Friday, October 21, 2011

Conan Road of Kings #9

The good news is someone ran off the creepy giant bugs who were attacking Conan and his small charge, Albiona at the end of Conan: Road of Kings issue #8. The bad news is the bugs were sent packing by ZOMBIES, so the first several pages of Road of Kings issue #9 were a torch lit battle with the undead horrors. But the good news is the fight with the zombies was ably illustrated by artist Dan Panosian, who is spelling regular series artist Mike Hawthorne for two issues.
Panosian's approach is a bit more rough hewn that the team of Hawthorne and inker John Lucas,(And by that I mean that Panosian's work has a more textured feel to it. Different inking style.) but it fits in nicely with the overall look of the mini-series. I enjoyed his art quite a bit.
Once again veteran Conan writer Roy Thomas puts more story and plot into one issue of a comic than many of today's comic book writers use in a six issue arc. Let me give a couple of examples. During the battle with the zombies Conan banters with a Gunderman Priest named J'honn. This may seem just an entertaining way to counterpoint the grim and deadly goings on, but it also makes you like and care about J'honn. In books we call this characterization. In comics we call this rare.
Also, the little girl Albiona, whom Conan is protecting, actually saves the big Cimmerian at one point, when he has fallen under a mass of the zombie attackers, by setting one of the creatures on fire. This will matter near the end when Conan has a chance to basically get out of Dodge, but he won't leave the child to her fate. Even way back to his Marvel days writing Conan, Roy Thomas understood the sort of rough honor the character displayed in the original REH stories. Conan might have been a thief and a killer, but he wouldn't desert a comrade, even if that comrade is just a child.
And there is yet another character driven surprise waiting at the end of the story. Amid all the action, monsters, and magic, Thomas is still telling a story about people. That's writing, folks.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you across the board.
I'm pretty sure this is the best pastiche Conan storyline that Dark Horse has shown us thus far.
But if you look around the web it's hard to find many readers giving Roy Thomas the credit he is due. Seems a shame.


Charles R. Rutledge said...

Indeed, John. Most articles and comments I've seen have focused more on Mike Hawthorne's art (also underrated, I think.) than the story lines. I was re-reading some of Thomas's Marvel Conan stories this weekend, and Road of Kings seems as strong to me as any of Thomas's work that weren't REH adaptations. Thomas managed to keep the REH feel to his pastiches, then and now. The man still has it.