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Conan #9 (Dark Horse): No disrespect intended, but I can’t say I’ll miss Vasilis Lolos on this title. At times, his art is interesting and actually spot on; he’s able to nail the visceral cold and the wolves look downright amazing, almost looking like Paul Pope if you ever saw that stand-alone story he did in Brett Matthews' old Lone Ranger series about a coyote attack. But, Belit certainly does not appear like the “desert rose” Wood describes; there’s no sense of her ethereal beauty that Becky Cloonan first gave us. You could probably make the argument that the harsh environs of Cimmeria have partially cracked her looks, but I don’t buy that. Her mop of hair looks almost like Conan’s at times; pale skin and ruby lips aside, they look very similar in shots. Wood’s story still manages to shine though. It’s about lovers’ trust, and how true love doesn’t mean being strong 100% of the time, but admitting when you need help and leaning on the other person. The impostor is finally revealed and I’m glad the art doesn’t hinder the thrust of the tale concerning Conan and Maeldun, which almost strikes me as some type of mythological influenced story, if this was part of the original REH material, I wonder if he was influenced by Norse mythology and the Marvel-style fallout between Thor and Loki. Anyway, it’s an interesting realization for Belit that she may not like Cimmeria very much, but she still feels some affinity for this new home of sorts, because she deeply appreciates how its qualities helped shape the man she loves. Grade A-
Stumptown Volume 2 #2 (Oni Press): This title has really been a roller coaster, and I don’t mean that in a positive sense. I enjoyed the first series, despite some glitches with the art and inconsistencies with colorists coming and going. Here, I thought the first issue was largely ok, and this second installment has an absolutely striking cover, with a studio session looking like it’s something right out of Local. Diving in, it suddenly struck me as a little off-putting that over in Batwoman, Rucka used DEO Agent Chase, in Queen & Country he used MI6 Agent Chace, and here in Stumptown it’s DEA Agent Chase. Hardy-har, and hardly a show stopper, but this is also from the same guy who refused to acknowledge that the MI6 Agent opposite Carrie Stetko in Whiteout was also Tara Chace from Queen & Country. Man, that sounds nerdy. Let’s move on. Some of the faces are just… ugly, there’s no other way to say it. Sorry, Matt Southworth. When Dex says “what, alone?” in the first scene, it’s a good example of just how rushed and doughy and lacking detail the art feels about half the time. The art also, or maybe it’s the coloring, really seems flat in spots. It’s really disappointing when I want to like this so much. We do learn some additional facts, like Dex having a military service record post-9/11. I don’t think we knew that. David Mayes seems like an interesting character, but here we go again with muddy art. I *think* he’s meant to be flirting with Dex (she flirts with everyone!), but the art is so unfocused and devoid of intent that it’s hard to tell. Dex slips outside Mim’s window and then suddenly is on the floor inside(?). It’s just confusing. I didn’t understand how she got from point A to point B. There’s good “detective stuff,” like how Dex gets to the meth smuggling logically, but I think the art inconsistencies just put me in a bad mood. In the first issue, I liked the PI backmatter, but now it just feels like Rucka is boring me, repeating the same one or two points over and over. I’ll stick with this because I feel like I have time invested in the character and the world, but this is a not very enthusiastic Grade B.