Mel’s Muses: Conan The Barbarian #3, Batman and Robin #8, New Avengers #24 and Fantastic Four #605

It’s all about interludes and intermissions this week as a bunch of titles wrapped up their major story arcs last issue and took time off for a little R and R or mini-adventures.

Conan The Barbarian #3. Comic book collectors and connoisseurs, don’t miss this history-making Conan comic book as we go through an entire issue where our favorite sword-wielding Cimmerian doesn’t kill a single person!

After last issue’s sea battle with the pirate queen Belit, writer Brian Wood attempts to offer us a peek into the mind, heart and soul of our young savage barbarian, what makes him tick, his doubts, passions and just about everything else in-between. So did all that work for me? Well, not really. There’s only so much soul-searching I can take in a comic book. After all these years, I’m more used to seeing Conan running his sword through someone’s chest than watching him spend 22 pages discussing his inner feelings or talking things out with the rest of the cast. But it’s still an engaging enough issue and let’s not forget artist Becky Cloonan’s fantastic visuals.

Most old Conan fans would be familiar with creator Robert E. Howard’s original tale featuring Conan and Belit but starting next issue Wood spins his own yarn in a new 3-part arc that takes the happy yet bloodthirsty sea-faring couple back to Messantia. While not exactly a typical Conan story, I suppose this issue does work to kinda set the stage for future tales by exploring the relationship dynamics between the cast. But if you are looking for fantasy action, I suggest you start picking up the series from that issue on.

Batman and Robin #8. It’s time for some family-bonding as Batman and his 10 year-old son take a little time-off to heal some broken bones after Damien’s first (and I’m betting my entire comic book collection that it won’t be his last) kill.

Last issue’s no-holds-barred fight with the villain Nobody ended with Damien killing him in cold blood but not before he gives the boy a bloody beating. Writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason have put together an aftermath issue that examines the close relationships between father, son and butler. Yes, Alfred is an important member of the Bat family too. Quieter moments that remind everyone, including readers, the motivations behind Batman’s war on crime as well as reinforces his strict no-killing rule.

Tomasi has also done a remarkable job fleshing out Damien’s character over the last eight issues, and I’m really anxious to see how he develops the kid even more in the upcoming Night of the Owls crossover with all the other Bat titles.

New Avengers #24. I bet most of you thought this was gonna be an Avengers vs. X-Men continuation, well, you are wrong! Don’t let that Mike Deodato cover fool you! Hah, this issue actually takes place before the last page of Avengers vs. X-Men #1 and in fact ends with that same scene of the Avengers getting ready for a throw down with the X-Men in Utopia.

What you get is writer Brian Bendis wrapping up the Osborn’s Dark Avengers storyline and specifically deals with Luke Cage’s strained relationship with his wife Jessica. So yah, it’s a talky issue and no one hits anyone or anything. But it’s Bendis and he gets away with stuff like this.

Pick this one up only if you are huge Avengers fan and not if you are expecting any real developments in the Avengers vs. X-Men saga.

Fantastic Four #605. Saving the best for last, this is probably my best pick among the week’s ‘filler’ issues. The epic space confrontation between Galactus, the Celestials, the Kree, the Inhumans, the Negative Zone nasties, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, (did I miss anyone?) is finally over. The good guys won and having “successfully rewritten the future”, Reed Richards decides to take a trip with his father Nathaniel to the future just because he’s curious. Really.

Well, I’ll try to avoid any major spoilers but it’s got to do with his best friend and teammate Ben Grimm, the Thing. Thanks to a serum developed by the kids of the Future Foundation, Grimm can now revert to his human form for approximately one week every year. As Richards delves further and further into the future, we learn the true reason behind the time travel mission and it’s a bit of a tearjerker.

Writer Jonathan Hickman has nailed the close relationship between Richards and Grimm perfectly. It felt believable and genuine. Artist Ron Garney also delivered some excellent expressions capturing the strong emotions between the characters. Richards and Grimm, two men who have been through so much together, it’s a cosmic level bromance and my favorite Hickman issue so far.


Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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