Conan: Book of Thoth #3


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Conan: Book of Thoth #3


  • Words: Kurt Busiek and Len Wein
  • Art: Kelley Jones
  • Inks: Kelley Jones
  • Colors: Richard Starkings and Rob Steen
  • Story Title: The Serpent Rises
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $4.99
  • Release Date: May 24, 2006

Thoth-Amon’s evil grows stronger and more frightening as Kalanthes’ fears are realized and a nation is forever changed.

In the penultimate chapter of Thoth’s origin, we see the serpent Set’s powers grow. Members of the royal family are mysteriously murdered, leaving only Thoth’s handpicked, spineless king to rule. His plots grow darker as he maneuvers into a position of power and begins wars, causing the free countries of the world to fight back, bringing blood to the outlying regions of Stygia. Meanwhile, Kalanthes, aided by like-minded individuals and the bird-god, Ibis, tries to bring about an end to the evil infesting his homeland. The results are tragic as the country that has worshipped a peaceful god for eons changes its ways…

Robert Howard, it has been said, believed he was not truly "writing" the tales of Conan, but channeling the spirit of a long dead barbarian king who lived and ruled in an age gone from the minds and memory of man. Busiek and Wein together may be doing the same thing. It is unfortunate for them that they are channeling the spirit of a madman possessed by an ancient, evil god. I wonder what will come of it…? But it is fortunate for the reader that they are doing just that because the story of Thoth’s rise to power could not be told with more suspense, horror, and sacrifice if Howard himself was telling the tale. Busiek and Wein understand what drives this villain and though there are some shining moments of kindness in Thoth’s behavior, there is not enough to make the reader feel sympathy for the devil. No, Thoth-Amon is a villain of the highest order and his ruthless bloodlust and warmongering only makes the reader love to hate him more.

I am wary of using the word "perfect" when describing anything, but in this instance, Jones’ artwork is a perfect fit. His loose pencils, dark, heavy inks, and bold line work give Book of Thoth a frightening sense of foreboding that begins on the cover and leaves a creepy, empty feeling in the pit of your belly when you finish the book. In every scene, from the gory battlefields to the eerily candle lit studies, and barren streets of Memphia, the capitol of Stygia, the terror running rampant in the country is clear. Jones may be a far cry from a realistic artist; nevertheless, he knows the true meaning of horror and easily captures the moody, dark essence of the battles of the gods Ibis and Set as well as the evil gleam in Thoth’s eyes, and all the outlandish events of his life.

Every month, Book of Thoth has been a frightening, enlightening experience that will keep you coming back for 40 more pages without thinking twice about the hefty cover price.

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