Sunday, October 5, 2014

Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword #9 - A Review

The best part of Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword is the same strength shared by all high-quality anthologies. Should you find something in the collection not to your liking, you can always go on to the next offering and be certain of finding something enjoyable.  That's certainly the case with this ninth issue of the series, which contains a wide variety of tales based on or inspired by the works of Robert E.Howard.

The issue's first offering is its weakest - a strictly standard Conan the Barbarian story titled Den Of The Pleasure Goddess. The script is inoffensive yet made intolerable by the hack artistry of Freddie Williams II.  Thankfully, this issue closes with a far better Conan offering - a colorized reprinting of the Roy Thomas/John Buscema adaptation of Howard's Black Colossus.  There is no comparison between the two chapters and the final story showcases why Howard and Buscema are considered by many to be the definitive creative team for classic Conan comics.

The Lovecraftian tale of Conrad and Kirowan comes to a better conclusion than what was suggested by its lackluster first chapter. Admittedly, there is less action here than in a standard Howard story but what the text lacks in excitement is more than made up for in the artwork of American Vampire artist Alberto Albuquerque.  There is some classic weird imagery here, as a group of academics is told the tale of a book that can open a gateway to Hell.

The rest of the book is equally enjoyable.  The tale of Sailor Steve Costigan and his efforts to ditch an unwanted fanboy following a boxing match is an enjoyable sports tale.  And the conclusion of Breckinridge Elkins - Mountain Man is one of the funniest things I've read in a good while.

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