Dark Horse Comics 2016
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Sergio Davila
Coloured by Michael Atiyeh
Lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Powerless to avenge his father, Taraslan allows Conan to act on his behalf; with his despicable treachery exposed before the entire tribe, Kyrylo is quickly taken prisoner. But young Taraslan, heavy hearted from the day’s events, allows his brother to live—and soon regrets his act of mercy when Kyrylo makes yet another demonic pact to escape the camp. Taraslan then attempts to take matters into his own hands to apprehend his villainous sibling, but he is in over his head . .
This story has kind of been all over the place and it reads a lot like you’d have a group at a table top role playing game. It’s fantastic to see what Cullen has decided to put Conan up against here. From befriending Taraslan’s father and becoming entrusted to watch over the boy, facing trolls and some sea creature to revealing Kyrylo for the man he is it’s been this weird journey to see him take. There’s action and adventure and some creatures to fight all of alongside some great characterisation. There’s a real sense of excitement here the way it’s being presented to us.
Sergio and Michael do some stunning work on the interiors here. The attention to detail here throughout just blows me away. From the way the ruined castle looks to the undead that Conan and the rest have to fight it’s all brought to life so incredibly well. The use of page layouts utilising angles, perspective and the backgrounds really make reading this such a joy. This is one of those times where the interior artwork definitely enhances the story tenfold.
I like a few things about this story and I think the big one is that the real villain here remains to fight another day. Whatever it is now it’s wreaked enough havoc on this family and this village to be sated for the moment. Also that the story ends this issue in a way that I honestly hadn’t seen coming is another big bonus. We see so much in Conan’s world and his adventures where he fights and survives while those around him don’t but this time around it seemed different. The writing from Cullen really does a number on you as a reader as things play out the way they should but not necessarily the way you want them to.
If this first arc is any indication of what we can expect from the rest of Cullen’s run than we’re in for some extremely interesting stories. If they also continue to read like an RPG then I may have to find a group to play again because i’d forgotten how much fun it was to role play in the Conan world.
So next issue we’ll see what the ramifications are of this issue and hopefully see where his journey will take him next. With great storytelling, characterisation and interior artwork any fan of Conan will love this series and for those who haven’t read about his adventures in a while should definitely consider reading Cullen’s run. It’s just that good.