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Conan the Barbarian #23

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By Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli and Dave Stewart

Phew. Where can somebody begin after an issue like that? From the beginning of Brian Wood’s run with Conan, it was clear he knew the character. He knew the original stories from Robert E. Howard, he knew the history and he knew where he was going to take our beloved barbarian. This issue was, quite possibly, one of his finest, if not the finest, Conan the Barbarian issue he has done to date.

Wood packs on the narration, reminiscent of REH’s work with the character, with only a small amount of actual talking from the characters; and it’s brilliant. While narration can sometimes weight down a comic, Wood’s words fit perfectly to this story. They dive deep into the mind and feelings of Conan and the situation at hand giving power and a huge emotional weight. It’s just a fantastically crafted story from Wood and one that really reminds the reader of just great Wood and this series has been.

For his part, Riccardo Burchielli absolutely shines. Even brighter than the last issue, Burchielli and colorist Dave Stewart craft their panels with an absolute masterful touch and attention to detail. Panel after panel and page after page just flow together perfectly, adding that extra emotional weight to Wood’s already emotionally heavy story with excellent expressions and just the right amount of heavy blacks and pops of red. Even without Wood’s narration, the art work in this book would do a great job of telling the story. And the last panel… man. That look on Conan’s face is just chilling and the shadows and dull color pallet just take it to the next level.

When you turn to the last page, and your eye hovers on the last panel as you pause to take in the comic you just read then the team has done their job and done it well. There’s not much more you can say about this issue aside from, “whoa”. It was a fantastic issue from top to bottom and the next issue can’t come soon enough.

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