Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Cary Nord and Thomas Yeates
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
This is the issue that has firmly convinced me that Conan is going to be regular part of my monthly pile of comics, as this is a wonderfully written story, that manages to deftly quash the one concern that I had with this series. Yes, this issue has Conan effectively fail to achieve his end goals as he runs up against a hurdle that he simply can't surmount. In fact my favourite single moment of this series up to this point is the scene where the barely conscious Conan continues to make an ineffectual effort to stop the group of people from plunging off that ledge, and this is followed by a great moment of revelation where he struggles back to his feet only to discover there's no one left to save. Now don't get me wrong I enjoy the displays of savagery that Conan is allowed to offer up in the opening pages, but there's far more entertainment to be found when there are moments where it's established that Conan is up against something more powerful than himself.
I mean there's a great moment where we see Conan is driven off a high ledge by an attacking warrior, and there's also a solid moment where the lead sorcerer effectively dismisses Conan with a single wave of his hand. The issue also manages to offer a pretty affective emotional moment as Conan descends down into the pit that the population of Hyperborea have been throwing themselves in, where he discovers the true scope of his failure. The final pages of the issue also do a nice job of spelling out the idea that Conan isn't completely out of touch with what he's able to accomplish, as he instead directs his desire for vengeance toward the two men whom he holds responsible for this tragedy.
There are a couple moments where the art looks unfinished, but for the most part the art is one of the main reasons why this issue was able to convey such a powerful emotional impact, from the look of near madness on Conan's face on the opening page as he tears through the guards, to his unfocused desperation when he's trying to stop the people from flinging themselves off the ledge. The nightmarish scene that he finds at the bottom of the pit was also quite effective, though I must confess I was a bit disappointed that the creatures he finds feasting on the dead didn't attack him. The one page spread of Conan facing the oncoming crowd was a great visual moment.
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