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Conan the Barbarian #3 comic review
By Dan Horn

April 17, 2012 - 09:26

Publisher(s): Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Brian Wood
Penciller(s): Becky Cloonan
Inker(s): Becky Cloonan
Colourist(s): Dave Stewart
Letterer(s): Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Cover Artist(s): Massimo Carnevale with variant by John Paul Leon and Dave Stewart
$3.50 US

With Conan the Barbarian #3, the plot finally launches, as it were, into open waters. Conan has succumbed to the allure of Belit, the Queen of the Black Coast, an enigmatic goddess as vicious as she is beautiful. The Cimmerian's abandonment of his former compatriots, the slaughtered merchant mariners who had once rescued and accepted Conan, and his blood oath to them evinces an interesting depth of character from our lead. Conan is neither so noble as to uphold his duty to avenge his friends once he is confronted by Belit, nor so base as to not feel the pang of guilt for that failure, reinforcing the conflicted youth of the protagonist.

Belit takes Conan as her equal, her devout crew indebted to his service. This elicits another interesting dynamic between Conan and second-mate N'Gora, something of an Ishmael-Queequeg equality commentary, but contoured subtly. As their new voyage begins, so too does Conan's ominous fate begin to unravel.

This is a result that perhaps could have been acquired in less time: two issues, or maybe even one. However, while Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan, and Dave Stewart's graphical adaptation of Robert E. Howard's iconic source material might never be described as "fast paced," it most certainly is paced meticulously, where were any scenes omitted those exclusions may threaten the integrity of the narrative construct as a whole.

Wood's sonorous, prose-heavy scripts are tempered by Cloonan's tasteful, thick-limned sequential explorations of abstract, sensual, scenic veduta, and histrionic and by Stewart's cool, earthy and sunset palettes. Together, the creators succeed in composing a book that exemplifies the medium as a superlatively expressive conduit for literature and pop art.

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