By Laramie Martinez
This issue of Conan felt like a deep breath after a sprint. We’ve seen non-stop action for the past few issues and this one takes an opportunity to slow things down and reset. We’ve reached a plateau here, even so, the comic still delivers a decent amount of action. That being said, I think this issue is a little too Conan-centric. How is that possible in a series titled “Conan”? You can find out how below.
The major issue I have with this issue is that Conan takes up a bit too much space in this story. I know its weird to say, but when you have a main character as unstoppable as Conan, he shouldn’t always be the one driving the narrative. Throughout this arc we’ve seen Conan develop a friendship with an up and coming ruler, Taraslan. I expect this issue to be the moment when he takes up the mantle of rule and finally does something well … regale. Instead, he stays out of frame while Conan essentially does his work for him. I think the story would have been better served if Taraslan had more agency. Without agency, I don’t see him as a character worth caring about and when you have a protagonist as unbeatable as Conan it’s important for him to develop relationships in order to raise the tension. If Conan builds a relationship with someone he has something to care about and as readers so do we. What makes a story interesting is the level of danger we feel for the main character. If that character is established to have no real physical threat, then we need to feel the tension somewhere else. Giving a side character more agency and thus making us, the readers, feel more invested in their struggles provides that tension without sacrificing any of the main character’s established strength.
The art in this issue is once again solid. The team doesn’t have as much action as the previous issues, so there are no grand splash pages to showcase the action. But there are a few panels bloody and lit by flames which should satisfy any want for barbarian gore. We get to see a couple of different monsters as well so that’s always good to see in this series.
My final word on this issue is that it’s a decent comic, if you’re following the series you’ll need to pick this one up and you won’t regret it too much. I do think some of the character development could have been done a little better, but it does seem like, Cullen Bunn is looking to either make a sacrifice out of him or bring him into power.
Conan the Slayer #4
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Sergio Davila
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics