Savage Avengers Omnibus

Savage Avengers Omnibus
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-1-3029-4784-2
  • Release date: 2023
  • UPC: 9781302947842
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Savage Avengers is split into easily digested sections, but in essence it’s one continual story from Gerry Duggan about both Conan the Barbarian and the sorcerer Kulan Gath being transported into the 21st century. Before a final confrontation Kulan Gath acquires greater and greater amounts of power, yet because the sheer brute force of Conan was enough to kill him back in the Hyborean era, no matter how powerful he becomes in modern times, there’s still a part of him that fears Conan.

While he doesn’t feature in the first story arc, which is much stabbing and slashing in the Savage Land, Doctor Strange is the secondary character with the most prominent role. As Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, he’s responsible for seeing off any magical threats to humanity, and Kulan Gath is most definitely that, his lust for leeching more power seemingly insatiable. Perhaps it’s an indication of how powerful he’s become that Doctor Strange is convincingly at a loss how to deal with him, but while other characters can monopolise a single chapter, Duggan never keeps Conan far from the forefront. Despite the Avengers title, then, this is more like the 1970s Defenders where groups of assorted heroes join Conan in his quest.

He first, and thrillingly, meets Wolverine, and the adult level violence of their encounter sets the tone for the entire series. By the end Conan has fought alongside a fair number of modern-day Marvel mainstays, his most memorable moment being bonding with the Punisher in an early story, and while the likes of Venom, Spider-Man and Elektra put in an appearance, Duggan doesn’t stretch credibility too far by throwing in Thor or the Hulk, no matter how much we might like to see it.

An allure of the Omnibus package is seeing the art at a larger than trade size, but that’s a mixed blessing with Savage Avengers, because for all that they may want to draw Conan, the rule of thumb is that the less an artist contributes, the better the art, with Adam Goreham the exception to the rule. Patch Zircher draws more pages than anyone else and is constantly frustrating. He can turn out some extremely decorative pages, such as Doctor Strange tripping through the dimensions, but largely fails to maximise the visual potential of what he’s given. There’s a pin-up of Ghost Rider on a giant spider, but the remainder pulls the view in too close, and Zircher never comes to grips with Conan either, not giving him the necessary power. Elsewhere too many figures are stiff and posed.

Despite the artistic limitations, Duggan ensures the stories surprise, and there’s little here that’s not very readable, fast-paced and incredibly violent. The twists keep coming, and the introduction of a new player toward the end is both logical and a major surprise. Fans of Zircher’s art will find this even more of a treat. There’s also the bonus of Kulan Gath’s earlier trip to the present day, as Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr. have him sorted out by the X-Men.

Although providing value for money when discounted, this oversized hardcover is also available as five paperback collections, starting with City of Sickles and ending with The Defilement of All Things by the Cannibal-Sorcerer Kulan Gath.