Not as busy a week as the last but fairly busy nonetheless. The new creative teams on various ongoing titles continue to go strong, particularly Justice League Dark and Witchblade while some of the newer titles like Black Science continue to be exception, so that’s one thing that I really liked about this past week. January in particular has been a really excellent month of comics what with Marvel’s full-on All-New Marvel NOW! launch and some really good issues for DC’s Forever Evil event.
Just one graphic novel again this week, the Lee/Buscema magnificence that is Silver Surfer: Judgement. I was meaning to read at least one more, but time wasn’t on my side and I missed out. Hopefully the new month gets off to a good start.
With this issue, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Ariel Olivetti move into the second half of their 4-issue mini-series with Conan, an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Conan creator Robert E. Howard. This is all a warm-up for Van Lente since he is taking over on Dark Horse’s Conan the Barbarian from Brian Wood in a couple months or so and it gives a taste for what we can expect from the writer on that series, the premier Conan series being published right now. I’ve read the first two issues already and have found them to be quite decent in all.
The third issue isn’t like them so much. It is largely similar to the previous two issues but there are quite a few missteps made along the way, both in terms of the story and the art. The problems are with how the characters are presented and the lack of definition in the backgrounds, which seem interchangeable from one page to the another. The latter has been a growing problem in the series and it peaks in this issue, which made for some disappointing read.
With Fred Van Lente set to take on writing duties on Dark Horse’s Conan the Barbarian from current scribe Brian Wood quite soon and Wood himself to pen a Conan crossover series with Gail Simone’s Red Sonja from Dynamite, Conan as a character is definitely at the forefront of the comics medium and the readers equally. Dark Horse’s run on the character has been quite successful to date and it keeps performing strongly and is one of the publisher’s top titles. They added to their roster this mini-series by Van Lente last month and after a strong debut, we are back for a second outing.
The first issue was quite a good one, as I mentioned in my review of it. As a fan of the character, I enjoyed it, and was quite looking forward to the second issue. And it proved quite equal to my expectations. The art felt a little less defined, mostly in the context of the backgrounds, but the story was definitely good, and I’d say that Van Lente really is off to a good start here.
I’ve been on a sort of Conan kick recently, thanks to Brian Wood’s excellent relaunch of Conan the Barbarian from Dark Horse Comics, of which I’ve read only the first volume so far and have the second waiting to be read. As a fan of the character and the setting he is a part of, the comics have been quite enjoyable and with Wood’s run coming to a close quite soon, Dark Horse has brought in Fred Van Lente to carry on next year with #26, and in the meantime, Van Lente is penning a mini-series featuring the world’s most famous sword-and-sorcery hero.
From what I’ve seen generally, as well as with an ongoing title, Conan thrives in the mini-series section, and several have been written and illustrated over the years. Van Lente’s Conan and the People of the Black Circle is just another in the line-up and where my previous experience with such has been mixed, this new one is giving me a lot of reasons to stick around and carry on with things.