Review: Conan Volume 13 - Queen of the Black Coast / Author: Brian Wood / Artist: Becky Cloonan, James Harren / Publisher: Dark Horse / Release Date: January 22
Queen of the Black Coast is one of those classic Conan tales that has it all; action, romance, piracy and, of course, a huge barbarian hero beating the hell out of everyone else. There is an immediately recognizable style to the Conan canon, a sort of violent poetry that, though hardly unique to the genre, fits the iconic barbarian hero like a well-oiled loincloth. Queen of the Black Coast is a particularly good example, and writer Brian Wood has captured this perfectly, blending Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s original prose with powerful visuals that take the strain of the narrative.
Artists Cloonan and Harren have done an excellent job in evoking the world of Conan in pen and ink, and this much-loved tale is rendered in exquisite detail. Pirate Queen Bêlit is as terrible and as breathtaking as she should be, and Conan is every inch the glowering Cimmerian from the books; there’s not a single taint of Schwarzenegger here, and, by Crom, that is a very good thing.
This graphic novel showcases what is best about Howard's work, creating a tale of sex, violence, sand and sorcery that should appeal to fans of classic fantasy. Conan is not a deep or complex character, and no attempt has been made to add any unnecessary layers here; this is pure fantasy fun, extremely well done. Those familiar with Conan will find this hard to fault and those looking for an introduction should start here.