Conan the Avenger: Shadows of Kush, Issues #2 – #5, reviewed
When I last talked about this new run, it was the inaugural first issue. Which was tremendously good. Now that I’ve gotten myself all caught up (hey, it happens) I’ve been able to get more of a feel for the story and what Van Lente is up to.
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When I last left off, the Witch Hunter Agara was looking for the source of sorcery that was plaguing the city. This lead Agara to Conan that had been used as a scapegoat after passing out from too much wine. As Conan rights the situation in the only way he understands, Agara comes to take Conan as an apprentice of sorts, though it doesn’t last long. The kings sister Tanada is travelling through hostile territory shortly after Conan takes the mantle of Witch Hunter. Through saving Tanada from a murderous crowd calling her a witch, Conan earns the title of Captain of the City Guard.
Not a bad upgrade.
Agara finds the truth of the sorcery, but pays a painful price when Lord Thuthmes traps the witch hunter. Meanwhile Conan is leading the city guard, and earning the trust of the men in his command. Things start to go south after he disobeys Tanada, flees with a slave girl, only to be ambushed by a horror from hell.
Fred Van Lente hits on all the traditional themes that you’d expect from a Conan comic. Brutality in combat, love in all the right (mostly wrong) places, and Conan acting on his wit and cunning that was honed in Cimmeria. This is a Conan that is still being haunted and/or guided by the ghost of Belit, his first true love. He hasn’t been able to shake her presence, and while he sometimes takes her ghostly council you wonder if he’s lost it. The story is engaging, one of my favorite parts being Tanada having to follow through on her own with the advice she gave Conan, shortly after his betrayal. Finding the nearest witchy looking person, pointing at them and shouting WIIIITTTCHHHH!!! I loved those panels, it just showed the mindset of those with too much privilege.
In typical fashion, the artists changed after the 3rd issue moving from the excellent work of Brian Ching to the work of Eduardo Francisco. Not to say that I don’t enjoy the artwork of of Eduardo Francisco, he is work on Turok looked really damn good, and is easy to compare to this Conan work. It’s just a slight annoyance getting accustomed to a certain artist and style, then having it switch gears. But, if you read Conan comics, this is the norm. You get with it. Eduardo has great lines, and I do enjoy his take on the Conan art, especially on the boar/beast.
Conan the Avenger is worth a read, even if you’re not purely a fan of all things Conan like myself. Heck, if you’ve only seen the movies with Arnold in them, you will enjoy these comics. It’s just fun blood, guts and Conan being…Conan. What’s not to like about that?