Savage Avengers Goes Hard
(As In Hardcover Omnibus)
I get a kick out of seeing hardcovers of my work, especially the large omnibuses that Marvel has done of my collaborations. There’s another that is just arriving this week to our comic retailers, and a few weeks later.
SAVAGE AVENGERS is kind of a miracle of a comic. It should not have existed, but it did. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did more than that — it just fucking crushed.
All the characters got to play across the stage as themselves, and yes, Conan was the center of gravity in the title, but it’d be a mistake to dismiss it as a “Conan team-up book” as some followers of Thulsa Doom have pointed out.
Conan is the star, and his co-stars were the artists. Mike Deodato. Patch Zircher. Greg Smallwood. Kim Jacinto. Kev Walker, and more.
I’ll have some more to say about working on Savage Avengers in an upcoming post, but I wanted to fire off a quick post to my readers especially to anyone on the fence about the purchase.
Credit is not a finite resource as Mark Waid once told me, and that’s never more true than on Savage Avengers. My editor on that title has a really worthwhile newsletter on Substack. Check out Tom Brevoort’s Man In The Hat. Tom and I had previously worked on Uncanny Avengers, a series that is being brought back to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of both the Avengers and X-Men. Jump to Marvel for more on that here.
Back to Savage Avengers for a moment, because omnibus collections already feel like a unicorn and their reprinting is not guaranteed. They’re big, pricey and a pain to ship. Marvel is also not publishing Conan comics at the moment, nor is the series available on Marvel Unlimited. I have no insider knowledge, but this one is likely to hit hard, leave a bruise, and be gone in the night.
I think it’s worth reprinting my eulogy for the book in issue 28 here.
When Conan returned to Marvel, a deal was hatched to pluck the Cimmerian from the past, and fling him forward in time so that he could interact with the Marvel Universe.
Tom Brevoort and CB Cebulski had the Savage Avengers title in mind, and I’m not sure if I was Tom’s first call, but I made damn sure I was his last call. I’ve been a huge Conan fan for as long as I can remember, in no small part due to his past adventures in the Bronze Age at Marvel.
My goal was simple: to tell the biggest, bloodiest adventures I could until we were cancelled or I was fired, or I was personally cancelled and then fired. This book just had to be a spiritual successor to those great old comics, and I think that’s why this book shined so bright. We were unafraid to embrace our Bronze Age DNA.
With the return of the Kulan Gath we had a legacy villain that could enter and exit the stage according to our whims, permitting us to space to introduce Conan to our favorite heroes and villains.
I tried to write the book like I was competing in the Cannonball Run while driving a fully insured rental car. None of these characters were coming back in the condition that they were given to me. Stopping a cannibal wizard intent on snuffing out all life took no less than stabbings, shootings, cocaine, poisoned cocaine, the grave robbing of Frank Castle’s wife and kids, I seem to recall a zombie was beaten to death with a sex-worker’s prosthetic leg, and when he heard the words “with great power comes great responsibility” Conan laughed heartily right in Spider-Man’s face.
We had fun.
It’s always important to have an exit strategy, and when it was time for the curtain to drop we had a fully-baked epic story about the struggle between a courageous barbarian fighting against a sadistic wizard. I’m especially proud of how we just absolutely crushed the landing. I hope Conan fans enjoy it for decades to come. This finale of this volume will cement it an immortal comic book. But at the end, I must talk about the beginning.
Thanks to Mike Deodato for knocking the door off the hinges with an indelible first arc that set the tone for everything that would follow. If that had been where my time with the Savage Avengers had ended, I could still die happy.
Patrick Zircher arrived in lucky chapter seven, and he has stolen the show every panel of the way. Few artists have the gears that Zircher displays in every chapter. We offered action, comedy, drama romance, horror, and Patch emailed us a page every day. I don’t know if most fans understand the dedication it takes to draw the majority of what will hopefully be an omnibus one day. A punishing schedule in pursuit of collaborating on something very special. There was nothing I threw at him that he didn’t send over the fence as a home run. Team books requires a variety of skillsets, and whether it was action, or comedy, Zircher’s acting was always top-notch. Thanks for the ride, Patch. Making us book look good every time out were the sublime colors of Java Tartaglia.
Crom would also like to witness our editors Alanna Smith, Martin Biro and Krakoan expat Annalise Bissa. We couldn’t have done it without Kim Jacinto, Greg Smallwood, Kev Walker and Butch Guice for the wonderful chapters as guest stars, and we’d not look as good without colors from Frank Martin, Tamra Bonvillain. Travis Lanham, thanks for the killer letters. All our covers were outstanding, especially the ones from series regular star Valerio Giangiodano & Frank D’Amarta.
I’ve been lucky enough to work for a lot of licensors over the years, and nobody has been up for more fun than Fred Malmberg and his team at Conan Properties. Thanks for trusting us with Conan’s sword.
Thanks to all of our readers.
Los Angeles, October 2021
The ending is one I’d like to think that both Robert E Howard and John Milius would enjoy. But one’s dead, and I don’t know Milius so we’ll never know. Besides, Crom doesn’t care, but I hope you love it.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the scarcity.
Busy week, so you’ll be hearing from me again.