Review: Conan and Wonder Woman #1
Getting Diana Prince and Conan together seems like the mashing together of two totally different and incongruent historical epochs, but the ancient world religiosity of Conan and that of Wonder Woman actually is a pretty easy mix (or at least scripter Gail Simone makes it seem that way), with gods and goddesses (and devils) as much a part of the cultural backdrop as is the swords and brawling (i.e., the modern sword-wielding Wonder Woman, not the lasso-twirling WW of yore). The theology of the two characters doesn't really get contrasted here (which would be pretty funny, as Conan's faith is spectacularly man-centered and Diana's is, in theory, the reverse). Instead, Conan continues in Wonder Woman/Conan #1 to be the big-chested knight errant that may preach a lifestyle of debauchery and plunder, but is forever getting caught up in noble deeds and ethical questions that he answers more or less as if he was an American, or that is, a Texan.1
The story in Wonder Woman/Conan #1 has Conan depicted in a reliably violent way. Despite the recent box-office winning success for the girl from Themyscira, she does not dominate this "crossover" event between DC and Dark Horse. Conan might be completely familiar, but the amnesia-ridden Diana Prince (she's called "Island Flower") doesn't do much here except fight for her life in the battle pit of a degenerate slave-master. She's not sure who she is and Conan becomes convinced she is a girl he knew from his early youth, and he sets out to free her, setting up the cliffhanger ending leading to issue #2.
The script has some goofiness to it (one of the many mud spatters worn on Diana's clothing and skin forms a a star on her forehead), along with questionable historicity, such as a panel in which a dying warrior confesses why he was torturing another man, because he was "welching on a bet," and the question is, what is an 18th century derogatory phrase about the Welsh doing in ancient Hyperborea?
Simone (and artist Aaron Lopresti, inks by Matt Ryan) give us a few flashbacks and we get to see a pre-adolescent Diana use her lasso to wrangle a shark, and the apparently young Conan and Diana meet, establishing the background for the current situation and Conan's love-struck declarations (which doesn't seem like the character from Robert E. Howard's canon, but if Conan can carry a crush on Red Sonya/Red Sonja, why not Diana Prince?).
The use of narrative text in the story ("A Crow Without Mercy") is a welcome throwback to better craftsmanship from an older era of superhero comic book writing in which making the story-telling crystal clear was important, and that's certainly the case here in this well-packaged team-up effort between two, at least on the surface, completely different heroes. I'm looking forward to the next issue. (Issue #2 of Wonder Woman/Conan #1 comes out October 18, 2017)
1. [Conan's creator was Texan Robert E. Howard, 1906-1936]↩
Original Page October 2017