'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Corrupt Cliffs

Corrupt Cliffs
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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Conan the Barbarian: Issue #5 (2019) "The Captain of the Ship of the Dead"

Now that the schedule for this book has fallen into its intended monthly offering, I find myself looking forward to this title. This is partially because it's Conan and partially because the week before this title there isn't a Conan title being released. But enough of this pre-amble. I have coffee and some Conan to read.

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Esar Ribic

This issue sees the return of Mahmud Asrar to the art side of this title, so this issue is much like the first four in regards to style. It has some excellent panels, some of these are highly detailed and others are less detailed and still very evocative of our Cimmerian hero. The colors, as always, are excellent and I really like how some is executed, but alas I cannot tell you the specific panels until you have also read the book. If you liked Matt Wilson's color with Mahmud's art in past issues, you will not be disappointed!

Unlike Savage Sword the covers of this book are more in line with the story and feel like the Esar is given a basic plot of the book before he sits down to create the beautiful covers. This one is no different and I find I like this approach much better to the covers we are seeing on Savage Sword.

The story is told in a present, looking back at recent events type of format, we know Conan is in a bad spot, and we learn how he got there. I initially wasn't sure about it. About 3/4s of the way through the book I was pretty invested in the story that brought Conan to his current predicament, but I also came to feel about a possible weakness in this title, as we swapped back and forth from present to past. Some stories might be a little too long to feature in a single issue. I was pretty sure this tale could be fleshed out longer, but I think Jason did a pretty good job getting it into a single 19 pages of panels.

My chief issue with this title is the resolution, as it features things wholly out of Conan's control, even if he uses them to his advantage in the end. Having a key element outside his control isn't something I think we really like to see. But thinking back to other issues perhaps it is more common than we might think. In issue 3 the tree breaks, in Issue 2 the Picts rescue him, so perhaps I am just being nit picky.

Unlike the last issue this story is again full of sorcery and all things weird, making it feel more like a Conan tale to me than last months tale. Finally we see the Scarlet Witch again, although she doesn't tie into the story at all, we get another glimpse of her carting Conan back to her lair in the distant future.




Sword & Sorcery:

My rating this month is 4.5 out of 5 Skulls of My Enemies!

Overall I quite liked this issue of Conan the Barbarian! It had a lot of the hallmarks we come to expect from Conan and I look forward to discussing direct aspect of it on the forums in the coming days. So run out and grab your copy of Conan the Barbarian and let me know what you think!

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