'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 Savage Sword. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Savage Sword. 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, April 10, 2019

Savage Sword of Conan: Issue #4 (2019)

Are you feeling SAVAGE!? This week we see Savage Sword #4 hit shelves, and as always I am here to give you my first thoughts, spoiler free!


Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney
Colorist: Richard Isanove
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Cover Price: $3.99cad

The cover is again, independent of the story. A beautiful rendering of the Cimmerian superimposed over old Savage Sword covers. Currently apart from the name we aren't seeing much similar to the old title though. At current these covers are skillfully done, but for me lack the drive to pull me into the story. I would really like to see some covers that, at least, tie tangentially into the story within the pages.

The format continues with 19 pages of Conan action, and it goes by at a very quick pace. My complaint here is that the story isn't progressed at all. We have a very minor amount of movement along the plot, which puts the action at odds with the story. The action is in abundance, but in 19 pages the story is not. Compared to what we are seeing in "The Barbarian", this is moving at a snail's pace. I have also come to the conclusion that I must simply ignore Howard canon pretty completely for this series.

I still like the interior art, and I still think it lends itself to the savage nature of this title. This issue has some beautiful interior panels that really scream "CONAN" to me.


This issue is *FULL* of Sorcery however, almost every panel has something weird in it. It may have too much to be honest, but to that end I would rather have too much than too little. The sorcery on display is fitting to the genre however, so we aren't seeing fireballs shooting off left and right, or wizards casting magic missile.

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


And with that, this issue lands at 3.5 skulls.

This issue doesn't necessarily do anything wrong. Conan: Check, Swords: Check, Sorcery: Check, Action: Check. Despite that I feel like we aren't seeing much progression with the story. We could go from Savage Sword 3 to Savage Sword 5, include 1 or 2 panels from 4 and be totally up to speed on the story. I certainly want action and swords and sorcery in my Conan, but I also want the story to progress a little quicker, especially given the monthly nature of the title. This may play much better in a longer format collected series. The book did scream along, and I definetely checked to see if it was the standard 19 pages long.

But don't take my word for it, run down to your local comic book store and pick up your copy today!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Savage Sword of Conan: Issue #3 (2019)

Part way through the week and we are greeted with another new Conan comic. This week Savage Sword of Conan #3!


Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney
Colorist: Richard Isanove
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Alex Ross


Cover Price: $3.99cad

I am really not sure what to make of the covers of Savage Sword, they are moving steadily away from the content in the book. I am not one to judge a book by it's cover, but I still like it to be relevant. Our first cover featured Conan fighting undead pirates, and we had a touch of that in the book. Our second cover was another beautifully rendered Conan, but it held nothing else. This month we have another beautiful image of Conan, and this time he is locked in combat, Belit at his side, and it has nothing to do with the current story in Savage Sword. I find this to be on the weird side.

No matter what is happening on the cover the story continues inside with Conan fighting like a demon, and not just savagely, but smart as well. Our story continues exactly where it left off taking us further through the story. I found that it moved along at a pretty good clip and I ran out of comic before I wanted to. It spans 19 pages of panels, which is precisely what the the last Conan The Barbarian ran as well as the previous Savage Sword.

The interior art is not new to any of us by now. I think either you like Ron Garney's art and find that it fits this story, or you do not. I fall on the side of liking it and feeling it fits the savageness of the title. Combined with Richard Isanove's color we get a wonderful world painted for us that is dark and grim.

This is Sword and Sorcery after all and so I would be remiss in not mentioning these aspects. This issue is full of swords AND sorcery. If you like your tales to have that touch of the weird, and lets face it, this is Conan it *SHOULD* have that, then this issue will absolutely not disappoint.

Art:

Story:

Cover:

Sword & Sorcery:


And with that, this issue is going to get 4 skulls full of wine for Conan!

I thought this was a solid issue with it's biggest weird point for me being the cover. Beyond that the interior art was good and the story was decent, although it still has some elements I find odd, but nothing completely story breaking.

So grab your Aquilonian Lunas and get yourself to a comic book store and time to get SAVAGE!

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!