"The God in the Bowl, Part Two"
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Cary Nord and Thomas Yeates
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
As Conan finds himself accused of a murder that he didn't commit, we see the lead investigator remains sceptical that Conan is the killer, as the clues would seem to suggest there is something more to the case. As the temple is searched for another killer we see Conan is afforded the opportunity to clear his name, but when the man who hired him to make the late night visit to the temple lies to cover his own guilt Conan reaches the end of his fuse. Conan is also afforded the opportunity to deal with the true murderer.
I don't want it to sound like I enter this title simply looking for sensationalistic violence, but truth be told Conan's little temper tantrum in this issue was really the only scene that truly caught my attention. Now I'm always game for a good old fashioned murder mystery, but since it's clear right from the first page that the killer was sealed inside that jar, there really isn't much enjoyment to be found in trying to guess the killer's identity. The book doesn't exactly help matters either by pounding the idea of Conan being viewed as the primary suspect into the ground, as simple logic tells one that Conan isn't going to be burned at the stake, or spend the next ten years of his life toiling away in a salt mine, so the threats made against him have a rather empty ring to them. However, the biggest disappointment I found in this issue is that when it finally gets around to revealing the true killer, the creature is killed off in such a rapid fashion that I found myself checking to see is a couple of page had stuck together, and I had simply jumped past the exciting battle scene that the build-up had certainly left one expecting to see. However instead of a battle we get a scene that establishes the monster is able to hold its victims under a mental sway, but Conan is able to remain free long enough to swing his sword and remove the creature's head from it's body. In the end this was a rather mundane outing, with the only moment of enjoyment coming when Conan decided to register a complaint against his former employer.
Cary Nord is called upon to build a sense of foreboding as the issue spends a fair bit of time selling the idea that there is something evil lurking in the temple, and the panicked expression of the little man does a great job of reinforcing this notion. The art also does a pretty effective job of conveying Conan's growing annoyance, as one could almost see the steam exploding out of his ears when his former employer decided to let Conan burn at the stake rather than reveal he had hired him. The art also does its usual spectacular job capturing the sheer intensity of Conan's attacks from the opening beheading scene to the wince inducing panel where Conan destroys a guard's jawbone with his foot. I will say that I wasn't overly impressed by the big monster that's offered up in the final pages though, as it's a rather generic design, and didn't strike me as being visually worth the build up.
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