Dark Horse Comics 2014
Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Brian Ching
Coloured by Michael Atiyeh
Lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Following the titanic events at the Oasis of Akrel, Conan and Natala parted company as Natala joined Janissa’s band of warrior she-devils, and Taramis, beloved queen of Khauran, made the Cimmerian the captain of her royal guard. Now, a long forgotten secret from the queen’s past comes back to haunt her . . .
Good grief Charlie Brown this is what makes this series so damn special, it’s unpredictability. Granted there is no rest for the wicked but no sooner does Conan lose his companion then he finds himself embroiled in yet another war between women, sisters and one a witch. Women seem to be the bane of Conan’s existence whether he realizes it or not and now once again he finds himself in a situation where he will fight for one who change his life again.
Fred weaves a tale of scorn, hatred and bitterness like no one else here. Taramis has hard a go of it lately what with rejecting the hand of suitor that disrespected her and her sensibilities. That is when she met Conan in the last arc as she traveled from that meeting. Now in her own bedchambers one of the best first meetings between long lost sisters is taking place. Twins nearly identical except one has the crescent moon birthmark between her breasts. The sign of a witch, an ill omen for sure so she was left for dead out in the desert.
Fate had other plans for her however and she was rescued taken to foreign land and trained by a man who wasn’t exactly nice. Hear her story here then wonder what makes a person do what they do. Is it really fate or the way someone is treated as they are brought up that defines who they become? There’s a balance to be struck here and as far as these two women go they are seemingly equally as strong and determined as twin sisters might be but it’s how they go about things that the real differences shine through.
A beloved leader of her people and the other an outcast doing her best to ruin every shred of trust the people have in her sister. It’s the culmination, or beginning for us, of Salome’s plans to take what she wants, what was denied her at birth and seize control and power as she seeks revenge on those who’ve wronged her.
That Conan doesn’t appear in this story till very nearly the end is fantastic. We also get to see more of Constantius and his role in all this. He’s a foul man who we knew shouldn’t be trusted and he proves who he is here. Ah men with designs of power who think they can tame a woman aren’t really that formidable in the long run but for now he’s dangerous. Though I look forward to next issue and seeing where Valerius will go next after what transpired on the steps of the palace and what is his allegiance to the Queen and to Conan.
With Brian’s interiors and Fred’s writing this series is a formidable as it’s main character.