Conan the Barbarian #16 Review

When it comes to the rather epic adventures of this particular barbarian that’s been re-imagined quite a few times, is his life story still really worth following?  Read on to find out.

The official description from Dark Horse:

After a series of trials that nearly tore them apart, Conan and Bêlit use a brief respite to embark on a vision quest. But with violence, pain, and death their constant companions, the vision quickly becomes a nightmare!

As this latest interpretation proves, one can go back to a well that’s been positively destroyed from unnecessary use and still find something compelling to pull out of it.  From the first issue on this creative team has run a veritable gauntlet of clever ideas that’s simply reinvigorated interest in this property.  And despite the fact that there may be some shortcomings attached to the franchise this saga has never felt more fresh or accessible.

The written words by Brian Wood offer up a psychedelically inclined adventure that cuts right to the core of our protagonist, as he and his lover face sins and guilt together.  From the first page to the final panel the author has a way about his execution that makes each realization both informative and empathetic.  And that right there is also a bit of a detriment, as the script is inexplicably held back by an unnecessary amount of interesting but nonetheless forgettable subtext that does little more than bog down the pace.

Davide Gianfelice steps in to handle the art, and the pencil strokes on display here certainly compliment the base qualities of the narrative.  But there are far too many moments where the style overtakes the substance, as the distinctive visual sense of this talent fills the void with copious amounts of eye candy.  There were also some panels that felt rather bland, as a minimalist touch just seemed to leave quite a bit to be desired resulting in a good but not great effort as a wealth of illustrations cover pages therein.

Conan the Barbarian #16 is not perfect but it is a solid outing that comes recommended.

3.5/5

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  • Paul

    This is not an example of “going back to the well” on a character, but rather inventing an entirely new character and different genre (there is no sorcery in this sword and sorcery), while using Robert E. Howard’s proper nouns. There is no Conan in this Conan. Wood has used the most blatant form of bait and switch on long time fans. He is a con man. After 45 years (since the Lancer paperbacks), I have chosen to regrettably abandon this beloved series. I can no longer be made a fool of.

  • Bob

    The “well” was and is just fine. Its full of fresh, cool water. It doesn’t need a savior turning it into sickly sweet wine…