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Conan, Uncanny X-Men
7.21.2004 by Scott, every Thursday.


Dark Horse comics has not traditionally been known as a strong force in the realm of fantasy comics, but the tandem creative team of writer Kurt Busiek and homegrown artist Cary Nord have taken a nearly dead property and made it a surprise hit. Conan, the foremost figure in sword and sorcery fantasy, has been a breakthrough success for Dark Horse Comics this year, beginning with the launch issue #0.

Cary Nord, whose past work on Daredevil had caught my eye back in 1996, has really taken it to a new level for his pages in Conan. Fantasy seems to come easily to the canuck, and his style draws on many of the past artists of Conan from back in the Marvel days, such as Barry Windsor-Smith and Gil Kane. A big difference, however, is that Nord’s pencils are inked very lightly, and the colour work done by Dave Stewart really brings the book to life.

Kurt Busiek has written a very flowing story for Conan, giving the book a strong feel of the title character’s vagabond ways. Conan seamlessly shifts from one adventure to the next, and there is a wondrous sense of mystery as to where the book will take you next. Busiek, a veteran writer with titles such as “Avengers”, “Astro City”, “Thunderbolts” and “Untold Tales of Spider-Man” to his credit already may have also seemed like an odd choice for Conan, but his work has been as good if not better than his runs on his “spandex” books.

Overall, I rate Conan as a can’t miss book, with great story-telling and art, this could very well be as good as Conan has ever been. “Crom!”

Uncanny X-Men has received a new creative team in the recent “Reload” event, with long-time X-Scribe Chris Claremont teaming up with Alan Davis (Excalibur, Avengers) again.

Claremont wrote the X-Men into prominence in the late 70’s, taking them from a cult fan base to one of the most successful comic properties of the past 30 years. He was the creator of some of the most famous X-Men stories, such as “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, “Days of the Future Past” and “God Loves, Man Kills”. He was the writer tapped to form several of the spin-off titles to Uncanny X-Men, with New Mutants, Wolverine, Excalibur, X-Men, and Extreme X-men all under his belt. His return to Uncanny X-Men is a homecoming, of sorts.

But.

But he’s come home before, in the late 90’s, and his short lived stint on the book was met with much criticism from fans. He tried to create new villain in the Neo, and since his departure, they’ve faded away into oblivion. He’s back now, and has a great cast to work with, with the team of Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Cannonball, Bishop, Sage and Rachel Grey, but three issues in, and I’m feeling like the book is slow and predictable.

Has Chris Claremont lost his edge? The fan in me would like to shout down all naysayers and point out his many successes. Unfortunately, I shell out the cash for my copies of Uncanny X-Men, and I have been thinking it could be better spent on a book I enjoy more. His antagonists have been bland, and his character interaction has been contrived, seemingly retreading on previous works and ideas. No matter what Alan Davis, a talented artist, does, he can’t make a boring story look interesting.

I’ll hold out for while longer, but CC, m’man, don’t make me regret it.

-Scott MacIver




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