Conan #11


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Conan #11


  • Words: Kurt Busiek
  • Art: Cary Nord
  • Inks: Thomas Yeates
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: The God in the Bowl
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Dec 22, 2004

Framed for a murder, Conan must prove his innocence and solve the mystery of an ancient and unsettling artifact.

While attempting to steal a priceless goblet, Conan is accused of murdering the master of the house, the wealthy Kallian Publico. The Cimmerian warrior attempts to reason with city officials to clear his name, but stands ready to fight his way to freedom if things turn sour. The investigation is complicated by an ancient and mysterious bowl and a seeming madman ranting about a sinister presence from within it. Who (or what) really killed Kallian Publico and who will be next?

"The God in the Bowl" is the second Robert E. Howard story adapted by Dark Horse’s Conan and the creative team has done their typically exceptional work. I haven’t read the original version, but Kurt Busiek’s adaptation was entertaining nonetheless. There’s something about an Agatha Christie-style drawing room murder mystery set in the Hyborian Age that I find amusing. While the set up in the previous issue was a bit of a slow build, it ultimately proved rewarding in this second half. The interaction between Conan and the chief investigator, Demetrio, was well-constructed. We watch the clues unfold and Conan’s patience wear away as he becomes increasingly disgusted with civilization. Demetrio’s surprising impartiality towards the barbarian made for an interesting character. Also, Busiek creates a number of skin-crawling moments throughout the tale as the characters try to decide just what (if anything) truly came out of that bowl. Unspeakable horror seems just around the corner at any moment.

Cary Nord continues to impress with his ability to merge the styles of fantasy illustration and comic book art into a seamless and elegant whole. Loose and flowing one moment and filled with brutal detail the next, Nord’s art is perfect for the genre. Though this story was not as action-driven as some of Conan’s other adventures, the art still captures the sense of visceral ferocity inherent to him. While defending his name, the Cimmerian looks like a caged animal ready to strike at any moment. At the times he does strike, Conan’s wild-eyed fury is quite a sight to behold. Tangential to the story is the brief introduction of Thoth-Amon, a nemesis from Howard’s books. I know nothing of this character, but already Nord’s creepy depiction of him has me wanting more.

While perhaps not the most exciting of Conan’s exploits, "The God in the Bowl" was a surprising and unsettling story that placed the barbarian in an unfamiliar situation. As always, the creative team crafts one of the finest fantasy series around.

-Eric Lindberg

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