Comic Review: The Cimmerian, Vol. 2

Published: June 2nd, 2021
Written by: Robin Recht, Sylvain Runberg, Robert E. Howard
Art by: Jae Kwang Park, Robin Recht
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Ablaze, 168 Pages

Review:

This volume in Ablaze’s The Cimmerian series was more of a mixed bag than the first one.

Reason being, I thought the first story was slow, overloaded and a big step down from the previous two tales in the first volume, while I thought that the second story was really good and well adapted.

The two famous Robert E. Howard Conan stories that were adapted here are “The People of the Black Circle” and “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter”.

The first one is a story I like in its original form but it was really wedged into the short space that it was allotted for this adaptation. It needed more room to breathe and because of that, I don’t necessarily blame the writer and artist as much as I do the publisher.

Due to that, the story featured pages with lots of dialogue and tiny panels that made this look more like an advent calendar than a comic book. It was hard to read, flowed poorly and was kind of exhausting. I wasn’t really put off by the art style, itself, just how it had to be whittled down and stuffed with too much.

Now the second story was pretty great and it salvaged this volume of The Cimmerian and my rating of it.

“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” has always been one of my favorite Conan tales and with the style of art, here, it looked magnificent and mesmerizing. The atmosphere, visually, was perfect.

Additionally, the adaptation was solid. There’s really not a whole lot to say other than it was pretty close to perfect, top-to-bottom, and the best adaptation Ablaze has done yet, although I really, really liked “Red Nails”.

So with that, this volume is suffering from multiple personality disorder. At least it went out with a serious bang and I’ll most likely be picking up the third volume when it drops in a few months.

Rating: 7/10

Ranking the Bosses of ‘Dark Souls III – The Fire Fades’

Since I ranked the bosses of the first and second Dark Souls games, I figured that I should also rank the bosses of the third one.

As I stated in my previous lists, I wanted to take the experience of playing through this multiple times to rank the bosses by how difficult I’ve found them to be overall.

My list certainly is my own and the more I talk to others that have an affinity for this series, we all seem to have a very different take on which bosses gave us the most trouble. I guess, this also has to do with play style and character type.

In the end, though, these are how I’d rank the bosses I’ve faced from hardest to easiest.

1. Nameless King
2. Slave Knight Gael
3. Darkeater Midir
4. Lothric & Lorian
5. Sister Friede
6. Dragonslayer Amour
7. Aldrich, Devourer of Gods
8. Champion Gundyr
9. Soul of Cinder
10. Demon In Pain & Demon From Below
11. Dancer of the Boreal Valley
12. Pontiff Sulyvahn
13. Abyss Watchers
14. High Lord Wolnir
15. Stray Demon
16. Champion’s Gravetender & Gravetender Wolf
17. Halflight, Spear of the Church
18. Old Demon King
19. Fire Demon
20. Vordt of the Boreal Valley
21. Iudex Gundyr
22. Curse-Rotted Greatwood
23. Yhorm the Giant
24. Ancient Wyvern
25. Carthus Sandworm
26. Crystal Sage
27. Oceiros, the Consumed King
28. Deacons of the Deep

Comic Review: The Cimmerian, Vol. 1

Published: December 23rd, 2020
Written by: Regis Hautiere, Jean-David Morvan, Robert E. Howard
Art by: Pierre Alary, Didier Cassegrain, Olivier Vatine
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Ablaze, 144 Pages

Review:

Now that Conan has fallen into public domain, at least the earliest stories, anyway, other publishers besides Marvel can now make Conan comics. Ablaze is the first company that I’m aware of that has taken their shot at adapting the iconic character.

In this collection, we get Ablaze’s adaptations of “Queen of the Black Coast” and “Red Nails”.

I like both of these stories a lot and always have because the first one features Bêlit, the swashbuckling pirate queen, and the other features Valeria, another female warrior that was great at Conan’s side.

Starting with the “Queen of the Black Coast” story, I thought the adaptation was pretty good but it also flew by rather quickly. I mostly liked the art, the dialogue was good and it felt pretty true to the story.

For me, though, “Red Nails” was the better half of this collection. I liked the art more, the story felt longer and more detailed and it had the right sort of vibe, matching Robert E. Howard’s source material.

