Conan The Barbarian Issue 14.
Writer - Brian Wood.
Artist - Mirco Colak.
Colours - Dave Stewart.
Cover Art - Massimo Carnevale.
Published by Dark Horse Comics.
Before we go on. FUCK I love that cover! Massimo Carnevale is so great in this genre, his work on Northlanders with Mr Wood again was outstanding.
This book is part 2 in the 'The Woman On The Wall' story line that is a lost Conan trying to reunite with his love the Pirate Captain Belit. He has fallen in with an army of Shemite soldiers who are going about attacking a castle. Belit is believed to be the aforementioned Woman On The Wall and Conan is intent on getting into the Castle and finding her.
The book starts on a flashback scene on Belit's vessel. She is ordering about Conan and he is kind of taking it. A fellow sailor tells him 'You share her bed....but she is still your queen.' As always Brian Wood speaks volumes in a couple of lines of dialogue. This is how Conan should be written!
Fast forward back to the castle we saw in the first part of this story line. Conan and two other soldiers (one an expert archer) hatch a plan to invade the castle as a small group. Conan seems broader in stature both physically and mentally in this issue. He has in the past issues been written as younger, but here we see his single minded nature, he seems more experienced than before.
The moments with the archer are perfectly paced and gloriously drawn. The reader is as agog as Conan when he utters 'Crom!' at the magnificence of the archer's skill. Aiming two arrows at the voice box of the sentry to kill him silently. A great page.
Conan creeps in (badly) and breaks the gate to the tunnel that the other two used. This alerts the soldiers inside and all but Conan are killed. He escapes only to break into a room full of other soldiers who beat him. It is there that we get a twist / plot beat that I won't spoil for those that have not read this issue yet. Suffice to say that it works well and leaves you hanging for the next issue.
Mirko Colak kills it on the art in this issue. The energy of the fight scenes is masterful and I see a little Ernie Chan, a little Art Adams and a lot of freshness to his approach on this issue. He matches these styles with a traditional approach that really plays well. His art (along with Dave Stewart's colours) is beautiful to the eye with crisp line work. You feel each strike, block and cut in awesome detail. It flows really well. There have been some great artists on this series (Becky Cloonan and Declan Shalvey who I think are both great) but I have to admit to this being my favourite arc artistically so far.
Brian Wood's Conan is a joy to read. He seems to hold respect for the source material as well as the material done in comics over the last few decades but comes at it with a deft freshness. Each comic seems to be a chapter in a dramatic, well plotted, saga. For those who enjoy this and have not tried Northlanders I can thoroughly recommend it.
The texturing of the barbarian is pitch perfect and he is familiar and detailed all at once. He is growing in subtle ways. Both the writing and the art exhibits this growth. We are beginning to see the pain behind his eyes. The world weary actions of a travelled warrior and thief.
I loved this book and look forward to each issue.