"The Hand of Nergal"
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artist(s): Tomas Giorello, Jo Mettler (c), Tony Shasteen (c)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
In his creation of the Cimmerian, Robert Howard did a wonderful thing. He didn’t just create a character, but more like three; Conan the youth, Conan the man and Conan the king. In the various adventures Howard wrote for the many facets of Conan, the barbarian was many things; thief, mercenary, noble, to name a few. Many of these have been explored in other media, but the one that is least looked at is Conan as a leader of men. The Cimmerian was a natural born leader, fiery, charismatic and someone who led not by saying, “Charge!” but by saying, “Follow me!” This latest story arc from Dark Horse promises to look at this aspect of the character. This first issue of it is very promising, giving readers great fun in the process of developing the on-going story as well as the character.
This is accomplished in a number of interesting ways, all true to Conan’s spirit. Happening upon a camping army, the brazen barbarian merely strolls up and asks for a seat at the fire. While this may be no thing in the frozen north, but in the civilized south Conan receives an understandably hostile reaction from the group of nervous men. Not dissimilar to the opening of The Pool of the Black One, Conan quickly asserts his status by beating the best fighter. This provides the remainder of the story plenty of opportunities to display Conan’s natural leadership aptitude as he handles himself among the new men, with a new commander and a new situation.
Regular readers are probably more concerned with the new artist, though. Fortunately, anyone can evaluate it by looking at the cover, since Tomas Giorello also did the interior. Giorello has been honing his craft at all sorts of sword & sorcery projects in the past, and it shows. Detailed, strong work makes Giorello a fine successor to Cary Nord. Hopefully, readers will see lots more of him on this title.
My only complaint about the story is the contrivance that comes up in order to keep Conan wearing little more than a thong. Even in Dark Horse’s recent Midnight God, with Conan as king, he wore little more than a diaper. Despite that most of his original descriptions have him wearing some kind of armor (a rational thing for a warrior) somehow pop culture has conspired to keep the Cimmerian half naked.
That’s more of a pet peeve than a comment on this issue, however. With the all of the new crew on Conan things look very promising with this first issue, which manages to deliver everything from black sorcery to a bit of humor.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the author’s work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
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