Writer: Gail Simone / Artists: Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan / DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics
Here’s some honesty today: This is both the first Wonder Woman comic I’ve read since I was a kid AND the first Conan comic I’ve read maybe ever. I know who they are — both are American icons for totally separate reasons — but a comic of them is new territory. But Gail Simone is writing and Aaron Lopresti is on pencils, and I don’t have a fantasy/medieval title on my list, so…why the hell not, it’s only $3.99.
The start is exactly as expected. Conan is traveling alone and he comes across a thief about to be summarily executed. He saves him, maybe it is for the promise of money, maybe it is because Conan doesn’t like to see people killed on the side of the road. Of course there is no money, so Conan takes on this thief and they travel to the city to go to the arena, where money can be made.
In the course of the journey, Conan flashes back to his youthful days and the first girl he ever loved, Yanna. This is really where the sword and sorcery tone of the comic is established. It reminds us that Conan is essentially a romantic tale, one in which a scrawny no-body boy can find love and wealth beyond imagination. We’re also treated to conversations between two magic crows, whom, if the title is to be believed, will have a large part to play down the line.
Arriving in the arena, Conan is reminded of his gladiator days (he has a lot of flashbacks for a young man), where he sees a young woman, a warrior witch, fight and best 3 men, in exchange for what? We’re not told. The young woman turns out to be none other than the girl, Yanna. Who further turns out to be Wonder Woman! It is a predictable reveal, but still fun for its compliance with the tropes that a Conan story must follow.
Those tropes are throughout the tale, the cruel gods, the beggar boy who is always helpful, the thief who never is but is nonetheless kept around, and in the middle Conan and his fumbling love (lust? memory?) of Yanna. It all ends with a set-up that will doubtlessly lead to 32 pages of killing next month.
The story is pretty good, if you like the Conan tradition. Sometimes the voice-over got muddied for me, it felt like I missed a few panels somewhere, but it all comes out okay. The art is exactly what you’d want from this genre, plenty of busty women and muscled men all covered, as they say, with more mud that a pig in a sty. And Lopresti and Ryan go the extra mile to have Wonder Woman’s signature chest eagle and star-spangled loin cloth visible through the muted tones and the mud. Nice touch.
This is solid escapist entertainment and while it won’t blow you away, it’ll be fun. For keeping score at home, kill counter to see who kills more people by the end of it, Wonder Woman or Conan.
Wonder Woman: 3 men, and one lasso’d shark
Conan: 3 men