As exciting conclusions to three-part adventures do, there can be no doubt that Jim Zub’s narrative for issue nine of The Savage Sword Of Conan certainly packed the twenty-page periodical with a mind-blowing amount of death and destruction. In fact, it was probably difficult for many within this comic’s 21,106 strong audience to keep up with the Canadian writer’s kill count, as literally everybody within the Dragon’s Den is either beheaded, mutilated, eviscerated, or brutally burnt to death before the Cimmerian finally departs the repugnant gambling establishment.
But whilst this book rather enjoyably fails to give its readers the opportunity to take a moment’s breath throughout its brutal bouts of pulse-pounding pugilism, some of the Web Cartoonists’ Choice Award-winner’s plot decisions are debatably a little contrived. For starters why, having already robbed the decadent hall of half its armed guards, courtesy of a monumentally ferocious display of swordsmanship, is the barbarian still allowed to take a blade of good Brythunian steel into the Debtors Lounge, when all its other victims have been thrown into the death-trap unarmed.?
Such a decision seems completely at odds with what has been previously established, yet rather than have a stray weapon or two inadvertently fall into the underground pit during the aforementioned fighting fracas, Zub actually pens the immoral establishment’s owner specifically tossing the barbarian his weapon, due to his over-confidence that “It won’t save you from the brute, but it’ll amuse us to watch you try.” This inconsistently badly jars with the sensibilities, in the same way that the incomprehensibly huge, fearsomely-fanged beast Conan subsequently faces, goes completely against its bestial nature by hesitating from tearing up the adventurer’s seemingly unconscious body “into pieces” just long enough for the Cimmerian to recover and kill the monstrosity with a stab between its eyes; “Perhaps the creature senses its fate. The meat will not lie still. This warrior will not yield and death will be delivered upon a sliver of steel.”
Mercifully, Patch Zircher’s pencilling for this publication is not as inconsistent as some of its script’s logic, with the barbarian’s furious conflict against the towering bear-like creature undeniably the comic’s highlight. Colour artist Java Tartaglia’s input is also especially worthy of praise, with the Argentinian’s use of green to highlight the sheer intensity of the Godsend Gemstone’s glow brilliantly transforming Conan’s battle through the gambling hall into an almost hallucinogenic orgy of bloodletting, which then wonderfully contrasts with the resultant blackness of the place, when the combat is at an end and a lantern needs to be lit so as to illuminate the warrior’s utterly merciless killing-spree.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]