Thursday, June 14, 2018

Maybe if one artist had drawn the whole thing. (The first artist!)

I've mentioned before my love of Batman: Year Two, and how I've always wished Alan Davis had drawn the whole thing, instead of dropping out with no explanation after the first issue and being replaced with Todd McFarlane. Today we've got the conclusion of another retelling of the hero's early days, started by an artist I really liked, then finished by someone else: from 1991, Conan the Barbarian #240, "The End Must Come" Written by "Justin Arthur" (Roy Thomas, per the GCD, and you can tell!) pencils by Gary Hartle, inks by Ricardo Villagran.

This was part nine of "Young Conan," which began in #232 written by Michael Higgins with art by Ron Lim. Lim would only stay on for four issues, though, since I think he was doing a ton of other books at the time as well. And this issue sees Higgins replaced by "Justin Arthur," actually original series writer Roy Thomas, which does not strike me as a show of confidence. The storyline is wrapped up fairly quickly: Conan is returned from the dead, but possessed by a demon, and knocks out his friend Jorrma and his girl Melanie and takes them to be sacrificed. The witch Acegra drops four pages of backstory, about her elaborate plot to wipe out Conan's bloodline before he destroyed her and her demon partner, and how Jorrma had been specifically bred for that purpose. Conan fights off the mind-control and refuses to kill his friend, but when the control switches to Jorrma, he isn't as strong, and accidentally kills Melanie. Jorrma then kills Acegra, and is then killed by the demon Nuraldin, who ages to death without Acegra before he can kill Conan. Conan lays his friends on a funeral pyre, and then rides on to what would be his first issue.

But the last five pages could be seen as a bit of revisionism, or at least an unreliable narrator, as this, and by inference all of "Young Conan," has been the older King Conan telling the story to his son Conn. Conn wants to hear "the Tower of the Elephant" next, but it's bedtime; but he mentions to his mom Zenobia how much he loves his dad's stories, "even if they change a little, every time he tells them." Zenobia asks Conan about that, pointing out some inconsistencies with earlier stories; which is such a Roy Thomas bit he could've signed it.

We've previously blogged one chapter of "Young Conan," but I could stand to re-read it. Or at least see if the Ron Lim issues are as strong as I remember; although I think I might've been disappointed that Conan only appears as a baby in the first chapter. That issue also features a very nice, very Barry Windsor-Smith looking cover; penciled by Michael Higgins...and inked by Jim Lee!


SallyP said...

Zenobia just doesn't want to admit to their son, that Conan is a liar. A filthy filthy liar.

Dale Bagwell said...

^And man-whore. HUUUUUUUUUUGGGGEEEEE Man-Whore.
Hey those women won't make lamentations all by themselves....or do they?

I used to have #235 with the Ron Lim art, but yes, it;'s true, he was indeed very much spread thin as an artist, drawing both Captain America and the Silver Surfer (I bet those bi-weekly issues were hell on him0

H said...

There was an explanation for why Alan Davis dropped out of Year Two- they wanted him to redraw the gun in the story to match the Year One version and he refused. They had somebody else do it in the first issue after he left.

googum said...

I hadn't heard that! The only possible explanation I vaguely remember hearing--which could be completely wrong, or misremembered, or both--was the dollar/pound exchange rate tipped the wrong way, and it wasn't feasible for Davis to continue American work. That may have been why he left Excalibur, maybe, or maybe not.

Wasn't the Year One version a .45 as well? I can't picture it offhand, just that damned pearl necklace dropping. Seen so many versions of that scene I'm having goddamn flashbacks.

H said...

I've heard it from a couple different places- can't remember where offhand but at least two different sources. The gun that Alan and Mike had worked out when they were working on Year Two was a mauser. You can find a penciled version of the original cover if you do a little searching.