Review – Conan The Barbarian #14 (Marvel Comics)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jim Zub
Artwork: Roge Antonio
Colours: Israel Silva
Release Date: 18th March 2020

There can arguably be little doubt amongst those readers who perused issue fourteen of Conan The Barbarian, that Jim Zub certainly took full-advantage of his “chance to build all new ongoing stories of one of the most famous characters in sword & sorcery literature” when he penned ‘The Great Crucible’. For whilst the author’s meteoric rise to become the series’ main writer only took a single year, following stints on both ‘The Savage Sword of Conan’ and ‘Conan: Serpent War’, the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Award-winner’s handling of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age hero demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of all the Cimmerian’s traits which have made him so incredibly popular since his adventures were first published in ‘Weird Tales’ magazine way back in 1932.

For starters, this particular incarnation of the “black-haired barbarian”, prodigiously pencilled by Roge Antonia, isn’t some super-human killing machine who is capable of hacking apart any opponent, no matter how numerous, large or multi-legged they are. Don’t get me wrong, the hero is still clearly capable of astonishing feats of endurance and swordplay, yet when it comes to facing down a giant spider so copious its girth completely blocks an entire underground passageway, the warrior needs all the help he can muster from his colleagues so as to overcome a creature which could “slay a squad of well-trained soldiers before giving up its own life.”

Of course, Conan is the only combatant herculean enough to hold back the deadly arachnid by its fearsome fangs with his sword while simultaneously withstanding the dark-hearted horror’s repeated rakings of this bloody back with its barbed legs. But in so positioning himself in order to “create an opening”, the Cimmerian also ably exhibits his strategic savvy by barking out commands to the hapless unprotected and poorly armed fighters around him; “That’s right, spider — stay focused on me! Naru-Li. I’ll stay its jaws… Prepare to stab the beast’s head on my signal…”

Likewise, Zub additionally captures the murder mystery element of such notable prose stories like Howard’s ‘The God in the Bowl’ with his sense-shattering suggestion that at least one of the surviving contestants is a well-armed assassin. This atmosphere of distrust and betrayal throughout the twenty-page periodical is positively palpable, especially when the Shaman of the Afterlife, Yohnic, inexplicably has his throat slit from ear to ear whilst sleeping under the watch of the “People’s Champion.”


The writer of this piece was: Blax Kleric
Blax Tweets from @Blaxkleric ‏

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  1. Conan the Barbarian #14 Reviews | Zub Tales

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