The old Conan movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger might not be the best movies ever made, but for me, they stand out as some really good cinema. Sure, they are cheesy and very typical, but they created a great niche in Hollywood, and helped cement the careers of one of my favourite actors of all time. They are classic movies with a great cult following, and I always enjoy them whenever I happen to watch them. I never get tired of them, essentially.
The same cannot be said of the remake from 2011 however. It held a lot of promise, but ultimately it proved to be a pretty big bag of disappointment, in many different ways.
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.
This was a really busy comics reading week, primarily because I read two graphic novels this time around, both of them for Marvel no less. I have finally dipped my toes in full in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and the first taste has been quite interesting and fun. On the flip side, the somewhat older Immortal Iron Fist proved to be a bit of a mediocre book, but no less intriguing for that fact and I’m quite interested in the character now. Other than, a lot of the DC comics this week were really good and this is quite pleasing in fact. And Zero Year tie-ins are finally over so I look forward to a month of no such tie-ins.
I still have a big backlog of graphic novels to burn through, so I have that to keep me busy further I suppose. More on that as it happens.
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.
When I reviewed Conan the Barbarian 1-3 by Brian Wood a couple weeks ago, I’d mentioned how much I like the character, and how much I enjoy the Hyborean setting and the associated mythos and all. What Robert E. Howard created in those early days of sword and sorcery is something that’s obviously still very much relevant today, considering how much Conan and Red Sonja are popular right now, whether it be comics or movies or what have you. There’s something in his works, and their modern derivatives that speaks out.
Brian Wood’s beginnings on Dark Horse’s popular Conan the Barbarian title reflects that core draw of the character, and the setting. He writes the character really well and his early explorations with the setting really do speak out as well. Its taken me almost two weeks to finish his first arc on the title, but the time in between has definitely been well worth it.
Finally, this was a week where my non-DC reading far out-stripped my DC reading. Villain’s Month really seems to have taken a toll with my reading, what with reading like seven or eight titles a week. Things are finally becoming more normal, and that’s excellent in and of itself. Lots of Dark Horse and IDW reading as well this week, which was really nice, since I’m playing catch-up with a few of their titles and really need to be getting down to read these issues.
However, no luck with reading any graphic novels again this week. I had hoped to read at least one during my flight back to Dubai from Delhi but things didn’t work out like that since I slept on the entire flight, all three and a half hours of it. That’s something I suppose. But now I have the time I hope so will see what happens.
I’ve held a fascination for the character of Conan ever since I first saw the movie duology featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular hero ages ago. I’ve seen the duology again and again many times since those days, and I’ve even seen the new reboot with Jason Momoa as Conan multiple times. My fascination with Conan led me to Red Sonja and I’ve had a great time in the last year and a half, reading various Red Sonja comics, and even watching the travesty of the movie that was made with her.
I read a Conan comic last year, Conan and the Daughters of Midora, which was an anthology and featured several stories with the hero. However, that proved to be a rather weak collection. I didn’t get a chance to read another Conan comic until today, when I was just looking for something completely different to the usual superhero comics I’ve been reading so much of late. And you know what, its been a great experience.
Up until about a year and half ago, I never considered music to be all that helpful when doing any sort of writing. I was indifferent to what I would play when doing any creative work or anything else, rotating my playlists between anime, western pop and rock, J-pop, Bollywood, Indian pop and some other random music. And then I started to do some real creative writing and over time, I quickly learned to value some good writing music, inspired mostly by a thread on the Bolthole: A Soundtrack To My Writing. There were a hell of a lot of great suggestions there and I developed a real taste for Original Soundtracks (OST) from movies. Over time, that taste also grew to include a wide variety of video game OSTs and now, 18 months later, my music collection includes dozens of complete OSTs.