SAVAGE AVENGERS #16/ Script by GERRY DUGGAN/ Art by PATCH ZIRCHER/ Colors by JAVA TARTAGLIA/ Letters by VC’S TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Stan Lee stood by the belief that every comic is somebody’s first comic. This simple philosophy was adopted to help shape the stories in such a fashion that a reader could pick up any book and just dive in with minimal hiccups. Most times there is a quick paragraph or two prefacing the story. Other times, you get a talent like Gerry Duggan, who drops you in the middle of the fray and fills the mouths of his characters with good old fashioned battlefield smack talk to prime the pumps. Case in point: Conan the Barbarian (yeah, that Conan), Magik (the sister of X-Man Colossus), the Black Knight (a sometimes-Avenger with way too much history to unpack here), and Juggernaut (an X-Men villain currently trying to reform himself) are sent to battle an Asgardian dragon in hopes of retrieving the other Eye of Agamotto from him.
Recently the team has been splintered to accommodate an influx of characters and expand the story with additional quests. With this team on this quest, the quartet is tasked by Doctor Strange and the battle that ensues is worthy of the adjective used to describe this band of Avengers. Hacking and slashing, burning and throwing, dicingand stabbing and crunching away, these Avengers are in for the fight of their life.
Sadly, that’s about the long and short of this chapter. Beyond the opening battle that accounts for almost half of the issue, there does not seem to be much texture to the story. A bit of exposition, a unique insight into the nature of Crom, a revealing display of Conan’s character, and chuckles most of the way through. The story reads like a session of Dungeons & Dragons that was put together the night before the game was set to play.
There is an inherent difficulty in reviewing a book in the middle of an ongoing series. You want to make sure you are addressing the book in question, but there is a need to tie it to the books leading up to it. You’ll want to make decisions based on an overall progression, not just the merits of a single issue in a run. Gerry Duggan has been on this book from the beginning and it had an explosive start with Wolverine fighting Conan. The battle embodied the term “savage.” The story progressed and the lineup changed, but the excitement was always there. Lately, it feels like the story is being stretched longer than it should in an effort to make it last to the next tie-in.
Patch Zircher’s artwork is perfect for this book. His versatility is appreciated from crisp lines of civility to the dirt & grunge of battle & destruction. When was the last time you tried to draw a dragon? Java Tartaglia’s colors bring the book to life. Background work is so often taken for granted, but Java pays particular attention in this book and the effort shows.
Duggan knows these characters well and has a proven track record for weaving a narrative that pushes you to the next book. Conan has had a tremendous development arc since the introductory issue. Hopefully we can expect increased savagery as we push into the King in Black event.