With Conan the Barbarian now part of the Marvel Universe, we’ll get to see him interact with some of our favorite heroes. In fact, the savage fighter has already teamed up with the Avengers, only to find himself stranded in the Savage Land. Good thing that’s where he can be most in his element. And don’t worry, he won’t be without friends for long. Some of Marvel’s most ruthless hunters are about to join him.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
We start with a very Conan-esque story. A cult wants to summon a demon alien from another planet, so they’re filling a giant “bowl” with the blood and bodies of the smartest and most talented people in the world. But they want hunters, so they’re luring in characters like Conan, Wolverine, and the Punisher. It’s such a sword and sorcery story, and for most of the issue, it focuses on that aspect. When we meet Conan, he’s fighting Hand ninjas. I repeat: Conan fighting ninjas! When Wolverine shows up, tracking the same ninjas, they launch into a duel.
How else were these two going to meet? The battle feels sudden, but this book is called Savage for a reason. What two better characters to start with, and what better way? By the time this issue ends, Dugan introduces four of the six members: Doctor Voodoo and Punisher are also drawn into the cult’s plan to bring the big evil to Earth.
Duggan’s writing is fun, but what makes this series so good is Mike Deodato Jr.’s art. Deodato is one of the best artists in the industry, living or dead, and his unique style lends perfectly to Savage Avengers. His first full-page image with Conan fighting Hand ninjas (I still love that that’s even in a sentence) is brutal, vicious, and absolutely gorgeous. Duggan’s writing might entice us, but it’s Deodato’s art that makes us want to continue the series.
BATTLES! Crazy battles. The Hand keeps trying to kill Wolverine, but, well, he’s Wolverine. He has a healing factor and an unbreakable skeleton. Meanwhile, Conan takes on the big bad for a minute, trying to steal an amulet right off the guy as he sleeps. And during their fight, Conan breaks open a jar containing our 5th Savage Avenger, Venom. Now the question is, who will be wearing the symbiote?
Wolverine’s battle with the Hand feels like a classic Logan battle. Maybe that’s because he’s in his brown and rusted orange costume again. Maybe it’s because while the Ninjas are exhausted, he stands there with arrows and swords sticking out all over ready for more. But really? It’s Deodato’s art. You can feel the anger from the art. Wolvie also does something really weird…when the Hand kills Doctor Voodoo in front of him, Logan cuts his own wrist, opens Voodoo’s heart, and bleeds directly into it. It seems to have worked, but there is definitely something else going on.
Needs More Frank
The only complaint I have is that there wasn’t enough Punisher in issue #2, considering that the Hand and this cult stole the bodies of Frank Castle’s dead family to lure him to the Savage Land. Once he gets there, the scene is worth every panel. Now the story and the art makes us want to pick up Savage Avengers #3 right away.
You know why I like graphic novels more than single issues? You get the entire story instead of having to wait a month for another 20 pages at a time. It’s especially frustrating when the series is so damn fun. Duggan knows how to craft a cliffhanger. And Deodato’s final page in this issue makes it that much more annoying to wait. (Also, graphic novels end up being cheaper per issue).
The battle that started in Savage Avengers #2 gets even bigger here. We finally get our last member—Electra, who turned out to be there the entire time, disguised as a regular Hand ninja. Punisher rips through Ninjas like they’re made of paper. This series pushes the boundaries. There’s a reason it says “Parental Advisory” on the cover. Just a little more, and Savage Avengers would be a MAX title instead.
Unkillable doesn’t mean Unbreakable
But the heroes ble3d to. Well, one hero does. To fill his “Bowl of Blood,” the cult leader Kulan Gath, a wizard who seems to be immortal, stretches Wolverine’s body over the pit, tied at each limb, and cuts him open. And Wolverine never stops bleeding.
From there, we’ll stop, but the next two-thirds of the issue is fantastic, and there’s one scene in particular that will have you cheering (especially if you’re a Venom fan).
So, things get infinitely worse for theSavage Avengers in issue #3, as they tend to do in any story. The team is all present, or mostly, 5.5/6 you could say. Now we need to see them become the team. And with all of Marvel’s most viscous anti-heroes on one team, their dynamic should make for a lot of crazy stories in the future.
In the meantime, we still have more Conan to look forward to this month.
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.