The Savage Sword of Conan #1 – Roy Thomas, Jim Zub, John Arcudi, Max Von Fafner, Patch Zircher & Jeffrey Shanks (Heroic Signatures & Titan Comics)

Following its debut in 1974, The Savage Sword of Conan was a mainstay of the Marvel monthly and bi-monthly titles for twenty-one years, and twenty-nine years after it disappeared from the shelves of comic book stores, it’s been revived by Titan Comics and Heroic Signatures. Being a man of simple pleasures and a lifelong fan of Robert E. Howard, more than a few of the issues from the original run have assumed their rightful place among my most treasured possessions, so I was more than a little nervous and keen to dive headlong into the pages of the revival of the magazine that I consider one of Marvel’s finest moments. I was not disappointed.

Adopting the same approach to Conan’s adventures, that is mixing monochrome comic and literary stories, The Savage Sword of Conan is in every way the equal of its predecessor, as Arcudi and Fafners Conan and the Dragon Horde delivers a beautifully rendered tale of gut-wrenching violence, treachery and betrayal in which the sullen-eyed hero o the hour does what he does best, while Jim Zub’s short, but punchy Sacrifice in the Sand feels like a Howard story sprinkled with the author’s imaginative and incredible flair which leaves you wanting far more and asking the question “When will Jim Zub write HIS Conan novel?.

As enticing and enthralling as both of the Conan entries in this first issue are, the hidden gems, are Jeffrey Shanks’s brief essay about Solomon Kane, and Patch Zircher’s Master of the Hunt, which finds an unsuspecting Puritan avenger caught up in all manner of devilry and monstrous machinations in Glamorgan. A Conan title usurped by Solomon Kane? Hard as it may be to believe, it’s true, and Kane’s return to the world of comics is not only long overdue, it’s also a testament to the enduring appeal of Howard’s all too often forgotten creation. The days of high adventure are here again, make sure you embrace them… Tim Cundle 

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