I have not been too keen on this graphic adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s The Hour of the Dragon that was one of the last Conan stories written by Howard before his death. As with most Conan titles (books and comics), you get a mixed bag of some good, some not so good, and some downright awful. Now this adaptation, that is written by Timothy Truman and is drawn by Tomas Giorello, it has fallen kind of in the middle. The art has been really impressive, reminiscent of some of the classic Conan of the 1970s. But the story has been kind of so so. I have not been wowed and have been real close to dismissing it as one of the “fails” in a long list of Conan titles (books and comics…Hell, movies and television for that matter too.). Enter Issue #3. What’s the best way for a writer to write his way out of a jam? They keep writing is what they do. It worked for Howard who pumped out a large number of material for the short span that he wrote. And it appears that it has now worked for Truman too as for the first time since reviewing this series, I am beginning to warm up and like it. This one is by far the best of the three to date. I can’t quite put my finger on it as to what has changed, but I think it lies somewhere in Truman actually starting to write rather than just letting Conan curse, and take action. There is finally some personality in our barbarian who anyone who reads Conan knows that he is far more than just that simple description. He is a little bit of everything, and Truman begins to show that in this issue that as we get an old Conan reflecting on this story of his past (in a quite humorous way too), with the cut back to the action that for the first time, flows smoothly without the grunts, growls, and curses uttered. Truman has finally personalized the story and it is a huge improvement to the blah of the first two issues.
Issue three finds Conan fresh off the liberation of the slave crew of The Venturer arriving to the shores of Khemi, a snaky outcropping of Stygia ruled over by the equally snaky Priests of Set. Conan infiltrates the city and gets into his usual shanigans. But these acts have more purpose and focus than what has previously been displayed as he is on the brink of some serious political intrigue amongst the priests that puts the whole world in its crosshairs.
This is the first issue where Truman’s writing matches Giorello’s art which continues in that golden vein of old and legendary art style. Everything has finally found its balance and for the first time, I am actually intrigued and looking forward to the next installment.
All of the hype has been that this series is the Conan that Howard envisioned when he wrote it so many years ago. I had dismissed it, but with Issue #3, that quote may just be on to something. We will have to see. If it doesn’t live up to its hype, at least I can say that with this issue, that expectation was matched.
Writer: Tim Truman Artist: Tomas Giorello Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 4/30/14