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Conan the Slayer – Blood in his Wake Review

Conan The Slayer: “Blood In His Wake”

Collects issues 1-6

Writer: Cullen Bunn (Deadpool, Harrow County, Uncanny X-Men)

Artist: Sergio Davila  (Red Sonja)

Reviewed by: Jarrett

 

Shout out to Penguin Random House Canada for the chance to read this book! You may recall that my previous review, also of the same character but from another series of his comics, was my introduction to the world of King Conan, the Cimmerian barbarian (who originally appeared in stories by Robert E. Howard in 1932).

Between reading that first comics collection, and getting more into the lore as well as rules for the new board game, I’ve come to crave the fast-paced, action-packed tales featuring Conan. Taking such an energetic, unforgiving character and putting it into the very capable hands of an author like Cullen Bunn produces this blood-soaked tome; a timeless story of trust/mistrust, jealousy, betrayal, and consequence, filled with equal parts sword and sorcery.

The tale begins in a most familiar way. I’m not sure whether just one other or many other Conan stories start this way, but I love how some of the very first text in this series perfectly sums up most of the Conan mythology: “…and burdened by a tremendous weight…not upon his shoulders but upon his very soul…hither came Conan…marching ever forward. Ahead of him, he knew, was his inescapable ending. Just as, far behind him, he knew…were only the uncountable dead men he had left in his wake.” These words are spread over several panels of art that match exactly what you envision in your head as you read them. Often enough, these books seem to start without really cluing the reader into where he’s coming from, but ultimately it doesn’t matter, and allows you to read them in any order you like for the most part.

Stumbling into an unfamiliar camp of raiders,  Conan is spared and eventually befriends them. He earns the respect of the family who leads the tribe, learning they have similar convictions and codes of honour. As the plot unfolds, allegiances within the tribe begin to come apart at the seams and Conan is forced to follow his steadfast instincts, which have yet to fail in keeping him alive. The elements of subterfuge and betrayal lead to surprising revelations, not only for the characters but the reader; revelations not only regarding the plot, but also about the very “Hyborian” setting of Conan’s adventures.

The artwork by Sergio Davila serves the story well, filling any descriptive gaps with blood and motion. Again, as with my last Conan read, you can feel the intensity of the action and hear the fury of blades without the need for onomatopoeic words like “whoosh” or “clang” clogging the landscape. To that accomplishment, as I came to the story’s conclusion, I put the book down as if it had been a bloody weapon I was wielding, victorious and sated.

I found “Blood in his Wake” to be another great Conan instalment on all levels. Great writers like Cullen Bunn seem to have an easy time with this world, despite the fact in some ways it can appear overly simple at first glance. A good story is a good story, regardless of setting; which isn’t to say this setting is lacking! On the contrary: it is really beginning to reveal to me just how much action and intrigue can be woven from just such a world; a place where sorcery can allow for unknown or surprising elements where a story set in the real past (for example) cannot. The lack of technology and guns allows breathing room as well, prompting both plot and character development. If you’re looking to read something a little different from the most popular titles, and/or something that has a stellar creative team behind, this book will not disappoint.

All Star Batman Volume 1 Review

Batman All-star volume 1

Collects issues 1-5

Writer: Scott Snyder (New 52 Batman, Wytches)

Artist: John Romita Jr. (Amazing Spider-Man, Kick-Ass)

Reviewed by: Peter (Produce Pete) McNeely

 

All-star DC comics (which no longer exists) was an imprint of DC comics which brought together some of the best writers and artists to create new stories using DC’s most popular characters. The main differences between previous All-star titles and All-star Batman is that All-star Batman’s stories are part of the current DC universe continuity. The series features the ever so popular writer Scott Snyder with a rotating cast of well known artists.

Scott Snyder is at it again with the help of John Romita Jr.. Together these two create one hell of a rollercoaster ride that jumps between the present and the past. The story, titled MY OWN WORST ENEMY, has Batman fighting his way across the state (498 miles to be exact) to cure Harvey Dent of Two-Face. Early into the story we find out that Two-Face has put out an open contract on Batman to try and stop him from reaching a house (we learn about this house later on) containing the cure. As the story progresses Batman’s relationship with Harvey Dent is explored, through multiple flashbacks, revealing the childhood interactions these two characters share. Even with over a dozen different villains trying to stop him, Batman with the help of Robin (Duke Thomas) and a few other members of the Bat family, prevail (SURPRISE!).

I really enjoyed the art in this book. It flows beautifully from panel to panel and does a good job of creating an obvious transition from past to present. There is a panel of Batman standing in a field, cape blowing in the wind, which is so simple yet still portrays Batman’s perseverance. Although, of all the characters in this book I would have to say that Two-face is drawn the best. The details of the scaring on his face are outstanding and the use of showing one side of the face to show who is in control is very well done. The colours used are not your typical dark Batman colours. They are brighter and more vibrant making the characters pop out from the background.

Even though at its core this is a very typical Batman story I still enjoyed reading this book. Snyder just knows how to write a good Batman story and John Romita Jr. backs it up with some wonderful art. The book (and I’m sure the rest of the series) will scratch that Scott Snyder Batman itch lingering since the end of his run on Batman New 52. The only unfortunate thing about this series is that the artist changes every story arc, something I am not the biggest fan of. If you can get past this I would recommend hopping onto the series. If you can’t get passed that issue I would still recommend picking up All-Star Batman volume 1 as it is sure to be an entertaining read.

All-Star Batman volume 1 was provided to us for review by Penguin Random House Canada.