Advance Review: this comic will be released March 26, 2014.
Hell yeah! That’s all I can think after finishing off this latest amazing issue of the King Conan by Tim Truman, Tomas Giorello, and Jose Villarrubia. Hell yeah!!!
This is the fightiest, bloodiest, most action-packed issue that I can remember this genius creative team producing. There is some serious slaughter going on here. In the previous issue Conan was beaten, stabbed, and left for dead, but he somehow managed to get ahold of a dingy and continue his dogged pursuit of the gem that means safety for his kingdom. He doesn’t last long on the open sea before he’s captured and bound as a galley slave. But his slave-mates turn out to be his old pirate crew the Black Corsairs. It doesn’t take long for Conan to lead a revolt against their masters, and, well … judging by the results, the Black Corsairs had some scores to settle.
Plot-wise, this arc of Hour of the Dragon is a little ham-fisted. The coincidence of Conan being picked up by that particular ship containing that particular crew is more than odds can justify. It’s a deus ex machina plot twist that strains credibility to the extreme. Truman. Giorello, and Villarrubia wisely use the magician’s trick of distraction by giving you such a bloody spectacle that you forget all about the unlikeliness of the meeting. It’s all axe and rope and dagger and chain as Conan shouts “Kill them all!”
Giorello and Villarrubia get extra props this issue, as it is their stunning art that carries the story. There is something terrible about the look of glee on the Black Corsairs’ faces as they swarm against their captors. And there are some beautiful big shots of down the length of the ship, where Villarrubia gets to use a nice sfumato effect to turn a flat comics page into a 3D window. And man, it is great seeing Conan captaining a pirate ship again. It has been too long.
“By all the Gods of Hell, it was a massacre!”
It’s sad to think there are only four more issues of this incredible comic. Dark Horse has yet to announce anything new from the superstar team of Truman, Giorello, and Villarrubia, but there are still Conan tales for them to tell. Personally, I vote for Red Nails followed by Beyond the Black River and maybe The Black Stranger thrown in for good measure. Or maybe even something better. This creative team has proved themselves long enough to show that an ongoing King Conan series is long overdue. I would love Truman to have the space to tell some original stories in the world he has so carefully crafted—and maybe finally tell us the story behind that wicked scar his elderly King Conan is bearing.