Busiek, Kurt

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

4 out of 5

(1 book)

Conan: The Frost-Giant's Daughter And Other Stories

The first volume of the Dark Horse Comics series starring Robert E. Howard's Conan the Cimmerian.  Adapting some of Howard's own stories and adding new content too, this book begins with sixteen-year old Conan headed northwards in pursuit of the beguiling legends of the mystical land of Hyperborea.

It has been a long time since I read Howard's Conan stories, but Busiek managed to capture enough of the feel of them that I soon remembered what it was like to read about the barbarian hero.  This is something of a double-edged sword because although there is an enduring appeal to the character, there are also aspects of his character which are a little uncomfortable in the modern age.  Aside from his uncompromisingly violent nature, or perhaps more accurately an offshoot of it, is Conan's attitude towards women and the way in which this story treats them.  Here almost every female form featured is a lithe half-naked beauty or, in the case of the titular Frost-Giant's Daughter, a completely naked beauty.  It is in his encounter with her that Conan's least forgivable character flaw comes to the fore as, frustrated at the way she has teased and deceived him, he makes a concerted effort to 'warm her with the fire in his own blood'.  Forcibly.

However, hold-overs from a less PC age of pulp fantasy aside, this is a compelling beginning to this retelling of Conan's adventures.  Although the book feels like a collection of short stories, wherein Conan had his origins, Busiek also manages to tell a larger tale of Conan's first great adventure and the harsh life lessons it teaches him.  In fact, the aspect of Howard's stories I had quite forgotten amid the lusty maidens and crimson gore is that Conan is actually a tragic character.  His is a constantly unsettled life where nothing and, more importantly, no-one remains with him for long.  Here we get that feeling of wanderlust and tragic impermanence conveyed perfectly and it adds a depth to this book that it might not otherwise have had.

4 out of 5

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Conan (here)