Conan hasn’t been this good since Arnold himself teamed up with Red Sonja. Brian Wood’s Conan is great but Conan and the People of The Black Circle by Fred Van Lente and Ariel Olivetti might be the best Conan book out there. It’s a fun book told through a bleak and drab fantasy world. If you know Conan it will only add to your appreciation, if you don’t know Conan you’ll want to after reading this first issue. Fred Van Lente, who currently has a book with every comic publisher from Valiant all the way through the spectrum to Marvel, spends most of this first issue establishing the world and its stakes. It takes away from seeing Conan in much of the issue but the world is set up in such an interesting way that you may not even notice. Van Lente’s characters are sharp and so well written they make readers clamor for a talk like a barbarian day. (That could be a thing right?)Conan has always been a difficult character to write. How can you give complexity to a character that’s suppose to be the ultimate brute? Here, Van Lente attempts to do so by bouncing interesting characters around him. We can’t give too many plot details without spoiling it but rest assured it involves ambitious brutality. Ariel Olivetti hasn’t had the best received run of books lately. Some of his most recent books were cut short due to sales, but he has been an amazing artist his whole career. Here his detailed painting style fits the Conan Universe to a tee. Where the drab could have been over done and desaturated the story; Olivetti pulls back from that brink with the occasional splash of warm tones. Let’s face it, the guy draws a kick ass Conan. This is some of his best sequential storytelling and it’s one of the most unique books, art wise, in the Conan library. Overall, Conan POTBC is a bit of a slow start but it’s so well written that you won’t even care. 7 out of 10! Solid! Dark Horse has the beginnings of another great series on its hands.