'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Showing posts with label CONAN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CONAN. Show all posts

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Savage Sword of Conan: Issue # (2019) "The Gambler" Part One

Welcome back to Starships and Steel! I feel like all I do now is review comics! With the plethora of new titles (and old titles out there), they are taking a fair bit of my blog time up. I almost didn't even review SS7, which might be evident by that the review is out a day after the title was released. This review will be a little less spoiler free that what is usual. I am not going to fully discuss the story, but story layout and something I want to draw your attention to that occurs later in the story, that I feel must be said.


Writer: Jim Zubb
Artist: Patch Zircher
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Marco Checchetto

Cover Price: $3.99

The issue sits at 18 pages of actual comic content plus the serial prose by Scott Oden at the back. Although I don't review the prose, I encourage you all to flip to the back and have a read!

Starting with the cover of this book, we see a well-rendered piece of art. Conan sits at a table with a woman behind him, perhaps a witch or similar? Before him lies a table covered in gold, cards, and blood! Surely a great start, and compared to the original covers that simply paid homage to older covers and had nothing to do with the story, this one hits it out of the park. Even when I think the covers are more in line with the content of the book I feel like the artists are given a basic idea behind the issue and they go off and create it. We get a relevant image, but not an actual image from the story.

This image is completely different. The cover is a depiction of the story. The cards are in the story. The woman is in the story. This seems to be a home run. Clearly, Marco has been given a lot more direction than previous cover artists.

The interior art is likewise pretty well-executed, with some fun panels. Conan is well depicted as a young man, probably some of his first forays as a thief type character. The coloring is likewise well executed with it adding to the already lovely art. Shadows and light are both used effectively and the overall tone of the panels is excellent.

The book starts with promise. Conan comes across a man in Shadizar set upon by bandits. After being promised coin, Conan intervenes and we get a pretty cool fight scene over the next couple of pages. After this though we get several pages of pretty heavy dialogue between Conan and this denizen of Shadizar. We get more dialogue than we got combat. The next three pages are pretty dialogue-heavy and for me at least slowed down the pacing a lot. It is not what I have come to expect, and I can't say I really liked it.

Once we get past the overly wordy parts of the story, we move into the meat of the tale. We are shown a gem which I hope, plays into the tale later, as it is pretty much the only "weird" thing we see. I hope we see the woman on the cover be pivotal in the tale, and I ALSO hope she does turn out to be a witch of some description. That will all come later though, in the next parts of this tale.

We are also given a couple of pages of introduction to a gambling game. Yes, they take several panels to describe the rules of how the game is played. As it turns out this game is available as a print to play and will be made available commercially later in the year. If you follow me at all you know I am a pretty large supporter of new Conan games and merchandise. The more the merrier! Let us get Conan strongly back into the public eye! And with him Robert E Howard. I will further note that the cover as well depicts these cards, which explains why this cover is so different than every previous cover we have seen in the Marvel Conan run.

For me, this is simply product placement of their own stuff. I didn't like it. It felt overly detailed and out of place and frankly distracting from the pace of the story, yet again.

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


And with that, this issue lands at 3 skulls.

There is plenty to enjoy in this book, but for me the story pacing and overt product placement took me out of the hyborian age. It also lacks sword and sorcery. It would have benefitted from less talk and less card game descriptions and more fighting.

I have seen plenty of reviews now saying Jim Zubb "gets it". He understands the Hyborian Age and the character. I won't say he doesn't, I see nothing to really indicate he is working in a vacuum or that he isn't a fan of the character, but I do find it puzzling that they think that Jim gets it and no one else in the Marvel run has yet. He may get it, but he doesn't get it any better than anyone else that has written in the short life of this character at Marvel who are also fans of Conan.

So while some people think this is the *BEST* that has come out so far, I have to disagree. For me, the only thing holding it up is the art and the potential. This book as a standalone falls pretty flat for me.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Conan the Barbarian: Issue #7 (2019) "Barbarian Love"

Another Wednesday morning relaxing before work with a black cup of coffee and the newest issue of Conan the Barbarian! That's right, The Barbarian is back after a little bit of a break!


Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Esar Ribic

Cover Price: $3.99

It is no secret that I have liked Mahmud's run on this book. This issue is no exception. As before we have some lovely art colored by Matt Wilson, sprinkled with a few epic images of Conan kicking ass. We have had this formula all the way back to #1 with Conan fighting in the pit. I have yet to grow weary of flipping the page to find a full page of the Cimmerian doing what he does best.

Esar's cover is likewise exceptional and in the flavor of the story, which is a win for me. I feel the cover helps to bring the reader initially into the story, so having one that is part of that story is critical to me. I would be remiss to not mention that several people in the social media world have commented on Conan's face in this cover looks like either a caveman, a troll, or something similar. I do agree this isn't my favorite rendering of our hero, but certainly not trollish, but I can see where they get neanderthal from.

I feel the story is a little out of canon timeline wise, but can't directly address why without leaving spoilers. In addition this is another tale without anything weird in it. It is simply a basic story of Conan plotting and executing revenge.

I know some people will dislike this story for various reasons, I didn't dislike it. It moved at a fairly steady pace, although they could have added some weirdness and cut out the aspects that place it out of timeline for me and had a story I loved a lot more. Either way in this new line of comics with basic non-weird stuff in it, it is a fine issue.

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


My rating this month is 3.5 out of 5 Skulls of My Enemies!

This issue had many of the hallmarks of Conan: strong women, swordplay, and treasure. It was lacking anything to fill the sorcery aspect of the genre (I feel like a broken record here), but overall told a decently fun story if somewhat out of Howard canon for me. I'll note that being out of the timeline isn't the end of the world. Howard's timeline isn't set in stone and there are many many plausible reasons that stories might not all fit together neatly.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Savage Sword of Conan: Issue #6 (2019)

It has been *QUITE* awhile since the last Savage Sword was released AND quite awhile since I have made a post. The last issue of Savage Sword saw the end of the initial story arc, and so I was quite looking forward to see where we went with this new issue to see where we went with this title.

Writer: Meredith Finch
Artist: Luke Ross
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: David Finch & Frank D'Armata

Cover Price: $3.99

The cover this time is more like a standard cover and not a call back to the original Savage Swords. As beautiful as Alex Ross's covers were I never really felt they fit the book. This one is more in line with what we are seeing on the cover of "Barbarian", where it feels like the artist is given a basic story outline and they compose their idea, which is similar to what we see in the pages but still quite different. For me this is a pretty large improvement

This issue contains 20 pages of Conan goodness for the reader to take in. The style of interior art we see from Luke Ross is much cleaner than we saw from the original 5 books. This will make some people happy, for others it will just be different.


We are lacking anything really weird, something I think is fairly central to such a pivotal Sword and Sorcery character. That doesn't make the story bad, it simply means, for me at least, that it is missing a key element of S&S

Enough Talk, let us see how many skulls!

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


And with that, this issue lands at 4 skulls.

Despite the lack of "Sorcery", this issue has a simple enough story with a LOT of "Sword", so I have a hard time judging it too harshly. It checks a lot of boxes in terms of it being a fairly fun, quick romp in a story that fits into the the Hyborian Age.

Unlike the previous 5 issues, this Savage Sword is much more stand alone. Perhaps we will see a mix of stand alone and longer story arcs within the pages of the SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN!

If you have been on the fence with Savage Sword or have decided it wasn't for you, perhaps you should check out this issue and see if the new team working on it is more to your taste.



If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!