Published on May 30th, 2024 | by Jules-Pierre Malartre


Conan the Barbarian – Free Comic Book Day

I always look forward to Free Comic Book Day, which gives us the chance to sample so many different comic books. This year’s free books did not disappoint. Conan—Battle of the Black Stone from Titan Comics stood out for me. It marks (more or less) the one-year anniversary of the launch of the revived Conan the Barbarian title by Titan Comics, which started with the release of Conan #0 for last year’s Free Comic Book Day.

This year’s free Conan comic book had big shoes to fill. Last year’s book was pretty awesome, introducing us to the Jim Zub & Roberto De La Torre team that brought back the glory days of Conan. That free comic was the start of a great new series in the best tradition of the old Marvel Comics Conan books, providing old-school Conan readers with a very satisfying bit of nostalgia and introducing a new generation of readers to the most memorable sword & sorcery hero of them all.

This year’s Free Comic Book Day Conan title is penned by Jim Zub and illustrated by Jonas Scharf. The cover illustration is by Roberto De La Torre—and the uninterrupted streak of awesome covers we’ve seen on the book since last year’s Free Comic Book continues with this one. Conan has been illustrated by a number of great comic book artists over the years. Artists like John Buscema, Rudy Nebres, Barry Windsor-Smith, Ernie Chan and even legendary Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo have all contributed to cover and comic book art depicting Conan. With the revival of Conan comic books, Robert De La Torre’s amazing work on the first few issues of the new Conan the Barbarian marks him as the heir apparent of these great Conan illustrators. Scharf’s art on this issue, while it may not be as impressive as what we’ve seen in this series so far, still carries the story very well. Titan Comics obviously wants to produce a consistently good comic book featuring great talents, and they make sure that this attitude carries over even to a freebie comic book.

The story of Conan—Battle of the Black Stone is a very short one, but in those few pages, it manages to drop some exciting hints. There seems to be a “Howardverse” brewing in the pages of Titan Comics’ Conan books. Robert E. Howard, Conan’s creator, is the father of many other characters. Conan fans will probably know about a few of Howard’s other characters such as Kull and Solomon Kane, but there are so many others, including Red Sonya of Rogatino (the precursor of Red Sonja) and Bran Mak Morn. In the afterword of Conan—Battle of the Black Stone, Jeffrey Shanks writes, “Howard makes it very clear in his stories that most, if not all, of his characters exist in the same universe.”

The idea of a multiverse, in any intellectual property, feels overdone by now. It was fun when the Marvel Cinematic Universe (arguably) launched the whole thing. It also gave the combined mess of the DC superhero movies and TV shows a semblance of continuity. Even Dungeons & Dragons is plunging into it with its latest adventure, Vecna: Eve of Ruin, which promises to be a caper through most of the official D&D world settings. I don’t know if Titan Comics can pull it off with Howard’s IP. Howard certainly created a number of interesting characters in his short career, and they have all stood out on their own. It will take a masterful hand to bring so many characters together. The last few pages of Conan—Battle of the Black Stone show a number of those characters, starting with Solomon Kane and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. Then El Borak and Professor John Kirowan also make a cameo. And it also appears that Brissa, Conan’s female counterpart from the Bound in Blackstone storyline (issues #1 through #4 of Conan the Barbarian), may not be dead as Conan suspected… She was a great character in the first few issues of the new Conan the Barbarian, and I was sad to see her left off as dead at the conclusion of that storyline.

The story will continue in two Conan books starting with Savage Sword of Conan #4 and what appears to be a new title, Conan: Battle of the Black Stone #1. The last time I saw as challenging a crossover was when Dynamite published the Prophecy miniseries in 2012-13. It brought together several comic book icons, including Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dracula, Ash (of Evil Dead fame) and several others. It was a tall order, but it proved to be an excellent series. Tall order for Titan Comics as well, but I am stoked, and I can’t wait to read it.

This free comic also gives us a glimpse of an upcoming new Conan story titled “Frozen Faith.”  The first part of this story will appear in Conan the Barbarian #13. It is called a new story celebrating the 90th anniversary of Robert E. Howard’s classic story, The Frost Giant’s Daughter. It’s called a new story, so it will not be a retelling of the classic tale. We are only given a two-page black & white preview, but it’s enough to whet our appetite for this return to the setting of that classic Conan story. Conan the Barbarian #13 will be published in July.

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

Jules-Pierre Malartre currently resides in Rigaud, Quebec, which is cold enough to save him from big-ass spiders, but as close to The Great White North that he will ever dare go. In 2005, he quit a promising aerospace engineering career to go into freelance copywriting. Since then, he has become considerably poorer, but much happier. When he is not writing technical manuals, newspaper articles or online features, he is busy working on his first novel. His first short story, “The Rest Was Easy,” was published by the online literary magazine Amarillo Bay in 2013.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑

Floating Social Media Icons by Acurax Wordpress Designers
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed