It used to be that every time I saw there was a new Conan release, I would hang my head and sigh deeply before laying my money down on the counter. It was a crapshoot, to say the least. But in the past few years in general, and this month in particular, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. This trade paperback, King Conan: Wolves Beyond The Border, is a prime example of masterful storytelling and sequential art working in perfect harmony.
Read on for more information as to why I loved it so much!
Set in the later years of Conan’s life, this miniseries explores an adventure that was originally one of Robert E. Howard‘s creations, albeit an unfinished one. Expanding on the partial information and story line, Timothy Truman crafts a Conan tale worth its weight in gold. Add to that the classical artistry of Tomas Giorello, and I am whisked back to the seventies: reading Conan stories and comics while curled up in bed, avoiding the real world.
The story itself is a deep look at the psyche of the Cimmerian and how he sees the world after decades of thievery and combat. Having attained the throne of Aquilonia, the battle-scarred Conan finds himself restless and morose. Going incognito, he seeks to observe his subjects and, in my opinion, find some sense of normalcy. Always one to do as he wished, the restrictions placed upon him as king have not been welcome. Therefore, it seems a miracle when adventure literally appears at his feet in the guise of a former ranger.
Possessed with a task that has kept his life fraught with peril, the veteran warrior presents the disgruntled King Conan with a relic. Claiming that it has unnatural abilities, he presents the item to the king, along with all of his knowledge regarding it. Skeptical at first, Conan eventually concludes that he must make his way to original owners of the treasure and seek the truth behind it’s mysteries.
Traveling with but two of his soldiers, Conan embraces the treacherous jungle. As events unfold, he is forced to test his strength and wit many times. Only through his painfully gained wisdom and sheer tenacity does this king stand a chance of completing his journey successfully. Does he persevere? And if so, at what cost?
This graphic novel compiles all four of the miniseries issues into one book, along with a couple of creator notes and a sketch gallery. You have almost no chance of being disappointed if you have ever enjoyed a sword and sorcery story. If you are a Conan fan, that percentage is closer to zero. It is the quintessential Howard tale brought to life by an amazing group on individuals who work miracles on the printed page. I can think of no higher recommendation than Robert E. Howard himself couldn’t have finished it any better! By Crom, go buy this!