This is some of Becky Cloonan's best work; reading early volumes of DEMO up to this series makes you appreciate her growth as an artist, and the power of the images she's crafting. I enjoyed her work on this issue and the youthful portrayal of Conan.
Reinforcing the portrayal is Wood's writing work, which weaves strong narrative and an interesting cast of characters. From Conan to the antagonist to his comrades on the boat, we get a concrete picture of who we're dealing with, and the world that we're being introduced to. While this story is an adaptation of a Conan classic, it feels fresh and creative instead of just another copy.
I had a bit of trouble digesting the last couple pages of the novel: is Conan being affected by an evil mist? Magic? Is it a trick of the eyes? What exactly is going on here?
I'd say that was the only caveat that kept this from being a five-star book. Things kind of went off the rails a little bit, and I'm sure it will be clarified next issue, but for the moment it didn't stand well by itself. It needs context, and possibly a trade paperback to assemble the entire story.
I'm not going to hide my love for the Wood/Cloonan creative team; they've produced some of my favourite comics of this modern era. However, I'm not being a fanboy when I say they've managed to make me interested in a character I had no prior interest in.
Wood's Conan is anchored in the "old" tripes associated with the barbarian, but brings a lot of color and character to the world in which the comic takes place. From the oarmen that accompany Conan to the major antagonist, no one feels one-dimensional or cardboard; I'm legitimately excited to see where this series goes.