Conan The Barbarian #22 [Advance Review]
Conan The Barbarian #22 (Dark Horse): DMZ alum Riccardo Burchielli joins Brian Wood for the beginning of the end of his run on The Queen of The Black Coast Era, entitled “The Song of Belit.” In some ways, it seems that Belit’s Song is akin to the mythological Siren’s Song. Conan describes her song as the silence that follows an irresistible succession of passion and pain. Wood really pushes the tone of the story toward a melange of foreboding notes of horror, mystery, and a discussion of the utility surrounding belief in the Gods. The couple venture into waters as toxic as the willingness to blindly follow a cause. It’s easy to admire the sense of inborn fatalism that Wood imbues these characters with, Conan seems to function with a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” attitude. If your belief is that you’re going to be just as lost in whatever afterlife as you are wandering the Earthly plane in pursuit of the fleeting, then why not adopt a carpe diem-like mantra that allows you to live in the moment and revel in what Metric would describe as “Gold, Guns, Girls.” Conan does confess that Belit has been his “shining light” that’s punctuated all the dreariness, but readers won’t escape the feeling that something terrible is on the horizon, just out of our periphery of comprehension at present. As good as I found the dark tone, suiting what I’ve been feeling personally lately as a darkness in the world wherein people just ruin everything, the real star of this issue is Riccardo Burchielli and his sharp chiseled art. Burchielli absolutely has a mastery of human anatomy and how to bend it to his will. With protruding jaw lines for Conan and sumptuous lips for Belit, there’s danger, always danger, lurking just below the surface of his lines. That was the case with how he rendered the sub-text of war-torn New York City in DMZ, and it’s the case here, whether it’s the environs of a dark river or the eerie chill of a forgotten Ghost City. Burchielli’s art possesses a depth of field created with either layered backgrounds or altered figure scale that definitively sells whatever world he’s helping to build. In a book that’s already been “can’t miss,” this feels like it’ll have all the makings of a “can’t miss” arc that sticks a big period on a creative swan song. Grade A+.