Comic Review: Conan 2099

Published: November 27th, 2019
Written by: Gerry Duggan
Art by: Roge Antonio, Geoff Shaw
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 33 Pages

Review:

I like Gerry Duggan’s Conan work. He’s written a few stories since Marvel got the famous barbarian back a year ago.

Since I kind of dug the 2099 stuff back when it all debuted in the early ’90s, the thought of a futuristic, cyberpunk-centric Conan story wasn’t something I was willing to pass up.

While this is really just a one-shot, it is part of a much larger 2099 crossover event. Not having read the other stories, I felt a bit lost here and honestly, this just made me wish that there was a Conan 2099 miniseries that was self-contained. Because it is an interesting concept but it needs its own room to breathe and space to play.

The plot here follows Conan in the future and he runs into Morgan le Fay, as well as Nova. Well… Nova is… um… huh… I won’t spoil it in case you want to read this 2099 event.

So some stuff happens, Conan is a badass in the future but ultimately, this was barely enough to whet my palate with the idea of a future Conan. And I’m sorry, I don’t want to read the whole massive crossover just to make this one comic make more sense.

The art is okay, the cover is better than the interiors but I guess that’s typical in 2019.

Honestly, if you want me to get excited for this future Conan thing, make me a series. I’ll add it to my pull list with all the other Conan titles.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: I’m assuming the other comics tied to the current Marvel 2099 event.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Vampirella – The Warren Years’ by David Roach

I’ve been going through a lot of comic book art books lately and I’ve gotta say, this one has been my favorite out of the half dozen or so I’ve looked at this year. In fact, I read a friend’s copy and now I’ve got to buy my own.

What sets this apart is the art itself.

Overall, this follows the same format as other art books, especially those put out by Dynamite Entertainment. This is very similar to the other Vampirella ones, as well as the great Red Sonja books I’ve seen.

But again, the art here makes this stand out in front of the pack.

This is a must own simply because the covers from the Warren era of Vampirella are absolutely amazing!

I’ve been trying to collect a lot of the old Warren Vampirella issues, simply because of how great the covers are but with this book, you can own the lot and look through them in one volume whenever you feel like it.

Warren Publishing hired a slew of super talented artists to do these covers and honestly, this is some of the best fantasy, horror and sword and sorcery art pieces ever put to canvas.

It’s the art that got me into comic books to begin with. It’s also my favorite artistic medium. Since this features some of the best covers ever created for comic magazines, why wouldn’t I buy this and cherish it for years to come?

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other art books put out by Dynamite Entertainment that features the history of the characters they publish.

Film Review: The Magic Sword (1962)

Also known as: The Seven Curses of Lodac, St. George and the Dragon, St. George and the Seven Curses (alternative titles)
Release Date: January 25th, 1962 (Mexico)
Directed by: Bert I. Gordon
Written by: Bernard Schoenfeld
Music by: Richard Markowitz
Cast: Basil Rathbone, Estelle Winwood, Anne Helm, Gary Lockwood, Liam Sullivan, Maila Nurmi

Bert I. Gordon Productions, 80 Minutes

Review:

“[chuckling] You don’t like Sir Branton? Oh, come now. A damsel in distress can’t afford to pick and choose.” – Lodac

Bert I. Gordon may have been one of the few true kings of schlock but he was also one of the best. While his films are all pretty terrible from an academic standpoint, they all exude a special sort of charm and are very watchable if you are a fan of pure hammy schlock.

This movie is no different and like many of his other films, this one found itself reaching a sort of immortality by being riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Magic Sword is a pretty neat early ’60s sword and sorcery flick. It also stars Basil Rathbone, a fantastic actor but one who also found himself in a lot of schlock-y pictures later in his career.

But that doesn’t mean that Rathbone gave up and didn’t put his best foot forward. He is the best thing about this movie and he’s committed to his role of evil sorcerer quite well.

I loved Rathbone in this and even if the film is kind of shit, he elevates it when he is present onscreen.

Now this film did have a scant budget but it made the most of it and gave the audience some pretty decent sets and a cool battle with a giant dragon at the end of the film. I really dug the finale and the dragon model’s giant head looked pretty impressive for an early ’60s low budget adventure film.

Bert I. Gordon isn’t quite Roger Corman but this is one of those pictures where he does give him a run for his money.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other sword and sorcery or sword and sandal pictures of the era.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Red Sonja’ by Christopher Lawrence

I liked the recent art book that Marvel put out for Conan the Barbarian, so I thought that I’d check out the first art book that Dynamite Entertainment released for Red Sonja.

The most important takeaway from this book is that it really shows how broad the history of Red Sonja is, as she moved between different publishers, had run-ins with Conan, Spider-Man and others, over the decades she’s existed in comic book form.

She’s sort of become the queen of the crossovers in the last few years but her team-ups with other heroes weren’t as common in the early days, other than being spun off from Conan.

This book has a solid introduction and then it just gives you hundreds of pages of covers and other art pieces featuring the character in all her badass sexiness. It’s actually cool to see, as we’ve entered a time where sexy comic book heroines are being drawn to look like Rebel Wilson, Sebastian Bach or some frumpy hipster with a mental patient haircut.

I’m glad that Dynamite hasn’t caved to social media pressure and I hope they never do. Red Sonja is strong, beautiful and an absolute fucking badass. She has to stay that way because anything else would ruin the great legacy that is front and center in this book.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other art books put out by Dynamite Entertainment that features the history of the characters they publish.

Comic Review: Age of Conan: Bêlit, Queen of the Black Coast

Published: September 18th, 2019
Written by: Tini Howard
Art by: Kate Niemczyk, Sana Takeda (cover)
Based on: characters by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 111 Pages

Review:

It’s actually been years since I’ve thought about Bêlit. However, I did remember her from the old Marvel Conan comics. She wasn’t as memorable to me as Red Sonja or Valeria but she did go on some grand adventures with Conan.

This series re-establishes her in the Marvel Conan mythos, which I guess is the regular Marvel universe now, considering Conan has now had multiple crossovers with other Marvel characters.

I’m assuming this series was made in order to set Bêlit up to re-enter Conan’s life. I’m also assuming that the same is true for Valeria as she was also given her own Age of Conan miniseries.

So since I’ve been enjoying the Conan comics since Marvel got the character back in January, seeing that universe expand is kind of cool.

That being said, this comic started out pretty strong but it kind of just limped along after the introduction to Bêlit.

The plot itself isn’t bad but the comic tries to cover a large portion of Bêlit’s life in just five issues.

What I had a problem with though was how certain things in the comic are prioritized. When something happens and you would traditionally expect a massive action scene, the shit is resolved almost instantly so that characters can go on and bicker with Bêlit while this self-proclaimed queen talks about how she’s the best at everything.

Not to be that guy but Bêlit is written like a disposable Mary Sue character. There are moments where her character starts to develop or we see her being challenged by something and it is just kind of brushed aside or dealt with like it wasn’t a big deal to begin with.

Every time something happened in the story that made me go, “Oh, okay… here we go!” I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me.

This was a pretty boring comic that gave glimmers of hope that it was going somewhere badass but it never did. And if I’m being honest, anything remotely associated with Conan should always be badass.

Additionally, the art was pretty weak and doesn’t live up to the caliber of art that should be associated with a Conan comic.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: Age of Conan: Valeria and other recent Marvel Conan comics.

Comic Review: Conan Chronicles – Epic Collection III: Return to Cimmeria

Published: October 2nd, 2019
Written by: Kurt Busiek, Timothy Truman
Art by: various
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Dark Horse Comics, Marvel (reprinted), 494 Pages

Review:

I’m glad that Marvel’s ego isn’t so big that they didn’t care about putting these collections out.

The stories collected in these Conan Epic Collections are the stories from the character’s era at Dark Horse. It’s exciting to read, at least for me, as I didn’t read the Dark Horse stuff until now. Mainly, due to not reading a lot of comics in the time that these were originally published.

These stories are mostly written by Kurt Busiek and this picks up from his run that was collected in the two previous volumes of the Conan Epic Collections.

This string of tales adapts some of Robert E. Howard’s classic literary stories but it also has some stories that happen before or after famous Conan tales.

For the most part, this is nearly as good as the previous volumes but there seems to be more of a mixture of art styles. While most of the art is good, some of it becomes visually jarring when going from chapter to chapter in that the styles differ greatly in parts. But this tends to happen with Epic Collections and other large collected works in the comic book medium.

Ultimately, this was still a good read and I’m most likely going to pick up the fourth volume when it is released in a few months.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Kurt Busiek’s Conan run, as well as other Conan comics from the Dark Horse era.

Book Review: ‘The Marvel Art of Conan the Barbarian’ by Various

Overall, this was a pretty cool art book that had enough text and information to give good context to the pages of art that were featured.

My only real complaint is that I wished that this also featured the great art that was used in the Savage Sword of Conan magazines.

But that could be due to a future release where Marvel does another art book focused solely on that unique series.

Plus, this is the art of Conan the Barbarian, as the title specifically states. Although, it also features art from the King Conan series too.

Anyway, this is a pretty cool book to check out if you are a Conan the Barbarian fan. It’s mostly giant art pages with blurbs. But it does have a nice introduction and some pages with more text than those standard blurbs.

Whether or not it’s worth the price point is up to the buyer, I guess. I can’t recommend it as a must own. Full disclosure, I read my friend’s copy and didn’t buy one, even though I was mostly pleased with it.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Marvel art books.