I just had the pleasure of looking through Conan The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories, the upcoming trade paperback coming from Dark Horse Comics on August 15th. Weighing in at a hefty 120 pages, this book contains everything you would expect from a series of great Conan stories (the Howard kind, not the Schwarzenegger kind). Lots of blood, sex, violence, and a smattering of the fantastical.
This book collects several mini-series and one shots from the comic’s run into one volume and contains six individual stories in the volume, though two of them are parts one and two of a miniseries and a third details events leading to that story.
Trophy,written by Tim and Ben Truman, starts off this book by showing that Conan is more than just a savage brute by demonstrating his great cunning and deviousness. The title story, The Daughters of Midora, by Jimmy Palmiotti follows next, and features all manner of things that fans of the milieu would come to expect. Monsters, evil wizards, and epic battles, all ending with Conan walking away with a fortune that he is just going to piss away on ale and wenches before the next story.
The next three stories are all linked. Kiss of the Undead is a short one-shot by Ron Marz that features Conan meeting the impetus for his frantic flight across the rooftops from Tarantia’s city guard in Island of No Return probably my favorite story in the book. Also written by Ron Marz, it’s long enough that we see quite a bit of Conan’s legendary wit and cunning in action in a number of ways, from avoiding a fight to escaping overwhelming odds. It really hits on one of major themes of Conan’s tales, which is that material things and wealth are fleeting, and the obsessive pursuit of them bringing ruin (or promised ruin) to the seeker.
The book ends with Children of the Sun, a short written by Michael Avon Oeming feels a little strange to me as a Conan tale, but it was enjoyable nonetheless, playing heavily on Conan’s superstitious nature.
The art is consistently very good, though very different in every story. Trophy is much more lightly illustrated than the others, featuring a more ape-like Conan than I tend to like seeing, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the story. The rest of the book, save Children of the Sun features a more “traditional” comic book feel to it, and heavily features a lot of dark colors, as well as reds, giving the book a much grittier and bloodier feel. Kiss of the Undead and Island of No Return features the same art team, but the style feels very similar to the art in The Daughters of Midora. Children of the Sun is a radical departure from the previous story, and it feels slightly more “cartoony,” though in a very Samurai Jack vibe.
My only issue is some minor quibbles with the layout of the electronic edition. The Daughters of Midora and Island of No Return both feature several two page layouts. Unfortunately, the electronic edition presents them as two separate pages, leading to some very disjointed panels if you’re not watching carefully. In paper format, that problem goes away entirely.
If you like Conan and haven’t read these stories yet, this book is a must own for you. Even if you have, it’s a great collection of some stories that really do Robert E. Howard’s character justice, and you could spend your money on much worse. If you’re anything like me, you’ll blow through these stories in no time and immediately want to go back for a second read. Conan The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories comes out August 15th from Dark Horse Comics and is available for $14.99.