Monday, June 13, 2011

Leroy Douresseaux on CONAN: ISLAND OF NO RETURN #1


WRITER: Ron Marz
PENCILS: Bart Sears
INKS: Randy Elliot
COLORS: Mark Roberts
LETTERS: Troy Peteri
COVER: Michael Kutsche
32pp, Color, $3.50

I have not read a new Conan comic book since 1994 when I read Conan vs. Rune (Marvel Comics). Since then, I’ve read a few original Conan works by the character’s creator, Robert E. Howard, including Howard’s only full-length Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon (1935). Now, I’ve just read a comic book that makes me want to return to reading Conan the way I did as I teenager – monthly.

Conan: Island of No Return is a two-issue miniseries from Dark Horse Comics. According to the publisher, it is an interlude to the main series, Conan: Road of Kings.

As Conan: Island of No Return #1 begins, Conan the Cimmerian (Barbarian and Thief) has just been fired as a bodyguard for… dereliction of duty? On the run from a cadre of guards, the half-sisters, Brenna and Venya, who are also thieves aid Conan. They just so happen to be in need of a strong back to help them with an upcoming treasure hunt.

Their destination is a small, jagged island and an abandoned cliff-top castle, where the treasure hoard of the late Prince Mikkinos lies deep in the bowels of the ruins of his palace. In order to help the sisters, not only must Conan scale sheer cliffs, but he must also deal with a haunted island.

While it may be a brief interlude to the main Conan storylines (as well being a break from the main series for the publisher), Conan: Island of No Return is an action-packed short story. It offers what many Conan tales usually have – beautiful women, haunted treasure spots, and Conan on a heist with shifty allies, plus it is a rippin’ read.

The script, written by Ron Marz, is efficient and powerful, with each panel a sharp jab that keeps this fast moving tale… well, moving fast. Bart Sears’ sinewy pencils capture the sharp edges in both plot and character motivation, as well as encapsulating Conan’s brawny physique and cat-like grace. Randy Elliot’s heavy inks have mixed results over Sears’ art and the coloring is merely acceptable, while Michael Kutsche’s cover is quite good. I can’t wait for the conclusion.


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