Know O Princes and Princesses, that the warrior known as Conan had traveled far and wide in his search for adventure, playing the brigand and the hero in equal measure. Many was the time that he traversed some arid wasteland and arrived in a city full of damned souls. Yet in all his travels searching for the wizard Kulgan Gath, whom it was said had mastered dark magics that allowed him to swim the streams of time, Conan had never been to a city like this… the city known as Las Vegas!
For all that was strange to Conan’s senses, like the sorcery-spawned lights that kept the darkness at bay even in the middle of the night, there was much that was familiar. Cities were cities to the barbarian’s mind and Las Vegas was much like Shadizar the Wicked, full of the same gambling dens full of scoundrels and simpletons and lust pits with beautiful dancers and sensuous music. Yet plying the trade of a thief was a different thing in this time and Conan soon found himself outclassed by the strange safes in the armored carriages, watched by guards armed with devices that carried the lightning of the gods in them.
Enter Nyla – a thief who has finesse and the skills Conan needs to survive as a thief in this strange world. Luckily for Conan she also has need of his muscle for a job that should give her wealth enough to retire and him the means to seek out Kulan Gath. Even better, it involves the type of thievery Conan knows best – climbing an impenetrable tower that reeks of dark sorcery and stealing a king’s ransom in gems from a robber baron.
Little does Conan realize that his quarry is closer than he thinks and allied with one of the demonic masters of this strange city. More, there are other thieves in Las Vegas whose eyes are on the same prize as Conan’s new partner Nyla and other intrigues he must weather in his search for this so-called Serpent’s Crown…
Your enjoyment of Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown will come down to one simple question; how well can you tolerate yet another story built around a barbarian hero trying to navigate the modern world? There’s been a glut of these stories lately, from Amy Chu’s Red Sonja to Dark Horse Comics’ Berserker Unbond to Marvel Comics’ own Savage Avengers title. Thankfully, what Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown lacks in originality it more than makes up for in spirit.
The script by Saladin Ahmed perfectly captures Conan’s character and portrays him as a man who does not lack in confidence even when he is out of his depth. He also maintains his strict code of honor in dealing fairly with those who treat him fairly, but still thinks nothing of robbing the rich or killing guards because that is the nature of the game and a fighting man knows the risks when he takes coin to guard another’s wealth.
Luke Ross does a fine job bringing the story to life, putting a certain degree of grit into the artwork while still finding a way to blend Conan into the modern setting. The palettes utilized by colorist Nolan Woodard are well varied, shifting between the brightness of the Vegas strip and the shadowy mystique that Conan seems to wear like a cloak from panel to panel. This adds a unique level of visual interest to the book.
I suspect this comic may win over those Marvel Comics fans who have yet to see the appeal of Conan thanks to a notable cameo or two. Yet sword and sorcery fans who can appreciate the conceit of a classic Conan adventure in a modern setting will also love this one.
Conan: Battle For The Serpent Crown #1 releases on February 5th, 2020!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.