Wednesday, August 12, 2009

God in the Bowl

I read the second trade paperback from Dark Horse's Conan series. This one features, mostly, "The God in the Bowl" one of the slightly slower, yet more interesting Conan stories told, about a murder investigation. It bears a striking resemblance in some ways to Howard's version of the famous Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band."

Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord continue to impress with this volume. The rest of the book is taken up with some original stories, including the first encounter of Conan with sorcerous arch-nemesis Thoth-Amon, when Conan thwarts his attempt on the life of a more benign sorcerer, Kalanthes, the High Priest of Ibis. An all new character, Janissa, is introduced, who is kinda Red Sonja like in some ways, although much darker in nature and background. She's a really interesting character, actually, that I'd like to see more of.

One thing that Busiek (and Co.) really get is the Lovecraftian horror vibe that is actually quite integral to the Conan canon. Thoth-Amon (and the Hyperboreans before him) are shown as completely amoral predators who don't fear to let loose any kind of horror whatsoever in pursuit of their goals.

This book, taking place mostly in Nemedia, shows Conan approaching the more "classic" parts of the setting, away from the far north that featured in volume 1, although, like vol 1, it's heavily based around an actual Howard story that's told extremely well. In fact, in some ways, this recreation of Howard's story is better than Howard's original.

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