The invasion that began in the pages of Marvel's current Empyre event is touching every corner of their expansive shared universe… which now includes Conan the Barbarian. Built on decades of pulp stories, thousands of pages of lore, and the recent addition of the tears of Dark Horse investors, Marvel has pulled Conan into their universe as the star of Savage Avengers, and now the pulp icon finds himself tangled up in this Cotati invasion. Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 tells a one-off tale chronicling Conan's defense of Mexico City as he ponders violence, alongside of Venom, who… well, doesn't.
Gerry Duggan delivers an intriguing script that focuses squarely on Conan. The uninitiated will likely leave Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 interested in the character's current problems, especially the giant woman who almost casually devours him during a dream (kinda) sequence, but Conan fans will love the hero's role in his issue even more. Venom is a fun addition, providing some gothic juxtaposition to Conan's nobility with his crudeness and humor. Duggan knows, considering this issue is basically a big fight with a single goal, that the best bet is to put the characters in an interesting setting and taking them through a series of visually interesting beats so the art can shine…
And damn, does it shine. Greg Smallwood provides Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 lines and colors, giving the book a stunning vibe that feels part Allred, part Coipel, and part retro color explosion. It's a beautifully illustrated book from an artist with the skill to create beautiful comics of any kind, superhero or otherwise. Smallwood, if Marvel is where he will dedicate his skills to longterm, could easily rise to the ranks of superhero art legends with pages like this. VC's Travis Lanham doesn't miss a beat either, with letters that combine the world of Conan and Marvel's Avengers with subtle choices, such as the parchment-like captions.
Empyre: Savage Avengers #1 is a fun one-shot that lets the beautiful artwork tell the story to dazzling effect.