Review - King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #1

If you're a big fan of acronyms, you would look at King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #1 and see "King Conan: TPOTS." This my stir some sense of chivalry and frivolity in you and you may have cause to believe Conan has gone soft. Rest assured, in King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #1 from Dark Horse, Conan hasn't gone soft. He's still every bit the Cimmerian warrior you remember. Only now he's king.

King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #1 is written by Tim Truman and illustrated by Tomás Giorello (colors by José Villarrubia and letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft). It's a little dense.

A little history in in order. "The Phoenix on the Sword" is an original short story by Robert E. Howard that was actually a rewrite of the unpublished Kull story "By This Axe I Rule!" The story starts with a middle-aged Conan, ruling over Aquilonia but finding himself longing for the days where his life was in danger.

It also doesn't help that the people of Aquilonia who--previously were excited to be under the tyrannical reign of Numedides--are starting to turn on Conan because of his Cimmerian blood. This is exemplified by a secret gathering of conspirators who are prepared to unleash an old friend in Thoth-Amon. And here's where King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #1 kicks off, with a plot to assassinate King Conan.

Truman is clearly invested in Conan, as this first issue is dense. There are a lot of characters introduced and some heady dialogue, but it boils down to a relatively simple premise in an attempt on Conan's life. The dialogue has that Conan feel to it and you're really thrown into Conan's court.

The art by Giorello and Villarrubia might steal the show though. No offense to Truman's writing, but the art is simply incredible. There's a quality to it that shows a lot of care went into it and the pair manage to depict a Conan story without resorting to overly excessive blood and violence. It's possible that future issues will come to that, but as of now it's pretty calm.

The entire tone of the story conveyed is one of adventure and, well, Conan. It feels like Conan and fans of the character will be impressed. It's a solid first issue in the new series that promises to take readers on quite a journey. It's definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of Conan.

King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword #1 is in stores January 25.