Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artwork: Ron Garney
Colours: Richard Isanove
Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 24th July 2019
I’ve made no secret of my love of Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian series. However, in spite of that, I never actually picked up any of the other titles that were released as part of their relaunch and reclamation of the character. Well, until now, that is.
I’ve made no secret of my love of Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian Series. However, in spite of that, I never actually got round to picking up any of the other titles that were released as part of their recent relaunch and reclamation of the character. Well, until now, that is.
Savage Sword of Conan is a self-contained story which keeps itself entirely separate from the main Conan series (which is itself something of an anthology, so this process is fairly easy). It sees a shipwrecked and desperate Conan being picked up by slavers, fighting his way to freedom and finding himself launched into a hunt for a valuable treasure – a quest which puts him firmly in the crosshairs of the malignant sorcerer Koga Thun.
Series writer Gerry Duggan’s story is a ton of fun, blending several ideas from previous Conan tales into a fun, fast-paced narrative packed with cursed treasure, evil wizards and copious amounts of bloodletting.
The supporting cast is perhaps a little hit-or-miss, with cowardly and slightly greedy fellow prisoner Suty providing a nice counterpoint to the stoic, relentless Cimmerian. Less memorable is Menes, who seems positioned to be some sort of crossbow-wielding love interest, but who ends up doing very little of note throughout the course of this five-issue arc.
Ron Garney’s heavy-lined artwork is absolutely perfect for a story of this nature, capturing the frenetic nature of the frequent violence beautifully. Impressively, it manages to be detailed and expressive without becoming too intricate, and the sheer energy that Garney and colourist Richard Isanove pours out onto the page really helps to sell the relentless fury of the Cimmerian at work.
It’s not just Conan himself who looks the part though, as the character designs for the aforementioned supporting cast – including the menacing, serpentine Koga Thun himself – are brilliantly realised. Again, there isn’t necessarily anything here that fantasy fans haven’t seen before, but the execution and enthusiasm of the designs and the earnest, passionate delivery makes for a fantastic visual package.
There’s also something faintly humorous about the matter-of-fact way Conan dispatches his adversaries, and little details like using a removed finger bone to pick a lock or the unimpressed way he cuts through a couple of fake demons really adds to the overall feeling of swords and sorcery excess.
Things dip slightly in the middle as the narrative takes a deep breath before hurling us headlong into blistering finale as Conan comes face-to-face with Koga Thun, resulting in a pleasingly satisfying conclusion.
Aside from some minor niggles, it’s difficult to find fault with this volume as a rip-roaring slice of fantasy fun. Sure, some of the plot elements are perhaps a little derivative, and there’s really nothing here that we haven’t seen countless times before, but the execution is absolute perfection, and as such I have absolutely no problem giving this book my emphatic recommendation.