Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur #1
- Words: P. Craig Russell
- Art: P. Craig Russell
- Inks: P. Craig Russell
- Colors: Lovern Kindzierski
- Story Title: Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur 1 (of 3)
- Price: $2.99
- Release Date: Apr 13, 2005
Posted by Eric Lindberg on Apr 14, 2005
The search for priceless jewels leads Conan into a web of intrigue in this miniseries by fantasy artist, P. Craig Russell.
Older, wiser, and feared throughout the land, Conan comes to the kingdom of Keshan to train their warriors and seek a treasure that lies somewhere in their borders. Yet the Cimmerian is not the only one with this goal as he discovers when an old rival, Thutmekri, arrives as an emissary of nearby Zembabwei. Both men desire the precious jewels known as the Teeth of Gwahlur. To get them, Conan will have to face the perils of an ancient temple, a secret conspiracy, and a supposed goddess preserved in an unsettling sleep of death.
Dark Horse’s previous Conan spin-off, The Daughters of Midora, was a somewhat lackluster effort that couldn’t match the style or archaic mystery of the monthly series. In retrospect, the solution was simple: hire P. Craig Russell. Throughout his career, Russell has developed a reputation for adapting great works of fantasy to comics with an elegant, pleasing design sense and the utmost respect for his source material. With The Jewels of Gwahlur, he seems to have another winner on his hands. Working from a Robert E. Howard story, this issue achieves an authentic feel and captures the mystique of Conan’s barbaric world. Crumbling temples, shifting alliances, eerie prophecies, and antique kingdoms all play a part in the course of this tale. The elder, more experienced Conan depicted here is a fascinating mix of contradictions. He’s a figure of nobility and confidence yet also surprisingly amoral at times, unafraid to steal from his employers or tear a wench’s garments to prove a point. This balance serves to remind the reader that however heroic Conan is, he’s still a barbarian at heart but more importantly, he’s also only human.
All these concerns are, of course, secondary to the lush and beautiful artwork. Though sleeker and more refined than the stylistic work of Cary Nord on the monthly, Russell’s art is well-suited to his chosen genre and sweeps the reader away to rich exotic locales. I was very struck by the variety in Russell’s storytelling techniques: sepia tone flashbacks, colorful silhouettes in the foregrounds, the stark contrast of a pencil sketch interlude illuminating an ancient parchment, etc. From start to finish, The Jewels of Gwahlur is a visually arresting comic. The look is also aided a great deal by the soft color palette of Lovern Kindzierski setting the tone and highlighting the graceful forms of Russell’s pencil work.
As unlike the monthly series as can be, Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur nonetheless does the barbarian justice and is an excellent setup for another grand adventure. Fans of Conan or of fantasy art will find much to treasure in this Jewel.
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