Full disclosure: I haven’t been a fan of Conan for very long. But when I heard that Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan were going to be crafting a new series I knew I had to get onboard.
It’s safe to say that Brian Wood is my favorite writer. The dude can write anything and make it totally engaging. His Vertigo series, Northlanders is beyond awesome. Since Wood is no stranger to writing tough warriors with swords, I knew that he was a perfect fit for Conan. His frequent collaborator Becky Cloonan (DEMO, Northlanders) joins him on art chores. Cloonan is a fan favorite and for good reason. With Dave Stewart (Hellboy, B.P.R.D,) on colors, this a comic dream team.
This issue comes with two covers. One by Becky Cloonan and one by artist Massimo Carnevale (Northlanders, Y: The Last Man). Carnevale’s covers are some of the best on the shelves and this one doesn’t disappoint.
This is Chapter One of “Queen of the Black Coast”. Even if you don’t read a lot of Conan comics (like myself) you should be able to pick this up and be okay. Right away we see Conan on horseback, being pursued through the city. Nothing like a chase scene to get the adrenaline flowing. Wood’s superb writing is on full display as he describes the city for the reader and Cloonan’s art draws you in (no pun intended). Her take on Conan is a bit leaner than what we’re
used to seeing. She instills in him a roguish charm and mischievous nature. Conan escapes his would-be captors by forcing his way onto a trading ship. The captain demands payment, at which point Conan responds with well-worded threats that frighten the crew into compliance. Over the next couple of pages, however, as he recounts the story of why he was being chased by the city guardsmen, Conan earns their respect and admiration. This incarnation of Conan seems to be a man’s man. Women want to be with him and men want to be him.
And it’s the story of one woman in particular that is the central component. Her name is Belit, a ship captain who is described as “a plague upon the open seas”. Her savagery is only matched by her beauty. She’s is shown with fire in her eyes and blood on her lips. Conan and Belit are on a collision course. He can’t seem to get her off his mind and he is shown a vision of her in a dream, where it becomes apparent that even though they haven’t met, Conan is infatuated. But by the end of this first chapter we see that the Cimmerian might have just met his match.
Since this is a first issue after all, the comic does a fair amount of set up, and is a tad light on action. But the fantastic writing of Brian Wood matched with the magnetic art of Becky Cloonan make for a can’t miss issue. Don’t sleep on this!