Conan the Cimmerian #0

Written by Timothy Truman
Art by Tomás Giorello
24 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

When Dark Horse launched their Conan comic in 2003, the line kicked off with Conan #0, an introductory story that gave readers a taste of what Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord had in mind for their stories about the world’s most famous barbarian. Now, 50 issues later, the book has shifted to Timothy Truman and Tomás Giorello, and to draw attention to the book’s slight shift in direction, it’s being retitled Conan the Cimmerian. So what better way to celebrate than another bargain-priced #0 issue, right?

After traveling through the “civilized” lands, Conan is returning home to Cimmeria, land of darkness and deep night. Unfortunately, his homecoming is short lived as he almost immediately encounters the Vanir. And as much as Conan can’t stand the Vanir, what he really can’t stand is finding the Vanir in Cimmeria…

Inspired from the poem “Cimmeria” by Robert E. Howard, Truman’s story is nominally about Conan fighting a band of Vanir warriors. What it really said to me, though, was Conan’s love for his homeland. Truman uses this ode to Cimmeria well, with Conan yearning for the clouds and winds of his land, as well as the adventure to come. It’s a simple story, but the evocative nature in which it’s told is a great re-introduction to Conan. Unlike the younger, brasher Conan in the previous series, Conan the Cimmerian is a slightly older and wiser man. He’s definitely grown wiser from his time away from home, and it will be entertaining to see what his homecoming is like.

Giorello’s art is definitely in the same style as Nord’s, collaborating here with José Villarrubia’s colors to provide a lush, painted look to the landscape of Cimmeria. In the fights, Giorello isn’t afraid to show the blood flow fast and furiously; you’ll never forget that these are battles to the death and that Conan is, after all, a barbarian. In those scenes Conan comes across as slightly rough-hewn and blocky, but it works for the scenes. With Villarrubia’s colors, the end result is art that looks like someone’s slapped paint to a canvas, like the pulp novels of earlier years from which Conan was first born.

I really like when Giorello paints montages, though; his parade of faces and locations flows well, one item into the next, with what are no doubt hints of things to come in the years ahead. It’s easy for this sort of creation to look slightly muddled or messy, but that’s not the case here. Instead, you’re able to stop and look at the fantastic, as imagined by Giorello and Truman.

Conan the Cimmerian #0 is a short story, but it’s entertaining, and bargain-priced. Hopefully this might help draw readers back to the Conan comics, which have been under the radar for a while now. Truman’s been creating some vastly entertaining stories, and with any luck people will discover just what they’ve missed. Go on, check it out.

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