Written by: Cullen Bunn
Art by: Sergio Davila, Michael Atiyeh and Richard Starkings
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 13, 2016
During my early days, I was a huge Robert E. Howard fan and so of course, I was a huge Conan fan. Frazetta and John Duillo covers while walking through the local used book store with my mother and after buying my first book (Conan the Usurper with L. Sprague de Camp), I was hooked. Funny thing, though, is that I never got into any of the Conan comics ever. That's all going to change today as I have the opportunity to read and review a Conan comic written by one of my favorite authors, Cullen Bunn. In their release, Dark Horse wrote, "A new number one—a perfect jumping-on point for new readers!" and so I am jumping in right now...
I was originally drawn to the Frank
The issue starts with Conan a little worse for wear...well, maybe a lot worse for wear. Cut, arrows sticking out of him, he is traveling through the desert and we only get a cold narration and awesome art that shows the death and destruction he has left in his wake and also that he is being pursued.
What a classic opener! I especially liked the old typeface look of the narration that made it feel like I was back reading the paperbacks of my youth. Sure, I can barely remember way back then and no, they didn't use a rock tablet and chisel.
We pick back up by seeing who is chasing down Conan. While Cullen Bunn doesn't get down to the nitty gritty, anybody who has read this kind of story knows the type...band of cutthroats, looking to cash in on a bounty. It's funny since we also know that they will never be collecting anything but pain and that's what happens when they finally come face-to-face with Conan.
What follows is a battle of blood, guts and severed limbs that made me smile. Please don't judge me! Cullen Bunn is giving us a Conan of few words which really accentuates anything that leaves his lips. His few words are of anger and revenge with a sword through the head as an exclamation mark.
We then get a little glimpse at a back story as Conan stumbles into a camp of warriors and passes out from exhaustion and loss of blood, and broken bones... Instead of killing him, the Chief wants to have words with him. This is where we see how much of a badass Conan is. Seriously, Conan can be faced with a hundred blades to his throat and still talk shit and Cullen Bunn shows that so well here.
Bunn also shows us a classic squabble between the Chief's two sons that ends when some riders come looking for Conan. The issue ends with some lines being drawn in the sand, the idea that blood might not be thicker than water and a couple Turanian's with their heads on spikes.
Now that's what I call a good start to a Conan story! Dark Horse was right, this is a good jumping on point because everyone will be as lost as I was when starting the issue. I'm sure that sounds like a dig at Cullen Bunn, but it isn't because he slowly opens up the narrative as the story progresses and by the end, we are on a little more solid ground, but still want to know so much more. Like the first time I read Conan the Usurper as a kid, I am already hooked!
Sergio Davila's is good, but a little erratic. A couple of panels look outstanding and those are usually the ones with a lot of dead warriors in them. The general lack of backgrounds made a couple of pages look more generic than they needed to be, but like I said, as a whole...it looked good.
Bits and Pieces:
As a Conan fan who never read any Conan comics, I really enjoyed what Cullen Bunn is giving us here. The story is as brutal as you'd want and expect and Cullen Bunn is weaving a mystery through it all that has me intrigues. Of course, the mystery is along the lines of "Who did Conan Kill? Who didn't he kill? And who is he going to kill next?" You know what? That is just fine with me.