Wednesday, 27 July 2011

‘Iron Shadows in the Moon’ – Truman, Giorello and Villarubia (Dark Horse Books)

I still have volumes one to three of ‘The Savage Sword of Conan’ (and the actual books themselves, still...) to work my way through but this review pretty much marks the end of my journey with Conan in terms of comic books that I’ve come to love. I’m not going to go into that right now, long term blog readers will doubtless remember all my reasons anyway :o)  I can’t see myself going straight back to the beginning of this run, and filling in the gaps, as I want to do that by reading the books themselves. I can’t really see myself picking up the new ‘Road of Kings’ series either as I’m not too keen on the artwork that I’ve seen. I may have to search that book out as well...
So, onto ‘Iron Shadows in the Moon’ then and what a way to sign out (for now...)

Blurb copied and pasted from Amazon (busy day yesterday...)

On the run from the army of Turan, Conan and fellow fugitive Olivia hide out on a small island in the Vilayet Sea. They soon find themselves stalked by an unseen terror in the jungles and threatened by a group of pirates belonging to the Red Brotherhood, which is led by Conan's sworn enemy - Sergius of Koth! However, those may be the least of Conan's concerns, because when the moon rises on this island, the ruins of a lost civilization stir and an ancient, deadly curse awakens!
‘Iron Shadows in the Moon’ (the main story in the collection itself, also called ‘Iron Shadows’...) completely blew me away to the extent that Darrick Robertson’s ‘Conan and the Mad King of Gaul’ and ‘The Weight of the Crown’, also included in this collection, were left firmly in it’s shadow. Not that either of these two stories were lacking in any way and you’ve probably already seen my mini-review of ‘The Weight of the Crown’ so you know how highly I hold that particular comic. For the record, ‘The Mad King of Gaul’ engendered the same kind of reaction (as I had to ‘Weight of the Crown’) although its job, setting the scene for events in ‘The Weight of the Crown’, makes it a slightly more pedestrian affair than its sequel.

No, ‘Iron Shadows in the Moon’ takes top billing here and deservedly so; taking events from as far back as ‘Black Colossus’ and weaving them all into a tale that ties everything off nicely. I was sad to see the Giorello/Truman partnership end here but there’s no doubt that it’s a fitting place to sign out on.

We get to see Conan from a completely different viewpoint here as much of the tale is told through the eyes of Olivia, the woman he rescues from a terrible fate. I never had a problem with tales being told from Conan’s perspective as his character rules the page and powers the plot forward. It was refreshing though to see him through another character’s eyes; not only do we get to see someone meeting Conan for the first time (he comes across as an explosive individual but with moments of tenderness that I don’t think we would have seen had things been reversed) but we also get to see a female lead in her own right as opposed to someone whom Conan can, well... you know...
Olivia is a very frightened woman who wants the protection of Conan but the addition of reasons for this add a depth to the character that was very much welcome this time round.

Truman takes the elements already mentioned and weaves them into the tale itself to give us a show that explodes with action but, at the same time, offers quite moments for thought. Earlier work on ‘Conan the Cimmerian’ won me round to Truman’s writing and ‘Iron Shadows’ confirmed it for me. Truman knows exactly what Conan is about and can tell us better than anyone out there at the moment.

When the action kicks in, Truman and Giorello combine to give us what we know Conan is capable of. He’s a man who won’t back down from anything and apparently this includes giant gorillas! While the pirates are finding out about the island’s curse (in the worst possible way, loved the depiction of the background history) Truman and Giorello show us the main event, two primal forces of nature trying to kill each other quickly. You know how it’s going to turn out (it’s not hard to guess is it...) but you will feel every punch and gouge in the meantime. You’ll also feel very sorry for Conan at the end, there’s no doubt that he’s just been in the hardest fight of his life...

Dark Horse have moved Conan on to new things but the ‘Conan the Cimmerian’ series has been a joy to follow. Truman and Giorello sign out here with the best offering of the lot.

Ten out of Ten


Marc said...

Graeme, good news, Truman and Giorello are still together. They are now working on single story mini-series from later in Conan's career. The first is The Scarlet Citadel, and The Phoenix on the Sword will follow early next year.

This lets them work together, without the pressure and grind of a monthly book. And it lets Dark Horse cover late-career stories that the monthly book might never reach. Keep an eye out for a Scarlet Citadel graphic novel by this time next year. I've glanced at individual issues, and it looks GREAT!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Road of kings (the comic) is pretty good. the action comes thick, fast and bloody and conan is still conan. Worth a try when you get past the art style.