All in all, this reminded me a lot of the old Savage Sword of Conan magazines that Marvel put out back in the day. These comics had a harder edge to them and didn’t pull any punches unlike the modern Marvel stuff that tries to appeal more to all ages.

Rating: 7.5/10

Book Review: ‘The Best of Robert E. Howard, Vol. 2: Grim Lands’

I found this volume out of the two Best of Robert E. Howard anthologies to be the better one. I figured they’d blow their load in the first one but they really saved some good stories for this volume and there was more diversity in these tales from Howard’s most famous characters and the different genres he dabbled in.

This had great sword and sorcery tales, some swashbuckling, horror and a whole lot of action and adventure!

This book features solid stories with Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane. Each of those characters have a hefty amount of good material to pull from, though.

And sure, my preferences are subjective but the stories here are just ones that resonate with me more.

Also, these can be found elsewhere in other collections and even free online but if you really want to hold a thick, beefy book in your hand and enjoy some of Howard’s best work, this is certainly a good place to start.

Granted, I’d start with volume one but I’m OCD like that.

Rating: 8/10

Video Game Review: Dark Souls III – The Fire Fades Edition (PlayStation 4)

Well, I have reached the third and final installment of the Dark Souls series. The game’s director and creator Hidetaka Miyazaki claims that it is the last and he’s already moved on to other things like 2019’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and the upcoming Elden Ring. There are also rumors of a Bloodborne sequel in the works.

Needless to say, I don’t know how Miyazaki can top the Dark Souls series, as a whole. These games are near masterpieces! Well, the first game is a masterpiece and this one is close. The second game, which Miyazaki was a lot less involved in, had its problems but I covered those in my review of it. However, it was still a pretty great gaming experience and much better than most games out there.

So speaking specifically on Dark Souls III, this game was really fucking solid. It’s not as good as the original but I like it at almost the same level.

I was worried that it was going to be ungodly hard but I actually found it to be the easiest of the three. In fact, I didn’t need to grind for souls (XP) until I got to the last three bosses out of a few dozen. In the previous games, I spent quite a lot of time grinding away for souls really early on.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on which game they consider the hardest. A lot of people think this one is it, so I’m not sure why it was the easiest for me. I think a lot of that has to do with playing style. Also, by this point, I had two previous games worth of experience under my belt and I’m sure that helped me out immensely.

I thought the boss battles in this chapter were better and more varied in style than the previous game. However, the first Dark Souls still takes the cake in that department. Granted, it was also the first game and set such a high precedent that anything after it has its work, unfairly, cut out for it.

I also liked that this game felt a lot less linear than Dark Souls II. While this didn’t have the sandbox style, interlocked world of the superbly designed first game, the shortcuts and secret paths that created loops through multiple areas were a welcomed addition.

This also felt like it had a lot more optional areas than the previous installments. I played through all of them, though, as I always want the full experience in these games.

I also found the combat to be smoother in this game than the previous ones, as well as the graphics and design being a step up.

Overall, this is nearly a masterpiece. I think the only thing working against it is that it felt shorter than the other games and some of the bosses just had ridiculous levels of health regardless of how suped up my character and his weapons were.

Rating: 9.5/10

Book Review: ‘The Best of Robert E. Howard, Vol. 1: Crimson Shadows’

This is the first of the final three Robert E. Howard books I have to review in this specific collection.

These final three books are anthologies of various stories featuring various characters. With that, many of these stories were already collected in other volumes. Still, I wanted to get this entire collection because I didn’t want to miss anything and well, they look damn good on the bookshelf. 

I’d say that this is actually a good starting point for those who might be new to Robert E. Howard, as it features a good variety of stories, genres and some of Howard’s most famous characters like Conan and Solomon Kane.

Like the other books, this is thick and packed full of tales. Also, it features a lot of art that helps tell the stories with some stylish, cool visual reference.

This is a solid collection, through and through. As a long-time Howard reader, I personally prefer the character specific collections but I would’ve really loved having this when I was just starting out reading his literary work.

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: ‘The Witcher: Season of Storms’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

I’ve finally reached the eighth and final book in The Witcher series.

This one is an anthology of short stories, most of which happen in-between the short stories collected in the two prequel books before the main saga begins. However, the final chapter in this serves as an epilogue for the entire series.

