When you think about the different aspects of Conan the Barbarian, detective is probably near the bottom of the list. However, when you think about it, his cunning, his intelligence and his skills as a thief all make him much better suited to solve a mystery than you might think. Savage Sword of Conan #7 gives us the set up for exactly that sort of story.
Jim Zub, Patch Zircher, Java Tartaglia, and Travis Lanham take over the series to give us a unique new chapter in Conan’s life.
After saving a rich man from a back alley brawl, the man – known as Maraudus – hires Conan as a bodyguard as he enters a dangerous card game. At stake is an entire shipping empire and a truce between two powerful merchants. However when Maraudus falls over dead from poison, Conan finds himself in a difficult position. Not only must he take his employer’s place in the game, he also needs to find the killer, and prevent his own murder.
Zub has come up with an intriguing scenario for Conan to fight his way out of. Often he’d be able to pick up a sword and fight his way free, but this is one that he can’t. Because he doesn’t know how the poison was given to Maraudus, he can’t take any chances, but he also needs to figure out who the killer is to prevent his own fate. It’s a smart set up, and will make for an engrossing arc.
Beyond that, Zub creates details through the story that draws us in. The gambling den is fully realized, with a “debtor’s lounge” no one would want to spend time in and a gang of rogues who could all be a suspect. The best part is the card game being played, a Blackjack like game with several twists, which was actually fully created by Zub and the team, adding a layer of realism (and future merchandising potential) to the story.
Zircher’s line work is great. He uses a more sketchy style, which evokes Barry Windsor-Smith, while maintaining his own look. His action is clear, and his character acting adds a lot of personality to the story, both in establishing Conan, and in building up the supporting characters to come. Tarataglia’s color art brings things to life, casting the alleys in shadow, and the gambling den in torchlight.
Conan’s in a tough spot, and that means we’re going to have a lot of fun for the next few issues.
Savage Sword of Conan #7 is available now from Marvel Comics.