Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Cimmerian. These are the more popular names of the sword-and-sorcery hero Conan who has been a trend-setter for many decades now, his popularity itself going up and down a fair bit. Not all are familiar with King Conan however, from a time when Conan was no longer just a warrior and a mercenary but a ruler with far lands to call his own, with subjects, with a queen even. I started reading King Conan: The Conqueror from the mini-series’ first issue a few months back and it has been one of the most entertaining Conan stories I’ve read to date. Certainly among the best, by far.
King Conan: The Conqueror #6 marks the end of this mini-series and also of the story that began back in King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon. Now, everything that Conan has been through in the past five issues comes to a resounding (and somewhat obvious) conclusion and really, it could not have been better. Truman and Giorello take the reader for a ride through Aquilonia and beyond, and all along the way they are as impressive as they’ve ever been in this series. No doubt about that. This particular mini-series is certainly going down in my list as one of the best Conan stories I’ve read to date.
Having gained the Heart of Ahriman previously, Conan returned to the lands that were taken from him following the quiet civil war he was subjected to before the start of this series, and now he plans to take it all back. He has raised an army of loyalists from all over his former kingdom and now he marches on the traitors and villains who honorlessly deposed him, who took from him that which was his right. In many ways, while The Conqueror is truly a swords-and-sorcery tale in the way that Conan has always been, it is also something that I would call “high swords-and-sorcery” for it has a very strong epic fantasy feel to it, and that is something that I well and truly loved here.
To be honest, the only bad thing about this issue is that there is going to be a while before any new King Conan comics come out. Dark Horse have never been one to lay off a hot property, and certainly not on adaptations like this so I do hope that I get to see more of King Conan soon. In the meantime, I could very well be content to just re-read the whole mini-series and just blitz through it all. With this issue, Timothy Truman brings the reader full circle to where he started off, although readers like me who have not read the previous The Hour of The Dragon mini-series will miss out on things a bit. He still tells a rip-roaring adventure involving vile sorcery, heroes, grand armies, traitors and villains, heroes and vengeful loyalists.
In this issue, pretty much everything is perfect. The characterisation, the pacing, everything is spot on, and there really isn’t anything here that I feel was not executed well. Timothy Truman has been pretty focused on the endgame all throughout the story and he finally gives readers the ending that he promised in the previous issues, and it is a grand and spectacular ending, something that is Conan to its core.
And as for his framing device, that too comes full circle and once again Truman won me over with his excellent portrayal of an aged Conan reminiscing about the good old times.
Tomás Giorello and José Villarrubia, two artist that I’ve really come to love and respect from their work on this series. There is lots of blood and mayhem in this issue and they don’t stint on anything. Their art is brutal to its core and it gets across the endgame quite nicely in an awesome battle between Conan and Xalotun, the chief villain here. With all the different characters and the scale of armies involved here, Giorello and Villarrubia do an excellent job of maintaining the various differences and every page pretty much packs a punch of awesome and exciting.
What can I say? This really was truly awesome.