Overview

Solomon Kane #1

Review

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Solomon Kane #1

Credits

  • Words: Scott Allie
  • Art: Mario Guevara
  • Inks: N/A
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: The Castle of the Devil: Part One
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Sep 24, 2008

A Puritan wouldn't seem to be a proper background for an action hero, but Solomon Kane has proven to be one of Robert E. Howard's most enduring creations.

Dark Horse has done magnificent things with their Conan license, including one of the best serial publications on the comics rack with Conan the Cimmerian, so my expectations were high with the new Solomon Kane title. The anticipation was further fueled by the fact that Kane is my favorite Howard character, owing to his historical rather than pre-historical background. Add in that Kane has not been adapted to comics in many, many years, and it would seem an almost impossible task for this book to live up to my hopes. But it did.

As with most Howard heroes, Kane is stricken with a wanderlust that takes him to various parts of the world. The setting for this first tale is the Black Forest of Germany, a locale imbued with mystery, magic, and legend from hundreds of years of fairy tales. Solomon Kane encounters a band of brigands who seek to separate him from his money and his steed. With a flash of steel and dour Puritan resolve, Kane dispatches his foes, but he is left without the services of his horse, an unfortunate victim of a wolf attack. Left on foot, Kane soon discovers that the Black Forest harbors evil more insidious than highway robbers, as he cuts down a youth left to hang in a tree. Being accompanied by a fellow Englishman, John Silent, the Puritan hero seeks audience with Baron Von Staler, the local lord, owner of the titular Castle of the Devil, and the man Kane suspects is behind the hanging of the boy. Driven by justice, and by curiosity, Kane explores the mystery of the castle, and its surprisingly friendly lord.

Scott Allie writes a careful adaptation of the Robert E. Howard tale. He does not rely overmuch on Howard's prose in caption, letting the dialogue and artwork carry the narration. I am glad to see the story is being given the time and space to develop, over a five issue arc. Much of the past adaptations of Solomon Kane felt very rushed in an effort to contain the stories within a single comic issue.

The artwork by Mario Guevara is wonderfully illustrative, and he draws natural things extremely well. Both the flora of the Black Forest as well as the fauna, in this issue a wolf and horse, are rendered in exquisite detail. His characters’ costumes are well referenced, and the reader feels transported to the historical period of the story. Solomon Kane is a visually stunning character, ghostly white in complexion, and cloaked in the black clothing of the Puritans. Armed with both pistols and swords, he is as deadly as he is devout, and in Guevara's care, and exceptionally "cool" looking hero. Dave Stewart's muted colors complement the somber mood of the book.

After a long hiatus, Solomon Kane returns to comics with a vengeance. Dark Horse has given this great and complex character the treatment he has long deserved. As with the Conan comics, they are true to the character, and have produced a title of the highest quality in both story and art.

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