Conan of Cimmeria takes to the high seas, as captain of a pirate vessel, alongside his saucy female companion, Olivia.
Know, O Comic Book Readers, that as far as I’m concerned, Dark Horse can do next to no wrong when it comes to handling the Conan franchise. Add Roy Thomas, veteran Conan scribe, and you’ve pretty much got a formula for a quality barbarian yarn.
Conan and his merry band of dirty, disgusting seafarers rob and pillage ships, squabble between themselves and do the usual pirate thing. He and his shipmates, aboard The Saucy Wench (later renamed The Olivia) get a bit too cocky being the scourge of the Vilayet sea. They’re ambushed by Turanians and Conan’s course becomes unknown, as he and Olivia have kept a secret from the rest of the crew that could change everything for them.
To new readers, Road of Kings being labeled a first issue might be a bit confusing as it will seem to be written as though it was continued from a previous issue, where we should know that Conan has become the captain of the pirate vessel. If you haven’t kept up with the previous Conan of Cimmeria the lack of knowledge as to how Conan arrived at his current position will throw off new readers.
Hawthorne’s avoidance of penciling Conan as a hulking behemoth is a big plus. Sure, we know he’s a big, tough dude, but it’s annoying when artists draw him looking like the Incredible Hulk’s Cimmerian ancestor. Dave Stewart as usual, brightens up this book, making the pages pop out, with great and subtle skill. The cover by Doug Wheatley looks like it’s straight out of Savage Sword era Conan, automatically placing it in the “awesome” category.
This issue gets a solid three out of five, right in the middle. It’s just that new Conan tales have to be pretty strong to stand up to the classics, and this one isn’t too out of the ordinary just yet. The ending is set up to go any which way, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it unravels.