ADVANCE REVIEW! Conan: Island of No Return #1 will come out on June 15, 2011.
My first-impression reactions to Conan: Island of No Return #1:
Huh? That doesn’t look too good.
Okay, best not to judge too quickly. After all, I never thought that Kurt “Mr. Superhero” Busiek could write Conan comics either, but he turned out to be one of the greatest comic Conan scribes of them all. Hell, he was the first person to put a face on the Prince from “Know O Prince,” and the guy had serious Robert E. Howard chops that I didn’t know about. So I give Marz and Sears a chance.
Nope. This is exactly what I was afraid of. Even worse. This is a time-slip back to the bad Image Comics days, when everything was “Badass!” and things like respect for tradition, depth of story, and characterization took a backseat to flashy art and adolescent power fantasies. Do you not remember, Ron Marz and Bart Sears? Those were not Good Comics! Those kinds of comics nearly destroyed the industry!
Check this out. The comic starts with Conan running naked across the rooftops of Tarantia, chased by the local guard. The witty repertoire by the guards runs along the lines of “The Judge wants his head on a pole and his balls on a plate!” and “The Judge finally caught the brute plowing his wife in his own bed. Poor bastard didn’t even get a chance to finish,” followed by “Aye, well losing your head seems a fair price for a chance at that fine ass. “
That’s it? That’s the dialog? Is this Beavis and Butthead? Are we 12 years-old? I may not have Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories all memorized, but I have read them all and I am pretty sure that the term “fine ass” appears nowhere. Howard’s prose and dialog was stark, without a touch of glibness or irony. That’s Conan.
So the writing sucks. How about that art? Well, for what it is worth, Bart Sears does a pretty decent job (and gains the series the second bullet). The backgrounds are incredible. The panel layouts are nice. Conan’s face is too contorted, and somehow has that Batman-ability of being in deep shadow when everything else is in broad daylight, but other than that things are looking okay. And then Brenna and Venya appear.
Brenna and Venya are the token babes for this adventure, apparently, and when they showed up I laughed out loud. On the bus. Seriously. Because that is how ridiculous they are. Brenna isn’t so bad, but Venya looks like someone took a basketball pump, stuck it into various parts of her body and started inflating. Including her lips. Oh, and then liposuctioned every other part. She is skinny enough to have a visible ribcage while standing, but with freakishly large breasts, hips and lips that take up some 80% of her body weight. She looks like a parody.
Dark Horse! What are you doing? You achieved so much with your Conan license! You showed that you were interested in producing Robert E. Howard’s Conan. You were careful and selective with your artistic teams, respectful of the source, and you carefully curated a library of beautiful comics of Howard’s most famous creation. You created loyal and enthusiastic readers! What happened? Don’t throw all that away!