With Conan Vol.1: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories, Dark Horse embarked on a bold strategy where the classic Conan stories were shaped anew, with writer Kurt Busiek putting together a continuous narrative that charted the rise of Conan from a simple Cimmerian warrior to the King of Aquilonia. With the addition of fantastic artists like Cary Nord and Dave Stewart, the series began well with the first volume, establishing a clear frame of reference for the characters and his adventures in a way that would always leave you wanting more.
In Conan Vol.2: The God In The Bowl and Other Stories we see more of the same as Conan now sets out for the Nemedian city-state to learn more of the world, to hone his skills as a thief and see more of what the world at large could offer someone like him. Kurt’s writing is very much on point in this volume, as it was in the previous one, and now that the Cimmerian is in more familiar circumstances, the story becomes all the more enjoyable. And along the way, artists Tom Mandrake, Cary Nord, Thomas Yeates and Dave Stewart add a particular vividness to the visual aspect, enhancing the story in every way possible.
Of all the heroes over the years who have left their mark on the wider world of fiction, few if any come close to the pedigree of Conan the Barbarian. Multiple movies, hundreds of comics, numerous novels and short stories. Decade after decade goes by and he is always there in some form. Dark Horse Comics, who have held the license for the comics on the character for several years now have done a great job of shepherding Conan through various iterations, whether as a young warrior first stepping out in the world, or as an aged king. That is where we start with here.
Conan Vol.1: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories is a collection of some of the earliest Conan stories, chronologically speaking, where we meet Conan as a young adventurer who barely knows of the world outside of Cimmeria but is eager and willing to explore. Writer Kurt Busiek weaves the many stories together into a stunning narrative that is enhanced by artists Cary Nord, Thomas Yeates, Dave Stewart and others. The story is a little fuzzy here and there, but the creatives here have captured the essence of Conan really well and delivered a stunning package.
No “Magic 40” in the first week of the new year, but the second week definitely sees me hit that landmark number, and with graphic novels mixed in to boot!
This week’s surprise hits were Angry Birds/Transformers #2 from IDW Publishing, Ares & Aphrodite #1 from Oni Press, Operation: S.I.N. #1 and Wolverines #1 from Marvel. The disappointments of the week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2 and Ant-Man #1 from Marvel and Future’s End #36 from DC. Ongoing greats like Swamp Thing #38 and Detective Comics #38 from DC, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #3 from Marvel, and John Carter: Warlord of Mars #3 from Dynamite to name a few were just as I expected them to be: superb.
As mentioned above, the graphic novels for the week were Legends of Red Sonja Volume 1 from Dynamite and Quest: Age of Darkness Volume 1 from Zenescope. The former was a fun book where Gail Simone brought together several different female prose writers, paired them with different artists, and wrote a grand, sweeping Red Sonja story. The latter was part of the publisher’s Age of Darkness event and was more a prequel story.
I skipped outon the previous week since there was a very small number of comics released, and I wasn’t really interested in reviewing more of them than I already did. So, welcome to the first good and proper edition of this new feature, and have a blast!
The picks for this week are: Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #3, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2, Operation: SIN #1, Detective Comics #37-38, Justice League 3000 #12-13 and Vampirella #7-8.
A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.
No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.
Valiant Comics kicked off a new Eternal Warrior mini-series last month, Days of Steel, that explores some of the time that the titular hero spent in Europe during the years of the Magyar invasion of Frankish lands. Gilad was tasked with bringing a prophecy to fruition, a prophecy about a saviour of the Franks who must be guarded during his infancy and then taught to fight and lead his people. It was a pretty good debut issue that instantly made me a fan of the character and even of Peter’s writing and Cary Nord’s artwork, and the second issue is one that I’ve really looked forward to.
However, the second issue is nowhere near as good an issue as the debut issue last month and I find that quite weird. It is as if there’s this big switch in direction, both narrative and art, and that just doesn’t jive so well with me. Going into the third issue next month, I expected a lot of forward momentum in this issue, but we get very little of it actually. There’s a pretty big twist to the story early on and then towards the end, so that redeems the issue overall, but I don’t think the writing here was on-point as it was in the last issue, and the art also seemed to suffer in a lot of places.
Valiant Comics’ Eternal Warrior series is one that I’ve been meaning to read for a few months now, ever since I started really getting into the publisher’s team book Unity and then recently with the whole Armor Hunters crossover. Gilad is a character that I really like reading about and even felt that he was somewhat underused in the recent crossover. He’s kind of been the rock of Unity since the team’s inception last year and both Robert Venditti and Matt Kindt have done some nice stuff with him. All of which makes me feel somewhat guilty that I’m not following Eternal Warrior, but then I guess now I have the perfect alternative.
Peter Milligan and Cary Nord have kicked off a new Eternal Warrior series this past week with Brian Reber and Dave Sharpe. Titled Days of Steel, this series looks at the character from his days in medieval Europe, specifically the ages of Magyar domination across much of the land. This is quite an introspective book that really focuses on who Gilad Anni-Padda is as a character and I loved that deeper look into his character and his psyche. And it goes without saying that Cary and Brian turn out some really great visuals, with a painted look to them, and that the art alone is worth the price of admission.
After two rather dreary weeks of reading comics, where I didn’t manage to hit my recent highs of 40 singles/graphic novels a week, this week was much different. I got back on track for one, and moved through three entire volumes of DC’s Earth 2, almost catching up to the current status of the series.
The surprise hits of this week were Blood Queen Annual 2014 from Dynamite Entertainment, Deadpool’s Art of War #1 from Marvel Comics and Trinity of Sin #1 from DC Comics. The comics that disappointed me this week were Wytches #1 from Image Comics and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #1 from Marvel Comics. Of the other titles, the ones that I really loved were recent ongoings like Flash Gordon #6, Unity #0 or even Ms. Marvel #9.
After wrapping up the Armor Hunters event, Valiant is now dipping into origin tales for its many major books, starting with X-O Manowar #0 last week. While the ongoing X-O Manowar is firmly rooted in the present, last week’s zero issue showed us the man behind the armour as he was in his youth, an inexperienced and untested warrior. It was great, and I definitely enjoyed it. Matt Kindt’s Unity has been a relative mainstay of my comics reading since it debuted last year, and it has certainly been a very fun title, though there’ve been a few missteps here and there. But, it still remains as one of the best new series from 2013, by far.
This week’s Unity #0 takes us back to the closing stages of World War I as we meet up with Unit Y, a special forces team setup jointly by American and Britain to counter the Imperial Germany threat. The leader of this team is Gilad Anni-Padda aka Eternal Warrior, who is an immortal warrior and a mainstay of the current Unity team, and in this issue we get to see the final mission of Unit Y, in a tale full of deserved bluster and lots of action. This is a fairly decent issue, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite work as perhaps the creators expected it to, since it did have quite a few flaws.
Another week of heavy comics reading, and to think that just three days ago I was concerned whether or not I’d even be able to read 15 comics! How quickly things change, and for the better, in this case. It has been quite a good week this time with several new experimentations among other things.
The surprise hits of this week were Chew/Revival #1 from Image Comics, Doc Savage #1 and Vampirella #1, both from Dynamite Entertainment. The surprise flops would be Amazing X-Men Annual #1 and Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #2, both from Marvel Comics, and Godstorm: Age of Darkness from Zenescope Entertainment. Comics that I expected to be great, such as Angel & Faith Season 10 #3 from Dark Horse Comics and Original Sin #3 from Marvel Comics, and Green Arrow #32 from DC Comics, were absolutely solid and continued a very strong run ever since I started reading the title last year.