As the Savage Avengers title reaches #17 on January 28, longtime writer Gerry Duggan will bring his story of a group of Avengers formed around Conan the Barbarian (yeah, that Conan, transported to the Marvel Universe) in conflict with Venom's nemesis Knull, the dark god of the symbiotes.
As part of the King in Black tie-in, Savage Avengers #17 will send Deadpool and Conan on what Duggan describes as a "sellsword" mission to rescue two mutants who have been subsumed by Knull. Along the way, Deadpool and Conan will run into the characters of Duggan's Marauders title - setting up Conan's potential pursuit of the empty seat of the Hellfire Club in his quest for a throne.
Newsarama spoke with Duggan ahead of Savage Avengers #17's January 27 release, digging into how Conan fits into the Marvel Universe, why you should "never say never" to Savage Avengers and Avengers crossing over, and how Conan's upcoming meeting with Spider-Man forms one of Duggan's favorite comics he's ever written.
Newsarama: Gerry, Savage Avengers #17 ties into King in Black, focusing on Conan and Deadpool against the forces of Knull. What are they up against here, specifically?
Gerry Duggan: I had this introduction for Conan and Deadpool in my head, and this became the perfect time to drop that scene into the Savage Avengers story. The King In Black story sees Conan as a sellsword to the mutants, and it does something important for Conan in the long run, that's always the best use of big events. Change lenses, push and do some character work, and have fun.
Nrama: The solicitation for Savage Avengers #17 mentions some connections to Conan's old enemy Kulan Gath, who has had connections to symbiotes already in Savage Avengers. How does Kulan Gath connect to the saga of Knull?
Duggan: We'd introduced an ancient tortured scrap of a symbiote trapped in what Conan assumed was a genie bottle. The cool thing about Savage is being able to jump around in time. Getting to play with Butch Guice and the Hyborian Age Sorcerer Supreme was a blast. We put some guns on the mantle in that issue, and will bounce around a bit. Kev Walker has an important scene that connects some dots coming up, too.
Nrama: You mentioned Kev Walker, the artist for this arc. His aesthetic seems perfect for Savage Avengers versus symbiotes. What does he bring to a story like this?
Duggan: I can't believe it took me this long to have the opportunity to collaborate with him. I don't think it's maybe how he ever imagined getting a crack at Conan, but boy is he built for it. Getting to wrench with Kev on this is another line through an item on my bucket list.
Nrama: As part of the King in Black crossover, Savage Avengers will come up against characters from Marauders, your current X-Men title. How do Conan and Deadpool get mixed up with the Hellfire Club and Krakoa?
Duggan: Well, the Marauders are after two mutants that have been co-opted by Knull, so the Marauders KiB one shot is a rescue mission, and while you don't need to read it to enjoy the Savage Avengers entry, their motivation continues into Conan's orbit.
For his part, he's always looking for a castle to call his own...and the Hellfire Club in New York City is as good a place as any. Plus, there's an empty throne to sit on there.
Nrama: 17 issues into Savage Avengers, how do you see the team's place in the Marvel Universe? Will we see the team start to interact more directly with the other Avengers?
Duggan: I don't think there's a need given the Savage Avengers is whoever we feel like throwing at Conan. We're telling a big epic story about Conan's adventures in the Marvel Universe, and we have a spine, but many of our issues are one and done or two-parters with characters that will weave into and out of the story as needed.
It's a tremendous amount of fun to help bring into the world, and I think that's translating to the finished pages. Never say never about Conan butting heads with Jason Aaron's team, though...never say never.
Nrama: On that note, what can you tease us about what's coming up after the King in Black tie-in?
Duggan: Couple of Ghost Riders, and some flashbacks to Hyboria, plus our heroes have delivered a setback to Kulan Gath in his quest to consume Shuma Gorath...he won't take that lightly.
Nrama: Savage Avengers has been unique in bringing Conan into the Marvel Universe proper – a place he's remained for a surprisingly long time. How do you see Conan in the Marvel Universe? Is he a character that should stick around this timeline for the long haul?
Duggan: Everyone's having fun, and we stopped questioning fun a long time ago.
Nrama: Bottom line, what do fans who are coming to Savage Avengers for the King in Black tie-in need to know?
Duggan: Conan's not gonna let a little hostile takeover of Earth slow down his quest for a throne. The next few months are gonna be a blast, including Conan's adventures coming out of his new drinking buddies at the Bar with No Name, and his first rodeo with Spider-Man, which has been one of my favorite scripts ever turned into Marvel. That old Parker luck is gonna get stretched. Thanks for reading.
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