Monday, June 20, 2011

The Halls of the Dead and Other Stories: Conan Volume 4 Dark Horse Comics (Graphic Novel)

Conan Volume 4: The Halls of the Dead and Other StoriesConan Volume 4: The Halls of the Dead and Other Stories by Kurt Busiek

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read the Barry Smith illustrated Marvel comic version of this story way back in 1970 while on vacation in Hawaii. That version remains one of my all time favorite comics and artistic rendetions of the young Conan, so I approached this newer version with some trepidation. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I thought both the story (it's based on a short fragment of Howard's, not a full blown story, so there's plenty of room on the part of the creators to take in where they will) and the art were well done. The drawings of the Gunderman who is first Conan's adversary and then later his friend were pretty much as I thought they should be, and the drawings of Conan's deceitful girlfriend was pretty spot on as well I thought. Several authors contributed to the plot and dialog (Mike Mignola did chapters 3 and 4 for instance) and while that sometimes doesn't work I thought it worked very well in this instance. I read this in one sitting at the local bookstore cafe where my wife works and may even go back and buy it, so I guess I was pretty impressed.

As an added bonus, noted Howard scholar Mark Finn wrote the afterword where he mentions the epistolary relationship between Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft and how that relationship impacted both men's writing. Very well done, and probably alone worth the price of the book.

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The Goddess of Ganymede, by Mike Resnick

The Goddess of GanymedeThe Goddess of Ganymede by Mike Resnick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this years ago when it came out, so my review is of course slightly based on the reaction of a 13 or 14 year old boy and how memory may have altered that reaction in the intervening decades. That said, I remember this as a fun read, grand adventure in the Edgar Rice Burroughs tradition of pulp magazine fiction. I don't remember many details, other than that the protagonist ends up on a Ganymede that is very similar to the Barsoom of Burroughs, where he has adventures of the type some call "sword and planet." I vividly remember how very very disappointed I was when the series stopped after the 2nd volume, "Pursuit on Ganymede" was published.

Pretty obviously a homage to Burroughs, and this was also written about the time that the paperback market was being flooded with any number of Burroughs and Robert E. Howard pastiches. That being said, I remember enjoying it more than some of the other similar books that were coming out at the time, so I'm giving it 3.5 stars and am strongly considering going out and buying a used copy just to see how it holds up.

Probably recommended more to the Edgar Rice Burroughs fans than to the present day Michael Resnick fans (unless you're a completist, like I tend to be) since his more modern writing has matured and has a different slant than this. Still, if you are a Resnick fan (as I still am) and want to see some of his early homage work you might enjoy this. As I said before, it was grand fun.

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