"Rogues in the House" (part 4)
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artist(s): Cary Nord, Richard Isanove (c)
Publisher: Dark Horse
This fourth and concluding issue to the “Rogues in the House” storyline for Conan is the final issue where Cary Nord will be doing the interior art. While the Dark Horse team behind this book has shown in the past that they can find comparable artists to take up the mantle (and the very talented Mr. Isanove will continue to be on the book), Nord’s departure is enough reason to pick up this issue. Throw a wonderful translation of one of Robert E. Howard’s original stories on top of that and mix it with some interesting, original narrative, and you’ve got yourself a book that’s worth your three dollars.
As the end of “Rogues of the House” was by far the most action packed portion of the original story, the art in this issue takes center stage, depicting wonderfully brutal moments of violence. Whether it’s the coloring of the blood-soaked fists of Thak or the depictions of the beast and Conan fighting for their lives, the art in this issue does a beautiful job of bringing it to life. The high point, easily, is the creature Thak. While his huge cranium in his first appearance seems a bit off, the remainder makes it easy to understand the Red Priests panic at the thought of being trapped by such an animal. The culmination of this is Thak’s death throes, in which the art conveys such pathos that his status as an animal will be called into question for the reader.
Both the art and the writing succeed in eliciting some of the strongest themes of Howard’s work in the civilized versus the barbaric and the inherent honesty of the latter. The Red Priest, a foe as cunning and dangerous as any, panics at the possibility of facing Thak once the priest has been stripped of his tricks and traps. Even the Cimmerian is given pause at the idea of facing such a creature with little more than a knife. This pause, as well as Conan’s resolution through his primal beliefs, is depicted subtly and well. The Red Priest’s inevitable betrayal at the end only serves to emphasize the difference between the two.
The original tale of “Rogues in the House” is sandwich between two bits that promise that the intertwining stories that have stitched Howard’s work together will continue to be as entertaining as they have been thus far. A corpse collector in alliance with a priest certainly make for a sinister combination in future issues.
While Nord will be missed from the pages of Conan, his tenure up until now is certainly one for which any artist could be proud. Fortunately for readers, the remaining creative team looks like they’ll be delivering high quality work in the future, combining Howard’s work with new and interesting flair.
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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