Thursday, June 23, 2011

Leroy Douresseaux on CONAN ROAD OF KINGS #6


WRITER: Roy Thomas
PENCILS: Mike Hawthorne
INKS: John Lucas
COLORS: Dan Jackson
LETTERS: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
COVER: Doug Wheatley
32pp, Color, $3.50

Conan: Road of Kings is the third ongoing Conan series from Dark Horse Comics, following Conan (50 issues, 2004-2008) and Conan the Cimmerian (25 issues, 2008-2010). Scheduled to run 12 issues, Conan: Road of Kings is written by Conan storytelling legend, Roy Thomas.

Road of Kings follows Conan as he travels from the easternmost edge to the westernmost shores of the map of the Hyborian age (drawn by Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan). To reach his destination, Conan must trek the fabled Road of Kings that winds its way through the civilized kingdoms. Along the way, he helps people fight against monsters, malevolent magic, and the power-mad, while also protecting his own skin.

As Conan: Road of Kings #6 begins, our favorite sullen-eyed, dark-haired barbarian is in the capitol of Ophir, specifically in the palace of King Kennak. There, he prepares to rescue the king’s daughter, Olivia, from a death sentence pronounced by her own father! The real culprit, however, is Olivia’s stepmother, Queen Sophonesba, whom Olivia believes killed her birth mother. Conan may have met his match, as Sophonesba has a mystic ring and the powerful astrologer, Necrodemus, on her side. Meanwhile, the sword-handed assassin, Gamesh, awaits Conan.

Roy Thomas is the most famous and prolific writer of Conan’s comic book adventures. One issue of a Roy Thomas Conan comic book is like three of another writer’s, because there are multiple subplots. This sixth issue of Road of Kings seems to be three tales: the rescue of Olivia, the guard Captain Jemal, and Olivia’s kidnapper Fharos; the royal family drama; and Conan’s battle against Gamesh. Honestly, while these stories are entertaining, they’re not slam dunk-exciting like Conan: Island of No Return, although the Gamesh battle offers a hot finish.

The art by penciller Mike Hawthorne and inker John Lucas is dynamic and clean, with excellent coloring by Dan Jackson. The art, however, looks like a better fit for an adventure comedy set in the sword and sorcery genre. The art is more slick than dramatic, although it does give the bloodletting an edge and also seems to work for the Gamesh battle at the end of this issue.


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