COMIC REVIEW: King Conan #5 (Dark Horse)

Dark Horse‘s King Conan: The Conqueror No.5 continues to unfold its episodic storyline while remaining faithful to the original look and feel created for the character by creator Robert E. Howard who debuted the sword-swinging icon in a 1932 issue of Weird Tales.

 Writer Timothy Truman (Hawkworld, Turok) does a superb job recreating the feel of Conan’s incipient beginnings as he adopts the original script of Howard’s storyline “The Hour of the Dragon”.

The issue opens with Conan, the larger than life deposed King of Aquilonia, as he ascends from his imprisoned location far to the south of his beloved lands to take back what is his. Meanwhile the conspiratorial foes who took his throne revel in their spoils following his absence. Their debauchery is illustrated in sweeping and beautiful panels by artist Tomas Giorello (Conan, Star Wars).

Once news of Conan’s apparent resurrection reaches their duplicitous ears Conan’s betrayers very quickly fall upon one another in accusations before being forced to defer to their wizardly overlord Xaltotun. But Xaltotun’s sorcerous bloodline troubles the doomed usurpers almost as much as Conan’s approaching vengeance yet the only one who voices these concerns is quickly silenced by the blasphemous magician.

It’s a plot sprinkled heavily with exotic words and peoples ripped from the mythical days of prehistory.

Populated by the shadowy vampiress Akivasha and cowardly conspirators Valerius, Orastes and Amalric the comic also brings with it inhabitants such as the corsairs of Kush and the hunkering armies of Gunderman and Bossonia as the comic swirls up from its pages to envelope you in the days of ancient dominions.

With brooding and pulsating panels drawn by Giorello the story reads like a true epic in the tone and flavor of Gilgamesh or Beowulf, light on plot but one that heavily paints a larger than life hero engaged in a struggle brought by the only noble rationale for which one is every truly prompted into battle: redemption.

Giorello’s wonderful art and Truman’s talent for one-line exclamations capture the bombastic feel of a Homeric hero whose deeds are without question bound for immortality. Issue No. 5 takes Conan back to its old school roots and does so with triumphant fanfare and welcome rendition. All hail the King!

Rating: 4/5
GS Blogger: Jesse B

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