Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #4
IN TOO DEEP! The SERPENT CROWN’s roots in the Pre-Cataclysmic Age lead CONAN back to where it all started…but ATLANTIS is not quite what it once was. And even if he can locate the Crown, NAMOR isn’t going to let that treasure slip through his grasp!
There’s not a lot of plot innovation to be found at this point in macho, masculine fantasy comics, so that puts the pressure on creators to try and deliver in other ways. Thankfully, Conan: BFTSC exceeds those expectations far beyond what is needed.
The issue begins with Champion and Mephisto plotting their next move, which leads into some well-drawn exposition illustrating the true stakes of the plot—Wyrm, a rival Elder God to Set, is responsible for the creation of this mini’s McGuffins, and Mephisto needs them so he can help Imus bear their power (yes of course) and be free of his prison. Travis Lanham’s letters do a good job melding into the scene, and simply not getting in the way. Quality lettering is something you aren’t supposed to notice, so there’s recognition due here for his work.
The scene then jumps to the main action of the issue, which involves Conan and Nyla preparing to go underwater to Atlantis. Ahmed has a very good relationship for Conan in this miniseries—Nyla serves as a foil, but also as a fully-rounded character that knows how to push his buttons and force him to act. Here, in order to get him to take the serum to breathe underwater, she simply calls him a coward for running away from a fight. Obviously, that is not who Conan is, nor who he will ever be. He takes the bait in order to not prove her point, but we as the audience know that he’s wounded and in an unfamiliar situation, so we know that he’s not only doing it for her, but for himself. A great scene that does a lot of good character work.
The rest of the issue follows the typical framework: unfamiliar combat for Conan, the entrance of Namor to spoil the fun, but the twist here comes from the revelation that Imus is in control of the Serpent Crown, and uses it to force Conan and Namor to fight one another. Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard’s art here channels classic 70’s Marvel, with a loose, feathered roundness that recalls John Buscema. He and Ahmed are clearly working in sync here, and that definitely shows up on the page here, with classic posed action laid out and illustrated in a breathless, intense sequence that ends with Conan and Nyla taken prisoner.
So the stage is set for an epic confrontation. BFTSC #4 has no business being as good as it is, but its quality is a testament to how much Ahmed and his team are willing to add their own lovely flourishes to make it their own.
Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #4’s overall plot might be getting a little stale at this point, but the writing and art elevate it into a story worth reading.
Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #4: Fun Team-Up Goodness
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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