Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 5/25

(one of these days I will figure out how to get these reviews out in a timely manner - that said, today isn't that day, and next week isn't looking to good in that regard, either)

King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel #4 (of 4) (Dark Horse, $3.50, Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello) -This ends pretty much the way you expect it would, with Conan returning to Aquilonia, to face foes from both within and without.  That's not necessarily a bad thing; there are only so many ways to to wrap up a Conan tale that don't wind up feeling 'not-Conan'.  Of course, if you stick too close to how Howard ended his Conan stories, then you risk falling into the banal end of pastiche.  Truman's wrap-up feels like something that Howard might have found acceptable, and if this winds up comfortably on the side of pastiche, it's at least a fairly enjoyable romp.  It's a little rushed in spots, and would probably have benefited from having at least a few more pages, but overall the story holds up decently well.  Assuming you haven't already been following this mini-series, this can be safely recommended for Conan fans when it gets collected in trade paperback format. 

Conan: Road Of Kings #5 (of 12) (Dark Horse, $3.50, Roy Thomas, Mike Hawthorne) - Conan continues to pursue Fharos and Olivia into the lands of Ophir, dealing with border guards and a rather unnecessary monster along the way (seriously, the monster scene does nothing but pad out the pages).  Fharos makes it to the court in Ophir first, but finds out that getting his desired reward is not in the cards, as palace intrigue places both him and Olivia in mortal danger.  Meanwhile, Conan finally makes his way to the royal city, and decides to pick a fight with an executioner for... well, no damned good reason, really.  He finds his foe is not so easily bested, leaving Conan at risk for a perfunctory cliffhanger.  Another weak issue in what has been an uneven story arc.

Transmetropolitan vol 8: Dirge (DC/Vertigo, $14.99, Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson) - collecting together issues 43-48 of the original run, things heat up as an invisible sniper terrorizes the City in the midst of a raging superstorm.  Spider and his Filthy Assistants come to realize just what they're up against, as the President Callahan ramps up the danger several notches, and gives a tactic demonstration why it's a bad idea to underestimate the power of the Presidency.  Oh, and just to make things worse, Spider comes face to face with his own looming mortality, in a manner even his occasionally delusional demeanor can't ignore.  This is not a good jumping in point for the series; too much is building to a head, and it would be a disservice to the reader not to start at the beginning.   But for those who do work their way up to this point, the payoff is worth it as the series truly kicks in high gear, with a sense that anything truly can happen, and that no one is safe.  Highly recommended.

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