Conan 2099 #1
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Roge Antonio and Erick Arciniega
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The most popular barbarian in the Marvel Universe takes to the future nicely in Conan 2099 #1, as writer Gerry Duggan and artist Roge Antonio deliver a surprisingly fun story that proves the sword-swinging antihero’s versatility, even when he winds up in a world that’s nothing like his own. Expertly threading the needle between Conan’s sword-and-sorcery roots with continuity-infused sci-fi, this one-shot might be the best thus far of the 2099 universe.
Duggan is no stranger to Conan, having written his adventures in Savage Sword of Conan previously, and he clearly hasn’t lost a step in terms of plotting out briskly paced adventures for the surly barbarian. While the initial timeline can be a bit fuzzy if you’re not paying attention, Duggan quickly gets us situated with Conan’s latest challenge - namely, he’s been cursed with immortality and ghostly possession by the sorceress Morgan Le Fay. It’s this status quo that nimbly brings Conan from the modern Marvel age to the year 2099, as he embarks on a quest to free himself from this mystical imprisonment.
It’s to Duggan’s credit that he’s able to bring Conan so economically through different areas of the Marvel Universe - while 2099 diehards might cry foul that he’s not specifically building up that corner of continuity, I’d say that he uses mainstream Marvel history in a way that will seem futuristic enough for most readers (and will be infinitely more accessible, to boot). While I won’t spoil the way that Duggan wraps everything up, it’s a smart take that leans nicely into the sci-fi of the year 2099, but still embraces the violence and determination that embodies Conan the Barbarian. It’s some really well-done stuff.
Artist Roge Antonio and colorist Erick Arciniega also prove to be more than up to the challenge. Arciniega’s colors in particular lend a nice bit of mood to the story, which elevates Antonio’s work beyond what could have been just standard superhero fare - his use of reds, yellows and greens in particular is really striking. But that doesn’t mean Antonio is a slouch - because Duggan gives him a lot of breathing room with his pacing, most of the action sequences in this book looks superb, with only a couple of panels at the beginning being weirdly tight. Still, the place where Conan has his final stand is hauntingly beautiful, thanks to the way the art team closes out the book.
Given that some of these 2099 one-shots have been somewhat hit or miss, it’s nice to see that Conan 2099 has stood so strongly apart. While you might be forgiven if you think the Cimmerian is on his way to Wolverine levels of oversaturation, Duggan and Antonio deliver a well-crafted and super-fun story of this far-flung future, and honestly, they stick the landing on this stunt far more than one might expect. If you buy one 2099 one-shot, make it this one.