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Savage Avengers #1 (Marvel Comics)
We all knew it was only a matter of time for Marvel to have Conan The Barbarian cross over into the Marvel universe, but I don’t think anyone was expecting it to happen this soon, and in a title like Savage Avengers. A new series from Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato. Jr, this offshoot of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes brings together Wolverine, The Punisher, Venom, Doctor Voodoo, Elektra, and Conan the Barbarian to take on only the most brutal of missions. No, they’re not officially sanctioned (yet), and yes, at first glance making Conan an Avenger is a major eye-roll moment. But surprisingly, this opening issue isn’t just chock full of ridiculous action, it’s also one of the most fun comics of the year.
Freshly abandoned in the Savage Land following the events of Avengers: No Road Home, Conan the Barbarian is on the hunt for treasure, which leads him to The Hand, who are in the process of attempting a ritual that will summon a creature from Conan’s world. Of course, Wolverine is also in the Savage Land hunting the Hand, which leads to the two brutal warriors throwing down before joining forces (aka the “Marvel Method of team-ups”). As the Hand continue to grab blood sacrifices for their ritual, the two warriors learn that the next target is none other than Frank Castle, and if the Hand gets a hold of him, they might complete their goals.
Straight up, this book is a blast, and that’s largely due to Gerry Duggan’s script. Duggan uses his experience writing Savage Sword of Conan to great use with this issue, but he also doesn’t shy away from the absurdities that make up Conan. Having Conan and Wolverine meet is just as brutal as you imagine. Duggan finds a lot of hilarious moments between the two characters, but it’s never at the expense of either of them (once you hear Conan’s name for Wolverine’s claws, you’ll never think of them the same way again).
Mike Deodato, Jr. has had a long career at Marvel, and he’s honestly the best artist they could have picked for this series. His characters cut wide, imposing figures, something that is needed for a book like this. While his inking is a little too dark at times, Deodato, like Duggan, is clearly having a blast drawing this book. He’s set a high bar for awesome moments with this issue, but I’m excited to see what comes next.
Savage Avengers is definitely a bit of a stretch for a series, but it’s easily the biggest surprise of the year so far. I was full on ready to dismiss this series entirely, but within a few pages I was loving every absurd moment of it, and I can’t wait for the next issue. Usually only having two members of a team together by the end of the first issue would annoy me to no end, but with Savage Avengers, it’s something that makes me excited for how the rest of these characters meet up.