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Savage Sword of Conan #2 (2024) review

It is time to go back to the spinner rack to get the 2nd issue of the brand new Conan black-and-white mag! 

60 spectacular pages of barbaric savagery printed on newsprint! 

Inside this anthology you'll find the following treasures:

A fresh new Pin-Up of Conan by Rafael Kayanan
A fresh new Pin-Up of Conan by Gerardo Zaffino
A fresh new Pin-Up of Solomon Kane by Nick Marinkovich

Conan the Barbarian: Leaving the Garden by Jim Zub and Richard Pace

Pesach the Plenty's wagons are brimming with goods, including his family, Conan is tagging along. We are in Shem en route to Argos.

Pesach's young son mentions giants from The Frost-Giant's Daughter. Conan promises him more tales of his adventures in the future.

Conan wants to leave the convoy behind, for the simple reason that he has debts to pay in Argos.

Pesach offers Conan Corinthian spirits as an incentive to stay by his side.

Pesach wants to sell his rare combustible (pitch derived from plants) in the port city of Messantia. 

Conan is arm wrestling a Kushian, Maro when reapers/pismire-men attack.  

The pismire-reapers slay everyone, Conan gets his arm broken, a calf perforated and is knocked unconscious.

Thinking the barbarian dead, the pismire-reapers mummify the Cimmerian's body and bury him.

Conan wakes up now a pseudo-pupa covered by a cocoon and underground. Afraid that his legend may not live forever, he digs himself out of his grave. Unable to walk, he crawls out of a strange cemetery vowing to avenge his fallen comrades. He reaches a forest, it finally stops raining.

Tarif, an unmutated little boy younger than Pesach's son, finds Conan, runs away, passes a stump bristling with stolen weapons (& barrels of pitch), encounters a wounded pismire-reaper, enters his cursed village and gets scolded by his mutant mom for goofing off.

He is told to go to the temple, to De'ahm the ant deity (God of goodness, Host of plenty) to plead forgiveness.

Tarif secretly returns to a dying Conan, he offers him some roots, seeds and water.

Tarif covered up Conan's grave to hide his escape.

Tarif comments that the cemetery is called "The Great Garden of De'ahm", that De'ahm protects his village, that the villagers are his swarm and that they feed on the souls of the victims that they bury.

At summer's end, Tarif will drink from the soul trough and he too will mutate into a warrior ant-man.

Tarif also mentions that his people can regenerate lost limbs.

Tarif departs, Conan starts a fire, makes spears and a wood splint-gauntlet. A wolf pack attacks, Conan kills the alpha and burns it.

Another wolf attacks, Conan kills it also and starts eating it raw. The wolves back off.

Conan fills Tarif with knowledge and teaches him how to fish. Summer is ending.
Conan treats Tarif to tales from "Rogues In the House", "Red Nails", "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" and "A Witch Shall be Born".

Tarif expounds that he is bound to De'ahm's will, that he is not strong enough to leave his village (like Conan did in his youth). 

Conan is now able to stand and wants Tarif to run away with him. Tarif agrees to go with Conan later under the cover of darkness.

Night falls, Conan hears and sees the ghosts of his friends being called by De'ahm from their graves. He follows the spectres, finds the tree stump and retrieves his stolen axe.

The temple is packed for the manhood ceremony. Conan spots Tarif and friends in front of De'ahm. De'ahm takes mental control of Conan's body, she tries to force the Cimmerian to drink her freshly secreted soul milk-like mutagen. Tarif and friends drink the milk, but Conan does not, he is able to break free of the psychic hold and uses Pesach's fuel to immolate De'ahm and his minions.

A burning pismire-reaper jumps on Conan, Conan kills it.

A blazing De'ahm still wants to enslave the strong and bold Cimmerian. Conan kills the ant queen. 

Conan finds Tarif and his young friends, all mutated, but dead. Apparently, exactly like ants, if you're part of De'ahm's colony, when she dies, you die also.

Conan buries Tarif and his friends away from their village, now reduced to ashes.

