Saturday, 31 December 2016

Conan The Slayer #5 - Dark Horse Comics

CONAN THE SLAYER No. 5, November 2016
In many ways one could argue that this particular instalment of Cullen Bunn’s “Blood In His Wake” story-arc sadly unravels throughout Issue Five of “Conan The Slayer” just as badly as the traitorous Kyrlo’s plans do to replace his brother as Hetman of the Kozaki raiders. It’s certainly hard to see any logical justification as to why the murderer’s demonic mentor has been helping Taraslan’s impotent, though undoubtedly “villainous sibling” rise to the chiefdom of a settlement of horsemen... Unless of course the decaying entity simply takes pleasure from instigating such random acts of “despicable treachery”; arguably a somewhat lazy motivation for a Hyborian Age character which hardly befits a script inspired by the carefully considered literary works of Robert E. Howard - “The father of the sword and sorcery subgenre.” 

Fortunately however, what the Cape Fear-born author’s narrative lacks in rationale, it more than makes up for with horrific action, as the Cimmerian faces a fortress filled with the walking, rancid corpses of undead warriors. Indeed, just as soon as the barbarian starts scouting the water-logged ruins of Gorey Castle, the pace to this twenty-two page periodical’s plot increases exponentially and packs almost every frame with as much gut-wrenching bodily mutilation and disembowelling swordplay as presumably “Red Sonja” artist Sergio Davila’s pencil can muster.

This incredible ‘torrent’ of violence simply doesn’t stop until the comic’s very end, and resultantly it’s hard not to imagine at least some of this book’s 8,326-strong audience wincing as the Kozaks gruesomely fall “victim to these restless dead”, or disconcertingly blanche as Conan momentarily stumbles before a ‘supernaturally fast’ weapon blow, having had the debilitating wound draw “the very life out of me!” But whilst such intense and unending bloodshed could potentially prove rather wearisome, Bunn’s decision to have the blacksmith’s son realise the desperate futility of his situation, and the need for his companions to retreat making “as much noise as you can”, provides at least a little thinking behind the muscular mercenary’s determination to reach the haunted keep and rescue Mykylo’s stubborn-headed son; “We cannot win a standup fight with these things! Force your way past them! These grounds are bedevilled -- We must flee before we’re overrun!”
Script: Cullen Bunn, Artist: Sergio Davila, and Colors: Michael Atiyeh

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