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Home  >  Features  >  CONAN THE BARBARIAN #18: A MightyVille Advance Review

B.J. the Barbarian returns, slashing his way through this advance review of Dark Horse's Conan the Barbarian #18! A drugged-up Conan trips through a vision of a future that may never be, and B.J. says, "More please!"

 

B.J. the Barbarian returns, slashing his way through this advance review of Dark Horse's Conan the Barbarian #18! A drugged-up Conan trips through a vision of a future that may never be, and B.J. says, "More please!"

 

It is refreshing to see that after hundreds of issues published collectively at Marvel and at Dark Horse and a plethora of pastiche novels over the years, that writers can find new ways to make Conan stories. There’s an inherent challenge in putting a new coat of paint on a character so long in the tooth as Conan. So much ink has been used to write about Conan that it becomes very hard to flex enough creative muscle to create something unique in the world of our favorite Barbarian. Yet writer Brian Wood, artist Davide Gianfelice, colorist Dave Stewart, and the rest of the gang on Conan the Barbarian have done just that.   
 
Issue #18 ends the best arc thus far in Wood’s Conan the Barbarian series, “The Nightmare of the Shallows.” This arc has done something very few Conan stories have done (and none that immediately come to my mind), and that is to provide an “alternate” history of Conan. He and his beloved, Bélit, enjoying the raptures of each other are tempted into taking Yellow Lotus, a psychotropic drug that lulls them into a shared fantasy experience where they see an imaginary future where their lives become domesticated.

 


 
The first two issues of this arc were decidedly more trippy and hallucinatory than this final issue. This issue plays as a fairly straight tale of what would happen if Conan truly steeled down with Bélit and started a family. It’s strange to see Conan in this light, and though we don’t have many of those iconic Conan moments we all know and love, the issue is made stronger for it. Whereas plenty of Conan stories from DH were adaptations or act as bridges between adaptations of Robert E. Howard stories, this arc has focused on exploring the deeper emotions of Conan that have been unchained by the drug coursing through his body.
 
Wood’s knack for dialogue and conveying emotion shines through much of the issue. There are wistful and melancholy overtones present throughout this issue that give great insight into a bittersweet and heartbroken Conan. The art team does a fantastic job of capturing the dreamlike quality to this arc’s psychedelic setting. Whereas the previous issues seemed almost wispy in their presentation, this issue gives a stark look at a Conan who is aging and struggling with declining health.

 


Conan asks towards the end of the issue if any of this is truth. Bélit slyly answers that there is both truth and fiction in the vision they shared. Fans of Conan know that such a domesticated ending is not in store for our hero, but this arc has provided a unique window into an alternate reality where our hero’s feelings and innermost desires are exposed. More of this, please.
 

(Preview images courtesy of ComicBookResources.com.)

Conan the Barbarian will be available July 17, 2013 from Dark Horse Comics.

 

What's been your favorite issue from Brian Wood's Conan series so far? Let us know!

 

More Reviews on MightyVille:

QUANTUM & WOODY #1: A MightyVille Advance Review

STAR WARS #7: A MightyVille Advance Review

SHADOWMAN #8: A MightyVille Advance Review

 

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