Roy Thomas’ return to the character he wrote for so many years at Marvel wraps up in suitably entertaining fashion. The first two-thirds of this collection involve Conan getting mixed up in a coup in the Aquilonian capital city of Tarantia and then having to fight his way through the catacombs mixed with crawling bugs, flying bugs and zombie brain bugs. Afterwards, the final two issues serve as a transnational tale of the title character running afoul of another city’s corrupt guard and being sent straight into the Brian Wood run. It’s all good fun and Thomas even gets some good material out of pairing Conan with a little girl early on, something I was surprised to realize had not been done in this series yet. There’s also some great bits in the final issue as the barbarian demonstrates impeccable aim in spitting and shows a disreputable individual exactly what he thinks of his offer to flee before the rest of the guards come upon him.
One thing I do have to make amends for in my review of the previous volume is that I got the artist wrong. Mike Hawthorne illustrated the issues there, and while I apologize for confusing him with Mike Norton, I can’t say that his work impressed me any more here. Now I get to add insult to injury by saying that I liked the two issues by Dan Panosian in this collection a lot better. He’s not the best artist this title has seen, but there’s a rawness to his spiky style that feels very appropriate to Conan’s world. So the long and short of it here is that this volume is ultimately a little better than the previous one, and you therefore have no good reason not to pick it up if you didn’t like vol. 11.