Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artwork: Mahmud Asrar
Colours: Matthew Wilson
Lettering: Travis Lanham
Release Date: 1st June 2022
“Blind your eyes to the moonlight and open them on darker gulfs.”
Hot on the heels of an issue four that may very well be the best comic I’ve read all year, Marvel’s King Conan surges into its penultimate chapter here by digging a little into the twisted origins of Thoth-Amon. Series writer Jason Aaron takes us right back to the childhood of the dark wizard, giving us some insight into his formative years but, vitally, never making him a sympathetic character in the process.
Narratively speaking, this issue could be viewed as something of a deep breath before the final roar, as Conan and Thoth-Amon regroup following their encounter with the former Princess Matoaka and try to decide on a plan to help them survive and escape the cursed island. Obviously, each man has vastly different ideas about the best way to do this, with Conan’s “blood and glory” violence-based approach unsurprisingly winning out.
Visually, Mahmud Asrar and Matthew Wilson continue to do some truly stellar work, packing the pages with detailed, expressive characters, cinematic framing and a real sense of energy from start to finish. Asrar’s Conan is already nearing ‘definitive’ status for me, but he does an equally strong job in bringing Thoth-Amon to the page as well, showing a menacing vulnerability to the character as he finds himself stripped of his powers.
The colours of Wilson really help to sell several of the key storyline beats, particularly those during Thoth-Amon’s aforementioned origin, and he does a great job of taking us from indoors to outdoors, day to night, throughout the course of this issue. Everything has depth and dynamism to it, and the final page of the issue – a glorious, action-packed splash – shows he and Asrar working together in perfect harmony.
As we head into the final issue, it’s difficult not to feel an impending disappointment knowing that this will be the swansong of this particular creative partnership on Conan, and indeed the end of Conan’s new Marvel adventures in the Hyborian Age. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I am absolutely not a fan of Conan showing up in the regular Marvel continuity, so knowing that we won’t be getting any more new content in the classic style is more than a little sad. Hopefully that will change before too long, but for the time being, I’m trying to wring as much excitement out of next month’s finale as I possibly can.
While this is very much an issue that is here to help to bridge the gap between the stellar ‘Conan versus Conan’ showdown and what promises to be a stunning finale, there’s still a lot of great content here. Aaron and Asrar is a partnership made in comic book heaven, and their work on Conan over the past few years has been damn near faultless, in my eyes at least. As such, this issue still comes highly recommended, although if you’ve read any of their previous Conan collaborations, you’re pretty much guaranteed to already have it in your pull list.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]