Publisher – Dark Horse
Originally Published by Marvel Comics 1985
Contains Issues 26 – 30 of Conan The King
Story – Alan Zelenetz and Don Kraar,
Art – Marc Silvestri and Mike Docherty
Inks and Finishes – Geoff Isherwood, Marc Silvestri and Art Nichols
Coloring – George Roussos
Lettering – Rick Parker and Janice Chiang
Cover Art – Michael Kaluta
Conan created by Robert E. Howard
The Chronicles Of King Conan vol 6., A Death In Stygia and Other Stories, is 206 pages of some of the best original Conan stories that came from Marvel during the 1980’s. Repackaged by Dark Horse, the trade contains issues 26 – 30 of Marvel’s Conan the King title and details the troubles of King Conan as he struggles between Kingly duties and the call of his Barbarian heritage.
The story begins with Trocero, Conan’s trusted advisor, leaving to return to his homeland, Poitain. Trocero is troubled by strange dreams and seems to reminisce about his younger days often. He also feels that Conan should have listened to him more and should have tried harder to persuade him to stay. As Trocero awakens and begins to talk to his trusted servant Ghord we switch to the kingdom of Aquilonia where King Conan stares out a window, mourning the loss of his eldest son, Conn. His wife Zenobia knows that Conan has grown tired of the life of a king and she fears he may just abandon his family and crown for a barbarian’s life once more.
This is a different Conan than what most people know of the character. He is tired of the pretentiousness of ruling and longs for the carefree adventures of his youth. His frustration shows when dealing with Maloric, his replacement for Trocero. Maloric is everything Trocero was not…a YES man, a coward always trailing after Conan trying to gain favor with the king, and as we soon find out, a traitor! Maloric it seems has made a deal with a wizard. After a failed assassination attempt and Trocero’s departure, Maloric is appointed an advisor and has second thoughts about the plot! We soon find out that this isn’t the only plot afoot as 3 of Conan’s enemies, a couple of which Conan fans will recognize from the original Howard stories, plan to aid the Pikes, a vicious tribe across the river from Conan’s kingdom!
Throughout the course of these issues we see the mysterious return of Conan’s son Conn and what I would consider a side adventure with Red Sonja in which Conan is put to the test. Should he abandon all he has fought for to follow the warrior woman? I won’t reveal that here, you’ll just have to read it to find out!
The Pikes eventually cross the river and Conn’s mysterious Jester companion foils an attack on Conan’s people while at the same time dealing with another assassination attempt. Suddenly a dying soldier arrives and is brought forward. Barely alive after his ride from the Pike’s siege, the soldier comes in after the melee to deliver news of the attack to King Conan. Conan begins preparations for war and that’s all I can say without spoiling some good action scenes to come!
Overall, I enjoyed seeing this side of Conan. It’s definitely interesting to watch him struggle with following political protocol as opposed to pulling a sword and taking out everything in his way. The one drawback to the book(s) is the lulls in action. There are just a few too many scenes of Conan presiding over council meetings and making decisions on religion, rather than stabbing stuff with a sword for me.
The art team of Marc Silvestri & Geoff Isherwood do an adequate job in getting Conan’s angst across and colors by George Roussos elevate the artwork brilliantly. The stories by Alan Zelenetz and Don Kraar are well written and do convey a side of Conan to the casual Conan fan that they may not have seen before but like I said, maybe a little less harvest report to the king and a little more savage blood spilling!
These books do take me back to my youth. They are unmistakably 80’s comics. The panel layouts, the art, the color, everything screams 80’s Marvel…maybe it’s just me? As much as I enjoyed the book I have to deduct a point on lack of all out barbarian madness, which is why I give The Chronicles of King Conan Volume 6 – A Death in Stygia and Other Stories a solid…
4 out of 5 nerds!