Monday, August 4, 2014

Savage Sword of Conan Volume Seven

Again, as I read through these old classics, I have to give a nod of thanks to +Dark Horse Comics . Not only did they make buying these long out of print magazine compilations possible, but they also put out a huge digital package that made buying all of them affordable.

This is another huge volume, collecting issues 72-84 with art by the likes of John Buscema and others. John's art tends to be larger than life and it's another excellent example of an artist who shames a lot of the current crop in the field these days.

Don't misunderstand me, that's not even a 'good' full page spread by John, but it's another example of how John was able to make so much of the setting pop for the casual reader.

In terms of the cover, I hate to say it, but AGAIN I think Dark Horse blew it. When you have not one, but TWO covers done by Joe Jusko, what the hell would you pick the one they did for? I mean look at this one.


Now that's a Conan at his barbaric level. Axe dripping blood, shield overflowing with arrows and that look? Oh yeah, that's not a look you want coming after you.

And the art in and of itself, with all of the covers reproduced internally, although only in black and white, is one of the best reasons to own the book. It provides a lot of visual inspiration.

The 'bad' news of this volume? Like previous volumes, it's only the Conan direct stories that are printed. Some of the covers hint at some of the other material that was included in the magazines but alas, those sections have been lost to the ravages of licensing.

Many of the stories within are so 'simple' that they could easily work as one shot adventures. For example, Conan seeks to steal the treasure from a temple. The statue is of course alive!

Conan seeks out the lost heir for a throne. Turns out that one he was lead to is nothing more than a cat's pawn to lead people away from the true heir!

Conan seeks out some female company in an Inn (several times) and it leads to violence!

Conan comes across a member of an elder race that is drying! Can Conan survive the intrigues of such a creature?

Conan helps fulfill a dying king's wish by collecting a variety of components for a statue. Each of which is guarded by a unique monster!

As always, some of the stories are stronger than others. There is an effort made to give Conan a recurring foe but it feels weak, especially when we've seen this sort of thing done before. Conan's enemy is defeated by a hand other than his, and look! That son of a bitch is still alive issues later!

One of the most interesting things about Conan though, in terms of world building, is that the authors really don't care.

I don't mean that like anything at all is possible, but there are scenes where Conan meets a pair of cyclops and it's like, 'Yeah, no big. I'm Conan after all'.

Other situations involve him fighting against an alien race that is out to feed his blood to giant mount sized vampire bats and again, it's like, "Well, these aren't the first aliens I've dealt with."

And still others Conan meets some weird creature that appears to be one of a kind and it's often, "Wizard did it."

It's a good sign that perhaps when building up these worlds and settings that fun is more important then internal consistency.