Review – Conan The Barbarian #17 (Marvel Comics)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jim Zub
Artwork: Robert Gill
Colours: Israel Silva
Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 9th December 2020

Whilst this book’s basic scenario of a lone warrior becoming possessed by their bloodthirsty weapon has debatably been done many times before, Jim Zub’s take on this tried and tested fantasy trope still manages to deliver a few innovative nuances which must have pleased the majority of those fans familiar with Robert E. Howard’s original pulp fiction character. Indeed, the Cimmerian’s famous honourable code of conduct would appear to be central to this publication’s plot, as the titular character seems to completely ignore the early warnings that the Tooth of the Nightstar is not all it seems, simply so he can “complete Naru-Li’s mission of returning the sword to Maltus-Ral — Naru-Li’s mentor and the blade’s rightful owner…”

Furthermore, the Canadian author adds an additional element to this twenty-page periodical’s storytelling by depicting precisely what the noble savage is actually seeing and feeling whenever Conan falls under the increasingly strong influence of the weapon he liberated from the Uttara Kuru leadership. These increasingly disconcerting insights into the malignant magic afflicting the barbarian really are rather disturbing, especially once they go beyond mere re-imaginings of the real world surrounding him. Robert Gill’s prodigious pencilling hurls the adventurer towards a demonic furnace situated at the very heart of some fiery fortification built of bone, skulls, brimstone and ash; “The forge is near. The Forge of Fear. The forge is made of sin. The blood is brought. The rage is wrought. A weapon forged within.”

Zub’s writing also provides a good sense of the internal conflict taking place within our hero’s head. As highlighted in the comic itself, “the Cimmerian senses foul magic in the air” when his “gaze rests a moment upon the blood-tinged metal”, and for an instant Conan’s formidable strength of will would appear to have prevailed as he angrily abandons the Nightstar to the ever-enclosing woodland about him. However, the warrior quickly fools himself into believing he actually needs to have the sword if he is ever going to survive the dangers of the strange land he’s currently traversing, completely forgetting that he could always have taken the double-headed axe from the bandit he blindly dispatched just moments before forsaking the haunting piece of sharpened steel.


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

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