REVIEW: ‘Conan The Barbarian,’ Issue # 18

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Conan the Barbarian #18

Conan The Barbarian #18 follows Conan’s descent into bloodthirsty madness after Conan escaped from the Great Crucible. This is the second part of “The Curse Of The Nightstar,” so reading issue 17 is a must. Conan The Barbarian is published by Marvel Comics, written by Jim Zub, art by Luca Pizzari, colors by Israel Silva, and letters by VC’s Travis Lanham.

Following Conan The Barbarian #17, and Conan’s adventure in the Great Crucible, he has recaptured a stolen heirloom. The Tooth Of The Nightstar captivates Conan with its dark and majestic designs, but as Conan marches towards Khitai, the blade quickly becomes more sinister with its intentions, sending Conan into a bloodthirst.

Now, Conan The Barbarian #18 drags us deeper into Conan’s descent into madness. The enchanted blade begins to gain control over Conan, speaking to him in foreign tongues and driving him into meaningless violence. The blade obscures his reality and feeds off the souls Conan slays in its name. After a mass murdering in a small village, the blade’s spirit is satiated and pilots Conan as a vessel to the forge where it was crafted. Once the Tooth Of The Nightstar reveals its plans of mass slaughter by the hands of a worthy warrior, Conan breaks the trance and threatens his own life to end the madness. Only to slay the spirit of the demon instead.

The dialogue in this issue is mainly narration. Although from an invisible narrator, it serves as a glimpse into the inner machinations of Conan’s thoughts. For every action, thought, or thrust of the blade, the narrator calmly reports the situation. The few times Conan speaks are angry cries to the Gods, which demonstrate his anger in a way the narrator could not. The sinister whispers from the bloodthirsty blade are eerie and a complete contrast to the pensive moments we spend alone with the Cimmerian.

All bias aside, this story is a wonderful dissection of the character. Seeing Conan briefly powerless under the control of the Tooth Of The Nightstar is an interesting take on Conan that I haven’t seen before. This world of sword and sorcery has endless possibilities, so seeing a character as powerful as Conan be swept away by nothing but the dark arts bound to a mystic blade was gripping. When Conan finally makes his return to consciousness, it is that much more rewarding. The way Zub writes Conan in and out of this chaotic possession makes his return to consciousness a triumph for Conan and readers. On the same note, an evil sword that makes its wielder kill to feed a never-ending hunger for souls is entirely believable in the world of Conan The Barbarian.

Luca Pizzari took over this issue and brought “The Curse Of The Nightstar” to a new level. The bloody battles are easily read and are a marvel to look at, especially the busy panels where Conan stares down the monstrous visions or the hallucinations the sword created. Coupled with Silva’s colors, the deep reds and blacks bring out the violence in the pages and the unfriendly presence the blade projected. The end of the issue symbolically depicts Conan’s freedom with a warm sunrise. The letters in this story are very fitting. The narration appears on a neutral, scroll-like pattern while the blade’s voice is jagged against an unstable background.

Overall, Conan The Barbarian #18 serves as more than just another Conan tale of bravery in battle and sword fighting. It’s an interesting look into how deep into madness our hero can be taken and how hard he will fight to return. This interesting sidebar on the march to Khitai has just begun, and now with the trail of blood behind him, our Cimmerian has a lot to answer for. By Crom’s beard, he will prevail!

Conan The Barbarian #18 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Conan The Barbarian #18
5

TL;DR

Overall, Conan The Barbarian #18 serves as more than just another Conan tale of bravery in battle and sword fighting. It’s an interesting look into how deep into madness our hero can be taken and how hard he will fight to return. This interesting sidebar on the march to Khitai has just begun, and now with the trail of blood behind him, our Cimmerian has a lot to answer for. By Crom’s beard, he will prevail!