Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #5
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writers: Steve Niles, Howard Chaykin, Paul Tobin, & others
Artists: Howard Chaykin, Francisco Francavilla, & others
Savage Sword is back with a vengeance! It has been a few months since the last issue shipped, but beware, the pages of this book hold a few stories that will have you on the edge of your seat!
First up is a story about Bran Mak Morn, called “Men of the Shadows.” The name does sound slightly like something to help with constipation, but he actually causes the opposite effect when his enemies meet him on the battlefield! We see what appears to be Roman soldiers in a fight like no other against an army of savages. Only four men survive the battle, and then they have to make their way across an even more frightful land to get home. Over the course of the journey, three of the men get taken out, and the last man is spared just before he’s killed by someone he recognizes from the battlefield! Written by Ian Edginton, with art by Richard Pace & Moose Baumann.
Next is a werewolf story called “In the Forest of Villefere.” The story is about a warrior that is in the forest on a sojourn to a village. He encounters what appears to be a hospitable, but masked man that warns him of evil in the forest. The two continue down the path for a while until they come upon the lair of a werewolf! Written by Steve Niles, with art by Chris Mitten.
Thirdly, a tale of deception and murder starring King Conan. This story, “Two Birds,” shows us that although Conan is getting old, he hasn’t lost his keen senses or his ability to judge a person’s character. The story revolves around two of Conan’s concubines, and their quest to be his “number one girl.” Written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin.
The following story is about one of the best (if not the best) female characters that Howard ever created. Her name is Dark Agnes, and the story, “Sword Woman,” is basically an origin story. It shows how the once meek Agnes, who was physically and mentally abused by her father, became the wild, red-haired vixen that we all know and love! Written by Paul Tobin and illustrated by Francisco Francavilla.
Lastly, we see a spotlight on the “Kings of the Night,” and the one and only Bran Mak Morn! The first page shows a sacrifice of a captive Roman soldier, and a Pictish priest that warns of an ensuing battle. Cool story that actually has Bran mentioning Kull and Brule! Then a fight between a Nord and…Kull, back from the dead? Or is it a ghost? Written by Roy Thomas, with art by David Wenzel and Jim Campbell.
The overall grade this book gets is definitely an A+. The only story that was lacking in any way, shape, or form was the second story (the werewolf story by Niles). The writing was excellent, but the artwork was very sub-par compared to the rest of the book. Each story had its own identity, and made an impact. The Dark Agnes story is probably the best of them all. Great origin story plus top notch illustration by Francavilla. The very last page was a pinup of Conan by the late, great Tony DeZuniga. Rating 4/5