Review – Conan The Barbarian – The Death #1-3
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Massimo Carnevale
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Conan The Barbarian – The Death Is a unusually story for the simple fact that Conan is vulnerable though out the arc, Struggling with his new found feelings of love and fear qualities that’s usually not shown in a Conan storyline, In the beginning of the 3 part issue Conan and Beilt along with her crew of pirates continue to sail the sea’s raising hell on all who come across the two. One day while sailing the western ocean the a worried Belit confides in N’Yoga wondering if Conan is truly happy with her at sea. N’Yoga warns her of the death and form that moment on Belit withdraws form conan and crew, hiding away in her sleeping quarters. Meanwhile Conan and N’Gora come across a slave passenger who looks to be gravely ill, not trusting the stranger they put him back on the boat they found him in. The next morning Conan wakes up to find the slave has been killed and crew all stricken with an unknown illness, quickly he disposes the body and boat of the mysterious slave and checks in on Belit who has also fallen ill of the same sickness the crew is hit with.
As Belit lays in her death bed Conan promises to find the cure of the mysterious illness and ports at the docks of Bakal, with so much resting on his success of finding a cure Conan hits a local pub to contemplate on what he must do. After a brief encounter with the locals that was interrupted by Belit, who asks for their help to find a healer concern with her health Conan escorts her back to the Tigress not before telling him that he is free to leave her and the crew to die, for that’s not the burden she wanted for her love. Once they reach the ship the dockmaster gives Conan a hard time with the Dock saying news of Belit in town has spread around Bakal prompting Conan to pay an extra fee to stay unnoticed as he travels to the healer’s location.
There Conan meets up with a local shaman woman and is given an unknown drink that causes him to fall in a dreamlike state where he is stuck under water and has to swim ashore to a endless desert, once he awakes form his sleep the shaman asks him what did he see in his dream to which he tells her of how he was drowning in the ocean due to his armor and had to fight his way up to shore, she states that maybe the drowning and the endless desert are signifying that the weight of this quest is holding him down, he agrees and takes a walk outside to contemplate on what Belit wanted him to do which is to leave her and be free of all of it. Unsure again on what to do he goes back to the pub he had fought in earlier for a drink, again he is confronted but this time its owner of the pub who says that her mother could help him on is quest to heal everyone on the ship.
Back on Tigress he is once again confronted by the Dockmaster who this time warns Conan saying the wolves are at the gate and that Belit is a devil in the eyes of the people, angered Conan places his sword to the throat of the Dockmaster and threatens to spill his blood if he interferes. As the healer begins to cure everyone Conan and N’gora notice a crowd of hostile townsmen intended on ending Belit’s life, with sword in hand Conan and N’gora quickly get rid of them in what I say is one of the most barrack and violent skirmishes that I have seen as of late, at one point he’s hold a man he just gutted and tells the others to look at the man as he dies in his arms.
The Arc ends with Conan hearing the screams of Belit but is unable to enter the room, as he sits outside the door waiting, the healer walks out saying that she is saved and that there were complications, saying Belit was 2 months pregnant and that the baby was lost. Shocked Conan tries to comfort Belit but she doesn’t want to speak to him, as he walks out of her chambers he and N’yoga glance at one other with the narrator implying that maybe the death was not towards Belit but towards her and Conan’s relationship.
Final Thoughts: Conan The Barbarian – The Death is one of the best arcs I have read, ever since the Road of Kings Arc which was a favorite of mine , I’ve been waiting for someone to deliver another great arc and up till now I haven’t been satisfied with how arcs were written, not saying that the pass ones are terrible just that something was missing form each arc such as story and character development, but The Death in my opinion seems to cover all of those issues. Writer Brian Wood does a masterful job in this arc, the way he has Conan struggle back and forth with his emotions. Each issue shows a different side of Conan such as fear, anger, joy, love all things that make us human. To be able to include all of those things in a 3 part issue is quite a feat. Artist Declan Shalvey and Colorist Dave Stewart captures and brings all of those emotions to life with his sketch heavy style that includes alot of shading and not so much detail, surprisingly this style fits particularly well for this arc.