REVIEW: 'Savage Avengers' #1 by David Pepose, Carlos Magno, and Espen Grundetjern



Writer: David Pepose
Artists: Carlos Magno, Espen Grundetjern
Letters: Travis Lanham 
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 18, 2022
Cover Price: $3.99


Since his exile from the Hyborian Age, Conan the Barbarian has conquered the most dangerous foes the modern Marvel Universe has to offer - but what happens when this hard-edged Cimmerian finds himself on the run from the cybernetic soldier of the future known as Deathlok? Outgunned and outmatched, Conan must turn to an unlikely group of loners, berserkers, and killers if he hopes to survive the night - but can these Savage Avengers defy Deathlok's murderous manhunt, or will they become the next targets in the crosshairs of tomorrow? Don't miss out on a bold new beginning for Marvel's most savage superheroes, as Ringo Award-winning writer David Pepose (Spencer & Locke, Scout's Honor) and superstar artist Carlos Magno (KANG THE CONQUEROR, RoboCop: Dead or Alive) introduce a sensational new lineup that will resonate across every era of the House of Ideas!



★★★★☆ (4/5)

We pride ourselves on covering indie comics but when given the opportunity to review a new Marvel comic written by one of our favorite writers it was too good to pass up. David Pepose is one of the hardest-working creators we've covered. He's a hustler who's been a one-man promotional dynamo, going from one comic book convention to another selling his stellar creator-owned books like Spenser & Locke, The O.Z., Going to the Chapel, etc. Scout's Honor was one of our Best Comics of 2021. So of course, we were excited to see Pepose's Marvel debut with artists Carlos Magno and Espen Grundetjern on the new 'Savage Avengers' #1. We were not disappointed. 

Pepose had the difficult task of assembling a wild team of disparate heroes in one story. Conan the Barbarian, Anti-Venom, Daredevil, Black Knight, Weapon H, Deathlok, and Cloak &Dagger cross paths in a giant royal rumble that changes everything. The story is centered around Deathlok, the deadly cyber-man of the future, coming to the present to lay judgment on the man of the past, the Cimmerian warrior Conan. Everyone else gets sucked into the fray in a wild action-packed issue that is unrelenting and well, savage. It's reminiscent of the Marvel books of the 90s in the best ways. It's just a runaway freight train of action and fierce fighting. 

With so many characters to juggle it would be natural for the narrative to become unwieldy. Pepose, whose best work is character-driven, wrangles this lineup of "loners, berserkers, and killers" with a balance of small brief character moments to reacquaint them with readers while using narration to fill in the blanks and backstory. The flow is uninterrupted as one sequence folds into another until they come together later. It's controlled chaos with a purpose. The result is a cliffhanger that takes the story to another level. 

Artists Carlos Magno and Espen Grundetjern have their hands full. With so many locations and panels full of characters fighting and moving who could fault them if it all became a muddled mess. Thankfully, Magno's choreography and pacing avoid such a thing as the spectacle is broken up into medium and small chunks focusing on different fighters, move versus counter-move. Deathlok is a force and Conan is a resilient warrior. Most of the action is well organized, giving way to cool introductory shots like Cloak & Dagger's for example with his flowing cape, and the impactful speed lines of brutal contact between other combatants. Grundetjern's colors are surprisingly bright considering everything occurs at night but the brilliance of moonlight, street lamps, and the incredible force of the characters' powers illuminate the page with the effects of every punch, shot, and sword swing. 

Pepose's Marvel debut is a successful trial by fire with a jam-packed issue that is balls-to-the-wall fun and non-stop action. This unexpected eclectic group of characters is primed for even more conflict as they're bound together for the foreseeable future. There is room to grow and the storytelling is wide open for more enjoyable chaos. 'Savage Avengers' is a blast and one of this week's best comics.