Monday, 21 August 2017 12:50

‘Conan the Slayer #12:’ Advance Comic Book Review

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After Conan defeated two enemies in as many as 4 pages last month, I wondered where the story would go next and which immediate enemies were left: some old, some new, and some within. Cullen Bunn moves swiftly and fluidly from last issue’s thrilling kills to the tragedy of killing in this bittersweet issue. While Conan seeks retribution on the enemy that set him up and the Princes Octavia, he meets a group of dangerous cannibals and finally comes face to face with the ghoul that’s been following his trail of carnage since the first issue. The mirror settles before him, and his journey begins the transition from external to internal.

As a writer, Bunn is great at building a world outward while digging inward into his characters at the same time, expanding the macro and the micro in a way that dramatically excels. Meanwhile, Octavia may not be the warrior that Conan is, but she speaks with wisdom that Conan seems to lack, noting that not every battle is worth fighting. Where that will leave Conan over this story arc will be interesting, now that’s he’s had a look at his personal devil.

Dheeraj Verma, an Indian-born comic artist credited as one of the first in the US comic industry who has worked a great deal for Avatar Press, steps in as artist and brings a grungier look for this issue. Conan isn’t as cleanly or perfectly rendered, and I like it. He isn’t as statuesque in Verma’s hands and feels more like a rugged wanderer. Atiyeh’s colors remain beautiful under the new art, creating a raw and haunting environment that Conan finds himself in.

The image that I found most effective was that of a giant statue dedicated to a god that is prayed to, yet helps little. In Conan’s world, there is no god that will save you. There is no happy ending, but a continuing deluge of hardships and blood. As hard as Conan tries, the little victories continue to push him to the next encounter, hoping to cut down all the evil until none remains. How effective this will prove, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. So far, every violent action seems to draw something even worse into his circle.

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