Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown – Saladin Ahmed, Luke Ross & Nolan Woodard (Marvel)

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The fish out of water and stranger in a strange land scenarios are established genre tropes that were brought into being by Wells, Burroughs and Verne,  found their footing within  mainstream consciousness thanks to Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and have been running rampant through the annals of Science Fiction and Fantasy ever since. As familiar to four colour fans and literature devotees as rocket ships and ray guns, it’s an idea that has trapped many a hero in its unrelenting clutches, and will doubtless continue to ensnare many more. So it was only a matter of time until Conan fell headfirst into its maw.

Catapulted into our time, along with the wizard whose head he seeks as trophy, at the behest of Mephisto, Conan becomes caught in a quest to find two ancient artefacts that sees him venture from Las Vegas to Wakanda and onto Atlantis. Along the way he falls foul of, and is forced to battle, a number of superheroes stay one step ahead of the nefarious forces that would use him for their own means and save the world from the machinations of those who would trample it under their boot.

Saladin Ahmed guides Conan through this strange adventure with a sleek, surefootedness that demonstrates his profound love for, and understanding of, the character. He uses every Two Gun Bob staple to keep the story surging forward and imbues it with a knowing sense of humour that long time sword and sorcery fanatics will adore. Teamed with the incredible, sumptuously detailed art of Ross and Woodard, Ahmed’s story wholeheartedly embraces the convention that it draws from to create a rip roaring pulp classic that much like the hero whose destiny it continues to forge, is timeless. By Crom, it’s good… Tim Cundle

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