Today I'm reviewing Dark Horse Comics' Conan the Barbarian #19, the start of Black Stones: Part 1 written by Brian Wood with art by Paul Azaceta and colors by Dave Stewart. Though this is a continuation of Brian Wood's run, it is a decent jumping on point being the start of a new arc, so don't dismiss this title solely for the scary #19 on the cover. If that's not enough to persuade you, keep reading!
This adventure follows Conan and Belit sailing on the Tigress in the Western Ocean, causing some pirate related mayhem along the way. In this particular story, there are these scary Black Stone thingies that do stuff I don't wanna tell you because you should read it. For the sake of clarification, they do not do good things. We also get a mix of seafaring in addition to creepy small town craziness all in one issue!
Now onto the team. Brian Wood is a writer who probably needs no introduction, certainly not from me, but for those of you out there who aren't familiar with comic books that are reading this, he is a creative juggernaut who pumps out more comics a month than almost any other writer you'll see on the racks. And even more impressively; they vary extensively in genre and tone. This is a man whose not only writing Conan, but also Star Wars, X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, Mara, The Massive and I could go on. If you aren't already reading a Brian Wood book, you should really check this one out (also X-Men and Star Wars).
Paul Azaceta and Dave Stewart work incredibly well together as the art team on this book. I'm not necessarily familiar with them off the top of my head, but Paul's style is definitely reminiscent of a previous Conan artist Becky Cloonan, as well as hints of Oeming. The art really does shine in this book, and the panel placements and layouts lend themselves to a smooth and satisfying read.
At this point you probably stopped reading this review and ran to your LCS to grab a copy. I don't blame you. But seriously, Conan is arguably as ingrained in literature and the comic book medium as Superman, Batman, and Archie, and not only deserves your time and consideration because of his history, but because Brian Wood makes Conan a force to be reckoned with for a new generation. This book deserves to be read.
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