|CONAN THE SLAYER No. 3, September 2016|
Predominantly focusing upon the Cimmerian’s captivity within the lair of “a monstrous Sea Troll”, such is Cullen Bunn’s marvellously atmospheric writing for Issue Three of “Conan The Slayer” that it is hard to imagine the vast majority of this twenty-two page periodical’s 8,879 followers actually not smelling “something rotten that had been cast up by the sea” whilst reading the comic book. Indeed, one can almost taste the stinking salty aura of the reeking clam-festooned she-hag who holds the barbarian prisoner before “the croaking, guttural voice” of “Mother” has even been heard, or her ‘terrible countenance’ seen; “What manner of nightmare hellspawn are you?”
Disappointingly however, this pungently disconcerting confrontation, made all the more unnerving by the warty woman’s desire to “breed” with her heavily-muscled prize repeatedly until he lives “long enough to see the sons you sire born”, is frustratingly ruined by the North Carolina-born novelist’s decision to abruptly switch the narrative’s attention away from the squirming warrior’s predicament and instead momentarily centre upon the fate of Conan’s comrades tied up outside. This temporary respite from the skin-crawling machinations of the protagonist’s ‘less than pleasing’ captor is admittedly just as tensely scripted as its predecessor set within ‘ a sea vessel which hasn’t been seaworthy in many years’, especially when three hungry Sea Trolls tell the bound humans they’re next as the monsters hungrily tear great chunks out of a dead horse’s carcass. But the timing of such a gruesome sequence leaves a lot to be desired and perhaps unkindly could be criticised as lazy penmanship on behalf of the GLAAD Media Award-nominee’s part as it allows him to subsequently avoid explaining just how Conan slipped his heavy shackles and “spurned” the “Hagmother’s advances.”
Fortunately, once Robert E. Howard’s creation does re-appear Bunn’s incredibly wordy, yet thoroughly enthralling narrative, certainly picks up pace, and within moments of the unarmed Cimmerian crash-landing onto the beach’s surf, Sergio Davila is dynamically drawing roaring charges, monstrous weapon swings and plenty of severed limbs. In fact, whilst depicting the Barbarian and his friends gorily dispatching the She-Troll’s three formidable-looking sons, the Spanish artist seems to somehow increase the amount of blood on show per panel just as Cullen diminishes their dialogue.
|Script: Cullen Bunn, Artist: Sergio Davila, and Colors: Michael Atiyeh|