This week’s lead review is the new Conan The Barbarian #1, out this week from Titan ComicsPlus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finales and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!

Conan The BarbarianConan The Barbarian #1

Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Rob de la Torre
Colorist: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Publisher: Titan Comics

The classic Conan comics, from creators such as Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, Kurt Busiek, and Cary Nord, are among some of the easiest to recommend for readers looking to get into comic books. They capture a sense of adventure that honors tradition but also adds a lot of grit and roughness to it. Conan’s world feels dangerous, prone to chaos and war. It’s the kind of experience that converts people into comics readers. 

Titan Comics’ new Conan: The Barbarian series carries the same spirit as those classics, resulting in a fresh start that would make the character’s creator, Robert E. Howard, proud. Jim Zub takes on writing duties for this new phase, already a Conan veteran, with artist Rob de la Torre on art. From the first few pages on, it’s apparent that de la Torre and Zub are invested in bringing fantasy back to the place it’s most comfortable in: the land of blood, monsters, and world-building.

Conan: The Barbarian #1 opens with a fist fight between the titular warrior and a misguided mercenary that thinks he can order the Cimmerian around. Staying in a small nomadic village, Conan finds himself out of a mercenary job and then forcibly involved with a mysterious woman that warns the people of Hauler’s Roam of the marching Army of the Lost. The warning arrives too late, thrusting the people of Hauler’s Roam into a bloodbath that does not end well for anyone involved, and from there the story is given all it needs to guarantee several more issues of swords clashes and dismemberments.

Zub is proving to be a great student of all things Conan. Dialogue flows with the cadence and accents of barbarians and rugged townsfolk. It immediately outs the reader in the fantasy world of the story, making it sing in a familiar tone that’s most welcoming. Fans of the original comics will feel right at home, and they’ll be happy to see it plays out like an accessible homage to past ideas that still had a lot to give.

The writing style alone helps in building the world of Conan’s latest story. Among the types of characters, for instance, are the Picts, one of the “Four races of Man” Robert Howard developed in his early writings of the barbarian. According to the essay featured on the last pages of the comic, written by Jeffrey Shanks, the Picts were one of Howard’s favorite creations and they pull the curtain back on the author’s love of shared universes (given they also appear in Kull stories).

Rob de la Torre’s art, on the other hand, is exceptional. It might even be the star of the book. It carries a texture that makes the world breathe will dark life. That sense of danger and violence Conan stories are known for are present from page 1. It is felt immediately. To an extent, the comic is somewhat of a time travelling experience, to a time when getting a Conan comic on your local pharmacy’s comics rack meant you were getting some of the work in the world of fantasy.

Conan is younger in this story, which allows de la Torre to borrow as much as he can from the artists that came before him, Windsor-Smith and Frank Frazetta most notable among them. The story’s main threat, thus far, is illustrated with a sense of menace and fear that wouldn’t be out of place in the covers of old Creepy and Eerie magazines. If it isn’t obvious by now, this new Conan is a wonderful throwback to fan favorite runs, but it’s a smart one in that it’s not banking just on nostalgia to produce a strong read.

José Villarrubia’s colors further cements the homage approach by sticking to heavy darks and muted palettes to get the worldbuilding across at the same speed as the art and dialogue. It truly achieves that old comics look that make collecting them so endearing. Richard Starking’s letters weave effortlessly through the page, knowing when to get out of the way of the action but also when to take over a panel to give the experience the classic fantasy comic treatment. The creative team is just firing on all cylinders.

Titan is clearly interested in guaranteeing a much talked about run for Conan the Barbarian. Enlisting Zub and de la Torre made sure the first issue kicked things off with a vision that nurtures the scale and epic proportions of Robert Howard’s unique style of worldbuilding. If each comic in the new series is as beautiful, raw, and exciting as this one, then readers are in for a read that might just earn its spot among the greats.

Verdict: BUY

Ricardo Serrano Denis

Buffy, The Last Vampire Slayer #1

Writer: Casey Gilly
Art: Oriol Roig
Color: Gloria Martinelli
Letter: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

A new town, a new love interest, and a new family dynamic are all thrown into the pot as we rejoin Thessaly in what BOOM! Studios are calling the “World of the Last Vampire Slayer.” Casey Gilly, who is an old hat in the Buffy universe, manages to delicately sew together  romance, new evil stakes, and the malaise of Buffy Summer’s struggle with retired life easily in this new 5-issue miniseries. Despite finding the Buffy/Whedon humor a bit stale after many decades, Gilly pairs it well with a personal depth that quickly washed the lightness with personality and authenticity a title like this will need to sustain its pace. 

Thessaly, who is now 21 and holds a day job working at a Coney Island-style pier, is fond of her new coworker Cora. But the more she gets to know her, Thessaly starts to see that there might be something more going on with her Cora’s brother (and his friends). Buffy and Spike have left for a much needed vacation, but have installed a familiar friend, and former slayer, to try keep Thessaly out of ever encroaching peril. 

The art, by Oriol Roig with colors by Gloria Martinelli, keeps the snappy action-forward style of previous books while also giving the palette a lighter feel. How a character stands or emotes in a panel, feels exaggerated in a way that allows some of the heavier moments to slip in almost invisibly to an interesting effect. Behind the stake-throwing, gravestone-hopping action is a reason for Thessaly’s new attraction to find blood in her hair later when they meet. 

As someone who reviews and reads a lot of Buffy, I’m enjoying The Last Vampire Slayer’s take on the world and think picking up Thessaly’s story in a different town, with a slightly different cast, is pretty exciting for new and ongoing readers.

Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer #1 is out now from BOOM! Studios. Written by Casey Gilly, art by Oriol Roig, color by Gloria Martinelli, and letters by Ed Dukeshire.

Verdict: BUY

Michael Kurt

Fire and Ice #1

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Leonardo Manco
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Dynamite

Between the time of Frank Frazetta’s voyage from comic book pages to Sword and Sorcery paperback covers, and the rise of Ralph Bakshi’s independent animation opuses, there was an age undreamed of. Specifically, it was  the early 1980s, when epic fantasy films with muscular barbarians and shapely Amazonian protagonists filled cinema seats. The popularity of that genre, buoyed by tabletop gaming juggernaut Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, led to a collaborative animated feature film helmed by both artists. 

Bakshi was coming off a box office success with his music industry epic American Pop, and his rotoscoped filmmaking combined with the Frazetta-inspired and -overseen art promised a Conan cover come to life as a gritty, fantasy feature film. The results of 1983’s  Fire and Ice were decidedly mixed. It wasn’t financially successful. Yet, it offered a visual and sensual feast of breathtaking exotic backgrounds and human physiques. The story, however, was typical fantasy fare. Some even labelled it tame, despite a screeplay by comics legends Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas

Rewatching the movie for the first time in decades, I found truth in that summation. The idea of warring factions from advancing glaciers and equatorial jungles during the Ice Age had potential. The film unfortunately explores it with moments of dynamic depictions saddled to a listless storyline. 

Forty years later, Dynamite’s brought aboard veteran writer Bill Willingham and artist Leonardo Manco to flesh out the backstories of major characters from the film in a promising prequel. 

In it we meet a young Larn learning the ways of the woodlands with other boys from his tribe. We witness his first encounter with the dread beastmen and crown prince Kaledan. We visit Icepeak’s witch queen Juliana and her younger son, Prince Nekron. We also find Firekeep’s young Princess Teegra learning the ways of the jungle from her mother, a native of Firekeep’s wild tropics before she entered into an arranged marriage with Lord Jarol. Queen and princess come into conflict with the sorceress Roleil and are joined in battle by the masked warrior Darkwolf.   

If you’re a fan of the film, you’ll recognize several names in that synopsis but with connections heretofore unrevealed Willingham’s character introductions spur sufficient interest that even readers not acquainted with the film will be anticipating the next issue. Manco’s art captures the essence and cinematic style of the movie, and it’s hard imagining either new readers or established film fans being disappointed in his work.  

For the Frazetta and Bakshi faithful, Fire and Ice #1 is required reading.  For any Sword & Sorcery fan, this creative team’s final product based on an established cult classic deserves consideration. 

Verdict: BUY

Clyde Hall

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Project Riese #1 (Mad Cave Studios): Writer Zac Thompson works to play in the mystery surrounding the real Nazi project, Project Riese, and adds layers of intrigue before revealing the project and setting up what awaits. A period piece, Project Riese #1 starts by contextualizing some events during World War II and providing a glimpse of the setting before moving less than a decade into the future and introducing the ensemble cast of characters and their motivations. Reparations for the Jewish people harmed and affected by the Nazis and the promise of discovery push the cast into shaky alliances and a tunnel deep underground playing on the Nazi project. The cast of characters is given life and more personality by artist Jeff McComsey and colorist Paul Little who build a sense of mood and foreboding into the environments and a sense of scale into the tunnels, building on the translation of the German word “Riese.” The story is tied together by the letters of Justin Birch who pairs the snappy dialogue with the art, making Project Riese #1 work as well as it does. –Khalid Johnson
  • The Sacrificers #1 (Image Comics): Hark! Here lies yet another dark fantasy written for and by prestige TV with all its woes and wails. TW for parental abuse in this one! Be you no stranger to writer Rick Remender’s vividly imagined worlds wherein stark fiefdom melodrama hath wrought pain across the paper Max Fiumara’s ink dwells. A handful of bad dads, a pair of rebellious children, and omens layered in symbolism yet borne fruit — these are the machinations laid bare by Giant Generator (Remender’s brand; think Skybound). A tale weaved of paved paths and the consequences paid to have them, The Sacrificers exposes little, but communicates deep seated emotional touchstones worth investigating (even if for the umpteenth time). Fiumara is aces here in bringing a turgid DnD realm to its knees with inkwashed undertones and nib strokes that double down on the martyr energy without overselling this seemingly lush fantasy world. It’s a tough task to juggle, but if Fiumara’s shapes ebb and flow too much for your liking, colorist Dave McCaig’s paper-textured blues and oranges act as a lighthouse that reigns in reader focus amongst a sea of pallid yellow-greens. These nostalgic sepia tone backdrops are complemented rather than contrasted with Rus Wooton’s white hand lettered sfx that disappear into the background all too often. There’s an inspired choice to give several flaming salamanders their own burning balloons, though sometimes I feel the average balloon size fears taking up too much panel room, which can really speed a book up with lower word counts per balloon. All in all, if a captivating though familiar dark fantasy setting with a potentially patricidal end is what you covet, please seek out this initial offering. —Beau Q.

Read more entries in the Wednesday Comics reviews series!


  1. When I’m in the mood for CONAN comics by John Buscema and Roy Thomas, I’ll read the REAL ones, thank you very much. I see no need for anyone to make more of ANYTHING with the name CONAN on it, but if someone holds a gun to your head and FORCES you, why wouldn’t you at least attempt a new style instead of shamelessly aping what’s already been done? For God’s Sake, CREATE SOMETHING NEW!!!!!!!!

Comments are closed.