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Volume 8 of Dark Horse's Savage Sword of Conan chronicles a period when the book was slightly aimless. None of the stories were linked and they occurred during an indeterminate time in Conan's life, although clearly after his entry into civilization and before his term as king. They don't particularly feel like Robert E. Howard stories either and, in the case of two villains, they begin to veer into more typical super-heroics. Consequently this Volume is a mix of bad to entertaining.
The opening two-parter could have been an excellent story if Gil Kane did the whole thing but the inkers just kill it. The art was allegedly lost in the mail and required several inkers to get it prepared to meet publication. It has no visual flow and the inkers almost seem to be fighting Kane's storytelling. Plus someone changes the hair color of the lead female between the two issues. Definitely one of the dregs of SSOC.
Once you get through the dreck, the volume has some fun stories. The Armor of Zuulda Thaal is a tour-de-force for the Fleisher, Buscema and Chan team. The Isle of the Hunter is a perfectly adequate version of The Most Dangerous Game, but probably would have looked better if Nerbes didn't soften Buscema's pencils. This would have been a great solo Buscema story. The Gamesmasters of Asgulan is a bit silly and saved by Alcala's lush art. The Devourer of Souls is one of the stand-out stories. It's a gripping adventure and introduces one of the great Marvel Conan villains, the Devourer. I remember wanting to see more of this imposing character and was delighted to see him return a few months later.Read more ›
Conan battles everything from a worm-eating demigod to a laser cat, but proves unable to overcome limp storycraft in this collection of graphic tales.
Collecting nine issues that were originally published monthly by Marvel Comics in 1983, Vol. 8 is the second with writer Michael Fleisher writing most of the stories. Back in Vol. 7, Fleisher showed an admirable willingness to play a bit with the Conan formula and shake up reader expectations. Here in Vol. 8, the stories get weirder, the storycraft shakier, and Conan ever-farther from the center of things.
Take "Devourer Of Souls." Conan is a mercenary with an army laying siege to a castle. Inside, the Devourer and his sorcerer-master await the coming of a time where a great jewel will expose humanity to the depredations of the Devourer's kin. The Devourer shoots lightning, teleports, and kills soldiers en masse, so why are he and the sorcerer allowing themselves to be stuck inside this castle under attack? It makes as much sense as Conan breaking ranks to sneak into the castle for something to steal and stumbling upon the unguarded jewel, and as much sense as Conan then being accused by his comrades of being a spy. Naturally, those things happen, too.
Really, how good can a Conan story be where Conan spends much of the story locked in a box? Not very. "Devourer Of Souls" doesn't even give Conan much of a role in the final confrontation, something it has in common with other stories here.
Conan still kills people, though. You can count on that. Fleisher changes that up here, too, though; having him heave a sword to transfix a foe from a distance not once but four different times in this volume. I don't know about you, but it struck me as a pretty sissy way for our brawny Cimmerian to operate.Read more ›
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This turned out to be something that I have really enjoyed and know others would like it just as I have. Reading Conan at any time is a treat for the eyes and mind. I have every volume so far in this collection. That tells you something. This trade/graphic novel is one that I'll read more than once. It will be staying in my collection always.
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