Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #3
Conan and Nyla are transported to Wakanda, and run into, well...
Part of what makes good Conan comics work is knowing how they’re supposed to feel, getting that intangible magic just right. It’s not about reinventing the wheel—quite the opposite. Conan books, when done very well, hit a sweet spot that combines the familiar with the new. It’s hard but the best of them are able to weave those very specific spells on readers.
Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown is exactly that sort of comic. It’s nothing groundbreaking or innovative but that’s not the point. This issue offers that comforting mix of self-serious narration, brutish action, goofy humor, and fish-out-of-water tension that a reader expects from Conan, while also highlighting his more noble aspects that feel fresh and new.
In this issue, Conan and his new companion Nyla arrive in Wakanda after a magic ring sends them there quite suddenly. Conan is overtaken by the ring, and leads the duo to a mysterious cave before breaking its hold on him through sheer will. Their discovery of an altar to Set, which holds a sceptre that is next in the sequence of key items, is interrupted by T’Challa, Black Panther and king of Wakanda. After the obligatory pre-teamup scuffle, Imus Champion appears and makes off with the Sceptre. Panther and Conan show their grudging respect for one another, and it is revealed that the next step in their journey is Atlantis, where they will inevitably clash with Namor, as is required in every team-up style book.
From the start, Ahmed has nailed the tension and contrast Conan stories run on, but he’s not content to just throw him into a story and see what happens. The issue is peppered with narration at key moments to show that Conan is more than a tough guy with a sword—he’s a capable, cunning, brutally effective warrior—and that he understands more than others would think. His dialog also gets mileage out of Conan’s unfamiliarity as well, calling Black Panther “another fool in a damn cat costume” after meeting Black Cat last issue. Every line gets the feel of a Conan book just right, and takes care to highlight that he is not a man of pointless cruelty. He’s not necessarily compassionate, but he is a warrior who respects strength and resourcefulness, as both Nyla and Black Panther have shown.
All of this is illustrated beautifully by Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard, in a style that recalls greats like John Buscema and Klaus Janson, while not being a slavish imitation of either. It’s full of smooth, expressive figure work, gorgeously drawn and colored backgrounds, and impactful action sequences. This is a book that revels in its own silly concept, from start to finish, and this issue is just delightful. Sometimes, a book succeeds by being exactly what it needs to be, and squeezing as much joy and fun out of that as possible. Battle of the Serpent Crown is that kind of book, and Ahmed and company are the team to make it happen.
Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #3 is another fun, imaginative, and adventurous tale, playing up Conan's contrast to humorous effect.
Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #3: More Fools=More Fun
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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