Comic Review – Savage Sword of Conan #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars… Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.” – The Nemedian Chronicles

Cover by Alex Ross (Marvel)

When I was looking for a new series this week, the brutal cover art of Savage Sword of Conan caught my attention. My main memories of Conan are of Conan The Adventurer, the 1997 TV series that was on when I was a kid. I don’t remember too much of it, other than Conan being tough as nails about 98% muscle. I definitely enjoyed it as an 11 year old, but who knows if it will hold up 20 years later.

This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Gerry Duggan
  • Artist – Ron Garney
  • Colour Artist – Richard Isanove
  • Letterer – VC’s Travis Lanham
  • Cover Artist – Alex Ross

Conan is sitting in a life of luxury, a beautiful woman beside him, a feast before his eyes, drinks a plenty and a roaring fire… except something is wrong, the smell and the taste are most foul… Conan is actually awash at sea, shark meat in his mouth, at the whims of Crom, perhaps the front runner for least sympathetic god I’ve come across in comic books. The tone of the comic book is absolutely reminiscent of the TV show I remember. It sets up the story for a brutal adventure that will take all of his strength and fortitude to survive. Conan is thrown right into the deep end, finds himself with literally nothing yet turns the situation around in no time, only to face harder and harder challenges.

Art by Garney, Isanove & Lanham (Marvel)

The dark tone of the comic is emphasised by Garney’s masterful artwork. There is a fantastic two page spread where Conan is close to death and recovering slowly, in and out of consciousness. The panels alternate between chilling artwork and black panels with simple text between them. This array in the comic shows off the skills of Duggan’s story writing, Garney’s art, Isanove’s rich colours – his shadow work in particular building the grungy, darker tone and Lanham’s lettering very effective in its simplicity. When the story gets more monstrous Garney and Isanove work well together to bring the beasts to life.

Final Verdict

If you want a change from the regular super hero comics, that still feels properly epic in scale with high stakes then Conan fits the bill perfectly. The adventurous tone of the comic book makes it a fun, if dark at times, romp. The series has the classic feel of sword and sorcery and feels a lot like a solo player DnD campaign. The art is also outstanding and is set to be a real highlight of this series.

Comic Review – Wonder Woman/Conan #2 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Man of iron and woman of granite. The two greatest warriors of any age” Narrator

Another cross over of an 80s/90s classic and a super hero is making the rounds at the moment in the form of Wonder Woman/Conan. Other than picking up Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’ve let most of these pass me by, this one however happens to be written by Gail Simone. I got to know Simone’s work in her outstanding run on Batgirl in the New 52 and Clean Room, although she has certainly done her time with Wonder Woman before and although from what I can see her work on Conan is limited she knows her way around a barbarian thanks to Red Sonja. Naturally I had to check this out. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Gail Simone
  • Pencils – Aaron Lopresti
  • Inks – Matt Ryan
  • Colours – Wendy Broome
  • Letters – Saida Temofonie

One thing I like with the versions of the characters offered by Simone is instead of the usual version of events where the current era hero is miraculously plucked from time and transported into the past we appear to have a unique take on the warrior princess in the world of Conan the Barbarian. The two protagonists are still working each other out at this stage in the comic, with mystery facing Wonder Woman’s past and danger around every corner. The two have an uneasy relationship, thrown into a gladiatorial arena by the manipulations of gods to battle for the pleasure of bloodthirsty spectators. This is one of the few points I was a little disappointed by in the issue. With the likes of Batman vs Superman unfortunately haunting our memories still two heroes battling it out is feeling a little old. Don’t let that put you off though. Both Conan and Wonder Woman are fully rounded characters in this incarnation with an intriguing backstory and backstories well adapted to this version of events.

Lopresti, Ryan and Broome did an excellent job on the artwork. I really like the creative borders put around the panels showing backstory and the power exuded by both warriors. A big thing for me when reading Wonder Woman is for her to feel powerful by the way she presents herself and the art team communicate that very effectively in this issue. They also have to deal with a huge cast of characters, with appearances from many side characters who have a role to play or a background to fill. Each of them is packed full of detail and character, at the standard you’d usually expect your lead characters to be at. I also really liked Temofonie’s work on the lettering, packing in a lot of dialogue to busy pages and a creative portrayal of the narrator’s lettering.

However, how well do Lopresti, Ryan and Broome team up to draw hands? They look consistently great throughout the issue. They are used well to differentiate the carefree body language and attitude of the heroes as kids in the flashback, the tension in the combat or the attitudes in conversation. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I very much enjoyed the world portrayed in this comic and the versions of the characters and their development within it. My main criticism would be some of the themes, the two heroes forced into combat right away and so on are feeling a little overly familiar now.

Score: 8.5 Broken Lutes out of 10