Writer and Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils: Mark Texiera
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
When Conan's bid to steal the Black Pearl from the holy city of Gouvia is foiled we see he is made an intriguing offer by the king, who offers to give Conan the treasure he was trying to steal after he rescues the man's kidnapped daughter. As Conan agrees to the deal he learns the kidnapped daughter has a twin sister who has decided to accompany Conan on the rescue mission, and what follows is a celebration of the violence that Conan can unleash upon anyone who stands between him and the goal he's looking to achieve.
When I encountered the idea that the daughters of Midora were twins I have to confess I pretty much knew where the story was headed, and Jimmy Palmiotti doesn't really offer up any unexpected developments, as even the surprise declaration of love by the kidnapper isn't likely to catch many readers off guard. I also have to say this one-shot does feel like it's missing the big climax as the earlier scenes of the issue paint the kidnapper as a powerful wizard, but when the final confrontation arrives Conan is able to achieve his victory rather easily. However, the issue is sure to be a fan pleaser in that the build-up toward this final encounter is utterly fantastic, and if nothing else it makes a convincing case that out of all the savages in comics, Conan is the top dog. In fact the battles that this one-shot offers up are about as good as it gets when it comes to capturing the spectacle of violence that Conan fans have come to expect. Yes this issue offers up no less than half a dozen decapitations, and how can one not love any battle scene where a character is able to run through two attackers with a single thrust of the sword, or when a thrown sword can bury itself in an attacker's head. Now I know this sounds like this one-shot is little better that a celebration of extreme violence, but truth be told I don't expect many readers entered this issue expecting Conan to resolve his problems in any other manner, and this one-shot is certainly playing to its reading audience.
Mark Texiera would be a regular on my top ten favourite artist list if his work showed up on a more regular basis, as he's a great artist with a fine eye when it comes to his delivery of exciting action, and naturally this makes him the ideal artist for a Conan adventure. Now there are a couple moments in this issue where the action suddenly jumps forward, such as Valensa's takedown of Conan, but for the most part the art does a wonderful job capturing the intensity of Conan's attacks, and there's several memorable images to be found in these pages, from the panels where we follow the path of a thrown sword, to the classic shot of Conan standing atop a mountain of bodies. The art also does a pretty solid job of capturing the idea that Conan can be downright scary, from the fury that is etched on his face as he addresses the king, to his expression moments before he reunites the lovers.
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