By this time you all probably know that I am a big fan of Conan and that the recent comics from Dark Horse are among my favourite of the bunch, whether we talk about Conan the Barbarian or King Conan or Conan the Avenger. I dipped into Conan comics proper last year with Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s Conan the Barbarian Vol.1 but kind of fell off after that, getting back into the swing of things with the ongoing King Conan: The Conqueror by Timothy Truman and Tomas Giorello. This has been a really fun series, whether we talk about art or story, and is definitely one of the best out there right now.
This week, Dark Horse released King Conan: The Conqueror #3 and it shouldn’t be a surprise that this comic is among my first reads of the week. Continuing the tale of a Conan who has become king and is reliving his glory days as he dictates his adventures to a scribe, King Conan: The Conqueror gets into the nitty-gritty of the character. It is interesting and fascinating and it plays up to the strengths of the character and the setting with its swords and sorcery elements. I really couldn’t ask for a better Conan comic honestly.
In the first two issues we saw how a Conan who had lost everything set upon the path of getting his revenge and how he went after the one thing that mattered most to him: a unique treasure from his reign as a King. The hunt for this treasure has seen him marked as a murderer and a thief, neither of which is a title that he has unfamiliar with and actually built his legend around them. Now he is reunited with the very corsairs that he once raided the Black Coast with as the pirate lord Amra, and he is slowly rebuilding himself, bit by bit. Of course, he is still on the hunt and this hunt now takes him to a place he has visited before, where he brought death and destruction many years before, the port-city of Khemi in the kingdom of Stygia.
The issue starts off on a great note as King Conan and his scribe visit a tomb being built in the former’s memory. His subjects and his ministers want to acknowledge his greatness and this is their form of expression. But Conan cares not for such things and shows that by pissing on one side of the still-being-built tomb. Totally Conan, that moment, I think. In those two pages, Timothy Truman shows Conan’s simplicity and complexity both.
The rest of the issue is taken up with the narrated flashback as Conan and his corsairs enter Khemi by stealth to find the priest of Set who framed him for a murder in Messantia and stole the treasure that Conan sought from the man who was killed. This adds in a lot of layers of mystery to the whole story and given how things play out, I’m very much reminded of the scene from the Arnie-starrer Conan the Barbarian in which Conan and his thief-friend steal into one of Thulsa Doom’s temples and confront a giant pet snake. The story has that same vibe, except that it is much better written and has much more immediate consequences for the hero.
Truman ends the issue on a very interesting note, by having Conan confront someone that he didn’t expect. No idea about the identity of the character, but the way that Truman sets it up, I have a feeling that things just got even more hellishly complicated for Conan. Which is fun!
Tomas Giorello and Jose Villarrubia are back for another awesome issue of the series, and their artwork here, whether the pencils or the colours, are all top-notch as always. I am still enjoying the visual aspects of this mini-series as much as I did the first two issues. Giorello and Villarrubia get a lot of material to play with in the second half of the issue especially, once Conan is in the temple to Set and is finding his way around without alerting anyone to his presence. The mood and the atmosphere that are built-up are pretty much perfect here.
Another great issue of the series, and I desperately look forward to the new issue at the end of May.