In the opening arc of Savage Avengers, Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato and Frank Martin Jr. kicked off Conan the Barbarian's present day Marvel Universe adventures in the most appropriate place: the Savage Land. In that primeval realm, the Cimmerian became embroiled in the machinations of the evil sorcerer Kulan Gath and joined forces with Wolverine, the Punisher, Elektra, Doctor Voodoo and Venom. But with their battle now won, Conan has left the Savage Land, heading out into the larger Marvel Universe.
In October's Savage Avengers #6, Duggan and guest artist Kim Jacinto kick off the next leg of Conan's journey where he and the Punisher march out of the Savage Land while engaging in a theological discussion. Then, in November's issue #7, Duggan welcomes aboard new series' artist Patrick Zircher, who will bring to life Conan's journeys as well as the exploits of team members like Elektra and Doctor Voodoo.
CBR spoke with Duggan about the work of his new artists, the idea to make Frank Castle “Crom curious,” and the Marvel characters in Conan's immediate future.
CBR: Savage Avengers #6 features art by Kim Jacinto and stars Conan, the Punisher and the dinosaurs of the Savage Land. That sounds like a dream job for any artist. How was it working with Kim on this issue and what made him the perfect artist for this particular one-off?
Gerry Duggan: Kim is teaming up with Tamra Bonvillain and wait until you see the mayhem this team brought into the world with chapter six. It’s got wild action, but also is chance for these two characters to bond before things get hectic again quickly. Conan and Logan are buddies after fighting each other. This is Frank and Conan’s chance to exchange ideas and weapons while they try to stay alive.
Part of the reason the Punisher and Conan are paired in this issue is Frank Castle has shown an interest in Conan's deity, Crom. What inspired you to make Frank “Crom curious?”
It goes back to one of the editorial retreats. I only had a couple of weeks to think about it before I had to lay out what would be both the first arc, and the larger threat to the Marvel Universe in Kulan Gath. I had some of my Conan/Logan beats already cooked up, and that went over well, and I’m pretty sure it was Jonathan who said, “and somebody converts to Crom, right?” and I said. “Yep. They do now.”
Frank’s the obvious choice, but in this case, that doesn’t disqualify him. Who does Frank think could possibly judge him? Maybe this miserable bastard Crom can. It’s been fun. I’ve said goodbye to writing Frank in Kill Krew. That was a blast with Juan [Ferreyra]. I'm excited that Castle is going to be weaving through Savage Avengers for a while to come.
Savage Avengers #7 is the debut of new regular series artist Patrick Zircher, who I know loves drawing most of your cast, especially Conan. What was it like writing this new arc for him and do you approach your writing differently depending on the artist?
We spoke briefly about what he was hoping to get out of the gig, and I wanted to make sure that I was giving him enough space to just crush it, and he is crushing it. Luckily his wishlist was already mostly my wishlist, and I jumped on the phone and told him all the awful stuff I was cooking up, and he was quite pleased. His first arc is almost wall to wall action starring some of the biggest characters in this universe, but my favorite scene is a meal between two characters. Patch is that kind of artist. A gear for every occasion. I’m grateful he’s around for the long haul.
The next handful of issues are giving you the chance to write some pretty unique stories in the main Marvel continuity. How much of the appeal of this Savage Avengers gig comes from integrating Conan into the Marvel Universe? And just how deeply will the series tie the barbarian and his supporting cast to Marvel continuity in the months ahead?
Conan’s a big part of it, of course, but so are the characters that are falling into his orbit, and then being expelled quickly. It’s a team book, with a building threat. The spotlight will move around, but I’ve already written some more of Conan meeting new characters… and Crom doesn’t care if Conan is hanging with the villains.
Finally, at the end of Savage Avengers #5 your cast went their separate ways after hearing they were destined to reunite in a year. Since we're going to need new people to bounce Conan off of, who are some of the new faces you'll be introducing in this story and beyond, and will these encounters take place in any familiar locales?
Widow and Son Of Satan show up in the annual — guest starring my old Savage Sword of Conan friend Ron Garney. You never knew you needed this 30 page one-shot until we stab it into your eyes.
It’s a big universe —so, keep reading. A lot of my favorites are going to pass through this book.