Conan The Barbarian: Issue 19The Dark Herald
What the hell? A good Marvel comic? How did this happen?
I suppose with a company as big as Disney something good can still get produced. By accident if nothing else. And this is indeed something good, (the Dark Herald shakes his head in disbelief).
The fifties (reprint of Conan stories) created a new market for Conan in the Sixties. Fans of the savage Cimmerian began pelting Marvel with requests to run a comic book of his adventures. Stan Lee weighed the letters, decided the pile was heavy enough to pursue the matter, shrugged, and handed the whole business over to Howard’s next big co-author; Roy Thomas.
At first Marvel tried coming up with their own ripoff character. But then…
Thomas went to the Howard estate and made his pitch. Which basically came down to, “look I can’t pay you much of anything, but you will be introducing Conan to a new generation of readers. This is an investment in the brand’s future.” And Howard estate’s agent proved to be smarter than the average bear and accepted the deal.
Of the two co-author’s I honestly feel that Thomas had a much better grasp of the material than De Camp did.
Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian, title, was a proper comic book and thus subject to the Comic Book Code. Savage Sword was a “magazine,” and as such was NOT. It was much more graphic, with plenty of blood, tasteful nudity, and frequent decapitations. It was everything my grandmother thought comic books were in 1955 and I felt they should have been when I was a kid.
And this new one run by Jim Zub and Corey Smith feels like a throwback to that. Plenty of graphic violence, barbarian fury, and attacks by savage creatures. The girl is overdressed for a Conan story but there is only so much you can get away with in this cursed plague year and I’ll settle for the rest of it being pretty good.
Conan is adventuring in the jungles of the far east and has been captured and condemned as a thief. He is tortured by guards and is being carted off to the capital to be executed. A scholar takes an interest in him, largely because she is a super-straight female. Then they are attacked by gigantic jungle gorillas who haven’t been told they are supposed to be peaceful herbivores.
If you liked the old Savage Sword of Conan “magazine,” then the Dark Herald Recommends with Confidence.