Marvel’s recently retired Savage Avengers was one wild ride. Gerry Duggan’s run lasted five volumes, but you can’t keep a good idea down. David Pepose and Carlos Magno are returning the series to bookshelves this week with a different lineup and an entirely different direction. Don’t worry, though — when it comes to the violence and action, Savage Avengers #1 stays true to the spirit of the series.
As the preview shows, the lineup on this book includes Conan, Elektra, Anti-Venom, Black Knight, Weapon H, Cloak, and Dagger. It’s a good mix of classic new characters. In general, this issue melds newer superhero styles with classic ones, making it a great read for seasoned veterans and new readers alike.
Something you’ll notice right off the bat is the strong captions that narrate the story from a third-person perspective. These captions have a classic Marvel feel and Pepose does a great job giving readers color commentary, insights, and perspective throughout the issue. It’s fairly uncommon to get captions like this these days, but it works to bring a little nostalgia into the narrative. Heck, the title of the story is “Streets of Rage”, evoking the ’90s video game.
The story opens with an invisible threat, not unlike Predator. He’s stalking someone, but soon we cut to Conan and we know something is up. As the solicitation reads, Deathlok is after Conan and aims to defeat him no matter what. Pepose and Magno bring a lot of Terminator vibes to Deathlok as he’s formidable and capable of augmenting himself to defeat any threat. You get the sense he’s unstoppable, which is important since this team is quite stacked.
Also well done in this issue is how each character is introduced. Pretty much every character gets one full page to acclimate to this narrative. Pepose’s captions are fantastic, drawing you in and adding another layer to the story.
The art on the page is great, with good detail and a darker tone. Colors by Espen Grundetjern maintain a realistic look with the color palette with good use of color to bring out our characters in the dark recesses. A few characters get splashy entrances that enhance the action and bring focus to the characters. This is a character-focused narrative and the art brings that out quite well.
It’s quite clear Pepose has a great understanding of each character, too. Flash Thompson, for instance, is shown to have a weakness in his pride, which is conveyed well in a verbal attack. This book is entrenched in history, which may actually be a bit of a negative for many. The hook of the book revealed on the final page is a detail that many either may have forgot or didn’t care much about. It’s a neat idea and it “flips the script” so to speak, but on some scale the main premise might be lost on some. That said, it’s still a fun ride and most will be on board.
Marvel Comics has another surefire hit on their hands with Savage Avengers, a book that understands its characters and puts them first before laying delicious action and intrigue on top of them. For anyone who grew up with comics in the ’80s or ’90s, Savage Avengers is a great time.
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