Sunday, March 31, 2024

Comics Review: "CONAN THE BARBARIAN #6" Needs the Ghostbusters

TITAN COMICS/Heroic Signatures

STORY: Jim Zub
ART: Doug Braithwaite
COLORS: Diego Rodriguez
LETTERS: Richard Starkings of Comicraft
EDITOR: Matt Murray
COVER: Mike Deodato
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Patch Zircher; Dan Panosian; Joey Spiiotto
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (January 2024)

Suggested for mature readers

“Thrice Marked for Death!” Part II: “The Cursed”

Conan the Cimmerian was born in the pulp fiction of Robert E. Howard (REH), first appearing in the magazine, Weird Tales (1932).  In 1970, Marvel Comics brought Conan to the world of comic books via the title, Conan the Barbarian. With only a few pauses, Conan comic books have been published for the better part of five decades.

Titan Comics and Heroic Signatures are the new producers of Conan comic books, and they launched a new Conan the Barbarian series in 2023.  The current story arc is written by Jim Zub; drawn by Doug Braithwaite; colored by Diego Rodriguez; and lettered by Richard Starkings.  Entitled “Thrice Marked for Death!,” the arc finds Conan taking up with a thieves guild known as “The Gloryhounds,” and the target of their latest act of larceny is a fine-cut, dark stone that only Conan realizes is dangerous.

Conan the Barbarian #6 (“The Cursed”) opens with what happens when Conan is ignored.  One of the Gloryhounds has touched their quarry, the dark stone known as “Tarim's Touch,” which only Conan realizes is a shard of the dreaded “Black Stone.”  Now, malevolent specters have emerged from the stone, and they are ready to possess some unwary human flesh.  The thieves will have to use all their skills to escape these dark spirits, but only Conan's savage swordsmanship can save them from the guards of the Temple of Bel.

Also, Conan ruminates on the loss of Belit, captain of the Trigress and Queen of the Black Coast.  Haunted by memories of his greatest love, Conan may not realize that the heist of Tarim's Touch may have caused him to plunge ever deeper into chaos.

THE LOWDOWN:  Titan Comics has been providing me with PDF copies of their publications for review for several years now.  Conan the Barbarian #6 is a recent arrival.

Halfway through this new Conan the Barbarian story arc and writer Jim Zub is still throwing down like he's been throwing down.  His first Conan the Barbarian story arc was a brawny jewel true to the tradition of the weird fiction that spawned Conan over nine decades ago.  This second arc, “Thrice Marked for Death!,” is downright murderous and is unremittingly dark.  And I like it.  I like that Conan is also vulnerable and lost in a kind of grief that is as unrelenting aggressive as he is.

Doug Braithwaite, the artist for this story arc, recalls all the shadowy textures and muscular storytelling that the late great artist, John Buscema, brought to all his Conan comic books.  Braithwaite made the first chapter of this arc, “The Heist,” dark, creepy, dirty, and nasty.  For “The Cursed,” Braithwaite goes full action movie with daring escapes and a kinetic sense that thrums between the panels.  Diego Rodriguez's colors make the action pop all the more.

Once again, Richard Starking's letters give this Conan the Barbarian comic book an audio track so that the reader might imagine to hear the clash of swords.  So, dear readers, you must give this comic book a try.  Every page is a pure Conan joy to read.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Conan comic books will want to try Titan Comics and Heroic Signatures' Conan the Barbarian.

[This comic book includes the essay, “Robert E. Howard and His Ages Undreamed Of” Part Six, by Jeffrey Shanks.]


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2024 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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