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King Conan: The Conqueror TPB

    Todd Jordan
    Smut is good.

  • King Conan: The Conqueror TPB

    Published by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: Jan. 14, 2015
    Writer: Timothy Truman
    Artist: Tomí¡s Giorello
    Cover: Tomí¡s Giorello
    Purchase at Amazon

    Tim Truman and Tomas Giorello continue their glorious adaptation of Robert E. Howard's only Conan novel “The Hour of the Dragon”, this collection being the second half of the story, originally published in the comics King Conan: The Conqueror #s 1-6. The first half was told in King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon”, which can be read about HERE. At the end of this volume, the writer provides an afterward, and a bonus gallery of the pencil work taken from throughout the series. When things start out, King Conan is white-haired and on in years, and is telling his tale to a scribe named Pramis so that he may record it for the ages. And so the story continues…

    Conan's “friend” Publio is surprised, and not pleasantly so, by the return of Conan to Messantia. He becomes nervous at the mention of the Black Corsairs, and when Conan asks him of a thief looking to sell rare jewel he becomes downright shifty. Conan knows he's up to something, but not exactly what. Publio returns with some info for Conan which leads him to find the guy he's looking for with a burning hand print in his chest, and of course dead. Publio's deceit is soon realized, as is the fact that the jewel he seeks is on a ship leaving the harbor for points unknown.

    After taking to the seas in pursuit of the priest who snatched a powerful gem Conan is after, he realizes he made a mistake not preparing for his sea voyage. He's adrift at sea, no wind, no water, and blistering sun…a real shitty situation. But Crom loves Conan and a slave ship picks him up and expects him to follow orders and start rowing with the rest of the slaves. True to character, Conan doesn't take kind to being told what to do, especially from some douche bag slaver, and some ass-kicking ensues. Lo-and-behold, the slaves on the ship are actually The Black Corsairs, a band of pirates he used to run with back in the day, and guess who takes command of the ship….King Conan. They don't know him as the king, but as Amra the Lion, their captain. They join Conan and create a bloody mutiny, continuing on with the barbarian in his quest for that gem.

    Conan and The Black Corsairs make their way to the city of Khemi in pursuit of a gem-thief priest, who turns out to be a priest of Set, and the god they worship is not a friendly one. This priest's name is Thutothmes, and his plan is to kill the head of the Set Priests, Thoth-Amon, a name Conan knew too well. That stolen gem is the key to make Thutothmes' plan succeed. Disguised as a Set Priest himself, Conan follows them into their evil temple with no apparent plan (like Conan needs one). Plans are for fools, since things rarely go as planned, and someone Conan probably wouldn't have thought in a million years would show up. Not really sure what this person wants, but she is one fine comic book mama. This gorgeous creature can help him find the priest, but she shows her true colors before long. Conan knows a good thing when he sees it; lucky for him he knows a bad thing when he sees it too.

    Later on, Conan finds what he is looking for, but it may be too late. Thutothmes is already using the gem, the Heart of Ahriman, and he's looking to recruit an old friend. Before Conan can intervene, soldiers come looking for him in the name of the new king of Aquilonia, King Valerius. So he not only has to deal with the priests, now he has to deal with an elite team of soldiers. But has anything ever come easy for Conan, other than killing? Probably not, and it certainly isn't easy this time around. And if he thought the priests and mercs were a problem, wait until he sees what's coming around the corner.

    After the exiled King Conan dispatched Thutothmes and his cronies, as well as the new king's thugs, he's faced with the re-animated and dusty corpse of the one holding the sacred jewel, the Heart of Ahriman. In a surprise to Conan the corpse, who identifies itself as Thoth-Mekri, hands over the jewel and leads the bulging barbarian out of the labyrinth and to the open air. Armed with the Heart, he heads back to Aquilonia to fulfill a promise and to reclaim what was taken from him.

    Usurper King Valerius has made the role of king one of nothing more than fornication and drunken living, and the people of the land love Conan and will stand by him in his quest to reclaim the throne. That right there should scare the good king but he has the very powerful wizard Xaltotun at his side. Or rather, it's Valerius at the side of Xaltotun who is clearly in charge. Conan knows this of course, and he leads the charge of a legion of men to wage battle against the wizard and end him once and for all.

    Conan seeks to re-claim his throne and fulfill his promise to Zenobia that he would come back to free her, and with the help of his old banner men and those who see him as their true king, her sets out to do complete his tasks. The ancient wizard Xaltotun thinks he has the Cimmerian right by the short hairs, but we all know that won't be a successful venture for the dusty old man. But he does have one card up his sleeve, and if he plays it right….nah he won't. We all know who's going to win this battle, but Truman's usual talent for writing outstanding Conan tales makes it a battle well worth visiting.

    And battle it is. It's epic for sure, but the focus is on the activities of Xaltotun and his ritual of sacrifice he's holding during the big battle. He's knows what the chink in Conan's armor is and he will exploit it, as wells as eviscerate said armor chink. Zenobia is on the slab to be stabbed, but not on Conan's watch. He's got an ace in the hole: remember that Heart of Ahriman? It doesn't much care for the likes of Xaltotun and his magic any more than Conan does. King Conan obviously regains his crown, since throughout the six issue mini-series he's been telling his story, as a king, to the court scribe, but what a ride to get to that point.

    Tim Truman has proved time and again he's more than capable of telling great Conan tales, and his adaptation of Howard's book is of course no exception. Smooth dialogue, a nice consistent pace, and great narration are what you expect from Truman's Conan and that's exactly what you get. The barbarian is funny, a dick, an imposing force, and a horndog and Truman's voice coming through the character makes this series one of the absolute most enjoyable Conan reads you're likely to ever find.

    Tomas Giorello's art is masterfully detailed and intense, and his full page spreads are real eye candy. They way Giorello draws the Cimmerian is with power and a monolithic stature, just as the hero should be. Conan is larger than life and Giorello knows exactly how to portray him. Can he draw the ladies? Oh yes, fear not. And his action sequence with Conan making cat scraps out of some baddies brings out the gore to a nice level. And don't forget the colorist The Jose Villarrubia, whose work gives Giorello's pencils and inks an extra kick that just makes the book that much better.

    This is Conan, pure and unspoiled. The creative team does great justice to the character and their rendition of the Howard novel is excellent. Page after page, the output is of high caliber; big fights, big monsters, big boobs, and big Conan making for one great moment after another. This two-book trade paperback series is an absolute must for even passive fans of the character, as it's certainly up there with the best that Dark Horse has produced in the 10+ years of their Conan output.

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