I’ve slowly started dipping back into comics, thanks to Dark Horse Publishing, who seem to be putting out the stuff that draws me back into the fold. They have CONAN! CROM!
I’ll admit that I have a slight obsession for anything dealing with the well known Cimmerian. Usually I wait for some sort of holiday to add something to my collection, but since Dark Horse gives us review copies every week, I decided that I didn’t want to wait on this latest series adaption of “Queen of the Black Coast”, especially since they are only 8 issues deep currently.
The premise is this, young Conan is off traveling the world learning his trade, expanding his knowledge, slaughtering his enemies and stealing their money. This story deals with Conan taking up the life of a pirate and meeting his first true love, Bêlit the pirate Queen of the Black Coast. She’s cunning, fierce, a master of tactics, ruthless, willing to kill anybody in her path and likes to wear the least amount of cloth covering her body as possible.
The story so far has been excellent, though when you’re adapting from Robert E. Howard it’s hard to be anything but Brain Wood does a great job of turning one of Howard’s greatest stories into comic form. I read through all of the first eight issues in a solid sitting. Conan battling for his lover and what he’s willing to sacrifice for her is an interesting change from the stories that you know about him. Conan would love a woman as passionately as he loved battle, and oh, how he loves battle.
Conan first ends up on a merchant ship after diving off a dock as the ship is trying to pull out of harbor. Conan had…killed some high ranking members of the law…in the courtroom, then escaped during the fight. Conan easily befriends the crew with his stories, and vows to repay them for taking him in be being their sword against pirate attacks, naturally Bêlit is the next attacker in the high seas, plundering merchant ships. When the whole merchant crew dies, leaving only Conan to slaughter the attacking pirates, he catches the eye of his first true love. With pale skin, long dark hair, and a beautiful body she names Conan her King and the crew who believes her to be a Goddess follow their every command.
Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say that the story is solid, it’s everything you’d want from Conan; violent, choatic, graphic and as barbaric as you could ask for.
The one thing that has bugged me is the art, which has been on a sliding scale of starting out great, changing artist after every three issues. Becky Cloonan started the series for the first three issues and did an excellent job, she nails the tone of the story and starts everything off great. Then we got the art with peoples mouths that kept bugging me, but James Harren’s artwork was really well done, I loved his tone, loved his scenery pictures for issues four through six. After issue 6 we got Becky Cloonan back for issue number seven, starting a whole new arc were Conan takes Bêlit to Cimmeria because there is an imposter using Conan’s name to slaughter whole villages in his homeland. I think it was this last artist for issue eight, Vasilis Lolos, I just could have had them stick with Becky Cloonan to finish this arc because the new art by Lolos never seemed to be anything that could match how the Becky started it or how James Harren carried his issues so well.
Still, this comic is highly readable to those of you that love all things Conan, or if you feel like you need a testosterone injection. Dark Horse are the only people in my mind that are worthy of adapting the legendary character of Conan of Cimmeria. I just wish they would stick with one artist.
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