Well, I have reached the final book in this great looking Robert E. Howard collection by Del Ray. These Del Ray editions are my favorite Robert E. Howard collections, aesthetically, physically and in the way they’re organized and decorated with incredible art, giving the stories more life and some visual flourish that fits exceptionally well with Howard’s incredible and beautiful prose.
Since this book doesn’t focus on a specific character, a lot of the stories here are also in some of the other Del Ray volumes for Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane. Also, this shares a lot of stories with another similar book I reviewed about a year ago, The Cthulhu Stories of Robert E. Howard (see here), which tied many of Howard’s famous characters with the work of one of his best friends, horror maestro H.P. Lovecraft.
All in all, this is really f’n solid and it’s just a good collection of Howard’s more horror-centric tales.
The thing with this installment is that some of the stories are recycled from other Howard collections. However, even though I had already read much of what’s here, I was still captivated enough by it to read those stories again in an effort to really embrace this volume for what its theme is.
Honestly, more than anything else, these various Del Ray collections just showed me how easy it is to revisit and re-read Howard’s short stories.
If you want to get into the man’s work, this is one of the books that is a good starting point. That is, unless you want to jump into a specific character first like Conan, Solomon Kane or Kull.
I found this volume out of the two Best of Robert E. Howard anthologies to be the better one. I figured they’d blow their load in the first one but they really saved some good stories for this volume and there was more diversity in these tales from Howard’s most famous characters and the different genres he dabbled in.
This had great sword and sorcery tales, some swashbuckling, horror and a whole lot of action and adventure!
This book features solid stories with Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane. Each of those characters have a hefty amount of good material to pull from, though.
And sure, my preferences are subjective but the stories here are just ones that resonate with me more.
Also, these can be found elsewhere in other collections and even free online but if you really want to hold a thick, beefy book in your hand and enjoy some of Howard’s best work, this is certainly a good place to start.
Granted, I’d start with volume one but I’m OCD like that.
This is the first of the final three Robert E. Howard books I have to review in this specific collection.
These final three books are anthologies of various stories featuring various characters. With that, many of these stories were already collected in other volumes. Still, I wanted to get this entire collection because I didn’t want to miss anything and well, they look damn good on the bookshelf.
I’d say that this is actually a good starting point for those who might be new to Robert E. Howard, as it features a good variety of stories, genres and some of Howard’s most famous characters like Conan and Solomon Kane.
Like the other books, this is thick and packed full of tales. Also, it features a lot of art that helps tell the stories with some stylish, cool visual reference.
This is a solid collection, through and through. As a long-time Howard reader, I personally prefer the character specific collections but I would’ve really loved having this when I was just starting out reading his literary work.
Written by: Ralph Macchio
Art by: Bret Blevins, Steve Carr, Mike Mignola, John Bogdanove, John Ridgway
Based on: Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard
Marvel Comics, 157 Pages
The Sword of Solomon Kane was a six-issue miniseries that Marvel Comics released from 1985 to 1986. All of the stories were written by Ralph Macchio and adapted from the original Robert E. Howard stories.
Each of the issues had a different artist but they featured some of the best up and coming artists of that era, most notably Mike Mignola. One of the covers was also done by Bill Sienkiewicz.
I had a lot of fun reading these. I already knew the stories from their source material but it was really neat seeing them come to life in a different medium. Some of these stories are ones that I had hoped would’ve been adapted if there were ever more Solomon Kane films after that first, solid one with James Purefoy. But alas, it wasn’t a hit despite it being good.
While I wasn’t as blown away by this as I was the collection of black and white Solomon Kane comics that appeared in The Savage Sword of Conan magazine, this was still a hell of a fun read, had the right energy and felt pretty close to the source material.
Even though the art changes from issue-to-issue, I liked all of it and the general tone and visual aesthetic worked unlike a lot of modern comics that switch art styles frequently, which can be a bit jarring when reading a collection or larger story arc.
It would’ve been cool if this opened the door for a regular Solomon Kane series like other Robert E. Howard properties the first time they were at Marvel. Sadly, it didn’t but the stuff we did get between this series and the character’s stories from Savage Sword were all top quality.
Pairs well with: other Solomon Kane comics, as well as other comics adapted from the works of Robert E. Howard.
Published: August 18th, 2009
Written by: Roy Thomas, Doug Moench, various
Art by: various
Based on: characters by Robert E. Howard, characters by Bram Stoker
Marvel Comics (original printing), Dark Horse (reprinted), 416 Pages
Man, this was one hell of a buy! A great value in fact! I was surprised that I found one in pretty pristine condition on eBay for about twenty bucks.
This collection is pretty special, as it is magazine sized and all in black and white. It’s also over 400 glorious pages! It reprints all of the Solomon Kane magazine format stories from the original Marvel era when they had all the Robert E. Howard publishing rights from the ’70s into the early ’90s.
I’ve read probably half of these stories before, as I own a lot of the issues these tales appeared in but it’s been a really long time and about 50-60 percent of this was new to me.
