Conan the Barbarian #8 featured Columns 

Don’t Miss This: “Conan the Barbarian” by Jim Zub and Doug Braithwaite

By | February 29th, 2024
Posted in Columns | % Comments

There are a lot of comics out there, but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we take a trip to the Hyborian age and catch up with “Conan the Barbarian.”

Who’s This By?

This run on “Conan the Barbarian” is written by Jim Zub, who also had a run on the “Conan” comics when they were at Marvel. He’s also known for writing the “Dungeons & Dragons” comics, as well as several D&D-adjacent comics, including both “Rick and Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons” series and “Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons.” Outside of the fantasy genre, he’s known for his run on “Champions” and a good portion of “Avengers: No Road Home” for Marvel, as well as “Wayward,” “Glitterbomb,” and “Rick and Morty vs Cthulhu.”

It’s illustrated by Doug Braithwaite (who replaced Rob De La Torre starting in issue #5), whose past works include several issues of “Green Arrow” and multiple “Batman” comics for DC, and multiple runs on “Punisher” for Marvel, along with “Secret Invasion: Thor” and a run on “Captain America.” Valiant Comics readers will also know him for his runs on comics including “Unity,” “Armor Hunters,” and “Book of Death,” to name a few.

Diego Rodriguez provides the colors, drawing on his experience from working on comics like “Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler” for Marvel, “Ballistic” for Black Mask Studios, and “Justice League: Last Ride” for DC. He’s also colored several Valiant comics, including “X-O Manowar,” “Ninja-K,” and “Bloodshot: Reborn,” among many others.

What’s it All About?

Conan is a barbarian who will one day be a king. But before then, there are still countless adventures to tell. This run on “Conan the Barbarian” continues his adventures across the land, dealing with curses, the undead, and all sorts of dangerous foes.

Each story takes Conan to a different location, where he finds new quests to undertake, typically at great mortal peril. But we also get looks at other points of his life, such as his time with Belit, and how it influences him even now.

This current arc features Conan participating in a heist, only to have to deal with spirits possessing him and his companions afterwards, and the machinations of Thulsa Doom they’re connected to. It’s a classic dark fantasy story, delivered expertly by a creative team that truly loves the character and world.

What Makes it So Great?

“Conan the Barbarian” is a name synonymous with classic “sword and sorcery” stories, and Jim Zub carries on that spirit into modern comics. Each story is a thrilling adventure that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a larger narrative, utilizing narration captions to carry us through the story as though we were reading a Robert E. Howard novel.

Titan Comics has allowed this “Conan” run to be as mature as it needs to be, with all the bloody violence and occasional nudity that entails, but it’s also not gratuitous. The fights are vicious, yes, but not without purpose, as they showcase the evils and dangers Conan faces as well as his own ruthless strength.

At the same time, we get to know Conan as a character in the time we get between the various action scenes and brothel trips. Zub’s grasp of Conan’s voice and characterization are strong, bringing us into his head so we can see what drives him, and what he thinks as he charges into battle.

As for the artwork? It’s as dark and gritty as it should be, but also wonderfully detailed and illustrated with care. Doug Braithwaite’s artwork is intense, emphasizing Conan’s hulking form and making every detail pop. The action, scenery, characters, and basically everything else have depth and volume to them that make the world feel alive, complete with a great attention to detail.

Diego Rodriguez’s color work brings it all together, adding an intensity to each scene that makes it all pop. Even the vibrant shades have just enough of an earthy tone to them to make it fit within the grim and gritty world of “Conan the Barbarian,” but magical effects are given an otherworldly glow that radiate off the page. We get illuminating shades of orange and yellow as characters are cast in firelight, sepia-toned flashbacks, and vibrant green landscapes, all fitting perfectly into the comic.

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Fans of classic “Conan” stories will love where the team takes the character, as it truly feels like a “Conan the Barbarian” adventure.

Where Can I Read it?

Issue #8 of “Conan the Barbarian” is out in stores now, and can be found at your friendly local comic shop or online at Comixology. If you want to catch up on previous “Conan” adventures by Jim Zub, volume 1, “Bound In Black Stone,” is available now, collecting issues 1-4. Conan’s past adventures can be found collected in graphic novels from Titan and Marvel Comics (including Jim Zub’s previous run) wherever comics are sold. And if you want even more Conan, a new run on “Savage Sword of Conan” is out this week as well.

//TAGS | Don't Miss This

Robbie Pleasant


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