King Conan: The Conqueror #1

4 Overall Score
Art: 7/10
Dialogue: 2/10
Story: 3/10

The art.

Everything else.

King Conan: The Conqueror #1
Truman, Giorello, Villarrubia
Dark Horse Comics

Cut scenes in video games can get a little tedious. I want to skip the boring ones and just get to the goods, but there’s usually some pertinent information in the cut scene that I’ll need going forward. Even some of the better games can get bogged down in a particularly boring cut scene negotiating a templar assassination or a petty crime-syndicate offense. King Conan, the first issue in Dark Horse’s ever evolving Conan franchise, feels like a cut-scene in a particularly banal video game. There’s a tremendous amount of lazy exposition, and for a comic that seems excited to launch a new story of a beloved character, any pay off to be found in Issue 1 is ultimately unearned.

King Conan, from writer Timothy Truman and artists Tomas Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, has a very peculiar story structure. The comic opens with Conan, King of Aquilonia, waxing philosophical and dictating stories of his glory days to a scribe. I was excited at the prospect of a comic following an elderly Conan, past his prime having to fight age and formidable foes. But the focus quickly shifts, via extensive flashback, to Conan as a young ruler, besieged on all sides by treacherous aides and scalawags of the nastiest ilk, all after a mysterious gem with powers unknown. The rest of the comic is a slog of exposition and garden variety sword and sorcery. There is a lot of backstory and information that needs to be conveyed; however, Truman and company would benefit from adhering to that old story-telling credo of “show, don’t tell”.

The comic isn’t a total loss in that Giorello’s pencils and Villarrubia’s colors are dynamic and exciting. Unfortunately, they are in service to a story that is neither. The art has a classic comic-Americana feel to it (imagine 90s X-Men) that feels timeless. But I can’t help but feel that much of the artistic potential was squandered. King Conan is as good as the sum of its parts; ultimately the energetic artwork is not enough to elevate this book past its subpar writing.

Unlike a boring video game cut scene, King Conan has no option to skip the junk and get to the goods. Furthermore, there are no speakable goods to get to. Of course, it’s only Issue 1 and an entire comic series can’t be defined by its premier issue. But the job of Issue 1 is to get me interested enough to buy Issue 2, and, unfortunately, King Conan did not succeed in that regard.



Author: Craig Schroeder View all posts by
I am a graduate of Florida State University, studying Creative Writing and History. Right now I work a desk job but I dream all day of making a living writing comics. I formed an indie label based in Tallahassee called Gentleman Baby Comics and HIT! is our debut comic. I read a lot of comics. I watch a lot of movies. I drink too much soda. I love a great television show.

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