By Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli & Dave Stewart
The second last issue of Brian Wood’s epic Conan the Barbarian continues to deliver a huge emotional punch after the events of the last issue. Once again, Wood leans heavy on narration to express what Conan is going through and once again it works beautifully. His brutal actions to the attacking demons of the jungle speak to his pain, anger and frustration. His unwillingness to quit, even with insurmountable odds, is a huge testament not only to his resolve, but his desire for vengeance. Pretty sure his coin purse is the one that says “Bad Mother F*cker” on it.
Both Riccardo Burchielli and color master Dave Stewart knock this issue out of the park. The heavy blacks and dull tones mixed with the huge, bright spots of red really intensify what just might be the fight of Conan’s life. His dark eyes really emphasize the pain he’s feeling and almost have an emotional detachment to the brutal killing he’s doing, like his mind is elsewhere but his body is still a fine tuned killing machine.
There was one panel, however, that took a few extra seconds to get past. The narrative says something along the lines of, “in his berserk fury he did not miss…” as Conan fires arrow after arrow into a pack of attacking jackal/hyena looking beasts. But in the panel, there are four of five arrows that have clearly missed and are sticking up out of the ground. It was an odd distraction from an otherwise fantastic sequence that ends with the brutal image of Conan ripping one of these demon beast’s mouths apart. Which, by the way, was served exponentially well by being placed on a plain white background—man, did that panel stick out and it very well could be one of the most brutal of this run.
There’s one issue left for Brian Wood to add his finishing touches, place a bow and hand it off to Fred Van Lente, and it’s really up in the air as to just what he’s going to do. What can he do, really? This might have been a perfect send off for Wood and his run on Conan, but we’ll just have to wait until next month to see what he has left for us.