March 27, 2012

Dark Horse Reviews: Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #4

Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #4
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Various
Artist: Various (cover by Cary Nord and Dave Stewart)

At long last we have another book in this wonderful series inspired by Robert E. Howard! It seems like forever since the last issue was released, but it is released quarterly, so it hasn’t been forever. This issue brings us five fabulous tales from a variety of writers and artists. Let us begin our journey inside the mind of one of the best pulp writers of our time and all time!

First is a continuation from last issue spotlighting the warrior Brule. He is a dark skinned fighter that has shown he can hold his own against any man or beast. He’s typically seen battling beside his best friend Kull. In this story, though, he’s out at sea and must combat not only a sea serpent, but possibly an entire civilization, too! Brule is a great character, because he is so versatile. He can easily be great as Kull’s sidekick, or be featured alone and carry a story alone, like in this one, “The Spear and the Siren” (writer – David Lapham, art – Fabio Cobiaco).

Secondly, we have another continuation (and conclusion) like in the previous tale. This one, though, is not at sea, but in the desert, and features The Sonora Kid in “Knife, Bullet, and Noose” (writer – Jeremy Barlow, art – Tony Parker). This one shows the Kid in a bit of a predicament with some unscrupulous rich dudes. Needless to say, he has to put down the henchmen and the rich guys, then get out of town alive. Great old west feel to this story, and nice artwork, as well.

Next up is “Conan: White Death”! In this saga, Conan meets up with a beautiful Aesir (Asgardian), and the two find out that they have a lot in common. After knowing the girl for all of two hours, she and Conan end up in the sack. What Conan wakes up next to, though, isn’t exactly what he fell asleep next to. This was a fantastic one-shot of sorts, and I for one loved it. The surprise with the woman, then the fight that ensued with a monstrosity of a beast, was outstanding! The artwork definitely shined in this one, but the writing was up to par, too (writer – Pete Doree, art – Sean Phillips).

The fourth installment of this fine book was a stand alone story called “The Thing on the Roof” (writer – David Land, art – M.S. Corely). The story starts out with a couple of snobby fellows discussing a book of the occult that tells of a key that can unlock riches beyond compare. Well, the dudes find the key, then unlock the riches. Problem is, they also unlock a curse that follows them home! Another great one here, but in this tale, the story was most certainly the high point. Not to bad mouth the artist, it was just a little cartoony.

Finally, we have the conclusion to the Kull story “The Vale of Shadow.” This story is unlike most Kull stories in the fact that it has Kull being seduced by a female demon of sorts, and not doing a whole lot of his usual bludgeoning. It’s a good tale, and shows Kull being vulnerable, and that’s another thing you don’t typically see in his stories. His friends who are watching over him do some reminiscing about the good old days, because they believe Kull is dying. Does he die? You’ll have to read and find out (writer – Alan Velenetz, art – Tony De Zuniga). This one has an equal amount of story and artwork to keep you busy.

This book, like its predecessors, is a can’t miss for any Howard fan. You get a great mix of stories, from Conan to the Sonora Kid. I’d have to say that I was even pleasantly surprised by the fourth story, too, not ever having read that one before, and I’ve read a good bit of Howard’s stories. So march yourself down to the comic shop and pick up a copy of this fine work by Dark Horse. You won’t be disappointed! Rating 4.5/5

Billy Dunleavy



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