The GeeksverseREVIEW | Conan: The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories TPB (Dark Horse Books)

REVIEW | Conan: The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories TPB (Dark Horse Books)
Published on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 by
We take a belated look at Conan: The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories, a trade paperback anthology featuring the work of Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim & Ben Truman, Mark Texeira, Bart Sears, Michael Avon Oeming, and others.

Key Review Points

Pros:

  • Reprints the underrated Conan and the Daughters of Midora.
  • Collects a number of novel Conan stories released online over the past several years.

Cons:

  • “Kiss of the Undead” and “Island of No Return” don’t really merit the trade paperback treatment.

Publication Details

  • Publisher: Dark Horse Books (a division of Dark Horse Comics)
  • Publication Date: August 2012
  • Creative Teams

“Trophy”

Script by: Tim & Ben Truman

Art by: Marian Churchland

Letters by: Brandon Graham

“The Daughters of Midora”

Script and inks by: Jimmy Palmiotti

Pencils by: Mark Texeira

Colors by: Michelle Madsen

Letters by: Richard Starkings & Comicraft

“Kiss of the Undead” and “Island of No Return”

Script by: Ron Marz

Pencils by: Bart Sears

Inks by: Randy Elliott

Colors by: Mark Roberts

Letters by: Troy Peteri

“Children of the Sun”

Script and art by: Michael Avon Oeming

Colors by: Nick Filardi

Letters by: Richard Starkings & Comicraft

  • Format: 120 page, full color, trade paperback. Collects the Conan and the Daughters of Midora one-shot (published in 2004 by Dark Horse Comics), Conan: Island of No Return #s 1–2 (published in 2011 by Dark Horse Comics), the short story “Kiss of the Undead” (appeared in 2010 in an online edition of USA Today), and the short story “Trophy” (appeared in 2007 in the online-exclusive Myspace Dark Horse Presents #11).
  • List Price: $14.99 (digital review copy provided free-of-charge by the publisher)
  • Availability: On sale now

Page Previews (Click on images to view in larger size)

Full Review

The Conan: The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories trade paperback anthology pulls together stories from various original Conan projects released by Dark Horse Comics in the years since the publisher began its licensed Conan line. Given the varying quality and diverse creative teams of the stories included in the anthology, the review will consider the stories as individual pieces as they appear in order in the book before giving an overall assessment of the volume.

“Trophy”

The trade paperback opens with the eight-page “Trophy,” a short story that appeared in 2007 in the online-exclusive MySpace Dark Horse Presents #11. Apart from the novelty of it being part of a MySpace-based online comic book—has it just been four years since MySpace’s rapid fall from its vaunted position atop the social networking hierarchy?—the story has quite a bit going for it, with Conan telling tales of his adventures in a desert tavern used to great effect as a framing device. Marian Churchland’s softly-hued art may seem an odd fit at first, but it actually works well with the piece’s somewhat lighthearted, storybook tone.

“The Daughters of Midora”

“The Daughters of Midora,” first published as a one-shot (Conan and the Daughters of Midora) in 2004, earns its “title track” status with execution reminiscent of the best Roy Thomas-John Buscema-Alfredo Alcala era Curtis Magazines/Marvel Comics material, so much so that I’m almost convinced that it’s directly inspired by or even a remake of a story I’d previously read as a youngster in an early issue of either The Savage Sword of Conan or Conan the Barbarian. The tale finds the Cimmerian rogue in his element, teamed-up with a fiery female warrior on a mission to rescue a princess from the clutches of an evil sorcerer. The depiction of Robert E. Howard’s hero—both in Jimmy Palmiotti’s writing and Mark Texeira’s gorgeous art—is very much in line with the Kurt Busiek-Cary Nord take in the regular Conan series it appeared alongside originally, whilst still retaining a disposition all its own.

“Kiss of the Undead” and “Island of No Return”

“Kiss of the Undead” first appeared in 2010 in an online edition of USA Today, and it served as a prequel to Conan: Island of No Return, a two-issue mini-series published by Dark Horse in 2011. The first story sees Conan accompanying a noblewoman on a misguided mission of mercy to provide sexual succor to the undead. It’s a terribly conceived piece that isn’t helped at all by Bart Sears’ art, whose grotesquely hypertrophied version of Conan is reminiscent of mid-1990s Stephen Platt-style anatomical excess and is decidedly out-of-step with the, shall we say, less fetishized, contemporary depictions of the character. “Island of No Return” fares better, but only just. Marz and Sears’ appropriation of a ruse first used in Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur is either sly homage or unimaginative recycling, but regardless of the case, the device fared much better in the hands of P. Craig Russell.

“Children of the Sun”

The volume is bookended by “Children of the Sun” a previously unpublished story by Michael Avon Oeming, featuring Conan assisting an orphan in his quest to extract vengeance for the murder of his father. I’ve previously expressed my reservations about Oeming’s sword-and-sorcery writing in a review of Dynamite Entertainment’s Red Sonja Omnibus, Vol. 1 but none of those concerns are in play in this brief eight-pager that manages to be an effective showcase of Oeming’s multiple talents despite its brevity. Oeming’s art style would seem like a poor match for the character and setting, but it actually works quite well, imparting an almost Mignola-esque look to the affair.

Conan: The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories isn’t essential Conan reading or a must-buy volume for anyone but the completist. The centerpiece and strongest story in the collection, “The Daughters of Midora” can be found as a stand-alone one-shot with a list price of $4.99 (and it likely sells for below cover price in comic book shop back-issue bins).  The trade paperback would have benefited, both in quality and cost, from the excision of “Kiss of the Undead” and “Island of No Return.” “Trophy” and “Children of the Sun” are quality eight-pagers, but by themselves aren’t worth the ten dollar price bump from the 2004 edition of Conan and the Daughters of Midora, even when taking into account their novelty.

Discuss this article below or contact the author via e-mail
2 Responses
    • […] Demons HC (Archaia Entertainment) November 28, 2012 Weekly Reviews For 11/21/12 November 28, 2012 REVIEW | Conan: The Daughters of Midora and Other Stories TPB (Dark Horse Books) November 27, 2012 REVIEW | Retrovirus HC (Image Comics) November 27, 2012 REVIEW | City in the […]

    • I like the nature of a Conan story. Episodic and formulaic but just fun. Robert Howard created a great character that has been utilized well by many different creative teams in various media over the years. My favorites are still the Robert Jordan stories. I like them as much or more than the originals by Howard. I’m not sure if any comic, short story, or collection is a “must read” Conan collection, but they are all great ways to spend an evening.

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