Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artwork: Andrea Di Vito, Scott Hanna
Colours: Java Tartaglia
Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 11th December 2019
As final instalments go for a once-proud cult-classic publication, Frank Tieri’s script to issue twelve of Marvel’s Savage Sword Of Conan certainly proved an entertaining read for the comic’s slowly dwindling 18,745 strong readership. Indeed, the Brooklyn-born writer’s tale of the Cimmerian crossing near the Kothian Hills in pursuit of a “mysterious demonic sect” is proficiently packed with plenty of pulse-pounding action, and features the early promise of the Barbarian potentially crossing swords with either the worshippers of Set, or the sinister Serpent Men who so plagued Kull the Conqueror in pre-cataclysmic Atlantis.
Disappointingly however, such a mouth-watering confrontation is soon dispelled when it is revealed that the sword and sorcery hero is merely battling a band of fanatical priests, and that the “little girl” Conan had earlier sworn to protect was actually the demon Amoth, who is intent on smiting its followers’ enemies in Argos. This surprise twist is regrettably telegraphed just as soon as the child first appears within the coastal nation’s marketplace wearing her somewhat ornate-looking neck-chain, so despite all of the optimistic pre-publication publicity to the contrary, there is little within this twenty-page periodical’s covers which will actually daze and dumbfound the reader.
Mercifully though, just because it soon becomes clear that the titular “cretin” has been duped into cutting off the hands of the sole magician who could have permanently bound their unholy foe in its mortal form, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still plenty of rumbustious violence to enjoy within this issue. For whilst the Cimmerian’s showdown with Tama’s horrifically powerful alter-ego inevitably occurs close to the demon’s birthplace within the magma flame of Mount Rokk, the sheer ferocity of that fight, following on so quickly from the Barbarian’s vicious slaughter of Saleria’s religious order from Shem, arguably more than makes up for any lack of astonishment as to the adolescent’s true calling.
Adding to this plot’s vibrant dynamism and persistent air of impending doom is Andrea Di Vito and Scott Hanna’s artwork, which are simply spectacular, especially when it comes to Conan’s battle with the incredibly strong, almost serpentine-shaped Amoth. The adventurer’s desperate effort to reattach the fearsome fiend’s transformation-thwarting collar is nail-bitingly pencilled, and doubtless many a bibliophile winced at the impact of the Barbarian head-butting the red-eyed brute into submission; “Fortunately, my hard Cimmerian head can likely aid in the process…”
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]