While I was not entirely happy with Marvel’s relaunch of Conan the Barbarian, I had higher hopes for Savage Sword of Conan, the second of three proposed titles from the House of Ideas.
Sadly, my anticipation was sorely placed.
As bad as I thought Conan the Barbarian was, Savage Sword is so much worse, although, I actually prefer Ron Garney’s artwork over that of the flagship title’s Mahmud Asrar.
Richard Isanove’s colors are a nice touch and Travis Lanham’s lettering is a much better fit here.
So, let’s get this straight — Savage Sword has better art, colors, and lettering than Barbarian? What on earth could be the issue?
Well, there’s only one place to point the finger at — Gerry Duggan’s script. Besides the strained prose throughout and the paint-by-numbers sword and sorcery plot, the two biggest crimes are the way the Cimmerian is characterized and just how far off model the whole thing is when measured up against, not only Robert E. Howard himself, but against Roy Thomas as well.
This took me back to the horrible Conan comics Marvel was producing near the end of its run. And for this to bear the masthead of Savage Sword, which is where the very finest of Conan pastiches were crafted…
Is there a saving grace? I mean, beyond the art? Yes, and that comes from the first part of the serialized novella at the end of the comic — Scott Oden’s The Shadow of Vengeance.
Now that’s how you begin a Conan tale.
Plenty of atmosphere and court intrigue. Was there any doubt who the regent of Khawarizm desired to be assassinated by Karash Khan of the Nine?
I loved every word of the tale and eagerly await the next installment. And that’s why I’ll be sticking around for both Savage Sword of Conan and Conan the Barbarian, for the prose.
How crazy is that?
Hopefully Age of Conan will offer up a complete package for us comic fans, but I’ll not be holding my breath…
— Bob Freeman