Recently, I began purchasing my comics and graphic novels on Comixology as opposed to having them in physical from from the book store. This happened for two reasons: 1. The constant Ontario Lockdowns have made it a guessing game as to whether your shipment will show up when it’s supposed to or whether it gets delayed for not being “essential”; and 2. Having just recently had to pack and move my collection as it is, books are damn heavy! I love reading and writing, but my God, even making sure the books were distributed among various boxes to make sure none of them were incredibly heavy, they were still a bitch and a half to move.
That being said, I was very happy to stumble upon the new title “Savage Avengers” on one of my shopping binges on the app. It has several of my top characters and is rated T+ for violence and gore… bring it on! The team itself consists of: Venom, Wolverine, Punisher, Elektra, Doctor Voodoo and Conan the Barbarian. Having only read the first collected issue “City of Sickles” I don’t have a large amount of information about the team or the overall reasons behind them coming together. That being said, the story contained in the first collected edition is quite comprehensive and easy to follow.
CITY OF SICKLES
The story begins with a friend of Wolverine’s, a noted Opera singer, who helps to smuggle mutants in and out of Madripoor being abducted and killed. He was taken by a group to the Savage Land where his throat was slit and his blood was emptied into a large bowl, that is already mostly filled with blood. The main villain Kulan Gath is seen with a Freddy Kreuger looking glove that he used to slit the man’s throat. He turns to several ninjas of the Hand and tells them to prepare, that the guests of honour would be arriving shortly. Wolverine gets on the scent when he discovers his friend was abducted, and is ambushed by two ninjas which he kills immediately. He journeys to the Savage Land where he encounters Conan, who is searching for a treasure that Kulan Gath possesses. The two come to blows before quickly realizing they’re not enemies and begin working together. The cultist leader reveals that every thousand years there is a convergence when if enough blood is spilled, the Marrow God can be summoned to earth. Once the dark God from the edge of space arrives on and consumes earth, the cult is going to be raised to his halls deep in the void where they will share in his power and wealth for eternity. Naturally, the group of heroes have something to say about that plan.
Wolverine– Originally only there for his mission of revenge while trying to find his friend, Wolverine is a force to be reckoned with. Not being tempered by Captain America or the other “we don’t kill” heroes, he is finally able to unleash the rage he’s been keeping bottled inside. When he finds out his friend has been murdered to try and bring the Marrow God to earth, he flies into a rage and begins slaughtering the other cultists and Hand Ninjas in the City of Sickles. This is Wolverine at his best, healing factor returned and no regard for the damage he sustains as long as the other person dies. He quickly makes easy work of the lackeys and is instrumental with killing the Marrow God himself.
Conan the Barbarian– Conan has been transported to the main Marvel Universe by some form of magic that hasn’t quite been explained. That being said, just because we don’t know why he’s there doesn’t mean we aren’t happy he is. His journey into the Savage Land is prefaced by his desire for a great treasure which is the amulet the lead cultist needs to summon the Marrow God. Conan gets attacked by ninjas and Wolverine as he nears the City of Sickles, like I said before, the latter thought he was working with the Hand and vice versa. He eventually acquires the amulet but knocks the jar that housed a captured symbiote (same species as Venom), releasing the symbiote into the city. His sword is broken and the barbarian is looking for a comparable weapon that is worthy of his skills.
Punisher– Frank’s entrance into this event is one that I wouldn’t want to wish on anybody, no matter how evil they are. Frank attends the cemetery where his family is buried to find the graves empty and their bodies missing. A small water skin made from dinosaur hide was left in the empty grave of his wife, which led Frank to the Savage Land and the City of Sickles. Frank arrives in a way that only Frank could. Claymore strapped to his back and taking out 3 Hand ninjas at once before shouting “WHERE IS MY FAMILY?!” The cult become excited when Frank shows up because he “..has spilled more blood than the rest of them put together”. Let that sink in. Frank Castle has killed more people in his time as Punisher than Wolverine has in over 150 of wars and battles. Not only more than Wolverine, More than Wolverine and the rest of the team put together. That’s a serious body count.
Venom– Venom doesn’t actually show up until after the Marrow God is summoned and he is sent to Shanghai to start consuming the world. The symbiote that was trapped in the jar and released by Conan actually dies as it tries to heal him during the fight. Venom arrives in his full dragon form and joins the fight with the others against the Marrow God. It’s a little unclear as to the time frame of this run, but given the arrival of Venom in his dragon form, I’m guessing it takes place either just following or during the Absolute Carnage event.
Elektra– We’re introduced to Elektra as she carries a body wrapped up in a blanket to a temple in the middle of the Egyptian desert. She lays the body on the altar and claims that the Hand will be impressed with this “great warrior of the Chaste” that she has brought. The body is revealed to be none other than Stick, famed trainer of Daredevil and Elektra. Elektra hears the cultists mention the City of Sickles and proceeds to stab them through the face with her sais as Stick sits up. Elektra leaves the old man to fend for himself as she disguises herself as a Hand Ninja and begins her trek to the Savage Land and the City of Sickles.
Doctor Voodoo– Doctor Voodoo is a character who is new to me. Though, I was never big into Dr. Strange and the more mystical side of the Marvel Comics universe, which more than likely has something to do with it. When we first see him he is investigating a disappearance that he says “reeks of dark magic”. He instructs someone to “..let Dr. Strange know what has happened and where he is going”. He is taken by the Hand into the City of Sickles where his throat is slit and his blood added to the massive bowl. Wolverine fights his way to the doctor and using his claw, slices his hand open so his mutant blood flows freely. He slices into Voodoo’s chest and grasps his heart letting his blood, filled with mutant healing properties, coat Voodoo’s heart and his wound. Wolverine then pumps his heart using his cut hand to get Voodoo to come back to life. Voodoo quickly joins the fight and uses some magic that he says “will stain his soul for eternity” to make sure the big hitters on the team stay kicking.
The Marrow God– Known by his full name of Jhoatun Lau, this guy is an Elder God who’s just floating in the vastness of space waiting for his chance to consume worlds. He floats in his “icy domain” far beyond the Van Allen Belts and he can only be summoned once a millennium when a planet beyond Pluto’s orbit aligns. He is described as an Eldritch God, of H.P. Lovecraft fame, and has only been summoned to earth one time before his arrival in the City of Sickles. During his previous summoning the cult was found to have not provided enough of a sacrifice and so Jhoatun Lau devoured them all before retreating through the portal to his own domain.
Kulan Gath– Is an evil wizard from the Conan the Barbarian universe who has made the jump to Marvel to try and summon the Marrow God to earth. He is an immortal old man who uses his intellect, magical powers and sheer will to try and mess things up for everyone involved. He has been searching for a way to summon Jhoatun Lau to the earth for centuries and now he has succeeded. He used the blood of warriors, a magic amulet, an imprisoned symbiote and his own magic to open the blood portal and summon the Marrow God to the City of Sickles in the Savage Land.
Not wanting to fly too close to spoiler territory, this comic run is a must have for fans of darker and gritty anti-hero stories. As it’s no doubt obvious, I love me some anti-heroes. Whether they’re supernatural like Ghost Rider or Constantine, or two crayons light of a full pack like Moon Knight; anti-heroes are the most realistic of heroes in my opinion. They do what they need to in order to protect the innocent, and if some bad guys die in the process then they’re conscious is clear. One of my favourite graphic novels I found in recent years was called Hearts of Darkness. It’s a small one off story with Ghost Rider, Wolverine and Punisher taking on an entire army of demons and what not to protect a young girl who was abducted by Blackheart. It’s a little dated, but the content and art style are amazing. I highly recommend it if given the chance.
The sequel collected edition to vol.1 is called To Dine With Doom, so I can only imagine the kind of shenanigans our rag tag group of killers is going to get up to. I’ve already purchased and downloaded vol. 2 so I have something to read this weekend in between stints of Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Resident Evil 8 – Village.
See you next week!