Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Cary Nord
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
When the son of a king is sent to inspect some recently conquered lands he finds his attention is drawn to a monument that was erected for a warrior that went by the name of Conan. To this end he has his subjects begin an exhaustive search through the documents that were also uncovered for more information about this seemingly highly respected and feared warrior. What follows is a fairly quick summation of Conan and the role he played in the far reaches of this land's past.
I have to confess I've never held much interest for the character of Conan, but Kurt Busiek's name in the credit box, and a 25 cents price tag was simply too tempting to pass up. In any event this is a very enjoyable reading experience as Kurt Busiek knows who to tell a good story, and there is something rather engaging about entering a previously unexplored corner of the comic book reading experience with Kurt Busiek acting as the tour guide, as he's always been an exceptionally good writer when it comes to incorporating elements of continuity into a comic without making it seem like one needs decades of comic reading experience to enjoy the show. Plus the way this issue is set up, the point of view that is taken is essentially the same as a fan like myself who has little to no knowledge about Conan, as the story is told by characters who have never encountered Conan before. I also have to confess I rather enjoyed the opening pages of the story, as Kurt Busiek does a very solid job of selling the spoiled rotten nature of the King's son.
However, the one element about this issue that is likely to have me giving the upcoming monthly title a look is Cary Nord's absolutely stunning art, as this issue looks fantastic. Now in the past I'm had a bit of a problem with the process where the colors are dome directly over the pencils, but Cary Nord's work looks absolutely fantastic under this process. The art has a level of detail that is quite impressive, but what makes it truly work is the way the art is able to make use of its environment, as when they are moving through the darkened tunnels it looks like the place is lit by torches, and the establishing shots of the various lands that make up Conan's world are also quite stunning. There's also the shots that I suspect most fans of Conan are entering this book looking for, as the shots of Conan in the heat of a battle perfectly capture the idea that this is not a man one wants to mess with. Simply fantastic looking art.
You're not going to get me to say too much about this issue in this bad column, as frankly charging me 25 cents is the best way I know to earn a comic a spot in my good books. Still, since I do have to offer up something to fill this column I would say that this issue doesn't really sell the character of Conan as effectively as one would hope for in an issue that is clearly set up to grab the notice of the casual fan (like myself), and lure them into checking out the upcoming monthly title. I mean having the story set in the long after Conan's time is a clever way of encapsulating the character's history, but by the same token, it has one feeling a bit removed from the events. I mean we don't really get a sense of the character beyond how he was viewed by history, and while it's an exceptionally good showcase for some pinup art by Cary Nord, as essentially a newcomer to Conan's world, I didn't really get much insight into the character beyond the basic sense that he's a big guy with a sword who went around lopping people's heads off.
The Heads Will Roll:
On one hand this preview issue does little more that reaffirm the ideas that I already had in place when it comes to the character of Conan, as it essentially paints the picture of an ancient warrior who traveled the country with a big sword, hacking and slashing his way through anyone who was silly enough to get in his way. However, the stunning art of Cary Nord, and the idea that Kurt Busiek, a proven storyteller in my book, will be this book's regular writer, is enough to leave me willing to pick up the upcoming monthly series. This is a very enjoyable preview of Conan's world, and while it doesn't give us much insight into the character himself, Kurt Busiek only had sixteen pages to work with, so perhaps a general overview is the better approach, as this is essentially performing the same job as a movie trailer, and in that sense this issue sets up a pretty tantalizing picture.
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