Review – Conan The Barbarian #11 (Marvel Comics)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artwork: Mahmud Asrar
Colours: Matthew Wilson
Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 20th November 2020
Arguably for numerous fans of Robert E. Howard’s fictional sword and sorcery hero, one of Conan’s most engrossing facets is the mystery surrounding his eventual demise, and just how such an iconic character of the Hyborian Age finally met his doom. Many seemingly believe that King Conan gave up the throne of Aquilonia to his son, and sailed West “never to be seen in the civilised world again”, whilst others have sought their answers within Lin Carter’s 1972 poem “Death-Song of Conan the Cimmerian”. But one thing has always been certain; that the Cimmerian died “sword in hand, fighting against great odds, and sits now by the side of Crom on his mountain, laughing, drinking, fighting and wenching.”
Contemptibly, however, that is not how Jason Aaron pens the adventurer’s demise in Issue Eleven of “Conan The Barbarian”, preferring instead to depict the monarch who has survived numerous decades “by the skin of my teeth and the edge of my blade”, solely being slain “by two small children.” Such an anticlimactic, even irreverent resolution, really must have grated upon the minds of this book’s 25,444 readers during November 2019, and resultantly, it is somewhat clear as to just why this “Marvel Worldwide” ongoing series’ popularity plummeted to the point where it was languishing as only the month’s seventy-seventh best-selling comic book.
Perturbingly though, the Alabama-born author’s profanities concerning his source material do not stop with his narrative simply showing Conan shuffling “off this mortal coil”, but subsequently goes as far as to suggest that they’ll be no seat beside the Cimmerian’s proto-Celtic Chief god either. True, Howard himself made it clear that the gloomy, savage deity known as Crom “doesn’t care if individuals live or die, and… despises weakness” in his short story “The Tower of the Elephant”. Yet it’s still hard to reconcile Aaron’s ignorant-minded, almost childish celestial who testily commands the barbarian “to be gone from place” with the divinity consistently cursed within the fables published by “Weird Tales” way back in the Thirties.
Sadly, with the exception of some excellent pencilling by artist Mahmud Asrar, it is doubtful many within this twenty-page periodical’s audience took anything positive away from so nonsensical a script as “By Crom”. No explanation is ever given as to the reasoning behind Conan appearing in the Afterlife as a small, young boy with a heavily pregnant mother, nor why, having ‘died’ numerous times during his climb to confront his creator, Aquilonia’s sovereign is pettishly ‘punished’ by being returned back to life in the Tower of Razael..!?!
The writer of this piece was: Blax Kleric
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