Dark Horse’s Conan comics are some of the most consistent books on the market, and while they never really do anything that new, if you like one, you’ll most likely enjoy the rest. Full of brutal action and daring adventure King Conan does not disappoint. While the current ongoing series Conan The Avenger is a good book in its own right, King Conan continues the much more classic feel of older Conan titles, much more in line with the 70s Marvel Conan than the modern incarnation. As always the team of Tim Truman and Tomas Giorello deliver. Truman’s reverence for Robert E. Howard’s writing style hearkens back to the halcyon days of pulp fiction. And Giorello brings us beautiful painterly-style art in the vein of some of the best illustrators of their day: Hal Foster and Alex Raymond. In fact if Conan had been adapted to comic form in its own day either one of those great cartoonists could have done a brilliant job. King Conan: Wolves Beyond The Border starts out as many of the King Conan miniseries do, with Conan bored and discontent, seeking adventure wherever he can find it. An old ranger encounters Conan and his royal guard when he is out looking for trouble in some dingy pubs around his capital city. The ranger recounts a tale of Pictish witchcraft, and a crown that haunts its wearer. The ranger leaves the crown in Conan’s hands and departs Aqulionia for a quieter life, and Conan thinks no more of it until later that night when the crown begins to speak to him. In an ominous, prophetic tone a voice comes from the crown that tells Conan that the gem embedded within it once belonged to Kull, Conan’s ancestor, and another one of Howard’s characters. This gem has the power to stop a war between the Picts and Conan’s people and bring about five hundred years of peace if he chooses to travel across the Western seas to uncharted lands, and here Truman leaves us with Conan jumping on a horse and riding off to meet his new challenge head on.
Honestly, I love Conan. For me it’s one of those comics that is just pure escapism. You can read into them like any other work of fiction, maybe find some type of intelligent deep-reading element hidden within the subtexts, but for me they are better enjoyed at face value. It’s just one of those comics that I can slip back into after not reading it for a long time, because the stories are mostly standalone or short miniseries that are easily accessible, and easily digestible. That isn’t to say that Truman’s writing is watered-down, the stories themselves are well written and really any fan of fantasy should enjoy the adrenaline fueled action that surrounds any Conan comic. King Conan: Wolves Beyond The Border is just classic pulp fun, the perfect distraction from everyday life, forget your worries and let Conan guide the way.
King Conan #1 Writer: Tim Truman Artist: Tomas Giorello Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/23/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital