Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Meredith Finch
Artwork: Luke Ross
Colours: Nolan Woodward
Release Date: 19th June 2019
As “all-new self-contained” stories go, Meredith Finch’s narrative for issue six of The Savage Sword of Conan probably entertained most of its 24,046 strong audience back in June 2019. For whilst the twenty-page periodical lives up to its front cover’s “parental advisory” in terms of depicting the titular character as an unstoppable killing machine who is capable of mutilating a never-ending carousel of supposed close combat champions, its rather straightforward script still provides an enthralling adventure, which even includes a moment of mirth towards its end; “I look forward to seeing the product of our union. Our children will be magnificent! Wait! What are you..? No! You can’t just leave.”
To begin with, the Cimmerian is initially found drinking in a public house somewhere along the Kezankian Pass, and despite it being somewhat implausible that the experienced traveller would so willingly accept a flagon of ale from a total stranger, this unwise move soon results in the wretched wanderer becoming an unconscious prisoner aboard a sea vessel sailing along the Ilbars River. This turn of events is arguably not the most innovative of plot points to befall the sword and sorcery hero, but it does rather succinctly set up the partially comatose warrior’s involvement as fighting fodder for a great championship.
Indeed, having been repeatedly sedated during his journey to the cells of the General of Akif, the former Wonder Woman writer pleasantly shows Conan using his brain over brawn by faking his stupor so as to “prevent another dose of the strength-sapping drug.” This strategy sees the Cimmerian desperately trying to free his head of cobwebs and his limbs of lethargy at the same time as fighting in a most lethal-looking arena, and in many ways it is a shame that “the fires of adrenalin burn the last vestiges of the drug from the warrior’s veins” as quickly as it does, for nothing then even comes close to injuring Robert E. Howard’s creation for the rest of the comic.
Providing this book with some eye-watering death scenes are Luke Ross’ layouts, which capture all the savage ferocity and barbarity once might expect for a publication predominantly set within the confines of a gladiatorial tournament. In fact, it’s perhaps debatable that Conan has never been shown being quite so vicious as he mercilessly stabs his fellow contestants through the eye, literally cuts them in half and decapitates them in his strenuous efforts to once again meet the treacherous Thorgeir.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]