Pullbox Reviews Savage Sword of Conan #1- A return to iconic greatness in the barbaric magazine format

Cover A, by Joe Jusko

Featuring a new CONAN epic from John Arcudi and Max Von Fafner, the rousing return of SOLOMON KANE written and drawn by Patch Zircher, an electric prose story from Jim Zub, spectacular art pin-ups, and more, THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN issue #1 heralds a new era of adrenaline-fueled adventure

It’s been a great time to be a fan of “an Age undreamed of”. Without wanting to lay any shade at the feet of the previous publisher of all things Conan, since the characters of Robert E. Howard (minus a certain red-headed Hyrkanian) have been picked up by Titan Comics & Heroic Signatures, there’s been a bit of an ascendence. Along with a great pool of talent bringing the Hyperborean Age to life, Conan & Co’s new home has brought back the barbarism and savagery at which they’re most at home. I loved the stuff Marvel was putting out, particularly when in the hands of a certain Canadian writer whose name also appears in the credits for this title, but there was something missing.

Beheadings… There weren’t nearly enough in-panel beheadings.

The main story for the opening issue, Conan & the Dragon Horde, written by John Arcudi follows the anthology format of Savage Sword’s roots by dropping readers right in the middle of Conan’s career. Anything new fans might not know about the sullen-eyed warrior will be explained as things roll along. The adventure is quick to establish time and place, with Conan riding as a general hired by an exiled prince, leading a mercenary army against the prince’s former home. Arcudi keeps everything moving, stopping just long enough in any given place to feed bits of important information without bogging the pace. Old readers of Savage Sword of Conan are going to remember that its run was more a series of short stories, some spanning a few issues but always remaining accessible to readers who didn’t follow an extended run. Arcudi hits the mark, says what needs to be said and moves on.

I can’t say enough good things about Max von Fafner’s work, wringing every advantage he can get out of the black & white format. There’s a ridiculous amount of vivid detail in Max’s lines, in places almost looking like it was pressed from a woodcut, but nothing goes so far as to muddy the page. He leaves plenty of open space in his panels to make it easy for readers to focus, instead of losing us in a jumble of lines. There are bad examples of black & white comics out there, and this one is most emphatically not one of them. Following in the footsteps of former Savage Sword artists like John Buscema and Barry Windsor-Smith, Max Von Fafner fits perfectly. I hope his contributions will be frequent.

The follow-up story, Master of the Hunt, part 1 is written & illustrated by Patrick Zircher in the start of a serialized narrative that, again, follows the original Savage Sword magazine. I’ve been looking forward to this bit of work, as Solomon Kane has been a longtime favorite character of mine. Not as well-known as his Cimmerian counterpart, Kane is a Puritan wandering the earth in a never-ending conflict with evil and now he’s coming up against a slayer out of Welsh mythology. It’s Samhain, when the veil between the world of men and that of the Tylwyth Teg… folk both fair and less than. Zircher’s spin with Solomon Kane presents him as a silent warrior who’s seen his share of horrors and stood strong by the Grace of God. If you’re not familiar with Solomon Kane, this looks like it’s going to be an outstanding introduction as he’s shown in his prime and lives up to his iconic status.

Serving as a break in between John Arcudi’s main story and Zircher’s opening installment, readers are treated to a Conan short story by a guy who seems to know him best: Jim Zub, writing a piece of prose titled Sacrifice in the Sand. In the world of fantasy writers, Zub comes to it from the perspective of a fan first. His recent work on Conan’s titles, first in Marvel’s run and now for Titan & Heroic Signatures, has renewed my interest in the world first created by Robert E. Howard. Granted, that interest was never very far removed, but Zub’s love for the character of Conan and Howard’s work in general always shows in the stories he tells.

There are, of course, going to be fans excited to see a return to the oversized magazine format of Savage Sword, hoping for a trip back to a time when they (I mean ‘we’) hoarded stacks on stacks of the old books. While the new title has all of what I thought was great about the old, I’ll add that this is going to be an outstanding jumping-on-point for new readers. No matter where you stand, don’t let anything stop you from picking up a copy of Savage Sword of Conan #1. You wouldn’t want to make Conan sad…

(ahem… Sad Conan…)

Final Score: 13/13

Cover B, by Gerado Zaffino
Cover C, by Max von Fafner
Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ThePullbox.com is a part of ThePullbox LLC © 2007-2024