|CONAN THE BARBARIAN No. 22, August 2021|
Foremost of these engaging hooks is the poor manner in which the Cimmerian is treated by his hosts, who clearly view the “bare-chested beast” as someone utterly unfit to walk within the “blessed Jewel of the East”, let alone stand in the presence of their divine imperial ruler. This friction persistently promises to flare up, even when the adventurer is honing his skills against an aged sword master with wooden sabres, and threatens to hurl an ever-uncomfortable Conan into a fatal confrontation against overwhelming numbers; “You are an outsider. You must follow my lead to ensure we both come through this with honour intact and heads still attached.”
In addition, there is also the ever-present fear that the barbarian’s demon-possessed hand-weapon will once again ‘flare-up’ and force its wielder to go on a remorseless, blood-soaked killing spree throughout the beautiful city. This possibility seems to become increasingly ever-likely as the Canadian author’s narrative builds up to the black-haired warrior handing the cursed blade over to its rightful owner, General Maltus-Rai - the Commander of the Fifth Circle, following a ceremonial display of various elaborate weapon stances.
Ultimately however, one of the Emperor’s supposedly loyal subjects unsurprisingly decides to use Conan’s presence at court to make a play for the top job, and when that occurs Zub is definitely not shy in packing his prose with as much action as he manage. Coupled with some super-dynamic pencilling by Cory Smith, the subsequent assassination attempt ends this publication on an impressively high note, with the Cimmerian barely able to survive the sorcerous attack and facing a highly-agitated party of noblemen who firmly believe him to be responsible for the traitorous assault upon their living deity.
|Writer: Jim Zub, Artist: Cory Smith, and Colorist: Israel Silva|