Contrary to popular belief, Conan isn’t a fan favorite simply because he slices heads and ripples with muscles. No, what makes the books and comic books so memoriable is the world he inhabits. There’s mysticism around every corner, monsters to kill and wizards seeking evil artifacts. Last issue of King Conan offered up a fun romp with a mad as hell grey ape (not like that, sickos), but how does issue #4 fare?
King Conan: Hour of the Dragon #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
Missed our review of the issue #3? Check it out here.
This issue opens with an old timer Conan recounting the story to his scribe. It then cuts to where we left off last issue, with Conan fleeing from his captors after a damsel helped him escape. So it’s a bit odd to see Conan running away from a fight, but considering he’s outgunned it makes some sense. Unfortunately the bad guys have crows scouting for him so he’s still in a lick of trouble. Luckily, Robert E. Howard knew a thing or two about wonder. Conan comes across some dill weed soldiers who are giving an old coot a hard time. She’s a witch of sorts and with her Conan’s journey takes another turn into the mystical.
Don’t think that mystical has much to do with what the cover implies, however. The cover is a bit misleading as it’s not a werewolf or even a giant worg that shows up — just an average sized wolf. Oh, and Conan doesn’t even fight said wolf!
Writer Timothy Truman is adapting this little yarn from Howard’s book of the same name and so far he’s done a good job balancing out action and exposition. The last 5 pages or so do lean towards the boring side as they recap Conan on what has happened to his kingdom and the long odds it’ll take to get it back. That’s important information for the following issues of course, but it would have been nice to get a bit more visual entertainment from the pages. For the most part the art has characters simply telling Conan what happened, and short snippets of the events unfolding, rather than showing them in any potentially epic light.
The action that does take place doesn’t last long, but there is a sweet Beastmaster moment when the the crow gets an eagle to the eye. Artist Tomás Giorello continues to render Conan and his world in incredible detail which actually enhances the sense of wonder from this world. The problem though, is Conan meets up with two different characters who spend their time filling him in on what’s going on. I’m sure a single issue can handle one of these without slowing things down, but two?
It’s unfortunate so much of this issue is exposition which is made even more boring when you consider how much action was in the last issue. In some sense you can’t blame Truman or Giorello as they’re only following the original work, but I found myself wishing they did a little more with what they had.
It’s fortunate then, that the issue ends on a high note. While this issue has a glint of Conan goodness here and there, the final page sets up what might be a truly awesome 5th issue.
- Short action sequence is good
- Incredible setup for next issue
- Lots of telling not a lot of showing
This series has unfortunately been very uneven. There’s never a complete dud, but there are some that dazzle and others that fizzle out. It’s partly due to massive amounts of exposition dropping in a rather boring way. While Giorello technically kills it in every panel his style makes the slower paced scenes fall a bit flat. There’s only so much mist that can punch up a scene and I think it’s partly due to his style. It works incredibly well for action sequences and dramatic moments, but if a sequence has a lot of exposition you’re sitting on only a handful of close ups.
Is It Good?
Not too great, but you’ll need to read this to enjoy the next issue I’m sure. It’s just too bad there’s so much damn exposition.