In Review: Wonder Woman/Conan #1

This is a pairing that should be part of every collector's cache. Recommended.

The covers: There’s a trio to collect if one wants to have every version of this series’ frontpieces. The Regular cover is by Darick Robertson with Tony Aviná. This is a stunning cover and has been used in all the advertisements to promote this series and rightly so! Conan is in profile, angrily pulling back his sword to smite a foe, while in front of him is a grimacing Wonder Woman using her shield to beat back the throng of men attacking, holding her sword ready to join Conan’s. The pair are surrounded by a swarm of fighters. The energy captured on this is perfection. The colors are also tops, with Wonder Woman’s costume bright, but not overwhelming, and Conan’s pale skin drawing the eye. The Variant cover is by Liam Sharp with Laura Martin. Wonder Woman and Conan are chained at the wrists to each other. They are back to back in a dungeon. Behind them is a stature that appears to be a giant crow. The skull of the creature is immense and very threatening. A decent cover, though the characters are too rigid for me. There’s also a Blank Sketch Variant cover that features the title and publishers at the top and the contributors’ credits in the bottom right on a white cover. This is a neat way to get an artist to create a one of a kind cover or to have the issue’s creators sign on the front. This was the version I purchased, but it is pretty lackluster until something is put on the front. What is extra nice about this variant is that underneath is the Regular cover, so it’s a two-for-one. Overall grades: Regular A+, Variant C, and Blank Sketch Variant C

The story: Gail Simone’s tale opens with eight-year-old Conan accompanying his father to Council. Once there he sees “a puzzle above all.” She is a young girl. “Her name was Yanna. And to Conan, she walked in mystery.” A turn of the page brings the reader to the present, with Conan coming upon three men who are going to deliver their own version of justice to a scrawny man who pleads for help. One of the Aquilonians is raising a pair of heated tongs to the man’s face — they’re going to burn his jaw off. Conan doesn’t care and makes to leave on his horse. That’s when the captive says he can pay Conan. The Cimmerian turns, “I’m listening.” Any reader can guess what happens next, and Simone does a slick job with the battle, which has a great payoff from the rescued man, enabling Conan to go to a new location. Once at this setting, the scene momentarily returns to the where the battle occurred, focusing on two completely fascinating characters who have a very interesting conversation. Where’s Diana in all this tale? Don’t worry, she appears soon after and what an entrance! She proves her abilities to several and in the process captures Conan’s eye, but not in the way the lusty warrior often sizes up women. The means by which Conan gains access to the princess is genius — so obvious, but never used before that I can recall. Just as the two are about to meet, someone changes the situation, ending the issue on a great cliffhanger. This story is strong, proud, and captures the ancient, forgotten times. This is great! Overall grade: A

The art: This issue features pencils by Aaron Lopresti and inks by Matt Ryan. Both are exceptional artists and they make this book look good. The opening page has young Conan and his father making their way to Council. It establishes the setting for the characters, as well as younger versions of the leads, but take a look at the art that frames the images: thorny vines, weapons, and knotty limbs. It’s fantastic, plunging the reader into a distant past. The final panel on the page sets up action to come later in this issue. Pages 2 and 3 are a double page splash that has Conan standing before the Aquilonians and their prey. Conan steals all focus with his powerful stance and his muscles. There’s a circular panel on 4 (I LOVE when artists do this — it makes the art seem instantly like a classic comic) which beautifully spotlights the screaming captive. The action on 6 is great, with a very surprising turn in the fourth panel. The pair of characters that appear on 8 look wonderful, with the final panel being quite stomach turning. The next double-paged spread is on 10 and 11, which introduces a certain female who is amazing. She’s not the only spectacular character on the page, look at those in the background: neither artist skimped on the details for any individual. When she goes into action it’s fantastic, interrupted occasionally by flashbacks. When flashbacks are shown from the woman’s point of view they are framed by excellent images that rival Page 1. The reveal at the top of 12 is fantastic, making me even more interested to learn more about this pair. This book looks great! Overall grade: A

The colors: Wendy Broome is the colorist for this book and she starts things off perfectly with slightly tinted colors on the opening page to date the events. These colors continue onto the next page as they mirror the colors that clothe Conan. The narration balloons, though actually pieces of parchment, are a delightful tan, providing a visual clue for the reader that the narrator is speaking. The work with the flames on this double-paged splash is good, as are the glowing tongs. The colors on the female lead are also tops, being faded, showing how long she’s been at this profession, yet containing enough familiar shades to create recognition for the reader. The slight purple mist around the pair on 12 makes me love them even more. The idyllic blues on 13 are the most realistic colors in the book, making the actions on the page superb. Broome is an excellent contributor to this issue. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, the story’s title, the book’s credits, dialogue, yells, screams, and sounds are created by Saida Temofonte. I am completely enamored by a letterer when the narrator is given a font different from the dialogue, and Temofonte definitely does that here. Not only is it different, it visually pulls the reader into this past. It’s impossible not to hear Mako Iwamastu’s voice looking at the narration. The screams and grunts from the battles are excellent, with the sounds during the skirmishes also outstanding. Overall grade: A

The final line: Icon characters meet and battle, providing unparalleled excitement for readers. The story is exceptionally true to both characters and is immensely enjoyable. The visuals are wonderful with an exceptional eye for detail. This is a pairing that should be part of every collector’s cache. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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