PopCultHQ received an advanced review copy of SAVAGE AVENGERS #1 from Marvel Comics. Available May 1st, 2019, the creative team for this issue features writing from Gerry Duggan, art from Mike Deodato Jr., colors from Frank Martin, and lettering from VC’s Travis Lanham.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s Spoiler-Free Review of…
Savage Avengers (2019-) #1
Featuring action-packed extras including a Cover Gallery, Script, Inked And Color Pages and Character Designs!
The most savage, most unkillable team of characters in the Marvel Universe is assembled! Wolverine! Venom! Elektra! Punisher! And in their midst – Conan the Barbarian! Conan has returned to the Marvel Universe and his new adventures begin here. What is the City of Sickles? Who is the Marrow God? How is the Hand involved? The roughest and most dangerous characters rumble through this new title starting with…Conan vs. Wolverine? ‘Nuff said.
PopCultHQ’s Spoiler-Free Review:
SAVAGE AVENGERS #1
Left in the Savage Land after Avengers: No Road Home, Conan encounters Wolverine and the two battle the hand, and each other, on the way to defying a malicious new cult bent on unleashing godlike evil on the world.
I don’t always enjoy Gerry Duggan’s work. When I do it’s because I appreciate a unique take on a character or idea. This was the case with his work on Hulk and Arkham Manor. This is also the case with Uncanny Avengers.
Rather than try and fit a square peg in a round hole and just put out some kind of an edgy rehash of Thunderbolts, New Avengers, or even the short-lived “New” Fantastic Four, Duggan finds a way to have characters come by Conan organically.
This issue doesn’t explode out the gates with a team that in the ’90s would blatantly serve to cash in on a trend. Duggan finds a story, a reason, that these characters would be in each other’s orbits and builds from there.
Granted, a lot of this book is the fight scene that takes place between Wolverine and Conan, but it feels very well done. It’s given the correct amount of space and brutality a slugfest between the two should have. It’s central to the issue but there are also smaller elements built on the periphery of this issue. Even the tropes or formulaic elements of the set-ups have enough of a good idea about them that they succeed.
Duggan could have very easily just written fodder for a collection of popular anti-heroes to have a reason to fight. He could have gone deep into tongue-in-cheek territory and just had the situation mock itself too. Instead, it’s taken seriously, for what it is, and the result is a solid first issue.
Mike Deodato has been a solid penciller for as long as I can remember. Through the years his style has evolved but has always maintained a good level of quality. In the ‘90s, his dynamic images and striking action gave Wonder Woman, Thor, and Hulk some serious eye-catching appeal.
I remember seeing his work develop into what it is now through Avengers and thinking how remarkable it had become by Original Sin. There are elements present in this book of both early Deodato and late. It isn’t the best of both but for an artist who has been reliable for so long, there is more than a lot to like.
He clearly enjoys working on Conan, and he interprets the fight scenes as well as he ever has. Your eye will follow the choreography intently and refuse to look away.
It’s dark in places and, while I appreciate an artist who remembers Wolvie isn’t supposed to be 6-foot, lithe Hugh Jackman, the anatomy in some places is a little off. But the storytelling is evident, and the energy and tone of the book are undeniable.
I want to see more of Deodato spread his creative wings in settings like Madripoor and the Savage Land, and I can’t wait to see the other characters of this book cross paths with the Cimmerian as rendered by Deodato’s pencil.
Frank Martin pairs well with Deodato’s art (The two have both worked on titles such as Original Sin and Old Man Logan, to name a couple) and that remains true of this issue.
As a colorist, he has a clear appreciation for who is in the story, where it is set, and what this means for the tone of a book. You won’t see a lot of joy, lavish, bright superhero tones or even clear skies.
The title of the book says Savage, and this is grit, dirt, blood, and brutality. There are no rainbows anywhere Logan is wiping the blood from his claws or Frank Castle is bearing arms.
Martin gives the Savage Land’s ruins a creepy, antiquated feel without sacrificing the outer jungle. His colors plant one foot each in the past and a modern world of evil mystical acolytes and badass vigilante action.
Travis Lanham (Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Northlanders) produces a lettering effort that embraces the savagery of the book’s title and aids the visceral feel of every punch, kick, lunge, and sharp stab.
It’s bare-knuckle lettering that puts pride in driving hard the heavy action. Wolverines ‘Snikts’ are perfect and the sound cues and reveals are as integral to enjoying this book as the dialogue and the imagery.
If ever a book does what it says on the can, then this is it. This book’s best point is that it uses the characters well and doesn’t force the team aspect down our throats at all. I went into this expecting to groan at Conan being forced into an Avengers line-up. Instead, we get some “Avengers” written into a Conan book and, you know what? It works.