‘Conan the Slayer #5:’ Comic Book Review

As the story of Conan the Slayer unfolds, you come to understand that Cullen Bunn isn’t interested in telling your typical hero story. He’s interested in putting his hero through the shredder. That doesn’t come in the form of losing fights or getting beaten up physically, but in losing battles and the consequences of doing so – and the consequence of simply being a “slayer” looms on the horizon. I won’t go into all of them, but you get the sense that something big is going to go down.

Conan has always been a cut first, ask questions later kind of guy. It’s not to say he is stupid; he’s incredibly smart, but he thinks like a warrior first - the ultimate goal being to kill the enemy. Eventually, it’s going to catch up to him, and we see it happening in several different ways right now.

Conan has found himself in the midst of a deadly family soap opera. A brother turns on his father, older brother, and clan to gain control of the clan as Hetman. The father is murdered, but with Conan’s help, the brother is thwarted. No villain is ever truly defeated right away. The brother is rescued by the dark demonic forces that the he is working with. Now, Conan and the clan must stop him. In my retelling of the tale thus far, I in no way capture the rhythmic beauty of Bunn’s storytelling, nor do I capture Sergio Dávila’s beautiful artwork. This is an extremely well done piece of low-concept fantasy in the framework of a high-concept world.

By low-concept fantasy, I mean that not everything is clear cut. Not everything is rosy in the end. Our hero’s actions, while effective, aren’t necessarily the most appropriate. I’ve compared this work to the complexity of Old English Poetry in past reviews. Obviously, while it’s written with a certain poetic rhythm, it isn’t written in meter; however, the scope of Old English Poetry is there. The poetry of such epics aren’t only found in the meter, but in the faults of the heroes and how they battle those and either become stronger or do not. We’re beginning to see those cracks in Conan’s veneer. And don’t mistake this new Conan book as a deconstruction of the character. It’s beginning to lean more in the direction of an exploration that runs deeper than any “Conan is there to kill the Wizard”-style story.

Everything I read of Bunn’s is crafted so extraordinarily well. He isn’t just a comic book writer, but a true storyteller. Check out this book and some of his others, if you have the money to spare.

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