Dark Horse Comics 2014
Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Brian Ching
Coloured by Michael Atiyeh
Kidnapped and tortured by the Stygian princess Thalis, Natala would have been claimed by Thog, the hideous god-thing of Xuthal, but for the timely intervention of Conan. Barely rescuing Natala from this unspeakable fate, Conan almost perished from the grievous wounds he received in the battle—only the miraculous properties of Xuthal’s golden wine saved the barbarian from certain death. Now free of the city, and hoping to reach an oasis rumored to exist to the south, the pair again find themselves at the harsh mercy of the desert . . .
After the last story our pair finds themselves still traveling together across the desert looking for this supposed Oasis Thalis spoke of. I have to say I’m more than a little surprised that Natala and Conan have remained traveling companions for this long. Not that I mind it at all but he’s normally a loner so what Fred is doing with them traveling together and the banter they have is really quite incredible. He’s giving both of them more personality and a deeper sense of self for us to witness. While I don’t know if i see a romance for the two at any given time they certainly do seem to be well suited for each other for now.
A sandstorm interrupts things and introduces us to the next phase of their story. Now for me because I am not all that familiar with the world Conan inhabits I do like that these people they are encountering kind of fight first and ask questions later and I’m even more impressed that with the storm they hid themselves underneath the sand and rose up from it to attack and then to continue their caravan’s forward movement. There’s something inherently interesting about them and the way they’ve come to use the land in such a way that benefits them.
Okay so this new band of travelers welcomes our pair and they head off towards but not before Conan finds a lurker. Suddenly things aren’t what they appear to be and it gets more complex and interesting. It doesn’t take long for the party to find a light in the sky and head towards the city on the Oasis. Only as they approach we see carrion birds circling and they come across the people of the city lying dead on the ground.
It’s not over as tensions rise and other events unfold making the whole scenario seem well rather unseemly. There’s murder, death and betrayal happening here and can Conan keep himself and Natala alive and survive this new encounter remains to be seen.
I’ve become a major fan of Brian and Michael’s here too. I’m enamored with the work they are doing the facial expressions are an absolute delight and there are moments you see this smirk on Conan’s face and it’s absolutely attractive. Also the men rising from the sand is such a powerful moment and again the two page spread as the approach the Oasis it’s so beautifully rendered. Then there’s attention to small details on the people in the group, their surroundings and such that really help you feel like you are a part of this world.
The world of Conan has never been displayed as well as it is here. With Fred’s writing and the boys artwork this is beyond a doubt one of the strongest books on the market today.