My review of King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon #1

king-conan1

New this week from Dark Horse Comics comes a welcome sight for sore eyes — an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s The Hour of the Dragon by writer Tim Truman, illustrator Tomás Giorello and colorist José Villarrubia. It’s no secret that I have a deep affinity for Howard’s creations, particularly Conan of Cimmeria. I have also been very vocal about my utter disdain for Brian Wood’s most recent take on the character. With Tim Truman in the driver’s seat of King Conan, in a very real sense, this felt very much like rediscovering a long lost friend, erasing the foul taste left by Wood’s work. By Crom, my Conan was back.

I am, in addition to being a fan of Howard’s Conan stories, a huge fan of Marvel’s comic adaptations and loved Roy Thomas, Gil Kane, and John Buscema’s take on The Hour of the Dragon (which played out through Giant-Sized Conan #s 1-4, and Savage Sword of Conan #s 8 & 10). How does Dark Horse’s imagining measure up? In a word? Beautifully.

The writing is crisp and direct, capturing the essence of Robert E. Howard’s fiery prose. There’s no question that Truman drinks from the same well. This is a man who understands the medium he’s working in, pacing the story and delivering a fantastic cliffhanger guaranteed to entice even the most jaded comic fan back for more.

As for the art, Tomás Giorello is really a wonder, capturing perfectly the mythic grandeur that Howard’s original tale inspires. Giorello’s style invokes the perfect cross between Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema, with classic, sketch-heavy line work that’s just beautiful in every sense of the word. The real star for me, artistically, however, is José Villarrubia, whose color palette just sings with so much emotion coming through in those muted, color-pencil-like hues.

If there’s a negative, it’s in the issue’s lettering. The special effects seem out of place and digitally dropped in. And while I dig the adaptability and simplification of computer lettering, this is certainly an instance where hand-lettering would have been better served. But then again, maybe that’s just me showing my age.

All in all, a stellar outing for King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon. This is how Conan was meant to be represented on the comic page and I look forward to the ride to come.

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2 Responses to “My review of King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon #1”

  1. I am a Conan fan. Glad to know you like Conan too.

    • “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

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