Conan: The Blood-Stained Crown And Other Stories

January 28, 2008 | Trades


Conan: The Blood-Stained Crown And Other Stories
Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, Eric Powell, John Severin, Tim Truman, Rafael Kayanan, Bruce Timm
Dark Horse Books
$14.99 US (Paperback)
**** (out of five)

The era where one artist can keep up a one-book-a-month pace is, sadly, over and fill-in issues by unfamiliar creators are a grim reality.
Of course, those fill-ins needn’t be so bad.
While some publishers will just plug holes in their schedules with any old story, the creative team for Dark Horse Comics’ Conan decided to use those gaps constructively.
First came the recurring Born On The Battlefield, a fill-in serial that appeared every six issues and allowed regular penciller, talented Calgarian Cary Nord, time to catch up. After that came the stories that fill the pages of the new collection, Conan: The Blood-Stained Crown And Other Stories, in which regular writer Kurt Busiek (Superman) along with collaborator Fabian Nicieza (Thunderbolts) flesh out the world of the legendary Cimmerian with some rather exceptional flair.
Tales like Storyteller, the story of a youth with a vivid imagination and his encounter with out sword-wielding hero and a few hundred demons, written as homage to Conan creator Robert E. Howard and celebrating what would have been his 100th birthday, stand out as examples of fine work, not simply churning a book out just to keep it on schedule.
Other highlights include a deeper look into the lives of the prince and the wazir, two characters well used by Busiek in the regular framing sequence for the book, a surprisingly captivating exploration of what happened to Conan’s lost helmet and the gut-busting Conan’s Favourite Joke by animation icon, Bruce Timm.
While it lacks the fluidity of a six-issue story arc, this book does prove admirably that the term “fill-in” doesn’t have to equal crap.

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