Genre Smash: “Savage Sword of Criminal”

Teeg Lawless has got it hard while serving hard time. He was actually looking forward to 30 days of monotony in a jail cell, it gives a man time to focus and figure things out, but this jail sentence ain’t gonna be no cake-walk. Somebody’s put a hit on Lawless and now the remainder of his sentence is spent avoiding a shiv to the guts and bleeding out on the hard concrete floor. Bad luck seems to follow Teeg wherever he goes. It was bad luck that put him in jail, due to a botched armored car robbery, and now he’s got no backup. Not even Mister G, the kingpin inside these walls, is willing to help Lawless. He’s a loner. A cornered animal, forced to fight for his own survival. The only comfort Lawless receives inside this human cage is from Savage magazine and its barbarian hero, Zangar.

Previous inmates were subscribers to Savage magazine and now the jail library is overflowing with back issues of the black and white comic that follows the adventures of the last descendent of the cursed men of Valandria, Zangar the Savage. He’s a thief, a soldier, a slayer of men and beast. His broadsword slices open the bellies of men and women alike. No one escapes Zangar’s savage lust for blood, everyone and anyone that stands before him will perish. And so do the inmates that challenge Teeg Lawless. Lawless is like a barbarian in a savage land. There is no mercy or negotiating with him. His savagery and primal force is what keeps him alive. His resourcefulness and skill is what makes him a killer. They don’t make men like Teeg Lawless or Zangar the Savage any more. They are man’s lust for sex and violence mashed into bodily form and given free reign on a world overrun by misfits, criminals, and whores.

Savage Sword of Criminal is Ed Brubaker’s and Sean Phillips’ homage to Savage Sword of Conan, a black and white Marvel Comics magazine, published between 1974 and 1995. The magazine’s most notable era was in its earliest manifestation, when Roy Thomas was adapting the works of Robert E. Howard and John Buscema, Ernie Chan, and Tony DeZuniga were supplying the art. It was an era of folklore, sorcery, and broadswords and Marvel Comics needed a book to keep up with the fantasy craze. On the other hand, Criminal is an independent comic published by Icon (an imprint of Marvel Comics) from 2006 to 2011 and was written by Brubaker and illustrated by Phillips. Savage Sword of Criminal is a violent blend of the crime and fantasy genres. It’s hard to imagine the two genres ever being combined, but Brubaker and Phillips do so by cleverly infusing a story within a story. It’s good ol’ sword-slicing and pistol-whipping fun!

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