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.
A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
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.