King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel #3
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artist: Tomás Giorello (cover by Darick Robertson)
As Conan stands in front of the most horrific thing he’s ever seen, and that is saying something, he doesn’t even understand what it is he’s looking at. He sees a man, but covered by what appears to be a plant that also seems to be feeding off of the man’s life force. After briefly studying it, Conan decides to move towards this abomination, and the plant lowers a crimson blossom over the man’s mouth. At this point, Conan cannot take the repulsive sight any longer, so he swings his mighty sword at its tendrils. The plant attempts to grab him, but he continues to hack away at it. Finally, the plant gives out a moan, and then releases the man. Conan thinks the man to be dead, but he rises and startles the King of Aquilonia. The man asks Conan what year it is, and when Conan responds, the man tells him that for ten years he’s been in the dungeon of that wizard. Conan eventually finds out that this man, Pelias, is a wizard himself that opposed Tsotha. He and Conan make their way to the exit, but are met by Satha, the giant serpent. Pelias uses his mystical chops to frighten off the serpent, and then also to reanimate the dead guard and unlock the dungeon door. Pelias then uses the crystal ball of Tsotha to show Conan that his kingdom is in dire trouble.
Overall another great issue from Truman and Giorello. Truman shows us time and again why he’s so good at these types of fantasy books. His use of King Conan as opposed to Conan when he was just a brash warrior is spot on. He really gives the reader some subtle but good things to show Conan is now a king, not just a brute. Conan speaks and acts more regal (for a guy killing giant plants and snakes), and when people hear him say he’s now a king, they listen to what he has to say. Giorello’s art is really engaging, too. His first couple of pages with the plant that has ensnared the wizard are just creepy. Looking at the panels is enough to freak you out.
Conan: Road of Kings #4
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Mike Hawthorne (cover by Doug Wheatley)
After last issue’s developments, Olivia is the captive of a thief that intends on returning her to her father for a reward. She tries to evade him on her horse, but he overtakes her, then threatens her with a beating if she does it again. Meanwhile, Conan has reached the city of Belverus and makes contact with the person that he is supposed to deliver the scroll to. As he follows his escort, he thinks an attack is coming, but nothing happens…until the floor gives way and he topples to a dark cellar where some soldiers are waiting. Conan swings wildly at them, but then gets hit with a mace on the back of his head. He wakes up in the presence of the King of these lands and is questioned. After being slapped around, Conan is given to the Inquisitor for torture. Once inside the chamber, Conan is strapped into an Iron Maiden. The Inquisitor asks Conan who sent him, but he refuses to answer. Then the spikes slowly start to pierce Conan’s skin. Before it can do any real damage, though, a blade is shoved through the back of the Inquisitors neck, and comes out of his mouth! The deadly assassin that was sent to kill Conan and his old partner (from last issue) has finally tracked him down, and is out for blood.
Quick note about the last couple pages of this issue. There is a big reveal, and a surprise one at that. I won’t spoil it, but it does shed some light on a comment made earlier in the King’s presence that seemed a little odd. Roy Thomas is one of my all time favorite writers. Mostly for his work on the Avengers, but also for what he’s done on Conan. He understands completely how to sell a story from beginning to end. Hawthorne is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists. If you look at page 4 of this book, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The look of the town when Conan first arrives is spectacular, and again, the guy knows how to draw a woman. Yeah, they’re curvy like most these days, but also smaller details like hair, eyes, make-up, and clothing look great as well. I can’t wait to see what happens after the reveal at the end of this issue!