Story: David Pepose
Art: Carlos Magno
Colors: Espen Grundetjem
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
What They Say:
AN ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT, ALL-DANGEROUS TEAM ASSEMBLES! Since his exile from the Hyborian Age, Conan the Barbarian has conquered the most dangerous foes the modern Marvel Universe has to offer — but what happens when this hard-edged Cimmerian finds himself on the run from the cybernetic soldier of the future known as Deathlok? Outgunned and outmatched, Conan must turn to an unlikely group of loners, berserkers and killers if he hopes to survive the night — but can these Savage Avengers defy Deathlok’s murderous manhunt, or will they become the next targets in the crosshairs of tomorrow?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Having long been a fan of Conan, which came about in seeing the original movie as a pre-teen not long after its original release, I’ve read a smattering of comic adaptations over the years but never the core books themselves. I read a couple of issues of the previous Savage Avengers series but was definitely curious about this one as I like David Pepose’s recent work elsewhere and was interested in seeing how he plays with these characters. It’s one that leans into setup, for obvious reasons, and has the problem of kind of introducing a lot of characters, so there are a lot of jumps and the like. But with Carlos Magno handling the artwork that gives it a big and cinematic feeling at times with expensive movements and a sense of power and intensity, it was easy to go with the flow while keeping up with both the narration and all of the dialogue.
The basic idea behind this is how to get Conan back to the Hyborian age and mess with a bunch of Marvel characters along the way. The method is certainly amusing enough as we get Daredevil basically hunting down some cultists that have acquired a Madbomb. Flash Thompson, aka the Anti-Venom, provided Daredevil with that info and the two are taking a stab at handling it since it’s in Hell’s Kitchen. Of course, this is where Conan comes into play because he sees these snake death cultists himself as something that’s definitely up his alley when it comes to fighting and these guys make for some easy slicing and dicing. It’s not exactly complicated but it helps to bring together a few of these characters before drawing in others, like Weapon H who is just trying to live his life only to be accosted in New York City for his wallet, and Cloak and Dagger, who are trying to figure out their place in the world as both are dealing with rough breakups and Cloak thinks it’s his chance to have a more intimate future with Dagger.
All of this comes to a head because Deathlok has traveled back in time to eliminate Conan as he doesn’t belong in this period. And that leads to a fight that sprawls across a few characters and draws in others only to cause things to go all explodie and Deathlok’s time circuits being thrown out of whack. You can imagine where it goes from there as it sets up what I presume is the opening arc to this. Which is good, as I’m actually a lot more interested in seeing how these characters fit themselves into the Hyborian age rather than Conan in the present. I like Conan a lot but there’s a limit to him in this current period and the current style of storytelling. Going in the opposite direction with an odd cast of characters like this opens up for some interesting possibilities, especially if it touches on even a little about what it’s like to not be involved with all the sprawling problems of modern superheroism.
There’s definitely an 80s vibe about this installment in a lot of ways and part of that is just that a bunch of the characters are ones that really define the 80s for me with Marvel, such as Deathlok and Cloak & Dagger. Conan’s not exactly secondary in this book but it’s an Avengers book which means that it really is a team/ensemble cast thing even though the savage part makes it feel like it leans into Conan. I’m more interested in what’s to come next because so much of what we get here is set up. I’m almost at the point where I wish this issue was done as a one-page piece of text and we start with the second issue. That’s not a strike against the creative here, they do a solid and enjoyable job. But it works through the familiar motions of so many team book starts that I’d really appreciate one that shorthands it and just delivers us to the goods. That next issue should deliver well on that.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 18th, 2022
Thanks to David Pepose for the opportunity to review this book.