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 – The Immortal Hulk #2 (Marvel Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers.

“All that a man hath will he give for his life.” – Job 2:4 (also the opening quote to this issue)

The Hulk has never been a hero I’ve properly engaged with. Too often it seems that his stories are more about how invincible he is and watching him beat people up rather than anything of substance. I figured this was a good time to try to engage with big green a little and see what more he had to offer, especially after reading the premise for the new ‘Immortal Hulk’ series. It turns out that originally it wasn’t anger that set the Hulk off, it was night time. Bringing this idea is bought back for the modern Hulk with an interesting twist – the Hulk comes back at night. Every night, even if Banner is dead (explaining how he recovered from a vibranium arrow to the face). This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Al Ewing
  • Penciler – Joe Bennett
  • Inker – Ruy Jose
  • Colour Artist – Paul Mounts
  • Letterers – VC’s Cory Petit and Travis Lanham

The tone of this comic isn’t what I would have expected from a Hulk storyline. We’re presented with an internal horror tale, of a man trying to survive the beast that will come out at night, leave a trail of destruction, leave him with nothing only to start again the next evening. Banner is a man running from the inevitable desperately trying to do some kind of good with the beast inside him, while trying to keep under the radar.

There’s a lot of internal monologue during the issue while we’re dealing with Banner and not big green. I really enjoyed this as it built the atmosphere, seeing his internal battle and getting to know the guy a lot better. Banner comes off as very human and as a man very much trying to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances. When the Hulk does rear his head he comes off as monstrous and scary more than anything else and this is something I very much enjoy.

Art by Bennett, Jose and Mounts

By his very design the Hulk is meant to be monstrous though, however this side of him seems to be even more emphasized in the way Bennett, Jose and Mounts have done the art. His stance is consistently unnatural and beast like and his piercing eyes seem to leap out of the page (very good work by Mounts for that!). Hell, the villain of the issue spends much more time terrified of the Hulk than the Hulk is of it. Additionally with such a monologue-heavy issue, a high calibre of lettering was required. Petit and Lanham team up well to weave the reader’s eye through the pages and keep them engaged.

Final Verdict

I’m glad to have picked this story up, I’m a fan of horror and it’s a great way to get to know a character I’m a little unfamiliar with still. The villain of the issue feels like a bit of a throw away, and the way the antagonist is shaping up could either result in a very interesting reflection of the Hulk, or feel a bit like an unnecessary inclusion for the sake of it. That’s the thing though, the real antagonistic force in all this is Banner’s lack of control over his life and struggle to cope with the Hulk, coming out every night like clockwork and even death cannot stop it.

Final Score – 8.25 Simple Pleasures out of 10