March 14, 2012

Dark Horse Reviews: King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #2

King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #2
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artist: Tomas Giorello (cover by Andrew Robinson)

It seems as though even a great warrior can become soft and sluggish. It appears that King Conan is not as sharp as he once was, but he does know to heed the warnings from the Nameless Old Ones. These elder gods can bring warnings to those of their choosing, and now they have chosen to come and warn King Conan of certain peril. Behind closed doors, Thoth-Amon is trying to swindle his way out of his servitude, and get close to another who he thinks can help him find his missing ring. This ring was a huge source of power for him and he can’t really do more than just parlor tricks without it. He tells the tale of how he was once a great wizard and served a mighty king back in the day in Stygia. Thoth-Amon is no slouch when it comes to magic, and if he gets a hold of that ring again, we will all see his unforgiving, evil actions!

Once again, Truman has written an action packed issue that shows Conan not only as a warrior, but also as a king that has indeed matured. In the past, Conan would rush into a situation head first, but now he’s older, and presumably wiser, so Truman gets that, and shows the reader in his own way. The flashback scene where Thoth-Amon recollects his previous actions is by far my favorite part of the book. We see how devious and horrifying his actions were back when he was more powerful.

Tomas Giorello’s art is reminiscent of the same style that was used in the Conan books back in the 1970s. A very real looking backdrop, with a slightly dark and mysterious looking setting. He does a fantastic job with Thoth-Amon, making him look sinister and very creepy, which is perfect. He also draws the rich kings and other royalty as you’d expect them to look back then. They are all quite a bit overweight, and very soft looking. They also have rooms full of gold trinkets and mirrors with silver trim (I’m generalizing here). These things might not seem like much, but when you really look at the book, it makes it that much better. Rating 4/5

I’ll be totally honest here, and I may have mentioned this before, but I only started reading fantasy comics a couple of years ago. Before that, I was mostly a superhero reader, with an occasional horror book sprinkled in. I have to say that Dark Horse is doing a tremendous job with these remakes of Robert E. Howard’s best stuff. I am so hooked on Conan and Kull, that I’m going to start buying all the trade paperbacks that have previously been released.

Billy Dunleavy


One Comment

  1. Friggin’ fantastic news! I’m glad they’re keeping up the great level of work with these stories!

    Great write-up.

    Interesting comparison of the current art style to the oldschool 70s look. I enjoyed a lot of those as a kid. I’ll definitely have to pick this up as well.

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