Written by: Kurt Busiek
Penciled by: Cary Nord
Inked by: Thomas Yeates
Colored by: Dave Stewart
Lettered by: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Editor: Scott Allie
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Conan’s in a fix. He’d been hired to steal something from a temple. Upon getting inside the locked temple, he stumbles across a dead body and not a few seconds later the one guard patrolling outside the temple stumbles across him. Within minutes, Conan is surrounded by armed guards, ready to skewer him for the murder of the high priest of the temple.
Conan protests his innocence (what little he has left) and the evidence does seem to bear him out. The priest was strangled and why would a Cimmerian with a sword bother to strangle a man when a sword is faster and easier? Still, the magistrate on the scene is hard-pressed to repress the bloodlust of the head guard as Conan himself is hard-pressed to repress his rage at the stupidity of the civilized men around him.
Busiek skillfully adapted this story from an original by Robert E. Howard, though I wonder at the wisdom of adapting this particular story. It is a good story and one well worth reading, but Conan is but a bit player. Most of the dialogue here goes to a Hyperborean Sherlock Holmes as he looks around the crime scene, examining clues and determining that it is very unlikely that Conan was the killer. None of this mattering much to the guards ready for swift, if inaccurate, justice or the reader who desires to see Conan, the man of action instead of Conan, the surly victim.
These fans will be satisfied near the end, as Conan loses his patience as the guards lose their limbs and Cary Nord gives us his goriest work on the book yet. Gory, but not graphic, Nord is just as much a star in this book as Busiek and the two have made quite the formidable team. I look forward to more of their work on this book in the coming year. And if you haven’t been reading this title, you should look for it next year too. You won’t regret it.