Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 has Conan the Barbarian fighting in modern-day society thanks to Gerry Duggan, Greg Smallwood, and VC’s Travis Lantham. A character like Conan who is out of time finds a way to find his purpose by helping to repel an alien invasion. Which is amazing to watch unfold.
In South America, Conan finds himself enslaved – which is typically bad news for those attempting to do the enslaving! But these enslavers come from beyond the stars, and they’ve got a singular and grisly end in store for the Cimmerian.
The setup of Conan enjoying modern culture before shifting into combat was a great premise. Especially being in Mexico City (the description is wrong and it’s from the official site) where Conan is shown to be watching Lucha wrestling and calling the action fake. This is a small moment and shifts into what Conan does best (violence) as the aliens invade. From there the issue really picks up speed.
Greg Duggan finds a way to capitalize on Conan’s skill as a warrior. The Cotati are alien plant creatures who don’t bleed blood. This allows for a large amount of decapitation and dismemberment which comes off more as tame. Seeing Venom acting as a “Suck it up and get it together” character seems weird but appropriate given his new calling as an Avenger.
The artwork by Greg Smallwood seems like the perfect style for this issue. The majority of the scenes are tight and focus on Conan as he fights through the streets. This allows attention to the movement of the combat and is entertaining to witness.
The coloring thanks to Smallwood helps with the setting and with showcasing how the Cotati are aliens. With the setting, though most of the issue happens at night, there is a shift to a dream sequence and the change in color helps the reader to tell the scene is different. With the Cotati the color allows the reader to see their blood is green and makes the fact Conan shreds through a large group of them without making the issue feel like it’s made for mature readers.
The Lettering by VC’s Travis Lanham, the narration boxes for Conan seems on point looking like the papyrus of a scroll. There also is an impressive use of the special effect lettering for adding to the action scenes. The lettering for the explosions and impact scenes are especially worth mentioning.
Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 isn’t a must-read comic but at the same time it’s a lot of fun. Seeing how Conan the Barbarian would deal with an alien invasion is a question I’m sure many have always wondered and now there is an answer. After reading the issue hopefully, fans will find themselves wanting to check out the regular Savage Avengers series to see what the future has Conan.