Review: Conan: The Cimmerian & Skaar: Son of Hulk!

Well, I guess I’m really slow on this one. Desiato and Billy already reviewed this. This makes my review near obsolete. But damn it, I’m going to review it anyway! I actually have to thank Billy on this one. His opening paragraph on his review is what hooked me, when he compared this to Conan. I have always loved Conan and….well, more on that in a bit.

This issue was awesome! A coming of age story with monsters, dragons, and gore oh my! I didn’t pick up this issue when it came out. It had sold out at my local comic shop. Thankfully, a friend of mine is an employee there and he had set aside a copy for himself but decided he didn’t really want it. Well, luckily when I went to pick up my copy of the Planet Hulk HC, he asked if I had picked up Skaar yet. He said a kid came in earlier and wanted a copy and he considered giving it to him, but that kid isn’t friends with the guy and I am so ha ha little kid! Ok, maybe too much barbarian reading today has turned me into a jerk.

Sorry to bore you guys with that story, but it seemed apropos of this review. This issue was indeed very good. I do however, have two complaints. One is that (I never thought I’d say this) Pak packed too much into this issue. I love the fact that I definitely got my money’s worth, but it seems that more stories could have been told about Skaar growing up. I guess this is a minor complaint, but it still seems a valid one to me. I suppose that maybe Pak had wanted to, but if this is indeed a maxi-series, perhaps Pak has too much story to tell to dwell on kid Skaar, oh well.

The other complaint is Garney’s pencils. His art seems to have gotten worse since the last arc of Wolverine he just did! Oh well, I heard in an interview that Garney admitted himself that the pencils were very rushed. He thought that he didn’t have a good enough feel for the character yet and that his art will improve. I can buy that, I mean most every art style changes over time, whether it be comic or cartoon. So I guess these aren’t really complaints, since there seem to be valid explanations, I guess they’re more observations. Anyway, great first issue and I hope Pak can keep it up. This definitely seems more like Planet Hulk than World War Hulk which to me is a good thing.

3 and a half stars

By Crom! I must read more Conan! I once heard a story about Robert E. Howard and his creation of Conan. I heard that when he was writing the story, that he actually imagined Conan standing over him with a battle axe forcing him to write about Conan more! That’s kind of how I feel right now. I have always loved Conan. My father has all 275 of the first series of Conan comics. I started to collect the new dark horse comic myself. Sadly, I quit reading it a little while after Busiek left in an attempt to cut back on my comics. But it seems the mighty Cimmerian could not lie dormant in my mind forever and I fear he is now forcing me to read all of his comics with his fierce barbaric rage!

This is the preview issue of the new Conan the Cimmerian comic. This is no mere promotional tool. There was actually a lot of effort put into this issue. For a five minute read, this packs a surprising amount of punch! This does an extremely good job of adapting Robert E. Howard’s poem, Cimmeria. Truman and Giorello do an outstanding job telling a simple, yet poignant story. The images of Howard’s typewriter are subtle, yet make it clear that the focus of the series will be the continuing respect towards Conan’s creator.This story has a short yet memorably gory action sequence with severed hands and extremely colorful red blood. The art is top notch and there are beautiful splash pages of moments in the previous series. This issue features 16 pages of awesome for only a buck! Inside there is a look at the first issue that features Frank Cho cover art with Joe Kubert doing a variant. If this issue is any indication of the series’ worth, I see many a fun Conan adventures in my future. By Crom! Buy this issue!

4 stars

This was a barbaric day for me indeed! Long will I remember the day I conquered Conan the Cimmerian #0, Skaar Son of Hulk #1, and the Planet Hulk HC! I’ll leave you fellow barbarians with a quote of wisdom.

“Conan! What is best in life?”

“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.”

Review: Skaar: Son of Hulk #1

I was worried that my love of barbarian comics would wither away and die after the cancellation of the epic Conan book from Darkhorse.* Boy was I wrong! Steve (Desiato) already gave a pretty strong review of this book last week, so don’t expect the same from me. I’m here to show you the awesome art and tone of this book in the hope it will convince the uninitiated to give it a shot.

How cute is mini-Hulk?!? I love the un-inked pencils. They give it that dirty, “Conan” feel. The bug/brood hybrids are kind of scary too. When Pak said this would be a Sakaar more savage than you remember, he wasn’t lying. I wonder how long he had this planned. From before Planet Hulk started? Was this always the goal? Or was this something that grew organically from the story?

Ultra-violence? CHECK. The above panel is only a tiny fraction of the savagery that was this premier issue. Can’t wait for more.

BANG! Our hero. The first few pages opened with little Skaar and by the end, some time passes and we get big Skaar, complete with Shadow Priest tattoos and Hulked-out physique… and big FREAKING stone axe! Damn, I’m already really digging this book. I can see now why Pak decided not to continue writing the Hulk after World War Hulk concluded. This idea is just so much more exciting. The legs it has, the possibilities… it’s a great time to be a Hulk fan.

*Yeah, I know they’re relaunching it, but it sucks without Busiek. So, I’m out for now.

Review: Skaar: Son of Hulk #1

I was a big fan of Planet Hulk. I’ve got that big awesome oversized hardcover on my shelf, and I think it stands quite well as the sort of superhero book that isn’t really a superhero book. Not to mention the Warbound’s notion of honor through battle, which is a literary trope that I’ve loved ever since I became enamored with the work of Homer, Plato and Sophocles. It was a book that had everything going for it. But nothing lasts forever, and Planet Hulk ended on a high note, with issue 105 being one of the best of the entire 14 issue run.

Then World War Hulk showed up. It was pretty good for what it was, but it was also boiled down to the absolute lowest common Hulk Smash denominator. Which is fine, but not exactly something to be considered transcendent. The ending was a bit of a head scratcher, but I think it worked overall. Of course, it’s going to be seen in the future as one of those non events, because nothing really changed. Bruce was still the Hulk, and he was already on the loose by issue three of the series I choose not to name (*ahem* FUCK YOU JEPH LOEB), and Sentry sure hasn’t seemed much worse for wear through Mighty Avengers and Secret Invasion (One of these days they’re going to get the Sentry right again, and it’s going to be fantastic. Maybe we should give him back to Jenkins?). The conspiratorial part of me wants to think that Greg Pak agreed to do World War Hulk only if they would let him continue to play in the sandbox of Sakaar on his own terms. Sure, I’m probably completely off base and crazy, but considering the quality of Planet Hulk at 14 issues and the spurious nature of World War Hulk at 5 issues, you get some hope from part three of his “Hulk trilogy” being originally solicited as a twelve issue mini which may or may not be ongoing now.

But what about the issue itself? It’s pretty good. Similar to those early moments in Planet Hulk with a main character dealing with a harsh and unfamiliar terrain. We get some vague notions of how Skaar is already fully grown, and quite some time has passed. Not a whole lot happens. Skaar kills some indigenous wild life, meets some holdovers from the Red King’s reign (more on that in sec) and generally acts like a badass. We’ve got a big bad set up that’ll take us through this opening arc. All is pretty much as one would expect. This is basically Conan in space. Big powerful brute that isn’t the brightest guy on Sakaar beating stuff up. What’s not to love?

Well, one thing does bother me. Wasn’t the whole reason Hulk and the Warbound left Sakaar in the first place because the explosion of Hulk’s ship make the planet uninhabitable thanks to some irreparable shifts in the plate tectonics? Seem to be quite a lot of people, vegetation and wildlife on this supposedly dead planet. I’m not saying this is an oversight, and I’m intrigued to see if Pak gives a reasoning for the rejuvenation of the planet (perhaps Caiera becoming one with the planet healed it? Just an example). I mean, it’s a necessity to tell just about any kind of possible story, as there’s only so much that can be done with Hulk’s kid when he’s walking a dead planet alone. Also, I miss the Warbound as a presence in this book. Maybe not the Warbound specifically, but some kind of external cast of characters, but that of course will come in time.

What’s good though, is the continuation of one of the highlights of both Planet Hulk and World War Hulk: the narrative. You know the one. The slate gray caption boxes that talk in prophecies and give a lot of flavor to the mythology of Sakaar and the Sakaar’son. We saw them quite a lot in Planet Hulk, and not nearly as much in World War Hulk. Well, they’re back here, as Caiera continues to chronicle the legend of the Green Scar, this time through his son. And I love it. I’m a sucker for mythology, and this is the type of slow burn creation of an entire culture that I can really get behind. It’s why I was so sad to see Planet Hulk end.

There’s potential here. I think it’s going to take a bit of time for this book to really get going. It’s certainly not a bad start, but I think at least for issue one it’s still a bit too much World War Hulk and not enough Planet Hulk. Hopefully things will settle down and we’ll get the chance to see some good solid characterization of this new entry into the Marvel universe. He can’t simply get along being the Hulk’s kid. There are differences, and I want to see them explored. I expect Greg Pak will not let me down.

Three and a half stars out of five for this one