October 15, 2011

Dark Horse Reviews: Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #3

Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #3
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writers: Various
Artists: Various (cover by Gerald Parel)

This monster of a book (80 pages) has five stories contained within! The first is the last chapter in the Conan saga “The Jewels of Hesterm.” Up to this point, Conan has been trying to find not only his hot lady friend J’Wen, but also the jewels that reside inside the temple. Well, in one move he finds both. The problem is that he also finds a sorcerer named Karne. This sorcerer and his black magic appear to be too much for the Cimmerian, but looks are not always what they seem, are they? Believe it or not, Conan uses his brains first and his brawn second. In the end, he’ll not only have to contend with the wizard, but also his minions that protect him and his investment (the girl).  Great story, and I think Paul Tobin and Wellington Alves did an admirable job on this classic Howard story! Rating 4/5

Next up is The Sonora Kid- “Knife, Bullet, and Noose.” A story set in the old west with Steve Allison (the Sonora Kid) and his sidekick, little Johnny Elkins. Johnny tries to warn Steve that in a certain saloon a band of thugs is going to take him down as soon as he walks through the door. Steve, not being the type to back down from a fight, heads inside anyway. Well, after some pleasantries, the biggest, nastiest dude in the place challenges the Sonora Kid to a knife fight. Will he get cut to ribbons, or will the Kid’s reputation to get out of any situation hold true?   Not bad, but I’m not a big western fan. Decent story with better than average artwork. Story by Jeremy Barlow, with art by Tony Parker. Rating 3/5

The third story is one that spotlights Brule. He’s one of my favorite Robert E. Howard characters, because he’s the faithful sidekick of my favorite REH character, Kull! Brule sets out on a fishing trip one day, but some terrible storms knock him way out to sea. So far out that he’s nowhere near his home shores. He does, however, catch a net full of fish which makes him very happy. As he floats along, he almost runs into an old pirate ship. It looks as if it took a beating from someone or something. After hopping on board, Brule is amazed to find a mermaid in a cage. She tries to speak to him, but a language barrier prevents her from warning him about what wrecked the vessel. Something that is looming over him right at this moment! “The Spear & the Siren part 1” is a great beginning to this story by David Lapham and Fabio Cobiaco. Rating 4/5

The following story, “Steve Harrison: Pinot Noir,” showcases none other than…Steve Harrison, as he investigates a strange murder at a high class restaurant. Steve only finds one person still alive at this establishment, and the guy is raving mad, and buck naked to boot. Steve finds out that the gibberish that the man is reciting has to do with the wine everyone consumed that night. On a hunch, Steve goes to the winery to check things out. Well, after finding some opium, he finds something even worse in the back yard – ritual sacrifice! It’s then time to put a beating on the ring leaders before they can slit the throat of the young girl in their clutches. Solid story with very dark artwork that was perfect for the story. Rating 3.5/5

Last but not least, we have “Kull: The Vale of Shadow,” by Alan Zelenetz and Tony De Zuniga. This is a classic Kull story for those of you not familiar with him, or Howard’s work for that matter. The tale revolves around Kull being on the brink of death, as others recall his days of youth, before he was King. As we watch Kull and his countrymen sailing the seas, they are abruptly attacked by a band of Pictish warriors aboard a whaling ship. Moments later, Kull’s ship is split in two and he and his crew are floating in the ocean. Kull then sneaks onto the Picts’ ship and beats the crap out of most of them. We then switch back to Kull writhing in agony from the pain of his condition. He’s then visited by a ghost (a half-naked woman) who asks him to submit to her. Kull denies her request, and the men watching over him begin to tell another tale of Kull’s youth. This process continues again, until the last page which will continue next issue. Story is a little redundant, but decent. The artwork was not my style. I’m into a more sleek style, where this was more old school. Rating 3/5

Well, there you have it! This behemoth of a book is in its third issue now, and I think #4 will be out before the end of the year, which is great news for all the Robert E. Howard fans out there!

Billy Dunleavy



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