Monday, April 6, 2020


Writer: Gail Simone | Penciler: Aaron Lopresti | Inker: Matt Ryan
Colorists: Wendy Broome with Tony Avina | Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Editor: Kristy Quinn | Group Editor: Jim Chadwick

I bought the digital collection of this series on a lark during a Wonder Woman sale at Comixology a while back. I like Gail Simone (though I've honestly read very little of her work outside of her brief DEADPOOL/AGENT X run of a couple decades ago), I like Aaron Lopresti, and I like Conan and Wonder Woman -- so why not give it a try?

The story, in my opinion, is more like a Conan adventure guest-starring Wonder Woman than a true team-up of co-headliners. I have no problem with that, but it seems worth mentioning. It follows Conan as he makes his way into a city of slavers, where he watches a woman battle in a gladiatorial arena. Conan believes he recognizes her as his first love, a girl from a tribe of women who he once knew as Yanna. Leaping to her aid, Conan is captured and imprisoned with the woman.

Of course this is actually Wonder Woman -- it's not a mystery and so the story makes no attempt to hide it. However she has no memory of her true self, and the real puzzle for readers is -- what's the deal here? Is this what we used to call an "Elseworlds" story? I.e., is this just sort of a case of "What If Wonder Woman existed in the Hyborean Age"? As the issues progress, Conan trickles out his history with the girl, Yanna, who he believed killed when they were both teens. But, come issue 5, it becomes clear that this really is Wonder Woman. She's been lost to time, and her fellow Amazons, sent back to the past by Queen Hippolyte, find her and bring her home to present-day Themyscira.

But leaving Conan behind doesn't sit well with Princess Diana, and she leads a group of her sisters back in time once more to aid him. Together, they defend the slave city against an invasion by demon-monsters conjured by the Corvidae, a pair of evil crow sisters. (Side note: I just assumed through this whole thing that the Corvidae were actual characters, either from Wonder Woman's world or from Conan's. But when I Googled them to write this review, I found that "corvidae" is simply "a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers," and these characters are unique to this single story!)

(Double side note: I learned from the above passage that a jackdaw is apparently a crow-like bird. Captain Britain used to have a sidekick named Jackdaw, but he was an elf. I'd assumed for years that "Jackdaw" was simply a goofy name somebody made up for the character!)

If I'm honest, the story itself didn't do a lot for me. It was fine, but didn't really feel as "epic" as I might've expected from something like this. Like I said up top, it reads like a Conan story guest-starring Wonder Woman -- and a somewhat lower-powered Wonder Woman at that, to better fit into Conan's world. She's super-strong, but never does anything to really make Conan (or the reader) sit up and say "Wow!" She also never flies, as far as I can recall. Part of the fun of a story where a super-character has amnesia, as is the case with Wonder Woman here, is usually in seeing them slowly discover what they're capable of. So, while Diana obviously couldn't be unaware of her super-strength, it would've been nice to see her re-learn her other abilities one at a time.

What I do like about the story, however, is how Simone handles the Yanna thing. Initially, as noted above, it seems like we're reading an Elseworlds story, where "a version" of Wonder Woman exists in Conan's time. She comes from a tribe composed entirely of women, her name is clearly close to Diana, etc. -- but when we learn that this really is the Wonder Woman, and it's confirmed that Yanna was a totally different person, it initially feels like a cheap trick on Simone's part. But, as the story ends, Yanna (not as dead as Conan had long thought) posits that there are versions of all of us, reborn periodically throughout the ages -- and that in a way, Wonder Woman is her. This theory reaches a confirmation of sorts on the final page, when Diana, back in the present day, bumps into Conan's doppelganger at a coffee shop (hilariously, he looks exactly like Conan -- barbarian face, long hair and all -- but in a suit and tie).

Anyway... while the story has its moments, and features that cute ending, overall it just feels like it could've been more. That said, the artwork by Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan is gorgeous throughout. I know Lopresti had a run on WONDER WOMAN at some point, but I'm unsure if he's ever worked on Conan outside of this series. And if he hasn't, he really should!

Lastly, a random note: it's kind of funny how you'll sort of lose track of comic creators over the years. I remember Matt Ryan primarily as an inker over Andy Kubert on X-MEN in the early nineties. Beyond that, I have no idea what he's done in his career. So it was kind of a nice surprise to randomly find his name in this book, and to see that his inking style, while evolved, is still recognizable. Overall, I think he's a really good inker. I wonder what he was up to in the twenty-five or so years between that X-MEN run and this mini-series??

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