Solomon Kane: Master of the Hunt, Part 2 of 3 by Patrick Zircher

Vale of Glamorgan in the south-east of Wales. It's Halloween. Old blind Gruffudd of Llancarfan is riding Nicodemus.
Our favourite Puritan knight-errant is strolling next to his steed.

Gruffudd mentions the poem Cad Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees) that describes a fight between Gwydion (born of trees) and Arawn both from Welsh mythology.

The giant Gawr attacks, takes out Gruffudd, Kane shoots the beast. The Gawr flees, wanting to be left alone.

A dying Gruffudd gives Kane his pagan horn that can identify him as a hunter and not prey.

Kane buries Gruffudd.

Gwen Maddocks's son, Roland is still imprisoned in the Gawr's den, Château d'Orbec. He is looking on as the Gawr is chowing down on his dad and Wilkin Davies. 

Still in the forest, Kane is cleaning his flintlock pistols, suddenly he hears howls, out of nowhere Arawn appears before him.

Kane cannot believe his little Puritan pupils. Astride his steed, assisted by his hounds, the King of Annwn/Cernunnos the Celtic god/Pan the Greek god is busy hunting wandering spirits. 

The horned deity recognizes Gruffudd's horn, lets Kane be and goes on his merry way.

Kane arrives at the ruins of Castle d'Orbec ready for a fight.

What I did like:

A cover by Dave "Aliens: Tribes" Dorman!

Conan makes himself a wolf pelt poncho, just like he did in the cult-classic Conan the Barbarian film from 1982.

Hyrkanian god Erlik mentioned.

You like Aliens (1986)? You like Blade II (2002)? You'll dig Zub's story.

Nicodemus doesn't run away when Arawn reveals himself.

An advert for Conan: City of the Dead by John C. Hocking.

What I did not like:

Where's the pin-up by Max Von Fafner? It's available on his website. We need more Max! Bring back Max! 

Ants cannot regenerate lost limbs.

Nectar is not produced by insects.

It's Thyme not Time.

Tarif doesn't know that it's the day of his manhood ceremony.

Why are the souls still lurking in our realm? Are they trapped? I'm stumped.

Tarif calls the ant queen, Sir. That's sexist. 

A dead tired Conan would never take the time to shave or dig a giant grave. He would never wrap the corpses, it is risible. He would burn the bodies on a pyre and leave.

A cooler ending should have been Tarif and friends rising from their grave fully transformed looking for revenge.

Zub is hogging the Cimmerian spotlight once again. Let other creators have a crack at Conan. This mag needs more NEW writers! The more the better!

Solomon Kane doesn't mention his beloved Bess.

The hounds should have white coats.

Nick Marinkovich's fungus cover is misleading. No Matango/“The Supreme Moment” vs Conan action will be found inside. 

Sadly No strong female characters appear in Savage Sword of Conan #2.

The letters page isn't called "Swords and Scrolls".

Still No sequel to Roy Thomas's The Barbarian and the Super Sleuth (ISBN-13: 9780810996182)! 

No variant cover by KyuYong Eom!

No variant cover by Gerald Parel!

No variant cover by Puppeteer Lee!

No variant cover by James Bousema!

No pin-up by Colin MacNeil! 

No pin-up by Kickliy aka Sam Hiti!

No pin-up by Benjamin Marra!

No pin-up by Manix Abrera!

No pin-up by Julien Telo!

No pin-up by Barry Windsor-Smith of Bêlit (the unpublished plate) from his Robert E. Howard Portfolio (Gorblimey Press, 1975)!

Savage Sword is still only bimonthly!? It should be published monthly!

Still No essay by Fred Blosser! What!?

No advert for The Heroic Legends Short Fiction Program.

I give it an 8/10. We just got Conan versus Aliens, now we seriously need Conan versus The Terminator and Conan versus Predator! I really wanted a third story in issue #2. But not to worry we are getting three stories in issue #3. Support the Cimmerian! Get your Barbarian butts to your fave comic book shop and Buy This Magazine!

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