What can be said about a second issue in a multi-chapter miniseries? Well, unlike the first installment (which basically serves to ‘set the stage’), the second usually is where the writer and creative team step up the pace in order to put the grand adventure into gear. Sure, there are new faces, but they’re usually secondary of importance to those smilers introduced right out of the gate. The hero may take a step or two forward on whatever quest befits him; but, generally speaking, plot development takes center stage along the arc unspooling before your eyes.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product’s advertising: “Conan finds himself chained on a galley ship manned by some of the Black Corsairs he once sailed with in his youth! If he’s to reach Stygia and recover the magical jewel he needs to regain his throne, he’ll have to lead a slave uprising and reclaim his old title: Amra the Lion!”
As the story opens, the elder King Conan continues recounting his tale to Pramis, his scribe – a narrative device that basically used thus far to move the story from reflection to action inside Dark Horse’s pages. On that score, THE CONQUEROR marches onward, giving Timothy Truman that chance to continue this adaptation as well as granting Tomas Giorello, Jose Villarrubia, and Richard Starkings to ply their wares in the graphic department. These pages recount Conan’s trip on the sea – the panels are shaped with a kind of seaworthy desolation with the singular Cimmerian sweating it out under the son secretly surrendering to his ill-fated decision.
But as often is the case in any Conan adventure the Fates aren’t done with him yet, and he finds himself soon at the mercy of another potential master, a circumstance every reader knows the strongman will right swiftly. He does, and his efforts strike a relatively convenient bell with those who served with him previously. The action gets hot, heavy, and harrowing (for those on the losing end of his sword), and all that gets accomplished in this issue is that the barbarian shows readers once more why he’s the master of his own destiny perhaps better than anyone else from the Hyborian Age.
Truman and his team build reliably on the narrative laid down in the first installment, dishing out much of the same in terms of tone, look, and style. Thus far, a surprising amount of THE CONQUEROR relies heavily on past events – i.e. the elder Conan recounts this story to Pramis; the oarsmen recall Conan as ‘Amra the Lion’ whom they previously served; etc. While there isn’t anything all that wrong with it, the developments here are pretty slim to really sink one’s teeth into. Largely, pieces are moving about on a chess board, being put into place where they must be for the real tale to begin; in the meantime, enjoy the scenery, pretty much like you did with the last issue.
KING CONAN: THE CONQUEROR (Part 2 of 6) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Timothy Truman; the art is supplied by Tomas Giorello; the color artist is Jose Villarrubia; with lettering supplied by Richard Starkings & Comicraft; and the cover artists were Tomas Giorello and Jose Villarrubia. The work is an adaptation of a story written by Robert E. Howard. The issue bears the cover price of $3.50, still a bargain so far as this reader is concerned.
RECOMMENDED. Essentially, Issue 2 of THE CONQUEROR offers little development other than to return Conan to the prime post of adventurer leading the charge. It ain’t a bad place to be; it’s just where you have to pass in order to get to what inevitably lies ahead. Fairly routine outing.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital reading copy of KING CONAN: THE CONQUEROR (Part 2 of 6) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
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