It seems like this is mostly in chronological order and it allowed for it to read much better as a broader body of work, covering the large passage of time over Kane’s many adventures.
Being that this was made by Marvel, it features some great crossovers with the Marvel version of Dracula, as well as another Robert E. Howard character, Conan. There’s even a story in here that features Frankenstein’s castle.
A lot of the stories here are adapted from Howard’s literary Solomon Kane tales. Having recently read the definitive collection of the literary work, it was really cool seeing some of the same tales brought to life with great art.
All in all, this is now one of my favorite things in my graphic novel collection. It’s a beast of a collection but it’s also something I know I’ll go back to and revisit again and again for the rest of my life.
Pairs well with: other comic stories that were featured within the pages of the original Savage Sword of Conan magazine.
I have only read a few Solomon Kane stories by Robert E. Howard and that was a long time ago. I’ve always loved the character, however. Especially, when he appeared in issues of The Savage Sword of Conan, as well as his own classic comic book series from his original Marvel run. I also like the film adaptation, quite a bit, as it has grown on me since I reviewed it for this site a few years back. I may need to update that, as I have a higher opinion of the movie now than I did after my original viewing of it.
This nice, thick book collects a lot of the iconic Solomon Kane stories that Howard wrote. I’m not sure if this is all of them or most of them but it does feature the stories I’m either familiar with from the comics and from what I’ve learned about the character’s history.
I enjoyed this pretty immensely, which I kind of expected to, but it exceeded those expectations and as far as a big collected body of work, this may be my favorite book I own by Robert E. Howard. Granted, I plan on reading the collected editions of Conan soon, as I have only read about a third of his short stories.
Solomon Kane is a very different hero than either Conan or Kull, however, and it was cool seeing Howard writing what I still consider to be sword and sorcery but quite unlike his better known “barbarian” heroes.
I love that this takes place on Earth in a historical time and that it connects to the real world closer than Howard’s prehistorical fantasy stuff.
Additionally, every story here had purpose and serious gravitas. I also liked all the colorful characters that weaved in and out of these tales, as well as the monsters and the Lovecraftian influence on them.
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane should definitely be in anyone’s library who enjoys fantasy, action and horror. It’s a perfect blend of these three things, written by one of the greatest American authors that ever lived.
Pairs well with: other Robert E. Howard collections.
Published: April 22nd, 2020
Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Vanesa R. Del Rey, Scot Eaton, Ig Guara, Luca Pizzari, Stephen Segovia, Carlos Pacheco (cover)
Based on: characters by Robert E. Howard
Marvel Comics, 115 Pages
Conan: Serpent War is kind of a neat idea.
It probably shouldn’t give top billing to Conan though, as it is a miniseries that features four heroes: the others being Dark Agnes, Solomon Kane and the one non-Robert E. Howard creation, Marvel’s Moon Knight.
The story is about this guy who has a psychic link to all four characters, regardless of their place in time and space. He brings them all together to help stop the two serpent-like gods who are going to war with one another.
My biggest complaint is that the story is pretty thin and wonky. And also, you never really get to see them all come together in any meaningful way.
Still, it’s a mostly entertaining story, that’s a pretty quick read.
I can’t say that it failed to meet expectations, because I didn’t have any. But it certainly doesn’t exceed them either. It mostly felt like a wasted opportunity to make an actual team that’s pretty interesting and could’ve made for some compelling developments.
However, with Conan’s involvement in the Savage Avengers title, this feels pretty weak by comparison.
Pairs well with: other Conan comics Marvel has done since getting the license back.
Published: October 4th, 2017
Written by: Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin
Art by: Gene Colan, Alan Weiss, Gil Kane (cover)
Based on: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Marvel Comics, 518 Pages
This was an interesting collection, as it not only featured the first few story arcs of The Tomb of Dracula comic book series but it also featured issues of the black and white comics magazine Dracula Lives!
Additionally, this features the first appearance and first story of Blade, the character made most famous by Wesley Snipes in the film trilogy that kicked off in 1998. It also has a story that pits Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane against Dracula, capitalizing off of the popular sword and sorcery trend in comics at the time.
Overall, this is a pretty neat comic and since I love the Dracula character in many of his incarnations, it’s cool seeing Marvel’s take on him. I also like that Dracula exists within Marvel canon, as well as Robert E. Howard’s canon, because it opens up a lot of possibilities. Sadly, I don’t think we ever got a Dracula and Godzilla crossover even though both of them existed at Marvel at the same time.
I absolutely love the art in this whether its the stuff from the Tomb stories or the Lives! ones. But I do kind of wish that they would’ve made this a beefier collection of just The Tomb of Dracula while also making a collection just for Dracula Lives!
Both series are great but they’re also very different in that the Dracula Lives! comics didn’t have to adhere to the Comics Code Authority and therefore, were a lot darker, more violent and much sexier.
Anyway, I enjoyed both halves of this huge collection and I look forward to delving into the second volume in the near future.
Pairs well with: the later Marvel Dracula stories, as well as other ’70s Marvel horror titles.