Review: Conan the Barbarian #14

When we last saw Conan he'd just been “caught slipping” and forced to join a raiding army bent on capturing Shem, the place where his would-be baby momma is now held up and revered by warriors on both sides of the conflict. Shit ain't gotten much better for everyone's favorite Cimmerian here either as we pick up where we left off. Tormented by his longing for his “boo”, being "indentured" to a bloody damn suicidal siege he cares nothing for except the chance to see his beloved Belit again. Conan is definitely got both hands firmly wrapped around the shit end of the stick here. Although we do see some of the "old" Conan shine through this go around despite the fact that he's all caught up like Usher over Belit.

Gathering a gang from amongst the other captive soldiers forced to ravage the walls of Shem, Conan decides you know what fuck whatcha heard I'm doing mah thang. Which is Conan doing some crazy shit that should get him killed right away, but instead makes him look like the baddest of asses. Plotting a three pronged stealth mission of sorts in order to get inside the walls of Shem, Conan takes the blatantly suicidal part for himself when he decides to climb right up the damn wall by hand and ninja his way into Shem. Backed up by a couple Joes sneaking inside as well via the sewers and an exceptional archer showing how snipers got down before scopes and shit were the norm, all seems to be going well. “Seems” is definitely the keyword as a simple misunderstanding of Shemite tactics leads to Conan's new cliché pretty much getting fucked with no lube pretty immediately after successfully breaching the walls. One shitty twist of fate after another leaves Conan with no choice but to take on the entire city's warriors… solo. After showing quite a few troves of Shemites what the pointy end of a blade feels like tickling your intestines, Conan is forced to make a break for it. Following his "gut" leads him to once again lay eyes on his love Belit, but suffice it to say the reunion is not a jolly one and if Conan had a 3rd hand it too would be firmly grasping shit stick central.

As I said before I really am not a huge fan of this whole lovelorn angle on Conan, but not because it is not intriguing or well-written but simply personal bias which I freely admit. Brian Wood is starting to show anyone who may doubt that he in fact can write Conan with a focus on sides to his personality that tend to take a back seat while also showing he knows that Conan is still a bad ass barbarian. His writing adds a crisp flavor to Conan that has more focus on humanizing him rather than focusing on the most outrageous elements of Conan such as his superhuman ability to murder waves of armed goons and make godlike monsters his biotch with little more than a sword or an axe. And while I am vocal that my favorite Conan (and probably most other people's as well) is when he's lopping off limbs, raiding tombs and chasing tavern wenches while tipping his cup up; Brian Wood's emphasis on who Conan is on the inside and how he feels about the life he leads is a refreshing change of pace especially as he peppers in more and more classic Conan behavior.

Mirko Colak's immaculate art adds to the drama and action on multiple levels and is just plain pretty to look at. Colak was definitely the right choice for this grim brooding spin on Conan while also capturing the fiery man-killer that Conan is equally well. With this tale steadily increasing in quality there is no real reason I can pluck out that any loyal Conan fan or anyone just looking for a break from typical comic fare of superheroes or what have you that should or would keep them from reading this arc.

I will say that the way it is shaping up I could see how one might be tempted to wait and read the “Woman on the Wall” in a trade so as to get a deeper enjoyment of the pacing and style of the story, but A) we still haven't seen the ending so I don't want to jump the gun and B) really how many comics AREN'T more enjoyable in a completed arc via a trade collection?

Score: 4/5

Writer: Brian Wood

Artist: Mirko Colak

Price: $3.99

Release Date: 3/20/13