Conan The Barbarian #9 (Marvel Comics)
Jason Aaron’s run on Conan The Barbarian has been a fantastic ride the usurps all expectations that one expects with the character. But for the ninth issue, Aaron and artist Mahmud Asrar finally give us a Conan adventure that fits neatly in with the original Robert E Howard stories, and in turn crafts one of the coolest issues of the series since it began.
Trapped in a mysterious cave, Conan must defeat “The God Below”, a mysterious creature that keeps sending enemies from Conan’s past to fight him. Charged with protecting a group of people who have been trapped within the monster’s grasp for years, Conan must make his way to the God Below’s lair with the help of the White Witch’s guidance. But as the challenges become harder and harder, the Barbarian is pushed to his ultimate limit. Can he destroy the God Below and help save these people? Or will the madness be too much?
Obviously you can guess the answer to those questions already, but the journey Conan goes on in this issue is pretty awesome. Jason Aaron’s love for this character and his world was apparent from the first issue of this series, but with this issue he really goes all in, embracing the history of the character in a fun way that can be enjoyed as a single issue or as part of the larger Conan universe as a whole. This issue has nearly every major thing you associate Conan with, from swords, big monsters, witches, to dungeon-like caves, and yet it’s still a fantastic time with an ending that is truly surprising.
Mahmud Asrar’s art enhances Aaron’s script by also embracing the history of the character as well. I won’t spoil any of the images he draws, but holy crap there are some splash pages that left my jaw on the floor with how awesome they were. Asrar is giving it his all with this series, and it’s truly a sight to behold when he lets loose.
Conan The Barbarian continues to be one of Marvel’s best titles, and a great example of how well they’ve bene able to utilize the brand in a new way. Instead of just rehashing old Conan stories, they’ve allowed creators to tell new ones in the same style as the original Howard tales, and so far it’s been paying off really well for them. As long as Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar keep cranking out awesome stories like this, I’ll be along for the ride.