May 3, 2012

Dark Horse Reviews: King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #4

King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #4 (of 4)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artist: Tomas Giorello (cover by Andrew Robinson)
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia

To say that Conan is a fierce warrior is a colossal understatement, of course, but even many years after he had become King of Aquilonia, he never became soft like most kings do. He was still quite a formidable opponent with a weapon, especially when his anger was aroused. In this instance, King Conan has been forewarned of an assassination attempt on his life by the sage Epimetrius. He was also given a blessing on his sword by him. Upon returning to his bedroom, Conan is surprised to see a squadron of men ready to try and kill him. Some of his own men, that have been plotting against him, have come ready to kill their king. The only problem with that plan, is that Conan isn’t ready to die tonight. A frenzied brawl erupts, with Conan initially swinging his trademarked long sword at anything within reach. He slices, decapitates, and just flat out cleaves a few men in half. After a bit, his sword gets broken during battle. He uses his wits to get through for a few minutes, then grabs an axe off of the wall. This is when things get even bloodier. Conan’s former friend, Ascalante, was the only one left when something else entered the room through the window. A dark, shadowy beast has now entered the fight, and what it will do isn’t a pleasant thought for either man! Thoth-Amon has sent an unholy beast to do his bidding, and it will stop at nothing to kill Conan, and any other person in its way.

Truman has done it again with this character! He takes a tale about a warrior that can sometimes be perceived as dull or repetitive, and makes it riveting. From the plot to kill Conan, to the meeting with the spirit of Epimetrius, this series was great. A great villain, an even greater hero, and of course a scary beast to top it all off, makes this mini-series a winner! Truman really “gets it” with this character. You can’t just portray him as some dopey muscle-head that swings a sword around, especially at the point in his life when he was king. He’s still a fierce warrior, but also a king that has proved that he can make decisions for his people first. Kudos to Timothy Truman for his work on this book (And the others, too!).

What can I say about the artwork, other than that it was right on par with the writing. Giorello’s style does the book justice and then some. He represents Conan impressively from a standpoint of being a king that is very intimidating, both physically, and from a royal standpoint, as well. The beast at the end is quite good, too, along with Thoth-Amon. He makes Amon look like something out of an old school horror flick! Villarrubia adds colors that accentuate the pencils for sure. The mostly muted colors fit nicely in this book, particularly when you think about the time period. He also uses a good color for the blood. Not too dark or light, but just right for those action scenes! The cover by Robinson is the icing on the cake, as he did a fine job, too! A Conan book at its best! Rating 4.5/5

Billy Dunleavy



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