A King, A Witch, and Some Blood(Conan the Barbarian #1)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrur
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Esad Ribic


In This Issue: Jason Aaron, in a 2-page spread and 2 separate pages, recounts the whole of Conan the Barbarian’s life up to, and including, his time as king. The story then switches to Conan’s time fighting in an arena and being bedded by a mysterious woman in crimson robes. She reveals herself to be a witch who requires his blood for a ritual. Hordes are summoned by the witch to kill Conan, only for the situation to be turned in Conan’s favor. Conan, after slaying the hordes, kills the witch by beheading and heads out of the tower. Time passes and Conan has become king.


Thoughts: Prior to reading this first issue, my only exposure to Conan the Barbarian material was the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer. The issue’s emphasis on dark magic and narration of Conan becoming a king brought back memories of watching the film on tv. Issue #1’s artwork by Mahmud Asrur and Matthew Wilson is lovingly rendered and each page is befitting of the writing that Jason Aaron breathes into it. You truly get the sense by the final page that this and every future issue will be a labor of love on the part of the creators. While there are no bad pages to be seen this issue, perhaps the highest highlight is of Conan cutting through the crimson witch’s zombie army. Jason Aaron’s writing and Travis Lanham’s lettering combine to give the feel of a novel in my hands and leaving me anxious to read further onward. The line likely to stick with me the longest comes toward the end: “Corpses are the grapes, and war the vine.” This, combined with the narration in the opening and the overall tone, gives Conan the Barbarian #1 the emotional intensity of an obituary. It is a deeply haunting and mesmerizing experience.


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Danielle Lemos

Danielle Lemos

Conan the Barbarian #1 was a spectacular issue and one I will very likely read and reread throughout the year. As single issues go, this feels an easy contender for either a Top 10 or Top 20 of the year. In terms of comic series, the same applies. When the run on this comic concludes, the creators will have made something magnificent to behold and one of the greatest comics of the 2010s-2020s.
  • Jason Aaron's writing, Mahmud Asrur and Matthew Wilson's artwork, Travis Lanham's colors, Esad Ribic's beautiful cover, Mark Basso's editing
Story - 10
Art - 10
Writing - 10

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