Of Snakes and Men (Conan the Barbarian #2 Comic Review)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Esad Ribic
Variant Cover Artists: Ema Luppachino & Rachelle Rosenberg


Last Issue: We are introduced to Conan through a recap of his life and venture onward witnessing a crimson witch’s near endless need to capture his blood for her god. The episode ends with Conan a king brought down by a pair of children who work for the witch and have begun plans to obtain Conan’s blood and eventually end his life.

This Issue: The clock turns back on Conan’s life and we bear witness to another episode of his legendary life, this one involving giant snakes and Picts. Initially the Picts see Conan as yet another enemy and it is through battles against the giant snakes of the forests and eventually the King Snake that the Picts see Conan as one of their own. Conan, however, despite being given the offer to stay, desires to leave. This leads to a discussion of man and featuring perhaps the strongest panel of the issue.

Nonetheless, Conan finds his way home and feels himself a stranger among the people, no longer fitting in as he once did.

Thoughts: I am appreciating the episodic nature of this Conan series as it provides glimpses into different portions or periods of the title character’s life and follows along with the circumstances that lead him to ultimately become king. An advantage to this style of story-telling is that it does not linger any more than it should in a particular part of Conan’s life and thus feels self-contained. The reader, then, is not beholden to having to pick up previous issues to follow along with the story. I am aware what Jason Aaron was going for in his dialogue this issue in regards to the Picts. However, that thematic undertone is undone in having the Picts resemble outdated, racist caricatures of indigenous peoples of North America. The designs, in turn, work to highlight Conan‘s racist history. As with the first issue, Mahmud Asrar’s artwork is exquisite and gives the feel of a movie unfolding in real time. Asrar’s pencils and inks contain frenetic energy to them that is inimitable. Matthew Wilson’s colors and Travis Lanham’s complete the picture of each page and the whole of the issue. Altogether, the pages contain this otherworldly quality that amplifies the comic.

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Danielle Lemos

Danielle Lemos

Conan the Barbarian #2, in terms of story, is an excellent issue. From beginning to end, the story's pace is easy to follow and does not trip up on itself. As I've said, the sole problem is the design of the Picts.
  • Issue 2's self-contained nature enables you to jump in without needing to read issue 1. The story's flow is smooth and does not feel jagged at any point.
  • The depiction of the Picts lessens the issue as a whole by degrees.

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