Review: Conan the Barbarian #22

I can’t think of a better way for the end of Brian Wood’s epic run of Conan the Barbarian to start. Two years ago, when I read the first issue of this series, it made me realize how I’d grown as a reader. My eyes were opened to an exciting new world of comics. For roughly twenty-five years I’d been strictly a reader of the superhero genre. I dabbled in a few other types, but mostly I gravitated to the characters of the big two. Twenty-five years. That’s a really long time to do anything. I can’t even imagine being married for that long. But after starting this series I started gave tons of other comics a chance. And tons of other genres. Horror, comedy, horror comics that were funny, science fiction, crime, fantasy and a bunch of other stuff. And it all started because of a man named Brian Wood and a woman named Becky Cloonan. I’m serious here; that was a monumental moment in my life. I will be sad to see Brian Wood’s name leave the cover, but I will never forget the imprint that it leaves. I am so happy to have the opportunity to talk to other fans about this series, and more specifically this issue, which will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most exciting and bone-chilling stories that you will ever read. After all that Conan and Belit have gone through we have finally come to the end of a very important chapter. I hope that you have been following along for the past two years, but if you haven’t I suggest you catch up. I see amazing things coming in the next few months.

Conan the Barbarian #22In part one of this arc, the Tigress approaches the mouth of the cursed Zarkheba River. There is a sickness in the air that surrounds the ship and fills the giant viper-infested waters. Death has visited this place and made it impossible for anything to ever return. This is not the first time, however, that Belit has been here, but she recommended passing through having had luck collecting treasures here in the past. Being unable to deny his beloved of having her way, Conan, feels compelled and is more than willing to stay by her side regardless of the dangers that lurk within. So what, if there are giant winged apes? After a bloody battle at sea with a giant viper, the Tigress drops anchor and the crew enters the ruins through the mouth of the river in search of riches that will give them all the chance to live lavishly for the rest of their days. But these ruins don’t want them here. Or is there something even darker and more evil keeping them from achieving their goal?

In this issue we are graced with the art of Riccardo Burchielli, who does a terrific job. I’m glad to see that they pulled in some awesome talent to give Brian Wood a great sendoff. The characters look awesome. Conan and Belit are drawn exactly as they should be. I really can’t be more complimentary than that. I could sit here for a while trying to think of intelligent sounding ways to say the same stuff over and over, but I really only need to use one word “perfect”. His art and Brian’s words together make for some pretty creepy stuff. This is how this arc should look.

Brian Wood’s script is very well written. I actually got the chills a couple of times. Especially when that giant viper sprang up out of the water. I hate snakes (almost on the level of Indiana Jones). The dialogue leading up to the arrival of the ruins had me so mesmerized that I didn’t even know what hit me the moment people started dying. Believe it or not, I was actually afraid to get up and walk around my apartment right after I finished reading this issue. It tends to be pretty dark in here as of late (I haven’t replaced one of the bulbs in my living room yet).

Honestly, even if you haven’t followed this entire series, start here. One of the first things that I noticed was that I didn’t feel like I needed to know all of the history of these characters when I started reading the first page. It definitely does help, though. I have a feeling that you’ll regret it if you don’t ever give this series a chance. I’m assuming that because you’re reading this review that you know a thing or two about Conan the Barbarian, but in the off-chance that you were just curious, check it out. Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli just opened a can of whoop ass on us.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Riccardo Burchielli Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/20/13