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.