Monday, August 12, 2013

King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon #3 - A Review

The tale of Zenobia is a literal rags-to-riches story.  Born and raised to serve in the harems of royalty, she had a strength and fire that seemed incongruous to her position and upbringing.  Despite this, Conan placed her in his affections as highly as his other great love - the pirate queen, Belit - and this issue of King Conan showcases precisely why a simple slave girl earned such fierce devotion.

What Tim Truman has written here in his adaptation of the classic Robert E. Howard story is a true romance in every definition of the word.  Howard's writing is Romantic in the classical sense, with his reoccurring themes of Nature vs. Civilization, a focus on individuals over society and an emphasis on strong emotions (i.e. the "gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth" of Conan).  Yet this chapter also satisfies the modern definition of a romantic tale, with Conan cast as the bare-chested epitome of passionate manliness and Zenobia as the strong-willed heroine.  Thankfully, the action of the story keeps the characters from slipping into cliche and the story does work on both levels.

The artwork by Tomas Giorello and Jose Villarrubia equals the quality of Truman's script.  Giorello's pencils are naturally clear and he's a maste rat using his inks to obscure the visuals in just the right way to leave things appropriate moody and threatening without drowning the page in ink.  Colorist Villarrubia offers a surprising subtlety in his palette, using brighter colors in his depiction of Zenboa relative to the rest of the art.  Is this symbollic of the ray of light she brings to Conan in his darkest hour or merely a reflection of the colorful attire standard to her life?  Either way, the visual is effective.

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