This was my least favorite of the eight books but it’s hard to top the last few installments of the five that made up the saga.

That being said, I still liked this but if I’m being honest, a lot of it felt like it was written to beef up enough short tales to make a full book.

I liked the epilogue and seeing things come to a proper close, reflecting on everything, I, the reader had been through with Geralt, his family and his friends.

However, I felt like maybe Andrzej Sapkowski had a hard time letting go and this was a bit of him hanging on longer than he should have.

If you ever do read The Witcher saga, I think all the books are necessary for added context and to get the full experience. Plus, even if this one is my least favorite, that could honestly be me running out of gas on this series, as it’s been a really long ride. Still, Season of Storms is worth your time if you do finish everything else.

I also know that at some point, I’ll probably read all these again. I rarely do that with books, especially lengthy literary series, but The Witcher was pretty special.

Rating: 7.75/10

Film Review: Sorceress (1982)

Also known as: The Barbarian Women (working title)
Release Date: October 1st, 1982 (Atlanta premiere)
Directed by: Jack Hill (as Brian Stuart)
Written by: Jack Hill (uncredited), Jim Wynorski
Music by: James Horner (reusing themes from Battle Beyond the Stars)
Cast: Leigh Harris, Lynette Harris, Bob Nelson, David Millbern, Bruno Rey, Ana De Sade, Roberto Ballesteros, Douglas Sanders, Tony Stevens, Martin LaSalle

CONACINE, New World Pictures, 83 Minutes

Review:

“I did not train you men in my arts so that you would hunt down and butcher women.” – Krona, “You never could understand the greater values!” – Traigon

This is an ’80s sword and sorcery film that I had never seen. Reading up on it before watching it, it looked like the critical and public consensus were trying to warn me away. For the most part, no one seemed to have a positive take on this movie but I also didn’t care, as I’ll watch anything once.

Considering that this was produced by Roger Corman, I kind of had an idea of its overall quality and style. However, it was directed by Jack Hill and even though he leans heavy into the schlocky side of things, he’s made a few films I kind of adore.

So this is, by academic standards, a bad movie. However, I liked it, as it’s the sort of bad that I enjoy and its wonderful level of cheese was the right flavor.

The costumes and sets are very basic and fairly hokey. The special effects are cheap but kind of cool. The acting is borderline atrocious. Yet, all these parts compliment each other, creating a smorgasbord of B-movie awesomeness.

I like the characters, regardless of how bad their line delivery is. The hero ensemble of the hot twins, the Viking, the satyr and the barbarian was really neat. I especially liked the satyr character and frankly, there aren’t enough satyrs used in movies. Mr. Tumnus doesn’t count because technically he’s a faun.

Anyway, this features a cookie cutter, paint-by-numbers sword and sorcery plot. Being that it came out in 1982, though, it was ahead of the curve in the emerging genre. It certainly came out before the genre peaked and was then beaten to death by schlockmeisters around the world.

The finale of this movie is pretty great. Once the two gods show up in the night sky and have their strange deity battle, things truly turn up to eleven and it’s hard not to enjoy unless you’re a heartless snob that pisses on fun and thinks every movie should be akin to The English Patient.

I know, most normal people couldn’t sit through ten minutes of this flick. However, most normal people, these days, lack imagination and embrace lowest common denominator blockbusters.

Rating: 5.25/10

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter Tales – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 1

Published: March 21st, 2012
Written by: Geno Salvatore, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Agustin Padilla
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 128 Pages

Review:

This is the first Drizzt Do’Urden story that I’ve read outside of the six volume comics series that IDW published, which adapted his earliest literary stories.

This one takes place further in the future and he doesn’t have the family-like crew that he built up over those six volumes. Here, he teams up with an ally I’ve never seen before, as they hunt down a warrior dwarf that was turned into a vampire.

Once they realize that the vampire dwarf is another ally, they try to help him, as opposed to killing him. Together, the three work together to take down the master vampire.

This is a pretty decent story with decent art and I like the concept of a vampire dwarf. However, it feels pretty weak when compared to the better Drizzt stories.

I wouldn’t call this bad, it just falls below the standard I’ve come to expect from IDW’s Dungeons & Dragons comics.

If you like Drizzt, it’s worth a read but first, I’d definitely jump into the six volume series I’ve already reviewed.

Rating: 6/10