Saturday, March 6, 2010

Praising Kane: "Hour of the Dragon: Chapter 1"

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! It's time for another mammoth post here in Groove City. Hang on and here goesssssss!

I think Giant-Size Conan was a dream come true for both Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, who'd planned on working together on Conan from day one, since, as the story goes, getting Marvel to adapt Robert E. Howard's best-known hero was Gil's idea to begin with. When Roy (then editor-in-chief) and Smilin' Stan decided to start publishing 68 page, quarterly companion comics, Giant-Size Conan was one of the first realized. Since John Buscema had taken over the regular Conan mag and was drawing most issues of the b&w Savage Sword of Conan, the door was wide open for someone else to draw G-S Conan. It had to be Gil! To prove just how special the Thomas/Kane G-S Conan was, it was decided that the first six issues would be given to adapt REH's masterpiece, "Hour of the Dragon"! Inked by one of my favorite Kane inkers, Tom Sutton, Gil's love for both the character and the genre oozed from his pencil, jumped off the page, and punched Young Groove--and most all of Conan-dome, I'm sure--right in the kisser, baby! Roy, Gil, and Tom worked together on the first three issues, with Frank Springer replacing Tom on the fourth. Sadly, the fifth issue of G-S Conan (like most of Marvel's G-S line by that time) was a reprint--and t'was also the final issue of that mag, so it fell to Roy and John Buscema to complete HotD in Savage Sword.

I've been patiently waiting for Dark Horse to reprint the color portions of "Hour of the Dragon", but they've moved way past it in their Chronicles of Conan series. Funny thing is that they've reprinted the finale from Savage Sword of Conan in their Savage Sword reprint series. What's up widdat? Some speculate that perhaps DH is saving HotD until the end of their reprint run with the idea that it can lead into reprinting King Conan. Perhaps. Whatever happens, when they do get around to reprinting the color portions of HotD you're gonna get your eyes full of some of the grooviest and most savage Gil Kane art ever. Just to whet your appetite (and/or hold you over), from Giant-Size Conan #1 (July 1974), here's "The Hour of the Dragon: Part 1"!


  1. What a classic! Thanks for posting, O Groovy One.

    I love that montage scene on page 19, with Conan looking back over his eventful ( to say the least! ) life.

    It's just a shame that Tom Sutton didn't ink the entire series - Thomas, Kane and Sutton was a Hell of a team!

  2. Picked up 3,4 & 5 last year and I thought the Kane/Sutton pairing was top-notch-- I hadn't seen them together before and was excited to see a couple of my favorite artists teamed-up and looking so good. I was disappointed the story disappeared in #5, but the Kirby cover was an ace.

  3. Does it not appear as though John Romita drew the final panel? John made many "corrections" at marvel during this time.

  4. grooviest one-
    one of my absolute all-time fave comics ever--and the best Gil Kane work anywhere. When I started collecting to replace my lost "teenage" collection--this was among the first books I sought out. Do you happen to know which Dark Horse Savage Sword reprint collection has the conclusion?
    I missed it the first time and have been dying to read it ever since! thanks!

    1. Indeed this is one of my all-time favorites as well. Gill is my favorite Conan comic book illustrator. But his best work anywhere has to be the REH adapted 'Valley of the Worm, in Supernatural Thillers #3 ('73')

  5. Another collosal GIL KANE effort,ran across this one decades ago,high school freshman,corner store,comic rack you could rotate,big decision,this comic or lunch,lunch or this irresistable treasure?2 quarters later,no regrets.



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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