Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Comic Review: Conan: Volumes 8, 9, and 10: Black Colossus, Free Companions, and Iron Shadows in the Moon and Other Stories

    If you were following my Conan comic reviews, you might have noticed a long gap between Cimmeria and this set of reviews.  Well, it’s in part because after reading the last three volumes, I just didn’t have the heart to write reviews.  It’s not that they’re bad.  They’re not.  But, unfortunately, after Kurt Busiek’s exit from the series, it seems to have lost the thread, more and more with each passing volume.  Still, even with the change in writing tone and style, I found myself reading on, though not in that hungry way I’d devoured the first several books.

    With Black Colossus, I found myself drifting more.  I was glad to see that the gory violence wasn’t the only thing graphically represented, with more nudity leaking into the pages.  Howard’s work was always filled with titillating bits of sex, tough in a strangely chaste way.  I’m always a little put out by how our willingness to tolerate extreme violence seems inversely proportionate to our willingness to see anything vaguely sexual.  That said, by this volume, the art has become less polished, lacking completely the Frazetta-like feel of the first few volumes.  The story is fine, but I was having a hard time remaining interested.

    By Free Companions, I was mostly tuned out.  The art is all over the place, and none of it especially exciting.  I think much of that comes from the coloring, which is in some places washed out, and in others, almost over saturated.  Looking at the black and white versions in the back of the book, I almost would have preferred they’d left it at that. 

    Probably the most disappointing volume, Iron Shadows of the Moon is a crappy way to end this series.  The title story is fine, but short, and once again, the art only meh.  But, I found the second and third story, ‘Conan and the Mad King of Gaul’ and ‘Conan: The Weight of the Crown’ to be silly, out of place, boring. 

    After these last three volumes, I miss Busiek’s writing and Cary Nord’s art more than ever.  They made a great team, and were perfect for Conan.  They captured in a way that nobody else I’ve seen has, Robert E. Howard’s magic and Conan’s spirit.

Authors: Timothy Truman and others
Artists: Tomas Giorello and others
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
ISBNs: 978-1-59582-533-9, 978-1-59582-592-6, 978-1-59582-713-5


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