"Two Nemedians Walk into a Bar"
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Cary Nord and Thomas Yeates
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
After watching a couple thugs shake down a tavern owner, we see Conan steps in to state that he's less than impressed with the quality of their efforts. He than regales them with a story of his recent activities, as after he was insulted by the town's magistrate, and his demand for an apology fall on deaf ears, Conan took steps to express his dissatisfaction with this nobleman's haughty nature. We than see the town guards storm the tavern, and they come to believe the two thugs are guilty of Conan's crimes.
I was once part of the group of comic readers who looked upon Conan as little better that a comic starring a sword swinging warrior with a limited entertainment value, but nine issues into this new series, and I'm ready to slap some sense into my previous uninformed self, as Conan is one of the most entertaining comics on the stands. It's certainly Kurt Busiek's best work outside of his Astro City ventures, and if I had to recommend any title to a reader looking for a new title, Conan would be right at the top of the list. This issue is a done-in-one adventure, and while there's not much in the way of action, it's a very engaging little read, as Conan's pride in his ability to thumb his nose at authority is on full display. There's also a couple great character moments starting with Conan's opening exchange with the two thugs, as he makes it clear he's not overly impressed by their claim that they are the bold thieves of Bertinus. I also had to smile at Conan's inability to recognize that it's not a good idea to insult the city's magistrate, and his steadfast belief that the man owes him an apology was a lot of fun. The final sequence where Conan leaves the two thugs to take credit for his crimes made for an amusing finish. The final page also does a pretty nice job of setting up the idea that Conan is about to encounter a threat that should prove to be more than his match.
Cary Nord is back providing the art, and while I enjoyed the guest-art this issue does a fine job of reminding readers why they should be grateful he's the book's regular artist. Now there's not much action to speak of in this issue, as Conan refrains from using his sword in combat, and there's nary a decapitation to be found in this issue, but the art does a wonderful job when it comes to capturing Conan's supreme confidence as he boasts about his recent action to a rapt audience. I mean how can one not love the scene where Conan emerges from the shadows to confront the boastful thugs, or his expression as he responds to the idea that he had just performed a masterful manoeuvre in framing the two thugs for his crime? I also have to make mention of this issue's cover visual, as Leinil Francis Yu offers up a wonderfully moody visual, that perfectly captures Conan in the midst of heated combat.
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