Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

15 June 2012

Chronicles of Conan, v. 21: Blood of the Titan and Other Stories

Collects: Conan the Barbarian #160-7, Conan the Barbarian Annual #7 (1982, 1984-5)

Released: August 2011 (Dark Horse)

Format: 200 pages / color / $18.99 / ISBN: 9781595827043

What is this?: More Conan, although this time he starts adventuring with an old comrade long thought dead.

The culprits: Writers Michael Fleisher, Roy Thomas, and Larry Yakata and artists John Buscema

Chronicles of Conan, v. 21: Blood of the Titan and Other Stories coverI’m heading out on vacation, so I’m a little short on time this week. That’s fortunate, because there’s no reason to give a full-length review of Chronicles of Conan, v. 21: Blood of the Titan and Other Stories; most of what I said about v. 20: Night of the Wolf and Other Stories, holds true again. That being said:

John Buscema is still awesome, even if he still dresses Conan in a blue sleeveless T-shirt and a fur bikini.

— Giving Conan a sidekick — or partner — is a great idea by writer Michael Fleisher. Fafnir, left for dead in Conan the Barbarian #20, reappears in #161 without his left arm. His impetuousness frequently gives the stories an impetus they wouldn’t otherwise have, and he has a character arc — an obvious one, but at least it’s an arc, and it helps get rid of the aimless feeling Conan has had for quite a while.

— A character named “Gurneg” appears in three issues: Conan #160, 161, and 163. It’s a different character each time, and Gurneg always dies. What does Fleisher have against Gurneg? And why, after killing him three times, does he stop killing him?

— A fill-in issue (#164) is dropped into the middle of the Fafnir arc without explanation, which goes about as well as would be expected. Larry Yakata writes a surprisingly hard-hearted, battle-weary Conan that is more in line with creator Robert E. Howard’s barbarian than Marvel writer Roy Thomas’s Code-approved interpretation. Yakata’s Conan is just as stupid as Thomas’s, though.

Conan the Barbarian #164 cover— The most interesting part of the fill-in issue is trying to figure out the engineering of the woman on the cover’s top. It’s an exotic design I’ve never seen in the real world, and I’m at a loss for how it could work. At first, I was confused about where the two straps on each side went after crossing her bottom, but I see one strap on each side goes down a leg and presumably is tied around her foot or calf. But then I realized there should be something pulling her top up — looping behind her neck, perhaps? — but there’s no evidence of that. How does it work?

— Ending the book on a cliffhanger — two, actually — is an intriguing idea. It gives readers a reason to return for The Chronicles of Conan, v. 22: Reavers in the Borderland and Other Stories, and it helps distinguish v. 21 from all the other Chronicles of Conan volumes. I think I will know what will happen between Conan, Fafnir, and Noirelle in Conan #168, but I’m not sure.

— Well, I think there are two cliffhangers; Conan the Barbarian Annual #7 ends abruptly, without resolving the plot. There’s no indication of where Thomas’s adaption of L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter’s novel Conan of the Isles will be continued. Based on Annual #7, the story probably shouldn’t be continued; the story has 33 pages, but it has only one moment of excitement and is notable only for Buscema’s best artwork in the book.

Rating: Conan symbol Conan symbol Half Conan symbol (2.5 of 5)

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