“King Conan” is all about the older Cimmerian, though here he relates a previous tale, so it’s kind of just like any Conan story. Dark Horse floods the market with Conan titles like it’s their “Avengers,” “Green Lantern,” or “Green Hornet,” but the difference is that the Conan titles feel consistent in quality and tone. Conan comics are good and this issue is a great introduction with an amazing selection of art pages.
It’s comforting that you always get a “Conan” tale when you pick up a Conan book. He is his own genre and this issue hits most of the standard tropes. (See Conan rage in battle. See a wizard or vizier get the drop on him.) It’s rarely human muscles that best Conan; It’s trickery and mystical deceit. See Conan get put into a precarious position, with a weird creature/foe addition highly recommended. Truman makes this issue hit all of the standard beats, and he uses the faux-Howard voice to mild effect. There isn’t too much in the narrative here that will completely shock you if you’ve read Conan in any form before.
However, the art in this comic is phenomenal. Giorello shows echoes of Barry Windsor-Smith in his line work and character composition. There are at least 6 massive panels, or splash pages, not to mention the double splash, that could be iconic and mountable images for this already highly visualised character. Giorello gets a lifetime pass to draw this character and his world because he does it with such texture and poise.
Robertson provides a nice cover, and he usually does a fine Cimmerian, but I don’t know why Giorello isn’t tapped to produce art that not only reflects the inside of the book but also has a greater chance of impressing someone scanning the shelves.
Villarubia complements the art at every stage as if he studied under Frazetta. The lighting and the shadow are effectively used to create a story that feels like it’s coming from the lips of an aging Aquilonian king. The art in this comic is worth the price of admission alone because you’ll feel like you stepped back into the “Savage Sword of Conan.”
This issue is a pledge that the rest of the mini is going to be absolute top quality. The last page alone shows you a brilliant image and a pulpy moment that forewarns further Conan levels of greatness. This title might not revolutionise the character but it plays so well in his sandbox that you’ll smile and never want to leave.