- Writer: Julien Blondel (adapted from the work of Robert E. Howard)
- Artist: Valentin Sécher
- Letterer: Dezi Sienty
- Cover Artists: Dan Panosian, Valentin Sécher, Leirix, Carlos Nieto
- Editor: Kevin Ketner & Patrice Louinet
Thanks to ABLAZE for the review copy!
Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian got his start back in the 1930s. While the character lacks the ubiquity of modern superheroes, he maintains a place in the cultural awareness. He’s been played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Momoa in addition to frequent comic adaptations. I’d venture to say most people have heard of Conan, even if they don’t know much about him, which makes for a great relatively blank canvas for storytelling. The Hour of the Dragon takes that freedom and runs with it.
Hour of the Dragon takes the mysticism and sorcery that is a hallmark of Conan stories and establishes the story’s ‘big bad.’ He’s suitably mysterious, creepy, and powerful to make a good foil for Conan. Here, Conan isn’t a lone barbarian, but rather a king, having taken the throne to Aquilonia (No one can top Conan’s fictional city names). The first issue devotes most of its time to fleshing out the bad guy and setting up the conflict, leaving Conan somewhat of a cipher so far.
The art uses muted colors that lean heavily on grays and browns and match perfectly with the the ancient setting of Conan stories. The book uses different panel sizes and perspectives to make the art pop. From a top down angle of a character who has fallen to the floor to an over the shoulder look at a mass battle, there are some really interesting panels in this book. The lettering also deserves mention, as it makes use of a black text box with white lettering technique to help set the bad guy apart.
If you are unfamiliar with Conan, this issue has a helpful introduction page explaining what is going on. Aside from that, no background knowledge is necessary to enjoy this book. As a bonus, the book includes the 1935-6 story by Robert E. Howard that the comic is based on. While Howard’s prose is a bit over the top, it is fun to see the source material along with the comic.
The Cimmerian – Hour of the Dragon is now available.
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