Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Mahmud Asrar, Matthew Wilson, and Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 12th, 2022
Getting old can be tough, especially for a Cimmerian who’s done it all, seen it all, and acquired countless treasures and concubines. So, what’s a King to do? Hang up his cleats? Once you become King, is that it? Is that enough? And what happens when you conquer all the neighboring nations? Well, KING CONAN #2 by Jason Aaron begins to uncover what’s truly been bothering CONAN under the surface since he’s been, King. Let’s dive in and take a look!
KING CONAN #2 doesn’t answer any questions about the island or how CONAN arrived there. Nor does it elaborate on how the Wizard Thoth-Amon arrived long side the Cimmerian King. And, the assumption ends with something still being “somewhat” mystical and mysterious about the island with a cliffhanger as to who might be controlling all of this. But instead, Aaron delivers a tale about a King who feels as though he’s become weak and a father who thinks he’s doomed his son the same way.
Sure, I wish more was discovered about the island. However, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CONAN by Aaron before took a bit of time to explain the little nuances as well. And might I add, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CONAN simply read better in trade as do most of Aaron’s stories. This could very well be the same setup.
My point is that KING CONAN just seems to be missing some pertinent answers and premises that are making the opening two issues lack a sense of structure. Plus, readers are thrust into a story in KING CONAN #1 in which we don’t know how or why only to discover nothing further after issue two. Yet, the irony is we discover more about CONAN’S son Conn, his relationship with his dad, and the weird twist the story takes with him. Truthfully, the story would make more sense if Conn was on the island instead of CONAN. Maybe he is too and we just don’t know it yet?
Nevertheless, please don’t misconstrue my prior statements as hatred towards this issue by any means. KING CONAN #2 was very interesting, filled with action, and developed some powerful insight into the psyche of an older CONAN. These are strong aspects of any story. However, because the story flows with a timeline that’s a bit out of order, I think Aaron is just waiting to provide the island answers we seek a bit later. My hope is that it’s not too late and people hang in there for what still appears to be an amazing CONAN tale by Jason Aaron.
Mahmud Asrar’s CONAN isn’t disgustingly bulky yet not so much a mountain of a man. His version is chiseled and defined but with attributes more like a boxer and less like a bodybuilder, which I think is contrary to what many would assume from CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Yet, to this reader, it’s more realistic. His CONAN still has the long black mane, sullen eyes, and tall towering stature you’d expect. Other than his lack of hairy skin and tone, Asrar draws his CONAN extremely comparable to Robert E. Howard’s novel descriptions. Ultimately, CONAN is supposed to be as agile as a panther. So, how could he be if he was drawn monstrous and massive?
This makes Asrar’s CONAN drawn with the utmost adoration to Howard’s intent, which is commendable to this reviewer. Plus, I love the way Conn is drawn. He looks and resembles CONAN in almost every way except without the muscular definition which merely adds to CONAN’S intentions throughout the issue. You see, he looks like a boy… but not the Cimmerian boy CONAN was and it troubles the King mightily. It’s this focus my Asrar that drives the point home and added more depth to the narrative this week.
KING CONAN #2 focuses more on the backstory leading up to the island, his relationship with his son Conn, and the inner questions and problems while being a King. And when your King is a Cimmerian who talks with his mighty sword, has brought himself up by his own bootstraps, and has sought after mysteries and horrors that have chiseled him into this mountainous warrior of wisdom, what happens when he runs out of battles to fight and civilizations to conquer? And what happens to his son who’s spent his life safeguarded by KING CONAN’S castle walls?
This is the area that Aaron leans heavily on this issue which appears to be a strong side plot yet leaves the main focus of Thoth-Amon and KING CONAN trapped on the island with very few (if any) answers to continue to hook readers. Crom-fearing fans, the issue is great but not for the reason you’d think. The backstory was powerful and the insight was masterful. However, I need more about the main plot before my interest fades. Alas, we can’t forget that this was the exact style that Aaron’s THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CONAN was laid out. And if you use that as I guide, I have a feeling we will get the answers in good time. So, maybe patience is the key. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!