Sometimes the difference between the heroic and the fallen amounts to little more than this one simple truth: the heroic tend to – more often than not – benefit from encountering allies in the most unlikely places. Not only that, but the truly heroic know how to best capitalize on the created alliance, which usually means getting the best bang for one’s buck while managing to preserve what it is about the protagonist that makes him (or her) so appealing. Throughout the years of reading Conan comic books, quite a bit of his adventures rely on alliances of this sort. Rather than chalk them up as little more than a narrative creation of whatever creative team is serving the Cimmerian, I tend to believe it the end result of our noble wandering doing plenty of good deeds while he’s been exploring his world.
Whatever the truth may be, it becomes very clear that the barbarian is going to need his friends before THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON comes to its inevitable conclusion!
(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 …)
Marching into the Iron Tower isn’t something any man would do, but – then again – Conan is hardly “any man.” While he was king, he took time to learn the tower’s many secrets, and that includes knowing private passageways whose use was restricted to the royal class. Naturally, this gives him an advantage in saving the lovely Albiona (who appears deliciously clad beneath very little fabric in a full panel, though marred with blood), as does the fact that her attackers thought their former king dead. What Conan learns is not only limited to the cruelest way to dispatch some ne’er-do-wells but rather is just how quickly evil rises amongst a populace left without a proper ruling influence. He barely recognizes most of those he presided over, and that doesn’t stop him from doing what he must to save the girl, escape the clutches of the criminal, and set off on the last leg of this adventure to bring the Heart of Ahriman home!
Like the song goes, “I get by with a little help from my friends,” and that’s precisely what serves the Cimmerian so well in this fifth installment. Those who would still serve him as king rise up to assist the man on his journey to re-assemble his kingdom. The fact that Conan showed mercy in the past – even in the most curious of circumstances – has gained him supporters he knew little of or about, and its these thankful souls that spur him on through this latest adventure.
Will it be enough?
Certainly, there’s no way to know with what scribe Timothy Truman and his team have turned in for this fifth issue. I’m still inclined to underscore something I penned in my review of the previous chapter: I’m not entirely certain all of this can sufficiently resolve itself with what may arrive in thirty days. There’s a kingdom left to rebuild, but the barbarian hasn’t even found the needed stone, nor does he know its exact location. What of the lovely Zenobia? Will he return to her as well, as he had promised? Surely, his journey to retake the throne won’t transpire without some massive conquest or legendary battle, and I find it impossible to believe Truman would tie all of this up in a single outstanding issue … yet stranger things have happened.
KING CONAN: THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON (Part 5 of 6) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Timothy Truman; the art is by Tomas Giorella; the colors are by Jose Villarrubia; and the lettering is by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. For those needing it spelled out perfectly, this is an adaptation of a tale woven by Conan's creator, Robert E. Howard, himself. All of its bloody glory comes with the cover price of $3.50, and that's a bargain at any slaying!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. All roads are pointing Conan to a gem of unimaginable power, though it remains perilously out or reach. Still, THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON has shaped up to be one admirable ride with some exceptional storytelling done by Truman, Giorella, and the others. Some of its been a bit grim, but aren’t the best adventures always a bit grim before the finale?
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 HOUR OF THE DRAGON (Part 05 of 06) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops". … more