23. Conan the Barbarian (Dark Horse Comics)
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Becky Cloonan and James Harren
Combining some indie sensibilities with the sword-and-shield flavor of the world created by Robert E. Howard, Brian Wood’s take on Conan the Barbarian has been surprisingly solid. Shedding the notion that the titular character be nothing more than a brooding, hulking warrior, Wood adds some much needed youth and humanity to Conan and his stories.
Trading in his usual gruff personality for a more approachable veneer, this book is for people that never would have dreamed of reading a Conan title beforehand. Adapting the classic "Queen of the Black Coast" story, Wood has managed to modernize Conan without losing the blood-splattered action that made him a household name.
Adding to this revitalized tone is the art by Becky Cloonan (Conan #1-3) and James Harren (#4-present). Gone are the abnormally large muscles and tasteless women; instead, we’re treated to a leaner Conan who travels the seas into beautifully detailed lands. With a mixture of great characters, sharp dialogue, and a wonderfully illustrated world, this new take on Conan the Barbarian establishes its own voice while also honoring decades of the character’s mythology.