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.


Mikeyboy said...

Mikes CONAN reminds me of Val Mayericks....nice clean smooth and yet rough and rugged all at once. That is Talent.

Anonymous said...

First off, thanks for putting my name next to Wagner's. It emphatically does not belong there, but I appreciate the consideration.
I'm just now starting to read Thomas's Road of Kings, and getting a nice kick out of it. Nobody but REH ever wrote dialogue for the Cimmerian so well.
And reading that you think the latest issue is one of the best all-time Conan comics, well, you're like me and read them way back in the day. If it struck you that way i cannot wait to read it.

John Hocking

Mikeyboy said...


Charles R. Rutledge said...

Sometime I need to post some of Val Mayerick's sketches that I purchased years ago, Mikey. Val was also a karate teacher and he did an illustration that I used on my dojo rank certificates that was really cool.

Conan and the Emerald Lotus makes it to my top five Conan pastiches, John along with KEW's Road of Kings. I thought it captured the feel of Conan better than many others. We're definitely in agreement about Thomas. He sometimes wrote lines that sounded so much like something Howard's Conan would have said that it was scary, and issue #7 of RoK has one that's a corker. I think you'll enjoy it.

Cromsblood said...

Best. Review. Ever.

You make me smarter and it's much appreciated!