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‘King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon #2’ – Advance Comic Book Review

King Conan Hour of the Dragon 2

King Conan Hour of the Dragon 2King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon is an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s only Conan novel into two six-issue miniseries, brought to the comic page by writer Timothy Truman, artists Tomás Giorello and José Villarrubia, and with lettering by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. Issues one and two of The Hour of the Dragon are the first Conan comics I have ever really sat down and read, and what is fantastic about this title is that from the script to the art, to even the lettering, you feel as if you have unearthed a treasure that was created during the true age of pulp comics, and that gives a great sense of authenticity to the telling of this tale. Another interesting piece of history is that the novel was released first in 1935 as a five-part serial in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, until being published in its original format in 1950. That being said, Dark Horse publishing The Hour of the Dragon as a comic book miniseries is in line with how readers would have first experienced the tale, albeit now with gorgeous illustrations, each page within this issue so striking that any one of them could be used as the cover.   

Told in flashback by a grey-bearded Conan, King of Aquilonia, the story has a wonderful literary thrust to it, thanks in part to the narration of King Conan, which I imagine is made up much of the novel’s original text. In issue two we find Conan continuing the tale of how he met his first queen, Zenobia, one of only two true loves of his life, to his scribe Pramis, who has been charged with documenting the great king’s past adventures. And, King Conan is especially enraged at the point in the story where this issue begins: his army destroyed and he himself mysteriously paralyzed, a young Conan meets the orchestrator of these deeds face to face, the malevolent wizard Xaltotun, brought back from the dead after three thousand years. With a power that he cannot battle with brute strength, Conan is taken as a prisoner.

The rest, and all of the interesting details that I left out, are for you to discover on your own, including how the beautiful Zenobia fits into this tale. There is some great, and I believe intended, humor to be found in this title, especially in the way issue two opens, with old King Conan cursing wizards, magicians, and all others who use frilly magic as their weapons instead of bodily strength or strategic cunning. It is obvious that both old and young Conan do not hold magic in that high of a regard. The Hour of the Dragon involves Conan being removed from the throne of Aquilonia by a band of villains, and one gets the sense that, by the end of issue two, we have only seen a glimpse of the machinations that Conan’s enemies have in store for him and his kingdom. And, this is nothing to say of the mysterious plans of Xaltotun, whose own evil allies are not sure they can trust him and his ancient black magic.

Though even after he is captured and chained in a dungeon, with no hope of escape, Conan’s spirit never gives, and he welcomes death before defeat or subjugation. This is a hero we can root for, his will to succeed and refusal to give up inspiring in the face of insurmountable odds. But, when you are Conan the Conqueror (what The Hour of the Dragon was titled when it was eventually printed as a novel in 1950 and all the way until 1977), what are odds, but something to be bested?






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