Thursday, August 18, 2011
Conan: Road of Kings Issue 7
Best. Issue. Ever. Seriously, Conan:The Road of Kings issue #7 is my favorite yet. Roy Thomas, who started writing Conan's comic book adventures back in 1970, still is the man for the job. The dialog in this issue just sparkles. Though Thomas never wrote a Conan prose novel, I still consider him to be one of the best Conan pastiche writers, up there with Wagner and Hocking.
In this issue Conan somewhat reluctantly joins the private guard of a slimy prince, only to find that he has fallen in with a group of traitors to the crown of Aquilonia. But there's a traitor among the traitors and the King's own elite guardsmen show up to deal out some harsh justice. Conan would just as soon walk away but he knows that he's going to be branded a member of the traitors, so he does what any Cimmerian would do in such a situation. He draws his sword and cuts his way out. There's a catch however, when the daughter of one of the rebels is caught in the crossfire and Conan suddenly finds himself the protector of a small girl. Lone Conan and Cub? Most of the rebel leaders, including the girls' mother, escape. Won't find out where all of this is leading until next issue.
In addition to Roy Thomas's tight script, we get what has to be Mike Hawthorne's best art on the series yet. ( I know I say that every time but he keeps topping himself.) There are action sequences aplenty in this issue starting on page one, and Hawthorne delivers some terrific visual story telling as he shows Conan hacking his way through his foes. But Hawthorne also does well on the few quiet scenes, showing a range of expressions on the faces of the various characters that's darned impressive. Trust me, it isn't easy to show emotion with pencil and ink lines on the printed page. I hate to keep comparing this series to the old Marvel Conan, but with Thomas's mile a minute writing and Hawthorne's energetic art style (ably inked by John Lucas), this reminds me of the glory days of Conan comics. I keep expecting a Bullpen Bulletins page. And that is not a bad thing.
I see that the hardback collection of the first six issues of Road of King's will be out in February of next year. You can bet I'll be picking that one up.