Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wonder Woman/Conan #3 Review and SPOILERS

The Callousness of Crows


Written by: Gail Simone
Art by: Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
Colours by: Wendy Broome
Letters by: Saida Temofonte
Published by: DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99


Last issue saw our two heroes fight each other in an arena, get transferred to a smuggling ship, get threatened by randy sailors, see the ship they’re on get rammed by a Zingaran patrol boat, jump overboard in a desperate attempt to escape and, finally, get menaced by some impressively-rendered sharks. Phew! If all of that sounds action-packed, well, it is. Although much of the action could easily be categorized as padding. Will this issue’s action be any more purposeful? There’s only one way to find out…


This issue starts, as each previous issue has, with a flashback featuring the young Conan and the girl Yanna who he first met at a gathering of the tribes in issue 1. This flashback is set a few years after that particular meeting and the friendship between the two characters is in the process of blossoming into something deeper and more romantic. I must say that Simone’s writing is just beautiful here. She does a great job of conveying the chemistry between the two characters. The playfulness and the more serious romantic undercurrent that runs through it are played just right and, when Yanna finally kisses Conan, it packs a fair emotional wallop. Which, of course, makes Yanna’s startling request that Conan forget about her now all the more painful.



More so than in the past two issues, Simone’s use of these flashbacks as emotional counterweights to the action her adult protagonists are engaged in is extremely effective this issue. As the young Conan is grappling with brand new feelings of loss and heartache, the older one is contending with the loss of his transport and a potential ache of an entirely more visceral, physical kind. 

Having plunged Conan and Diana into the drink last time around, the first thing the creative team does here is have him lose his sword. Not only does this provide the opportunity for some typically dour Conanesque understatement (“This doesn’t bode well, Yanna.”), but it also allows Simone and Lopresti to provide what might just be the set-piece action sequence of the series so far. After Diana’s attempt at shark-whispering (well, ‘commanding’ really) doesn’t pan out, the pair is left to improvise with the chain that has been linking them together all this time. Even if the moment might depend a little too much on this particular shark having poor vision, the ‘krak’ that announces its death is all the more satisfying precisely because it’s been well earned.



There then follows a protracted scene between Conan and Diana which, despite its length, is still very engaging. After the last few pages of action, this conversation has been well earned, too. Its topics range from Conan’s childhood friendship with Yanna to the nature of the god Crom to, finally, the more personal subject of why Conan seems reluctant to touch Diana. The response (“perhaps it’s just that I won’t touch you thoughtlessly”) is rather sweet and, again, deepens our understanding of the two main characters and their developing friendship. It’s almost a shame when the plot intrudes in the form of those pesky crows.

The Corvidae have been flitting in and out of the story up to now, but here they take centre stage in a rather impressive sequence of pages that does much to flesh out and develop the hints of plot we’ve been told up to now. There’s admittedly a fair amount of exposition here, but it reads rather easily – perhaps because it’s related by two sexy evil crow-witches. Let’s face it, you can’t really go wrong with sexy evil crow-witches, can you? The Corvidae reveal themselves to be gambler-gods, waging on the outcome of battles and conflict. They’ve brought Conan and Diana together in order to see them fight each other to the death, something that the pair have been unwilling to do – much to the frustration of the sexy evil crow-witches, who give them one last opportunity to do so and conjure some unpleasant crow-beaked warriors from the muddy ground to ensure they do just that. Perhaps somewhat predictably it’s these warriors who feel the sharpness of our two heroes’ blades. Annoyed by their pawns’ violent rebuff of their generous offer, the Corvidae vow to wreak bloody revenge on the city of Shamur. Diana and Conan vow to try and protect it, thus setting out rather neatly the trajectory of probably the next couple of issues if not the rest of the series as a whole.


Perhaps surprisingly, the creative team still finds time to squeeze in another flashback and it’s here that the issue ends on an intriguing note that suggests that there’s much more to the story of Conan and Yanna than has been suspected so far.

Well, that was excellent. After some moments of uncertainty last issue, this one is considerably stronger in comparison. Lopresti and Ryan’s art is always good and at times astonishingly evocative. There’s a panel of Diana laughing at one point that is just stunning, displaying the warmth of the character beautifully. Action sequences are consistently clear and, for the most part, genuinely exciting. There’s a splash page of Conan and Diana fighting the Corvidae’s crow-warriors that is just magnificent. A word must be said, too, about Saida Temofonte’s letters, which are great here – particularly the font used for the narration. Her skill really helps conjure the sense of an ancient fantasy world. All of these elements are great, but they would be far less effective without Simone’s storytelling. Everything here just works extraordinarily well – the flashbacks, the dialogue, the pacing, the action sequences. I was already familiar with both the title characters before reading this series, but I simply wasn’t expecting to be quite this engaged with them in this story. It really is excellent work.

Bits and Pieces:

Accomplished storytelling that makes both Diana and Conan three-dimensional, interesting characters and the relationship between them both intriguing and emotionally authentic combines here with invariably excellent artwork to continue a tale that this reviewer at least finds extremely entertaining. After the slight uncertainty of the previous issue, this one is back on track.


8.1/10


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2 comments:

  1. Great review, Jeremy! Again, you clarify the thoughts that were rambling around all willy-nilly in my head. This issue was definitely an improvement over last month, and I think your score is just right. And, boy, those Corvidae certainly are sexy...
    Really back on board with this mini now, and really looking forward to the next issue.

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    1. Yeah. Simone really showed what she can do with this issue. Some of the little character moments are just fantastic. And now we're heading back to Shamur, which is good, too. :) (I'm still not entirely sure why we left, but never mind, eh?)

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