James Owsley may not be the first, second or even third name that comes to mind when one thinks of the writers on Marvel’s classic Conan The Barbarian series. And up until the stories reprinted in this volume (nos 182-189, and Annual #11), his contribution was workmanlike; fully adequate, if not remarkable.
However, and beginning with Annual #11, he really took it up a notch. Several notches, in fact. The story begins with a picturesque splash page by Ernie Chan, who likewise, is in peak form. It’s a well-crafted tale, with a twist, and thus, a rewarding read.
Unlike some of the recent Chronicles, which feature largely single-issue, one and done stories, the bulk of the tales compiled in this collection concern Conan’s involvement with a crazed king, his favorite harem consort, and her son. The writing is involving, and putting down this collection in the middle of the story arc will prove difficult; there are a number of moments loaded with the type of gravitas and intrigue that stay with a reader long after the book has been shelved.
Big John Buscema’s always magnificent contributions vary between pencils and breakdowns, so it’s up to the aforementioned Mr. Chan to ensure a consistent visual tone, and as noted, he’s in fine form throughout.
Don Kraar and Mike Docherty provide an interesting, well-drawn, fill-in issue, which while interrupting the flow of Owsley’s storyline, is nonetheless a pleasant diversion.
The Chronicles of Conan Volume 24 is highly recommended, and builds towards a climax that will have one waiting impatiently for Volume 25.