Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wonder Woman/Conan #5 Review And Spoilers

The Crow Road

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

This series has been, the odd moment of uncertainty notwithstanding, a delight to read and review. As Conan and Wonder Woman head to Shamur to prevent the city's destruction at the hands of the vengeful Corvidae, this issue reveals that writer Gail Simone still has a few tricks up her sleeve. We see one longstanding mystery (sort of) solved, but another taking its place. It's the penultimate issue, people! Let's see what's going on!

Remember last issue's cliffhanger? You don't? How could you forget? The young Conan, desolate and bereft, screams into the driving rain, kneeling on the edge of the chasm into which his friend Yanna has just fallen. He has been unable to save her. The issue opens with no easy resolution to that ending. Yanna is lost and, it seems, has taken a part of Conan with her. The readiness with which the adult Conan is ready to believe that Wonder Woman is his childhood friend and sweetheart returned to him becomes much clearer.

The comic doesn't dwell on that too much, though, as the scene shifts to… Themiscyra. Which is kind of interesting. We've seen a fake Hippolyta recently, but this is the real deal. The Amazons, it seems, have been searching for their princess who has been taken from them by powerful forces. Now they've managed to work out how those powerful forces are and, more importantly, have tracked Diana down to the Hyperborian age. How they've done that exactly is a bit unclear, but, really, I don't mind too much. Hippolyta assembles a crack team of five Amazons (including Artemis and, my favourite, Philomela the blind archer) to rescue Diana and take her back. One of the Corvidae's minions shows up in the form of a crow and, when it threatens to defecate on a particularly nice-looking (and symbolically significant) statue, is summarily shot through (one would assume) the gizzards for its trouble. The message is clear. The Amazons kick ass and don't give too hoots (caws?) about their supernatural enemies. Game, as they say, on.

There then follows an interesting scene between Conan and Diana in which the pair discuss mankind's predilection for armed conflict and Diana's sense that "all wars are… somehow… [her] fight". Simone seems to do this kind of thing effortlessly. Emphasising the philosophical differences between the two characters – Diana's optimism versus Conan's pragmatism – while affirming the close bond they share, it's extraordinarily well-written stuff.

Meanwhile, the Amazons arrive in Shamur where they quickly locate Dellos, our favourite sleazy slaver, and, shortly afterwards, the Corvidae themselves. The Corvidae summon more of their crow warriors and full-page carnage ensues. I'm not sure about Artemis' "carve the poultry and suck the bones dry" line but Lopresti's artwork is impressive here and it's always nice to see Amazons other than Diana in action.

The issue approaches its climax when, still on the way to Shamur, Conan and Diana are confronted by the Corvidae once more. They're still intent on seeing how their original wager will play out, but, of course, for that to happen Diana and Conan will have to fight and the last time they tried that things didn't go too well for our crow goddesses. This time, though, they've upped the ante, presenting Diana's Amazonian sisters standing on gallows with Wonder Woman's lasso as the nooses around their necks. Not only that, but they also produce none other than Yanna. While Diana still won't fight for the crow gods' amusement, Conan feels that he must. His feelings for his childhood sweetheart are simply too great.

Amazons being Amazons, they're not content simply to stand by and watch. Instead, they manage to free themselves and come to their princess' defence. Philomela makes probably the shot of her life, the Corvidae retreat taking Yanna with them, Conan is distraught, the Amazons return to Themiscyra and the issue ends on one of the most genuinely surprising – and slightly bemusing – pages the series has given us so far.

This issue could have been predictable and safe, but Simone has given us anything but. The introduction of the Amazons into the tale and the surprising revelation that Yanna actually exists and is not simply a projection of Conan's childhood memories onto Diana provide the story with fresh impetus and the prospect of a surprising, exciting finale. Bright, colourful and always dynamic, the art continues to impress and tells this fast-moving, unpredictable story perfectly.

Bits and pieces:

Simone's writing is generally excellent here and she introduces a couple of genuinely surprising moments that bode well for next month's finale. The art continues to be lively and clear, and the sense of rollicking adventure in the grand pulp style is positively palpable. An excellent slice of comic book excitement. Recommended.


1 comment:

  1. Another excellent review as usual, Jeremy! I might go 9.5 leaning towards 10 on this issue. I was genuinely surprised when I reached the end. The story flowed so well, and the pacing is almost perfect. It seems that Simone's writing and the clear, beautiful artwork (even the lettering, especially in the narration) combine for a seemingly effortless economy of movement, with no filler. I don't know how this series will end, but I am sure that it will be unexpected, and I am sure I will enjoy it. And I agree, Gail Simone took this issue to places and in directions I hadn't thought of in all my speculation. Simply superb!