Monday, March 11, 2024

The Savage Sword of Conan #1

There’s a lot of nostalgia involved with me reading a new issue of THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN. I remember quite well buying issues of the original magazine of that title back in the Seventies at Lester’s Pharmacy, walking across the highway to my house, and reading great stories by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Alfredo Alcala, as well as articles about Robert E. Howard and his work by Fred Blosser, who I’m privileged to call a friend all these years later. I read SSOC for many years after that.

So when I heard that Titan Comics was bringing back THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, I knew I’d have to give it a try. This time, however, I read the digital version, something I never would have dreamed possible fifty years ago when I read the original magazine. It looks excellent as an e-book, too.

There are several variant covers for this first issue of the revived magazine. The one that came up when I opened it is the primary one, I think. It was painted by Joe Jusko, and it’s superb. I really like it.

After a foreword by Roy Thomas (and I’m always glad to read anything Roy has to say), the Conan story, which takes up most of the book, is “The Dragon Horde”, written by John Arcudi with art by Max Von Fafner. Arcudi’s name is familiar to me, although I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by him. Von Fafner is brand-new to me. But I enjoyed both of their contributions here. Arcudi’s script, which finds Conan serving as a mercenary general in the army of a Hyrkanian prince trying to overthrow his brother, is violent and fast-paced with a few effective twists and turns. Von Fafner’s art, while it doesn’t appeal to me as much as Rob de la Torre’s in Titan’s color Conan comic, is suitably gritty and his storytelling is solid for the most part. I did have to look at a few panels a second time to make sure what was happening. Overall, “The Dragon Horde” is an entertaining yarn and definitely reminiscent of the original SSOC.

“Sacrifice in the Sand” is a short prose story about Conan by Jim Zub, the scripter of the above-mentioned color comic. It’s good for what it is, but the length keeps it from developing any more than the most basic plot. It’s certainly well-written and entertaining enough that I’d be interested in reading more Conan prose stories by Zub.

The highlight of the issue is “Master of the Hunt”, part 1 of a serialized Solomon Kane story written and drawn by Patrick Zircher. This tale of a monster breaking through the barrier between worlds and terrorizing a remote area of Wales is a terrific yarn. Zircher captures Solomon Kane very well both visually and in his lean, fast-paced script. I’m really looking forward to the next part of this story.

So I’m very pleased to see that THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN is back, and I think everyone involved in this issue did themselves proud.


Matthew said...

John Arcudi was Mike Mignola's writing partner on the Hellboy spinoff BPRD. He also released a Weird Western called Two Moons. He's a very solid writer.

I don't think I've read any of the old Marvel Savage Sword and only a little of Roy Thomas's Conan run, but I really enjoyed this issue. Largely because it has Conan fighting dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

Other than the black and white printing being fuzzy, I agree with your comments. A great first issue!

Dick McGee said...

Heh. Savage Sword was a drug store rack purchase for me as a kid too, and later on Marvel's Epic Illustrated magazine. Never could get Heavy Metal though, the parents vetoed that one every time. :)

Jeff Shanks said...

Glad you enjoyed it James!

Frontier Partisan said...

Looking forward to picking this up.