Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Conan The Avenger #3 - A Review

Conan The Avenger #3 finds our hero in a conflicted state of mind.  His father taught him to never trust a wizard, yet Conan now finds himself in the employ of one - a so-called witchunter who uses his powers against evil sorcerors.  The witchhunter has promised to rid Conan of the ghost that haunts him in exchange for his help but Conan is uncertain whether he wants to be free of it, since the ghost in question is his beloved Belit and she seems to be protecting him from harm.  These thoughts and an empty purse weigh more heavily on Conan's troubled spirit than current events in the city of Punt, where a panicked populace blames the king's sister for the witchcraft that deforms their children and curses their lands...

This book has many problems but the greatest of these is a severe lack of Conan.  Our favorite barbarian doesn't show up until well past the halfway point of this issue.  Even then his story seems to be an afterthought compared to the politics of Punt and the growing civil unrest.  This presents another problem - why should the reader care about the political struggle when Conan can't be bothered to give a damn?

Fred Van Lente's fails to capture the spirit of the Conan mythos.  I've written before of how Van Lente's scripts thus far have lacked the sense of weird mystery that is a large part of the Howard oeuvre.  That problem is also present here.  For all of Conan's waffling regarding whether or not he can work for a wizard, he seems remarkably at-ease with the idea that the love of his life is haunting him or is unable to rest because of his own conflicted heart.  This seems terribly out of character for Conan, who is far more passionate about those he cares for and is usually depicted as being ill at ease with anything that smacks of the unnatural.

I've also written about their being certain logic problems with the scripts in this series so far.  Previous issues brought us slavers who seemed more interested in stealing from passed-out drunks than selling them for a profit.  As one would expect from a slaver!  This issue sees Conan having the good fortune to find the only two prostitutes in Punt who are willing to indulge in a threesome and let him crash at their place without requiring any payment in advance.

The good news is this is artist Brian Ching's last issue.  The bad news is that he delivers his worst job yet in this issue.  This does not look like professional quality artwork.  This looks like a poor first attempt at a quick-sketch for a storyboard.  Ching has somehow managed the trick of delivering artwork that is indistinct yet still cluttered with line-work!

Only the most devout of Conan fans need bother with this issue.  The rest of you would do better to wait until next month.  I don't hold out much hope that the story will improve, but at least the artwork should be better.

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