Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Roberto de la Torre
Colorist: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Cover Artists: Dan Panosian; Roberto de la Torre; Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau; Patch Zircher; Mike Mignola; E.M. Gist; Jae Lee; Colleen Doran; Chris Jones; Dave Wilkins; Mark Schultz; Junggeun Yoon; Ian Nicholls; Eric Ray; Jay Anacleto; Chris Ehnot
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: August 2nd, 2023
After eight years of exploring the Hyborean world, Conan’s thoughts turn homeward. In the northern Aquilonian village of Hunter’s Roam, an incompetent mercenary leader raises Conan’s ire. Will the young freebooter return home? Or might his wanderlust lead him away from Cimmeria once again? Let’s venture into Conan The Barbarian #1 and find out!
After brawling with his captain, his fellow fighters ask Conan to lead them. But the young Cimmerian has no taste for command. He departs in good faith and drinks ale with a comely wench while he awaits his meal. When darkness banishes the sun, he steps outside the tavern. A Pict rides up and urges the villagers to flee for their lives. The approaching army will pound their settlement into dust.
Conan’s actions toward his captain show he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, especially when their decisions cost others their lives. His departure from Ravi reveals that he respects those who reward others based on merit. His weariness is understandable: most of those he grew up with—and survived the battle of Venarium—are likely married and raising children. Unlike them, Conan has no standing in society. What will more travel gain him? Should he play the game of so-called civilized society and capitalize on his experiences?
For over a third of his life, Conan’s wanderlust has led him from one battle to another and from one country to the next. Perhaps he can’t return home. Still, he knows what he’s left behind. Jim Zub delivers a hearty story in Conan The Barbarian #1. Sentences are short, and wordplay is reminiscent of Robert E. Howard. Like Roy Thomas, Grim Jim’s not afraid to thicken action with narrative or spice battles with dialogue. Anyone who suggests he hasn’t channeled the best traditions of Conan comics is a cowardly dog!
Like Grim Jim Zub, Ravaging Rob De La Torre dishes out ample portions of brawls and battles. Conan shows little mirth, yet his conversations evoke interest even amid the Cimmerian’s melancholy. While Hyborean men sometimes show consideration, their expressions often bespeak fear and rage. One voluptuous maiden looks like she belongs in a harem. Other women in Hunter’s Roam look frayed and torn.
Conan stands apart from all others in Conan The Barbarian #1. His stance and actions tell us he’s gained maturity and wisdom. He’s no brute or bully. Bloodlust may not intoxicate him. Yet he’s not afraid of a fight. Ravaging Rob delivers panels aplenty. Yet double-page spreads are no stranger to him. Sometimes, Conan abandons panels and fights across a page. When Rob uses negative space to showcase foreground action, he consigns the background to the imagination.
Villainous José Villarrubia’s coloring reminds us of those days of yore when Howard’s most famous Hyborean hero invaded convenience store spinner racks. Characters strain against the chains of the four-color process in Conan The Barbarian #1. Leaving blank areas white seems bold, evoking white fields and snowfall before Ravaging Rob brings back dirt, grass, and trees. Gray and beige backgrounds may dull readers jaded by the varied shades and vivid hues conjured by modern sorcerors. Yet by Crom, Conan’s sword cuts a red swath through the air and leaves opponents drenched in crimson!
Riotous Richard Starkings conjures uppercase dialogue in balloons and stresses words with bold letters. The narrative cowers in colored boxes or sets up camp in Negative Space. Even the most isolated villager will find the print easy to read and the flow to track. Riotous Richard gives sound effects no quarter but changes balloon shapes–and text sizes and colors–to heighten events in Conan The Barbarian #1.
Caught at a crossroads, the Cimmerian freebooter partners with an unlikely ally against an apocalyptic army in Conan The Barbarian #1.