July 1, 2012

Dark Horse Reviews: Conan The Barbarian #5

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Written by: Billy
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Conan The Barbarian #5
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: James Harren (cover by Massimo Carnevale)
Colors: Dave Stewart

As Conan is rotting in a Messantian prison, he actually shows some fear when the guards come for him. This is something that Conan is unaccustomed to in his young life, because he fears no one. But this time, he believes his luck has run out. It’s a good thing that he has the cunning Bélit on his side. She appears in the crowd (in disguise) and tells Conan’s jailers that she thinks they should use him for sport in an arena fight rather than a quick hanging. The jailer agrees, and this plot allows Bélit’s crew to steal gold from the kingdom, and also set up explosives around the ships to help their escape. Conan meanwhile must fight for his very life against a behemoth, all while still being bound by chains!

Well, part two of this arc picked up right where one left off, and that’s definitely a good thing. The plot is a solid one that Wood is telling, and it’s really quite a change of pace to see Conan so vulnerable. Don’t misunderstand, though, Conan is still the toughest dude on the planet, bar none, and this issue gives you that, as well. It’s still a mystery whether or not Conan’s new friends will leave him for the dogs or keep their promise and save him, to let him live and celebrate with the spoils of their victory.

The artwork in this particular issue was a change of pace, and a good one at that. James Harren (BPRD) took over duties, and did a wonderful job. His Conan looks young, but still tough and able. The settings/backgrounds are quite excellent, as well. The few beginning pages that show the skyline of Messantia are absolutely breathtaking. On colors is Dark Horse stalwart Dave Stewart, and anyone that has read my reviews of books featuring his work know how I feel about it. He’s the textbook definition of the word pro. There are other great colorists out there, but he’s the perfect fit for what Dark Horse needs on this, and all other titles he’s currently on.

The only thing about this book that wasn’t top notch, was the cover. It pains me to say that, too, because Massimo Carnevale is typically a very good cover artist. This one looked really out of character for him, because of the appearance of Conan. He looks misshapen or something. Maybe it’s the angle, but he definitely looks funky. Rating 3.5/5

Billy Dunleavy



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