Monday, 17 April 2017

Conan The Slayer #7 - Dark Horse Comics

CONAN THE SLAYER No. 7, March 2017
Considering that at the start of this twenty-two page periodical Cullen Bunn reaffirms that as a result of “their former [dead] leader’s intervention” during an attack by Turanian assassins, the titular character has become the horse-riding Kozaks new hetman, the GLAAD Media Award-winner’s swashbuckling sea-based script for Issue Seven of “Conan The Slayer” arguably makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Indeed, in many ways this particular tale, initially situated within the cursed ruins of an ancient island and then later entirely focused upon two sea-faring vessels sailing across the Vilayet Sea, would seem far more in keeping with the Cimmerian’s time alongside “his demon Queen of the Black Coast” than during his tenure championing Taraslan’s tent-dwelling, desert raiders.

Admittedly, this opening instalment of “The Devil In Iron” story-arc does seemingly appear to fit in quite well as a forerunner to the 1934 Robert E. Howard penned adventure of the same name, by depicting the well-muscled barbarian once again turning his hand to the grim “business of killing Turanians” and looting their ships. But even if this publication’s audience are appreciative of the tale acting as a sort of prelude to “one of the [franchise’s] original stories”, it is hard to imagine many were particularly enthralled by its somewhat simplistically contrived plot of having the former pirate battling a silverback gorilla, who just happened to have “lived as a caged novelty” below decks.

In fact, in many ways the “Superstar” writer’s narrative is painfully unremarkable, and brings absolutely nothing new to the leather-booted adventurer’s party, except perhaps Conan’s melancholic acceptance that the formidably-sized royal pet should simply be allowed to escape its captivity by drowning, just because he feels “the beast has suffered enough.” Certainly, the Cimmerian has been seen many times before battling the savagely dangerous inhabitants of the natural world and triumphantly leading boarding actions against a well-armed foe; “You seem to know your way around a ship. Have you sailed before..?”

Quibbles as to the unremarkable nature of its penmanship aside however, this comic does boast some terrific illustrations by Admira Wijaya. Lank-haired, sinewy and scar-crossed, the Indonesian artist’s excellent pencilling of the lead antagonist genuinely imbues him with all the deadly ‘pantherish’ grace Howard’s numerous descriptive texts speak of, and one can truly feel the raw power of their contest when the man later matches his might against that of an enraged primate.
Script: Cullen Bunn, Artist: Admira Wijaya, and Colors: Michael Atiyeh

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