Conan the Barbarian Issues 1 and 2

Jason Aaron’s Conan the Barbarian

Here at New Pulp Tales, we’re going to be launching a new series of articles where we spotlight new or classic Pulp Tales. This is a fun way to give back and connect with the

Here at New Pulp Tales, we’re going to be launching a new series of articles where we spotlight new or classic Pulp Tales. This is a fun way to give back and connect with the series, characters, and writers who inspired this site.

For the first article, I’m going to be discussing Jason Aaron’s new Conan the Barbarian comic books with Marvel. From 1970 to 1993 Marvel previously published 275 issues of Robert E. Howard’s classic Sword and Sorcery hero. Now they’ve reacquired the rights to tell serialized tales about everyone’s favorite Cimmerian, and they couldn’t have started with a better first two issues.

The entire creative team deserves high praise. Artist Mahmud Asrar details the Hyperborean age in a style perfect for the setting, while colorist Matthew Wilson and letterer VC’s Travis Lanham add their talent to round out this heart-pounding adventure comics. That’s not to mention the various cover artists and sampled artists in the opening of Conan issue one, where the creative team put a collage of classic Conan stories from Marvel’s original run.

Now that the creative team praise has been doled out it’s time to discuss Aaron’s plot. I found it very clever. By Crom, beware of minor spoilers ahead. There is a framing narrative concerning a character called the Crimson Witch who is seeking to sacrifice Conan to resurrect her evil god. The reason she wants Conan is because every time he’s survived a battle, it’s made his blood more magically potent. Thus, every story told within the framing narrative connects to the frame because anytime Conan’s survived a great battle, he becomes more useful to the witch. Additionally, the story starts in the future with King Conan, ruler of Aquilonia, so the framing narrative works two ways as we also get fun glimpses into Conan’s past which led him to be King. It’s terrific stuff, and you can tell Aaron is a huge fan of the source material.

On top of that, Marvel includes a serialized prose tale called Black Starlight by John C. Hocking in the first twelve issues. It’s a great bonus to the comic, and the story has been intriguing so far. It’s much more of a classic Conan tale as there is no framing narrative and it’s just a look at a fun adventure Conan’s had, but it deepens the mythology of the character for readers who may not be as familiar with the sword-slinging panther of a man.

Again, I must reiterate just how much love has been put into these first two issues. The quality is fantastic, and readers have responded. Every issue has sold out at my local comic store, Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg, PA. Based on Comic Book Resources sales breakdown, it looks Conan was the second highest selling comic of January. Maybe the popularity of Game of Thrones has contributed to this title’s early success, or maybe people were just hungry for a change from the usual superhero fare, but either way, it’s fun seeing it be so successful.

If you like comic books and pulp, you should check this series out.

P.S.
If you like Conan, you should also check out Imaginary World’s new podcast about Robert E. Howard.

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