New Reviews of Old Comics
It’s too bad comic magazines have fallen by the wayside. I like the larger format because, not only is it nice to hold the big comic, it presents the art work more prominently. I’m also a big fan of black and white, comics and movies, so I don’t see that as the fault some do in comic magazines. If you’re honest, I’m sure you can think of more than a few comics were the color printed so poorly it detracted from your enjoyment, especially in the pre-90s comics. And check out that Bill Sienkiewicz cover! How much would that lose being shrunk down to standard comic size?
The other nice thing about comic magazines is that you get over 60 pages of comics, which for Savage Sword of Conan #116 translates into two Conan stories. The first, “Lords of the Falcon” is a complete story written by Larry Yakata and illustrated by Ernie Chan. It opens with a quick profile of the desolate town of Ekrima, which is not exactly a top vacation destination. In ride a gang of tough looking dudes who meet up in a tavern (naturally) with some of their tough minded brethren and pledge the allegiance to the death of Conan. Why? Well, they just don’t like him. They’ve tracked the magazine’s titular star to a “hotel” in another town, and you can only guess what’s going on there. When lackeys knock on the door, they are greeted by a “Do Not Disturb” request in the form of sword. Conan is summoned to meet with an old friend, Gwal, who is leader of a nearby town, province, or something of that sort. Gwal is asking for Conan’s help, which he is reluctant to give, but does so anyway, ‘cause that’s kind of guy he is. We also learn Gwal is being used to dupe Conan, and this leads to a bloody fight scene; bloody for Conan’s opponents. This leads Conan to a pyramid like structure in the middle of nowhere that turns out to be the ultimate trap, but its only page 40 so Conan escapes. When confronted by Conan, Gwal reveals all and then dies, leading Conan on a well designed plan to separate and conquer the Lords of the Falcon.
“The Boon” is an eight page story that wraps up the issue, written by Don Kraar, drawn by Sal Buscema and Roy Richardson. Conan rides into a camp of that is made up of battle weary, yet victorious soldiers and their traitorous prisoners, one of whom happens to be Aristus, a friend of Conan’s. Since he’s also a good friend of the king, Conan requests a reprieve for his buddy, but the king is not so generous because he doesn’t want to fight this unrepentant traitor again; wise man. He does, however, grant Conan’s buddy a “boon.” Although Aristus does not want anything from the king, he takes him up on the boon, which puts Conan in a difficult position. You’ll have to read the story to see the ending. It’s worth it.
To be blunt, I loved this issue of Savage Sword of Conan from the cover to the very last page. The first story was well written with a fair amount of substance (well, as much as you’ll get from a Conan comic book) and drew the reader right in. It was a good mix of text and visual story-telling that kept the story advancing; as expected, Conan does not engage in Spider-Man-like witty banter as he’s laying the smack down, he just gets it done. And the ending when he rounds up the Lords of the Falcon was extremely entertaining. Although it was only a fraction of the length, the second story was just as enjoyable as the first. You kind of know what’s going to happen, but it was presented very well and not without visual impact. Savage Sword of Conan, where you been all my life?