By Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli, & Dave Stewart
Well, we’re in the home stretch (finally). Going back to the original Queen of the Black Coast story from Robert E. Howard, it’s interesting to note how much Brian Wood has added from the time Conan first meets Bêlit to the time they end up in the River Zarkheba. In that sense, Wood has really put his own stamp on this classic REH story, but at times this giant arc has dragged and we may have even been able to do without an arc or two. Regardless, with issue #22 we’re back on the original road laid out by REH.
When it comes to adaptations, it’s sometimes difficult to tell where the original material ends and the adapting writer begins. There is so much for Wood to use from this point on from the original REH story, it’s interesting to see how he takes, and will take, the original story and weave himself and his own ideas into it. Thus far, Wood has done a great job opening his final arc. All the pieces are there, and his ending is perfectly chosen out of the original story.
For this final arc, Riccardo Burchielli joins Wood on art. Some of you might remember him from his work on Northlanders and if you were a fan of his work there, his Conan the Barbarian work will make you feel right at home. Burchielli is certainly an improvement from the last artist, and definitely one of the best that Wood has worked with on this title. His Conan seems more along the lines of what Becky Cloonan and James Harren had done during the start of Wood’s run, and it’s nice to see. He and colorist extraordinaire Dave Stewart don’t miss a beat from beginning to end, and at this point it seems that Wood wouldn’t have picked a better person to close out this tale and his run with the Cimmerian.
The last arc was not one of the strongest, something that was made clear with the review of issue #21. It might be too early to say that Wood has redeemed himself, but this issue was leaps and bounds better. Is that because it’s back on track with the REH story? That’s something that’s difficult to answer. Either way, Wood is a talented writer and he has done some great things with Conan and this mega-arc based on arguably one of the best REH stories, and this is still going to be an ending you won’t want to miss.