There was absolutely no doubt in my mind, before I read Serpent War, that Will Murray was the undisputed King of Modern Pulp Adventure. While I still revere Will’s books, I fear that there is a challenger for his position, a writer who, consumed by stories of ancient lands, monsters, elder gods and heroes from far off times, is snapping at Will’s heels. The usurper in question? He’s called Jim Zub, and around here, his name is spoken in hushed, awe inspired whispers. See, I’m already a bit of a Jim Zub fanboy, as he breathed new life into Dungeons and Dragons comics at IDW and introduced Figment to the four colour world. Oh, and his run on Champions? It’s the stuff that comic book dreams are made of. If you haven’t read it already, trust me, you need to add those books to your pull list as soon as you can. There’s no rush, anytime in the next ten minutes or so will do.
Loosely based on, and inspired by, one of Two-Gun Bob’s more enigmatic short stories, Valley of the Worm, this time hopping tale of Howard’s most beloved characters being joined by Moon Knight to battle elder gods and long-forgotten evil is an adrenaline packed, heart pounding ode to the halcyon days of sword and sorcery. Imagine if all of the avatars Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion saga (which I’m now almost certain was a concept stirred into being by Howard’s work) met in the deepest annals of pulp fiction and embarked on a quest to save every plain of existence from all manner of Lovecraftian horror’s and twisted things that usually live in the places we dare not visit while we’re slumbering in the hours of darkness, and you’ll walking along the same path as Serpent War.
Then add a miasma of sub-plots that touch on all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas like reincarnation, multiple universe theory and genetic memory, a central narrative that hurtles along at a theoretically impossible speed, finely balanced characterisation, the kind of dialogue that I would quite literally kill to be able to write and throw Conan, Solomon Kane, Dark Agnes and Moon Knight into the mix and you’ll further forty your position on that road. And as if that wasn’t enough to fry your cerebellum and feed your imagination for the next six months, the artistic team that bring Jim’s vison to life do so with a with flourish, style and depth of detail and understanding of the subject matter that nearly made a middle age man weep with joy. I think that I’m a little bit in love with this book. Thank-you Jim, you made all of my pulp dreams comes true… Tim Cundle