Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Cary Nord and Thomas Yeates
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
The one problem that I find myself having with this arc is that its main villain looks to be such a passive creature that whenever the story turns its attention his way, I find the considerable momentum that Conan's
activities manage to build are dampened by the simple fact that the big baddie is a bored and largely devoid of any plotting that would pose a challenge to Conan. Still, Conan is in fine form as he works to rescue his
allies from the spell that controls them, and there's a great moment of tension where we see the group begins to awaken and their new status becomes apparent to the guards the control them. I also loved the way that Conan steps up to the plate when it becomes clear that they're going to have to move against their captors, as there is something fitting about the idea that Conan's entire plan of escape involves heated combat with the entire kingdom of Hyperborea, and that he looks to be having the time of his life as he issues his threats in the final pages.
There's also a couple nice quiet moments, as we see Conan reacts to the urgings by his new lady friend that he exercise more caution, and that it might be best if he limited his actions to a less ambitious plan. There's also a nice follow-up moment to this scene where we see this young woman engages in a conversation with
herself, and comes to realize that her only hope rests in the hands of the reckless Conan. We also get an extended look at the back story of the Hyperborean race, and while there's no real surprises the issue does do a nice job of establishing how the ritual suicide came to be an important part of their culture.
The art does a perfect job of capturing the reason why Conan has assembled his legion of fans as the character spends most of the issue with a sword in hand hacking and slashing his way through a legion of enemies. The art also does a nice job of the little details like the fact that the lions that advance on Conan in the early pages of this issue have that slinking style of movement that many artist fail to capture, and there's a great transformation panel where we see the progression of the physical changes that the Hyperborea race underwent. Plus how can one not love the second to last panel of this issue.
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