Dark Horse Comics 2016
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Sergio Davila
Coloured by Michael Atiyeh
Lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft
On a seemingly deserted beach, Conan and his comrades discover several pungent and disturbing skeletal totems, and shortly thereafter a band of Turanian warriors ambushes the group. With Conan preoccupied by dispatching the Turanians, a monstrous sea troll—one of a pair of creatures that set out the totems—emerges from the waters and deals a vicious blow to Conan’s head. Unconscious, the Cimmerian is taken to the trolls’ lair, where their mother
awaits . . .
Conan once again finds himself in dire straights thanks to becoming embroiled within a family squabble. Well to be fair these family squabbles are generally those who lead and have power which someone possesses and someone else wants to wield. Now he finds himself tied up and encountering a Troll who has plans for our Cimmerian. I have to say that Cullen does have quite the mindset and imagination to take Conan on his further adventures here. The man can write anything at all and as someone who came into Conan’s adventures later in life I am thrilled by what we’re seeing.
Once again I am so happy to see there is more to him than mere brawn and an ability to fight. His mind is his greatest tool and that we get to see that on display here is unbelievably good.
As we open up with a scene where a very shady advisor is telling his liege about the men under his command are missing, betrayed and dead. His men were the ones we saw last issue leading the ambush against Taraglan. They hadn’t counted on Conan and their intelligence was woefully inadequate as the man who betrayed the young man doesn’t believe in his legend, a fatal mistake for anyone to make.
The interiors are marvelous. Sergio and Michael do some inspired work here. I love seeing the Trolls here as they are seen by each of them as different beings. Bewitched as to become that which strikes fear into their heart. The creativity, imagination and sheer amount of attention to detail here is utterly stunning to witness. The use of page layouts through angles, perspective, body language and backgrounds really help the flow of the story and capture the reader’s mind and imagination.
That Cullen has managed to weave seeing Conan’s strength of will alongside his fighting prowess and still being able to showcase both sides of the conflict he finds himself in is pretty strong stuff. His ability to tell a story is why he’s among the strongest writers in the industry and that he can tackle Conan with this kind of intelligence, strength and intrigue continues to follow the direction of those who’ve come before him. With such great characterisation, plot and story advancement alongside some stellar interior artwork Conan continues to pave the way as one of the strongest series on stands.