Dark Horse's CONAN THE BARBARIAN kicks it into high gear with the 5th issue, where our favorite Cimmerian is about to be hanged in Argos, but is saved by a deal made by his pirate girlfriend, Belit. Now all Conan has to do is defeat the strongest man in the land...with his feet shackled and swordless! An absolutely BRUTAL installment.
In the final chapter of the ARGOS DECEPTION, issue no. 6 features Conan protecting a senior friend as they battle their way back to the docks to reunite with Belit. A truly savage finale to a fine story arc. I even started to enjoy James Harren's artwork this time around.
In issue no. 7, we begin a new tale titled BORDER FURY, where Conan returns home to Cimmeria and his pirate queen girlfriend finds it very hard to fit in as a servant. While Conan agrees to leave, he convinces Belit to stay until he finds out who the mysterious man is who has been pillaging the land using HIS name. A good story is underway, but unfortunately we're back to the sloppy artwork of Becky Cloonan. I'm eagerly awaiting the return of Tomas Giorello.
Dark Horse continues with it's CREEPY relaunch (although in regular comic book size). Issue no. 9 features a really weird opener titled UPON REFLECTION, a fine poetic tale titled THE RED KNIFE, the second part of THE LURKING FATE THAT CAME TO LOVECRAFT (in which the famous author deals with his own creations), and a fabulous Richard Corben-illustrated tale titled IN DEEP. There's a few funny one-page cartoons, too. Good stuff that keeps the spirit of the classic Warren magazine alive.
While I'm a big sci-fi fan, I was a a bit surprised to see the first issue of Dark Horse's EERIE re-launch to contain 3 out of 4 sci-fi tales. While they're all horror-oriented, only the final story, CHILD (illustrated in full color by Richard Corben) managed to keep that old-school EERIE feel. The 3 sci-fi tales are fine, if a bit familiar. Rafa Garres' artwork on BETA-EDEN is a stand out, and David Lapham's A ROBOT FOR YOUR THOUGHTS brings the WESTWORLD-like chills quite nicely. Not bad despite the uneven genre play.
As part of DC comic's massive relaunch of all its titles, SWAMP THING No. 1 features doctor Alex Holland working as a hired hand on a construction site, trying to forget his past as a failed botanist. Even a visit from Superman can't convince him to get back to the work he's been called to do. But a visit from SWAMP THING commands his attention. I'm THRILLED about this new series (that somehow I missed when it started in November, 2011) that already seems to have the same high quality as the previous series released under DC's Vertigo imprint. Yanick Paquette's artwork is simply fantastic.
In the second issue, SWAMP THING reveals a bit of his background to Dr. Holland, and explains why he believes Holland is the Chosen One who will be called to deliver earth from the wrath of Sethe, a hideous creature bent on world domination. And when Sethe begins possessing people, turning them into distorted, homicidal maniacs, Holland is forced into action. A genuinely horrific installment.
I somehow missed issue 25, but 26 of iZOMBIE continues with the series finale story arc, THE END. A cthulhu-like beast (named Xitalu) is coming upon the earth, preceded by all kinds of strange and deadly creatures. To survive, both monsters AND monster hunters are uniting in an epic struggle. Michael Allred's eye-candy art continues to dazzle...
AND I missed issue 27 (!), but 28 (which sadly is the series finale) couldn't have ended on a more amazing note: (SPOILER ALERT): Gwen manages to defeat Xitalu in a most fantastic manner, as she uses her own powers in ways she never imagined possible. It's a balls-to-the-wall monster mash with TONS of heart.
I'm sad to see this series go, but hopefully another press will pick it up for more adventures. Writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred make one KILLER team.