Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword #1

"Conan and The Jewels of Hesterm" (Part 1 of 3)
Written by Paul Tobin

This story opening left me cold. It really felt like Dungeons & Dragons. "Hesterm"? "Temple of the Elder Queen"?  Jewel thieves chased into the streets by fire-demon guards.  Conan's first appearance is cliche as they come, sitting in a tavern, flirting with the bar wench.  There is a very large stolen jewel and vague references to it being the temple's second greatest treasure.  It's extremely easy to guess what the first greatest treasure is.  So, not very Hyborian Age and a predictable storyline.

"John Silent: The Earthbound Dead"
Written by Scott Allie

A sequel short to Allie's adaptation of "The Castle of the Devil". Not too bad a horror tale.  The cursed book Silent acquired has driven him mad.

Six Guns and Scimitars: The Wild West in The Middle East
Written by Mark Finn

An illuminating treatise on El Borak and his world at the very start of the 20th century. No comic here, just a setup for a story in issue #2, which is also written by Mark Finn.

"Dark Agnes: Storytelling" (Part 1 of 2)
Written by Marc Andreydo

Another tavern tale.  This time setting up the arrival of Agnes.  Nice use of conflicting backstory imagery against the tale being told.  Not much else going on.

"Worms of the Earth"
Written by Robert E. Howard, Adapted by Roy Thomas

This is a reprint of an old b&w Savage Sword of Conan comic. I wasn't sure about the colorizing.   I know from some of the Roy Thomas introductions to the Chronicles of Conan collections that occasionally they would colorize a SSOC issue to cover the main Conan comic if something fell through.   I always thought the coloring made the pictures too busy, with all the b&w lining already on the page.  I'm happy to say "Worms of the Earth" looks great!  The colors are earthen, muted and dark.  They really fit the tone of the tale.

So, that's it for issue #1 contents.  Probably worth it for the "Worms of the Earth" reprint, if you don't already have it.

I am no artist, I can't draw, and I feel weird critiquing art but the cover leaves a lot to be desired.  It seems, to me, crude.  And the bloody face evokes more thoughts of a bloody nose than a hard fight, to me.

The interior art is well done, though.

Notice something about all the stories?  We have a comic book named Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword with one Howard adaptation - and that is a reprint. Everything else is "pastiche".  I guess part of the charter here is to explore REH's characters further, but shouldn't they start off with adaptations of the original stories and then move into new tales?  I can understand keeping the Conan stories for the main comic but no "Blades for France" for Dark Agnes?

Maybe they're saving them for later.


  1. Hmmm, I had meant to pick this up but it was never in front of my nose.

    I expected it to be REH tales that had not previously been seen~like Blades for France, if that was ever done in a SSOC I missed it.

    You did make me vaguely curious as to what that first greatest treasure is, but maybe I don't have my guessing hat tonight.

  2. @David; I've only come across these at some really big comic book stores in my area. I didn't hunt too much, just spotted them when I made the tri-annual pilgrimages. (I have a local music-store that carries the basic month-to-month stuff, so I don't need to go far for that.)

    I wouldn't expect you to guess the treasure from my vague description. When I review #2, I'll put a spoiler, if you must know. ;)

  3. Remind me to never start an S & S story in a tavern. Man it has been done eh?

  4. I get the impression this is meant to be a launching pad for new REH-based comics, certainly Dark Agnes, El Borak and others, while including some Conan for the newbies. It's a shame there aren't more adaptations - it isn't as if we're wanting for Howard stories, there are HUNDREDS of them out there - but I can see where they're going with this. I would've much preferred they just did a straight adaptation of "Sword Woman" instead of ruining the story with a pastiche "flashback," but hey, what can you do. I'm appreciative they didn't sexify Aggie (too much) a la Red Sonja, I think I would've stormed Dark Horse's offices baying for blood.

    It's worth it for the reprints, though. The hope for future straight adaptations is always there, especially for my Aggie, but after the Conan and Solomon Kane film debacles, I'm not going to put all my hope in