This series – as stated in the Letters page of issue #1 – is counted as one of the original Robert E. Howard Conan stories. And I’m sure that statement alone makes this book something that true Conan fans will definitely want in their collections. Taking into account that this is derived from one of the original creator’s stories makes it feel as though you are reading a forgotten part of history that is finally coming to light. Now while I can’t claim to be writing from the standpoint of a diehard Conan fan, I do remember watching the movies as a child and absolutely loving the character. And I can safely say that Conan the Avenger does absolutely nothing to diminish those fond memories from my childhood.
Fred Van Lente has done an excellent job of adapting this story from just a few draft chapters and a synopsis. I’m sure Robert E. Howard would be proud. The story follows Conan running from the ghost of his past lover and he winds up in the land of Kush. At the time Conan arrives, a witch hunter Agara is searching for a witch that cursed a friend of his. Conan and Agara’s paths cross as Agara assumes Conan, being new to the town, is the witch he is searching for. A rather intense fight breaks out between the two and Agara astonishingly proves to be a worth opponent for Conan. While the two are fighting, the real witch – whose identity remains unknown – unleashes a curse that brings Zombies into the mix and puts Agara and Conan in the unlikely situation of becoming allies. The unlikely pair decide to work together to find the true witch and make sure he meets his fate.
Brian Ching has done a wonderful job here in creating the landscapes and characters for this latest installment in the expansive Conan universe. Every location is highly detailed, right down to the bricks and cracks in every building. The fight scene between Conan and Agara has a movement all it’s own that is hard to accomplish in still frames, but Ching pulls it off admirably. Every fight scene in the issue is well done, giving life to the words Van Lente so eloquently puts to the page. My only concern with the visuals is that Conan doesn’t look as bulky as I always pictured him and have seen him depicted in other adaptations of the character. This niggle does little to take away from the story, it’s just one of those minor details that came to my attention.
All in all, this book is set at the perfect pace with the story developing and the action keeping the ball rolling. Van Lente and Ching bring this installment of Conan to life panel by panel.
The writer of this piece was: Shane Hoffman (aka “Hoff”)
You can also find Hoff on Twitter.