Review: Conan: The Slayer #1

I think it might be a requirement to listen to Slayer while reading this book… just kidding, Slayer sucks. This is the third volume of Dark Horse’s Conan reboot. First there was a two-year stint from Brian Wood on the Barbarian series, then there was a two-year stint from Fred Van Lente on the Avenger series. I can only imagine that we’re on the start of a Cullen Bunn’s two-year on Slayer. We’ll see. [su_quote]Synopsis: Conan slays. Not a lot, but he definitely slays. Why is he injured going through the desert? Who wants him dead? Why won’t anyone kill Conan when he passes out from blood loss? All these questions and more await you in the first issue of Conan: The Slayer![/su_quote]

Going back to the previous two volumes for a minute, I didn’t like the story on Barbarian, but I liked the art. I didn’t like the story or the art on Avenger. Already I have my doubts about the story for Slayer, but I enjoyed the art.

Conan-The-Slayer-#1My issue with the story is that I don’t know if I should blame it on the Publisher, the writer, or just the history of the character. Maybe there’s a fourth option and that’s a fan base that only wants to read the same Conan story over and over and nothing more. I remember people shitting a brink over Wood’s run and while I didn’t love the entire story, there were bright spots. It’s just that he liked to have Conan sit around and feel his emotions way too fucking much. With Slayer, it really is classic Conan and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.

At one point, Conan is picked up by a tribe of raiders. The Chief’s son goes to slit Conan’s throat, which was very believable, but his father stops him. The reason… curiosity. Then they find out that they have the same enemy. Oh, how convenient! Worst yet is that it’s inevitable that Conan will outshine the oldest son and that A) the oldest son will resent and try to kill Conan or B) will betray his tribe to “teach his dad a lesson.” If something different happens there I will truly be shocked and come back to this review and make a huge fucking edit and change the score. That’s how likely either of those are with some variety of the details leading to the outcome.

And I don’t think it’s Bunn’s fault. I think he understands what Conan readers want and he actually does a hell of a job delivering it. Conan is a bad ass. He cuts down guys and basically makes more than one dude right handed… because he takes their entire left arm. You know, if they weren’t dead they’d be right handed. He’s an utter badass and it was boring by the time he was captured. The opening was actually quite good. It didn’t use a cheap flashback to show why Conan was bleeding and wounded, just took you right into the action and gave you a little backstory with his thoughts. It worked and it wasn’t the annoying “let’s see how we got here” opening.

When the actual story and dialogue kicked in… I wanted it to stop. Just stop talking. Everyone spoke like muscle heads that couldn’t think straight for more than a minute. Conan is a button pusher for sure, but everyone but the Chief/Father was so easily pissed off and not just by Conan. No one could control their temper and that got old rather quickly.

The art is really good. I liked it and while there wasn’t a huge variation in the character’s frames, it worked for the story and that’s all that mattered. It looked like a Conan book, but without feeling dated (unlike the variant cover which is really blah). The action isn’t given a lot of room to breathe. It’s mostly what I call action and consequences because we see the star and the finish, but never anything in-between. Think of it this way: Conan raises his sword and in the next panel an arm falls off. It’s a good looking book and the gore is just right, but I would love to see more action on the page.

I hated the lettering, which is really rare for a Richard Stakings & Comicraft joint. I don’t like white narrative boxes with black ink on a predominately white page. It makes the lettering hard to read no matter what you do and that’s the case here. It became frustrating and the only thing that saved it was that Bunn’s writing was worth reading. Otherwise, I would have stopped reading this book because of the lettering.

I’m planning on reading more of Conan: The Slayer. I liked it enough to be back for more. I just don’t know if it’s really going to break out from the rest of Dark Horse’s Conan books. At least with Wood’s run they brought in artists that wouldn’t normally be on the series. Slayer has potential, but there’s only a glimmer of it here. At the very least, its starting better than Avenger did.

[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Conan: The Slayer #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Sergio Dávila
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $3.99
Release Date: 7/13/16
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital