The Reading Pile #26

Conan. Say it again…C O N A N. Conan is awesome. Do you like Conan? I do. Conan is one of those characters from the seventies (let’s face it…this was the greatest era of Marvel’s existence) that I’ve always thought was enormously cool. Now Marvel is saturating us with Conan (Conan should NOT be in the Avengers), but I want to take a look at the two books that matter: Jason Aaron’s Conan The Barbarian and Gerry Duggan’s Savage Sword of Conan. Welcome to issue 26 of The Reading Pile: The Barbarian vs Savage Sword.

Let’s start off with initial impressions. Jason Aaron’s title feels totally familiar, and awesome. Reading the 1st 3 issues felt very comfortable; like putting on one of your favorite pair of shoes. I have read it described as a more violent Thor and that description is not inaccurate. I initially had negative feelings about yet ANOTHER Conan title when Savage Sword was announced, but I dare say Gerry Duggan’s title has more of a seventies vibe. The first issue came out like a bat out of Hell. Conan escaping captivity on a ship filled with the undead and gaining the companionship of Suty. I LOVED the 1st issue, but wasn’t as impressed with the second.

Now I’m pitting Conan the Barbarian issue number 4 and Savage Sword of Conan issue number 3 against each other. Let’s talk covers. I’m immediately taken aback by Savage Sword issue 3. It’s full of action and detail and could be a cover out of the seventies. Esad Ribic’s cover, for issue 4 of Conan the Barbarian, is more stoic. It’s a great cover, but is no match for Alex Ross’s Savage Sword homage to Buscema and Chan. The Sword takes the battle of the covers.

Conan The Barbarian 4, Marvel Comics, 3/6/2019
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Gerado Zaffino

Hmmm, this art. Not sure what I think. At first glance I think it lacks some detail and is kind of ugly, but after initial impressions I do think it’s kind of cool, in a dark and sketchy kind of way. So let’s see how it serves the story.

We open with Conan murdering a jealous king, cut to him on his throne much later in life and he seems to be bored and sick by a peaceful civilization he now resides over. Seeking relief from his boredom, Conan chooses to battle a caged lion, a gift from a fellow king. Conan strikes first and discovers this lion seeks his master’s companionship rather than his blood.

Conan and his pet lion become avengers of the night. Sneaking away from the king’s advisors and wreaking havoc on the criminals of his kingdom until, finally, the day comes when Conan feels he should free his companion into the jungles of Kush, from which he came.
This was awesome and the art served the story quite well. Jason Aaron has been killing this title with a broad range of, mostly, stand alone stories. Read this. 4/5

Savage Sword of Conan 3, Marvel Comics, 3/20/2019
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney

We start off where we were in issue 2, Conan and towns lady, Menes, doing battle with their enemies: henchmen of Koga Thun. Fairly standard battle stuff until Conan is captured by the mystical Koga Thun, who is a wizard who is able to read his thoughts. He pushes Conan too far and he, Menes and Suty forge an escape to catacombs that harbor some hidden treasure, but not before Suty is bitten by some kind of snake.
This issue was also quite good. 3.5/5

The Winner

Both comics were really great reads, but I really have been feeling Jason Aaron’s self contained stories. The winner by decision is Conan The Barbarian issue 4.

That’s all for this issue, hope you enjoyed me pitting two issues of Conan against each other. Was a fun exercise. See you next time!

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