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September 17, 2013

Dark Horse Reviews: Conan The Barbarian #20

Conan#20Conan The Barbarian #20
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Paul Azaceta (cover by Massimo Carnevale)
Colors: Dave Stewart

After a misguided, fanatical religious sect has made their intentions of destroying Conan and Bêlit apparent, we see a tender scene in the forest, between the two lovers. Conan tells his woman a story of a young boy, who freezes to death alone in the wilderness. Bêlit tells him that it’s a horrible story, and he agrees, and tells her that most are. As the two bed down for the night, morning comes quicker than usual. A local tribe attempts to kill them in their sleep, but Conan and Bêlit are no fools, and have taken to the trees. They surprise and kill the savages, but then the zealots show up, and they’re on the run again. They are separated, and then Bêlit is surrounded by the enemy. Will she live or die? Only she knows, but Conan will avenge her undoubtedly if anything happens to his lover!

The work of Brian Wood is all over the comic book community right now, and deservedly so, but this book is where he’s making his mark. He’s taken this character of Robert E. Howard’s to a place no other writer ever has before. Granted, most writers don’t want to, and do an admirable job writing Conan in the same vein that Howard did and probably intended to. But Wood has shown us a more placid, loving warrior. Not that he doesn’t kick butt when he needs to, because he does, but never before have we seen Conan at a loss for words at the sight of his lover doing what she does best.

The new artist on this arc is quite good, even though his style takes a little getting use to. Lots of dark panels and backgrounds among the pages, but the colors of Dave Stewart really make the important panels stand out. The cover is absolutely amazing, and the talented Massimo Carnevale is responsible for that gem.

The ending was quite a twist, and who knows where this story will end up, but one thing’s for sure. Brian Wood is knocking this book out of the park, and it appears there is no end in sight! Rating 4/5

Billy Dunleavy
billy@comicattack.net

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