tiny bit of pressure, right? Well, as we all know, pressure is what turns coal into diamonds.

Del La Torre on the left, John Buscema on the right


I’ve been reading Conan in books and comics for almost as long as I’ve been able to read, and as time goes on I’ve had a harder time finding new material that holds up to my memories as I’ve followed his mythic adventures. This latest incarnation is in every good way channeling the old while forging new stories, & proves that the move from its former publisher over to Titan has been a gift worthy of the Hyborian gods.

Not Crom, though. That guy don’t play around.

Final Score: 13/13

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