Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jim Zub
Artwork: Patch Zircher
Colours: Java Tartaglia
Release Date: 21st August 2019
It’s a shame that Jim Zub’s script for issue eight of The Savage Sword of Conan saw the title’s circulation fall by approximately fifteen hundred copies in August 2019, as despite “Fortune Favours The Bold” being predominantly set around a gambling table, the comic still manages to contain plenty of tension, not to mention a ridiculously violent culmination. Indeed, with its marvellous mix of bluff, chance, mysterious deities and cold-blooded treachery, it would arguably not be too difficult for many of this book’s 21,572 readers to imagine Conan creator Robert E. Howard penning a short tale along similar lines.
For starters, the Canadian author doesn’t fall into the trap of suddenly imbuing the titular character with all the card-shark skills of his opponent, a man who has been “stacking thirteens longer than you’ve been alive.” Instead, the barbarian seems to start winning at Serpent’s Bluff simply though the good graces of the Godsend, “a fist-sized emerald enshrined in the Demon’s Den.” Admittedly, some bibliophiles might see such a plot device as being rather contrived, but fortunately the deranged run of luck which leads to the Cimmerian ridding Kero the Callous of “every jewel and coin you’re carrying” soon deserts him, leaving a destitute barbarian suddenly facing a considerable debt with the Demon’s Den.
Trapped and angry with himself for being played the fool, the ferociousness of the Sword and Sorcery hero’s response is as savagely bloody as it is unsurprising, with Conan determined to bring down as many of his opponents as his sharp sword will let him, before he himself is felled. This unrestrained fortitude taps into the adventurer’s panther-like personality wonderfully, especially when it depicts the eventually beaten warrior making a beeline for Kero’s head; “A debt would indeed be settled this night. But its payments would be made in blood… Any blood would do… just so long as it dripped from Conan’s blade.”
Greatly adding to the intensity of so pulse-pounding an action sequence is Patch Zircher’s artwork, which genuinely provides the fighting Cimmerian’s facial features with a wolfish snarl. Weaving, cutting, stabbing, slashing, punching and kicking, the American penciller somehow creates such an audible cacophony of screams, shouts, yells and cries with his illustrations, that some within this comic’s audience may well have found themselves wincing throughout the entirety of the barbarian’s nail-bitingly gory rampage.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]