Posted on: June 14th, 2012 REVIEW: Conan The Barbarian #5

Conan The Barbarian 5 CoverThere’s a good chance that I’m going to reveal a bit too much of my psyche this week. I like extremes in my comics. I like ultra-violent. Or ultra-poetic. Or ultra-sexy. Or just over-the-top fun. This is what I enjoy. Sexy, complex characters surrounded by explosions in a bloody mess while having a good time. And you know what? I found that book. That book is Dark Horse’s Conan The Barbarian and I have gone on record as saying it is one of the sexiest books I’ve ever read.

It starts as Brian Wood’s adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Queen of the Black Coast. People like pirates, right? They do. Yo ho ho. Everybody’s got a little part of them that wants to latch onto that devil-may-care attitude. No rules; just you and the sea and a sword. It just has a seductive quality to it. Then there’s blood-lust. That’s a thing. And then there’s sex. Which generally gets high ratings, yeah? Conan is a man who fights his way onto a pirate ship where he falls in love with a pirate queen and they go on murderous, thieving rampages together.

But, wait, Auburn. I like books about kittens and rainbows. Well, then this is not for you! This is the kind of book that leaves you feeling like you’ve been punched in the face and you really need a cigarette. Issue 5 continues The Argos Deception storyline where Conan and his shipmates aboard the Tigress devise an elaborate and dangerous plan to take over the wealthy city of Messantia. Riddled with the tension of feared betrayal or possible death, the characters have no idea what’s going to happen next. Can the passion between a barbarian and a pirate queen really hold together when there’s this much gold on the line? Is it every man for himself or is there honor among this pirate family? Why are there so many creepers in and around Messantia? So many questions and Brian Wood is just an enormous tease.

I have to say, I seldom remember the dialogue. There are times it makes me laugh. Or at least smirk. But it’s the narration that is just far too captivating. Many a time I have to take a moment to reflect in a “Whoa. That was good.” Outside of that, Brian Wood brings a likability to these extremely bad people. We’re not talking Tim Curry in Muppet Treasure Island kind of pirate here, people! These are murdering, raping, pillaging criminals. And yet, you read them with a hope that everything will work out for them in the end. But it won’t. As soon as a creepy old lady casts a prediction of doom and gloom, you know you’re screwed.

Conan Belit Cloonan

James Harren

I miss Becky Cloonan on art. She was on the first three issues (above left) and on issue 4, James Harren took over. James Harren is good,don’t misunderstand me (above right). In fact, he’s *great* at depicting the extreme violence in issue 5. But Cloonan had a seductive nature to her characters. To the point where it was a little uncomfortable in a scary, I shouldn’t-be-into-this sort of way. No, really. It’s true. Harren is gory but not nearly as heavy and sexed-up in his lines. Perhaps it’s best. Who doesn’t need more swordplay in their books anyway?

When this book is released, I cannot wait to read it. When I read it, I cannot wait to see what happens next. When I’m finished, it’s all I can think about for a good long while. It’s a great story, great art and a great way to spice up that pull list.

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