It’s been a real hit and miss with me regarding Dark Horse’s adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s The Hour of the Dragon. There have been some hits… the art is incredible, some decent action, classic Conan feel, etc. But man oh man have there been some misses too… the story just isn’t so good. The flow is choppy, the plot is kind of predictable, etc. For most of this story, which now has entered into Issue #5 of a 6 issue series, it has been more miss than hit. My expectations had been lowered earlier on, but I have had just enough interest in Timothy Truman’s story, that I wanted to finish it to completeness. And I am glad that I have made that decision. Issue #5 is quite good hitting all the high notes and not lacking in anything bad that I can find. This is a first for the series to date. If anyone knows their Conan lore, there is a very simple flow of his tales… he gets started on an adventure, he gets beat down, he returns, and he meets his enemies in a final glorious battle looking to redeem all defeats, all while maintaining the same tough guy demeanor that we know and love. Issue #5 is the pre issue to the finale where Conan is returning to reclaim the kingdom that was lost to him and it works perfectly.
After a rather surprising acquisition of the Heart of Ahriman, Conan must leave the dark tombs of the Temple of Set in which he entered in search of the Heart. He has help and soon he is returning back to his kingdom, hell-bent on reestablishing himself from those who took it away from him. Those who did are taking notice, especially the one who set all of these events in motion in the first place. It all spells out for some good build up fun that makes the reader very anxious to reach the conclusion.
I always felt that Truman was writing reasonably well, but that he just was really tied into a mediocre story making for some real blah reading. He has shown some glimpses however and I think that those glimpses kind of come into full view here during this issue. There is a wonderful scene at the beginning where Conan is pondering his next move as he is facing down a very dead and old creature who wields the Heart. As he ponders what to do, the action goes on that creates the solution. After this, and in excellent writing form, Conan returns to his bold and brash self once again having his moment of contemplation wiped away. It was a nice touch and excellent writing.
Giorello continues to blow up the art ushering in a truly legendary look for a legendary warrior. He is the right man for the job as this art renders Conan in his purest and rawest form. It is stoic, strong and powerful, never cheesy, and definitely in the style you would imagine Howard had envisioned when he wrote his original story.
It has been not the smoothest ride for Truman, Giorello, and company in making this series, but I am happy to say that they are starting to pull things together now that we have reached the conclusion. The interest is piqued and I am sincerely hoping that they can unleash the fury that is worthy of the title in the wrap up. .
Writer: Tim Truman Artist: Tomas Giorello Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 6/25/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital