'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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Conan the Barbarian: Issue #7 (2019) "Barbarian Love"

Another Wednesday morning relaxing before work with a black cup of coffee and the newest issue of Conan the Barbarian! That's right, The Barbarian is back after a little bit of a break!


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

Cover Price: $3.99

It is no secret that I have liked Mahmud's run on this book. This issue is no exception. As before we have some lovely art colored by Matt Wilson, sprinkled with a few epic images of Conan kicking ass. We have had this formula all the way back to #1 with Conan fighting in the pit. I have yet to grow weary of flipping the page to find a full page of the Cimmerian doing what he does best.

Esad's cover is likewise exceptional and in the flavor of the story, which is a win for me. I feel the cover helps to bring the reader initially into the story, so having one that is part of that story is critical to me. I would be remiss to not mention that several people in the social media world have commented on Conan's face in this cover looks like either a caveman, a troll, or something similar. I do agree this isn't my favorite rendering of our hero, but certainly not trollish, but I can see where they get neanderthal from.

I feel the story is a little out of canon timeline wise, but can't directly address why without leaving spoilers. In addition this is another tale without anything weird in it. It is simply a basic story of Conan plotting and executing revenge.

I know some people will dislike this story for various reasons, I didn't dislike it. It moved at a fairly steady pace, although they could have added some weirdness and cut out the aspects that place it out of timeline for me and had a story I loved a lot more. Either way in this new line of comics with basic non-weird stuff in it, it is a fine issue.

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Sword & Sorcery:


My rating this month is 3.5 out of 5 Skulls of My Enemies!

This issue had many of the hallmarks of Conan: strong women, swordplay, and treasure. It was lacking anything to fill the sorcery aspect of the genre (I feel like a broken record here), but overall told a decently fun story if somewhat out of Howard canon for me. I'll note that being out of the timeline isn't the end of the world. Howard's timeline isn't set in stone and there are many many plausible reasons that stories might not all fit together neatly.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Savage Sword of Conan: Issue #6 (2019)

It has been *QUITE* awhile since the last Savage Sword was released AND quite awhile since I have made a post. The last issue of Savage Sword saw the end of the initial story arc, and so I was quite looking forward to see where we went with this new issue to see where we went with this title.

Writer: Meredith Finch
Artist: Luke Ross
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: David Finch & Frank D'Armata

Cover Price: $3.99

The cover this time is more like a standard cover and not a call back to the original Savage Swords. As beautiful as Alex Ross's covers were I never really felt they fit the book. This one is more in line with what we are seeing on the cover of "Barbarian", where it feels like the artist is given a basic story outline and they compose their idea, which is similar to what we see in the pages but still quite different. For me this is a pretty large improvement

This issue contains 20 pages of Conan goodness for the reader to take in. The style of interior art we see from Luke Ross is much cleaner than we saw from the original 5 books. This will make some people happy, for others it will just be different.


We are lacking anything really weird, something I think is fairly central to such a pivotal Sword and Sorcery character. That doesn't make the story bad, it simply means, for me at least, that it is missing a key element of S&S

Enough Talk, let us see how many skulls!

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Story:

Cover:

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And with that, this issue lands at 4 skulls.

Despite the lack of "Sorcery", this issue has a simple enough story with a LOT of "Sword", so I have a hard time judging it too harshly. It checks a lot of boxes in terms of it being a fairly fun, quick romp in a story that fits into the the Hyborian Age.

Unlike the previous 5 issues, this Savage Sword is much more stand alone. Perhaps we will see a mix of stand alone and longer story arcs within the pages of the SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN!

If you have been on the fence with Savage Sword or have decided it wasn't for you, perhaps you should check out this issue and see if the new team working on it is more to your taste.



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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Two Minute Tabletop: How to Draw Dungeon Maps.

This is an unsolicited post. This is from one gamer to the vast internet. This is an attempt to boost the signal a little. I came across Two Minute Tabletop a long while ago. I was up searching drawing and gaming videos and I came across his YouTube channel. Since then I have found him on Patreon and backed him there. If you watch any on-line games and have checked out some of RuneHammers ICRPG games, you may recognize some of these assets.


Ross creates battle maps. His maps have a cool and unique style and he has a large library of maps, tokens and assets to make more or customize your own maps. His Patreon rate is $1 per map, which is a very reasonable price for the maps he draws. I am not really here to tell you to support him, I am more here to bring him to your attention if you don't know of him.

I especially wanted to direct you to his youtube channel which has a plethora of videos on his process, including a bunch of new, "How to Draw Dungeon Maps", videos. While I was watching these yesterday I also noted the number of views was relatively low, especially compared to some of his other videos. These new videos are excellent quick guides to drawing some basic dungeon maps in his style and highly recommend them.

So if you have ever wanted to draw your own maps, and are unsure how to start. If you just need more battlemaps for your VTT or your physical table run over to his various social media locations and gain some knowledge or some sweet battlemaps!

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Conan the Barbarian: Issue #6 (2019) "The Sole Survivor"

After a slight break Conan is BACK with issue 6 of The Barbarian! This time out story is in Turan, one of my favorite settings!


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

Cover Price: $3.99

Another great cover from Esar Ribic on the front of this book. Even if you are not a fan of the book itself, the covers have been glorious. Unlike Savage Sword they generally tie into the story a little. This one does tie in, but it's on the over-arching Crimson Witch story line. I would have loved a glorious cover depicting Turan, I'll count it as a missed opportunity in my books.

More of Mahmud Asrar's Conan colored by Matthew Wilson cover these pages of Barbarian. I feel Conan is little more wiry and perhaps younger than in a few of the other books drawn by Mahmud, although I can't put my finger on why exactly. Don't take that to mean he is drawn small, he is still an impressive force of nature, and I still quite enjoy Mahmud's take on our Cimmerian hero.

There are a couple of things that I would have loved to have seen in this issue that aren't present, one is on Mr. Asrar's side and one is on Jason Aaron's side. They are both setting related. Although Mamhud did an excellent job with the dressing for Turan, but he missed an aspect that would have added a lot for me personally.

When they are camped out in yurts, we get a few shots of them from outside and inside and the internal structure is that of a light, square, framework. Yurts are built with a lattice work not unlike a folding wooden baby gate. Now it's possible he has a much stronger knowledge of these mobile homes than I give him credit for and has opted for a very early implementation of them. I do think that would be an incorrect assumption about Turan though.

The second problem is Jason Aaron's use of the term "Great Commander". What a great time to use a cool Persian-esque title to add flavor to the story. He uses king as well, but I feel like using a term like Great Commander, is 90% the way to giving it the flavor of Turan.

With all that being said, I did like this issue. I recognize I am pulling straws with the couple of points I bring up about the setting, but as I said this is one of my favorite settings as it and Hyrkania mirror some of my real life interests. This issue is full of Conan crushing his enemies and being an exceptional war leader. This is a definite plus.

The issue ends tieing back into the overarching story of the Crimson Witch and her quest to take Conan's warrior infused blood. However in the main narrative this story does lack any real sorcery, even if it does have plenty of swords and at least one awesome Conan being Conan moment.

I am still enjoying the story and the art in this title and I look forward to more of it!

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Story:

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Sword & Sorcery:


My rating this month is 4 out of 5 Skulls of My Enemies!

Another solid issue and story about the Cimmerian. Loving the one-shot nature of these stories and how much they are managing to fit into a few short pages.

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