Friday, September 11, 2009

Conan and the Rogues in the House

This is the first of the Conan trade paperbacks that I didn't ever buy... because, like I said earlier, of the change in creative team. I shouldn't probably have worried about that. This is still excellent; Tim Truman does a marvelous job of scripting this, and Tomás Giorello's art is adequate. I won't say that I like it as much as Cary Nord's... but it's also not immediately obvious when it switches over, so that's a good thing.

The main story of this segment, Robert E. Howard's "Rogues in the House" is often considered one of the first truly "good" Conan stories; where Howard flexed his creative muscles a little bit and did more than simply follow his succcessful pulp commercial formula. Because of "Rogues in the House", we got "Queen of the Black Coast", "Red Nails" and more. This story also paved the way for one of the most iconic Frank Frazetta images ever painted, which I'll post here when I'm done with all the text.

The interesting thing about it is that even though it's an action/intrigue story, there's a lot of philosophy that's woven into the story. And it's pretty bleak philosophy; Howard's take on civilization as inevitably corrupting and decadent vs. barbarians as "noble savages"; violent, yet honorable and honest, at least.

Anyway, the translation to comic book medium was, as always (so far) excellent, and the filler stuff around the story was fun too. Interestingly, the authors threw in a bit of an in-joke in having Conan get into a bare-knuckle bar fight with "Stakostok"---a very transparent stand-in for another Robert E. Howard character, Steve Costigan, who was a dumb as rocks yet loveable gigantic sailor who starred in a lot of Howard's "boxing stories".

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