Writer: Jim Zub
Art: Rogé Antônio, Israel Silva, VC’s Travis Lanham, and E.M Gist
Release Date: March 18th, 2020
As Jim Zub kicked off his CONAN THE BARBARIAN run last issue, our Hyborian-born Barbarian found himself unknowingly entered into a contest and declared The Rock or I should say “The People’s Champ”. But, the admiration and affection didn’t last long as Conan quickly discovered he was entered into this cities Crucible, which appears to be a trial of death traps to honor Challi-Mai, the god of many gods. Like American Gladiators, Conan must survive the competition against seven would-be warriors. However, as the last issue came to a close, Conan was stabbed through the chest by a shadow warrior! Let’s leap into CONAN THE BARBARIAN #14 by Jim Zub farther than the cover portrays our young Cimmerian and see what other traps and tricks are waiting in Conan’s path.
Readers, I wouldn’t say this is a good CONAN THE BARBARIAN story, however, I would say it’s a great story overall for any genre. Zub delivers a tale filled with blood, action, thrills, mystery, and conspiracy. There is genuinely nothing about this story that really makes it unique or distinctive to Conan in my opinion. Conan’s characteristics are very generic of any fighter or worthy combatant who could easily be replaced by any other. But again, the backstory, the setup, and the fascinating quandary involved as this story comes to a close is extremely fascinating.
This is not Jason Aaron’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN but it is highly enjoyable and packed with a thoroughly planned and well-organized backstory that Zub quickly establishes to ensnare his audience. All this reviewer can think of as the anecdote unfolds is, how were all of these individuals chosen for The Crucible? And, who’s the secret assassin hiding in the mix? Truthfully, my first guess didn’t make it!!! So, I got my theories now but what does this secret assassin gain by doing any of this? Either way, I’m all in and stunned by how much I’m enjoying this comic without it really feeling like a CONAN comic to me.
The other surprise to this reader came in the form of the artistic style. After the last issue, I simply didn’t like how the art sat with me. But now after the second installment, Rogé Antônio realistic, yet Disney XD cartoonish style is really growing on me too. It’s certainly quite different from its predecessor’s artistic license BUT still very powerful, authentic, and substantial. I really appreciate the heavy line work, solid color choices, and the way the backgrounds are dropped out of focus, if not nonexistent, during important battle sequences or crucial moments within the context of the narrative. My crack of this issue being “Disney XD”-ish may seem like a knock BUT I rather enjoy those illustrations immensely.
I simply can’t rave about this issue enough. Sure, it’s not what I’d expect from a CONAN series. But, as I stated in the last reviewer, this Conan is young and impressionable. So, maybe he’s a bit off and will continue to be throughout this entire run. Furthermore, that could be why this story seems like any warrior could step in and replace Conan without the story skipping a beat. Either way, readers can’t deny the sheer high powered warfare and savagery this issue dishes out with a complimentary side of mystery and suspense that locks you in for next month’s adventure. If you’re looking for something new to read while you’re “social distancing” that you never would have tried before, give CONAN THE BARBARIAN #14 by Jim Zub a look. If you’re a long time Conan fan, grab this issue and let me know if you’re as dazzled with this story as I am. And lastly, if you can’t make it into your Local Comic Shop, give the Marvel Unlimited App or Comixology a try! Stay healthy and stay safe.
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