Upon My Works, Ye Mighty...
Conan The Legend #0
The Legend #0
writer: Kurt Busiek
artist: Cary Nord
colorist: Dave Stewart
O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis
and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the
sons of Aryas…there was an age undreamed of…
words, which set the stage for Conan The Barbarian, come surprisingly
late in Dark Horse's zero issue. Instead, writer Busiek has
taken an interesting perspective. Not just discovering the
end of Conan's life (which creator Robert E. Howard did, and
even the movies tried to do), Busiek, as the title implies,
deals with the legacy of Conan.
it a pastiche of Shelley's Ozymandias. In a period
sometime after Howard's fabled Hyborian Age, a dissipated
feckless prince and his entourage stumble across a cave full
of gold and assorted baubles. But for this young nobleman,
the greatest treasure comes in the form of a toppled statue.
Surprisingly life-like, and obviously of someone not usually
the subject of ancient art, the statue has an inscription
that fans the last sparks of interest in this nameless royal.
dismisses it. "Conan," he translates from the runes. "A peasant's
name, common as mud." But his contempt is misplaced, and by
the time this story is over, our interest will be piqued that
maybe these men are not as far removed from the Cimmerian
as we at first thought.
drops a nice mixture of "real" myth and archaeology. From
the inscription on Conan's statue, it's clear that there's
something Arthurian about the barbarian, or at least there
will be in Dark Horse's telling. Digging into the Nemedian
Chronicles, the Vizier notes bitterly that most of the records
are actually just of financial transactions, and not so much
tales of heroism past. Though we may marvel at legends of
Babylon, most of what we have is, in actuality, just what
was bought and sold, too.
a nice taste of what's to come. The story may be merely serving
as a frame for the series, but a few elements look like foreshadowing
to something larger. Here's a hint: it's never a good thing
when Viziers (or Wazirs) have snake eyes.
Cary Nord's art really sets the tone. Reproduced directly
from his pencils and computer painted by Dave Stewart, the
pages have a muscular look right out of Marvel's classic Savage
Sword of Conan black and white book. Nord has a style
that evokes several of those who have worked on the character
before. He mentions people like Dale Eaglesham as influences,
but the art references further back. In a great sequence of
pages, the layouts blur from John Buscema to Tony DeZuniga
to even Frank Frazetta, with a little bit of Frank Thorne
thrown in for good measure.
not to say it's imitative. It all melts together into something
unique in itself, with a look that would fit in the '70's
(where it would have been groundbreaking), but is still very
much of today's comics (where it will likely move to the forefront).
the market really clamoring for the return of Conan? At 25
cents, take a look for yourself. That's how Dark Horse suckered
me in - the guy at my comic shop threw it on my pile
just because of the price. But I'm glad he did. The regular
book won't come out until February, 2004, but already Busiek
and Nord have me looking for more. That's a reaction I did
not expect to have.