Esad Ribić is a household name around these parts for his incredible artwork—you already know his style transformed Secret Wars into one of the biggest event comics ever published. When it comes to having an artist on a book, it doesn't get better than Ribić. Then, some time ago, someone deep within the bowels of 135 W. 50th Street, the home of Marvel Entertainment, decided to give the artist a writing gig.
Enter Conan the Barbarian: Exodus #1. If you're concerned about this artist taking over scripting duties, I'll tell you right now: You need not worry. Not only is his style perfect for a Conan story, but Ribić manages to piece together a tale that's deeply engrossing.
Right out of the gates, you'll notice Exodus isn't your average comic. In fact, it's the closest thing to a silent move you'll ever read from Marvel Comics. There's not a single speech bubble on the first fifteen pages and when dialogue arrives it's in a language foreign to Conan and the reader. Yet, it all works—and it all works incredibly well, at that.
Throughout the duration of Conan's time at the House of Ideas, his origin has largely been a mystery and we finally see a chunk of the story of how the Barbarian became who he is today. Despite no meaningful dialogue, there's never a point throughout a speech bubble is required to understand this beginning.
There's something about Ribić's style that needs no explanation. You see Conan shivering in the rough northern winter and you shiver with him. As he eats raw meat from the wolf he just killed, the elasticity of the meat makes you questions if you're hungry enough for dinner after all. The fights—which happen to be with wildlife more often than not—are some of the most brutal set pieces you'll witness this week.
From the first page onward, it's clear Ribić deconstructs everything you know about sequential storytelling. He disrupts the norm and does it his own way—and it sticks the landing on every single page. There's no denying Marvel pushes the boundaries on modern comics with this one and Ribić executes it to perfection. Conan the Barbarian: Exodus is as harrowing as it is beautiful. It's peak storytelling without uttering a single word and, I'll be damned, it's hard to put down.
Published by Marvel Comics
On August 13, 2019
Written by Esad Ribić
Art by Esad Ribić
Letters by Travis Lanham