Monday, 5 September 2016

Conan The Slayer #2 - Dark Horse Comics

CONAN THE SLAYER No. 2, August 2016
It would certainly seem clear from the plot to Issue Two of “Conan The Slayer” that Cullen Bunn evidently sees the titular character’s tales as having “always been a fusion of sword and sorcery and horror.” For whilst this second instalment of his “Blood In His Wake” narrative primarily focuses upon Krylo’s ambitious plot to murder his father and become the leader of some Kozaki tribesmen, it also features the disconcerting presence of a skeletal Hellspawn who literally decays before the readers’ eyes, and a pair of fantastically formidable-looking sea trolls who seemingly ‘truss up’ their victims as “a totem of some sort” in order for their stench to hang “so heavy in the air, it feels as though it slickens my skin like sweat!”

Sadly however, the simple inclusion of these differing elements within the self-same twenty-two page periodical is not necessarily conducive to creating a smooth-flowing storyline, and despite the North Carolina-born writer’s intention to “bring those sensibilities to this series in a big way”, he does so in such a choppy, haphazard manner, that arguably many of this publication’s audience probably felt almost as if they’d missed out on an issue somewhere. It’s certainly seems rather odd that this comic inexplicably starts with Taraslan’s ambitious brother bargaining with the cadaverous Ghul over the Cimmerian’s murder during the middle of the night, when the series’ previous edition ended with Conan simply being freed and his “cunning enemies” slaughtered… And just how has the Kozaki Hetman’s youngest son managed to additionally barter with the Turanian cutthroats in order for them to kill some of his father’s scouts and “plant the tracks that led” the former Zuagir warlord into an ambush?

What Bunn’s narrative does appear to be good at though, is depicting plenty of Robert E. Howard-inspired pulse-pounding action once Krylo’s trap is sprung halfway through the magazine, and the barbarian’s party start to fall beneath a flurry of deadly arrows. Indeed, Sergio Davila’s breakdowns, which up until this juncture have arguably been competent at best, suddenly leap into dynamic life and quite breathlessly convey all the savagery of the protagonist’s fight for his life as he bravely charges straight into his aghast foes, dismembering and beheading them as he implacably goes; “I had thought you were more hunters sniffing after me… But it sounds as if you had another victim in mind. No matter -- you’ve found me nonetheless!”
Script: Cullen Bunn, Artist: Sergio Davila, and Colors: Michael Atiyeh

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