UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION #5

“Slow Glass Revisited”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Gene Colan and Frank Chiaramonte

A burglar breaks into the Greenwich shop of Sandson O. Tyme. He breaks one of the slow glass and looks at the reflection. It is his severed head being carried in a bag by a barbarian woman on the moon. He is a bit disturbed by it and decides to get out. Later as he drives his motorcycle he looses control and goes flying into the back of a billboard. The billboard is for a science fiction movie that has a barbarian woman on the moon. The burglar’s head pokes through right where the sack she is carrying is.

“Paradise Found”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Gray Morrow

An inspector comes to a planet to see how construction is coming along. He finds the men seem to just goof off and spend time with the beautiful native alien women. The inspector gets them working and soon accidents start to occur. A man is attacked by snakes and another burns to death. Soon he figures out the native inhabitants are using their psychic powers to manifest the men’s worst fears to save their planet.

“The Many Worlds of Larry Niven”
Interview by Alan Brennert

An interview with hard SF author Larry Niven. How he got into writing and what he thinks of the hard SF field.

“All the Myriad Ways”
Writer and Artist: Howard Chaykin adapted from story by Larry Niven

Gene Trimble is a detective investigating a rash of suicides and murders. They all involve employees of Crosstime Inc. A corporation that goes to alternate universes and finds technology that they can use. He investigates the possibility of a suicide bug.

“Fantastic Worlds”
By Don & Maggie Thompson

An article on new books out. The nominees for Nebula and Hugo awards and what to do at science fiction conventions.

“Addict”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Virgilio Redondo

An addict comes to a back alley to make his purchase from a dealer. The dealer raises the price so the addict in desperation kills him. The police find him and give chase. The addict is a doctor that several years ago invented a chemical that takes away people’s dreams. The world leaders put it in the water to stop any sort of rebellion. The doctor was betrayed and forced to take the chemical. He now buys dream tapes and is addicted.

“Half Life”
Writer and Artist: John Allison

In 2022 uranium is discovered on Saturn’s moon Mimas. This starts a rush of prospectors heading there to get rich. The USS Agamemnon is bought from the military by men to make money transporting these prospectors. On the ship a young miner knocks down an old man. The man tells the young guy he will come face to face with what he hates. Later on Mimas a meteor shatters the man’s helmet and he is instantly frozen but conscious.

This issue was a strong outing. Once again all the stories were very good. I loved the Slow Glass outing. A very original idea and is the basis for the cover. The Larry Niven story I have never read but would like to. The stories were dark but unique and enjoyable. Even the articles and interviews I found more interesting than usual. The series is definitely finding its voice.

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CONAN CLASSIC #6

“Devil Wings Over Shadizar”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is in Shadizar the Wicked and runs across two thieves Fafnir and Blackrat arguing over their stolen loot. Conan decides to take their stolen gold and then go to the local tavern. There he meets Jenna who introduces him to her uncle that will melt the stolen gold down into a heart. Later as they walk alone outside the city at night they are ambushed by cultists of the Night-God. Conan finds out about them from Jenna’s uncle who is not really her uncle. He goes to the tower and knocks out a cultist and disguises himself. Soon we find out the Night God is a giant bat. It takes Jenna and Conan jumps on the bat with the captive high priestess. Conan manages to kill the bat and it crashes into an oasis. Jenna saves Conan from a vengeful high priestess and they have a romantic night. In the morning Conan wakes without his heart of gold. Jenna took it so Conan leaves a little wiser but poorer.

“Conan the Marvelous Devil Wings and Angel Eyes”
By Roy Thomas

An informative article on this issue. We find out it was nominated for best writing in 1971. That there are the inside jokes of Fafnir and Blackrat as tribute to Fritz Leiber the Gray Mouser. A bit of a nod to Maltese Falcon. The Jenna character was based on the Brigid O’Shaunessey character. The uncle was named Maltiz and once makes a comment about a falcon he made.

Thomas is really at his best with this series. This story felt like something Howard would have written. Conan is still inexperienced with civilization but is learning. Also a bit inexperienced with women but also learning. There was some great humor with the two thieves. We also see the end of the horned helmet. I liked that unique helmet but I guess it was time for a change. Jenna was a fascinating character and we would see more of her later. A very excellent entry in the series.

PLANET OF THE APES URSUS #4

“Untitled”
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Lalit Kumar Sharma

Ursus is alienating the ape council with his harsh words and actions. Indeed he is starting to get the gorilla army mobilized for an invasion of the Forbidden Zone. In a flashback we see his time during the human attacks. He is part of the survivors that make it to Terminus to find it captured by humans. His foster father gets everyone jumped up with his fundamentalist rhetoric and they attack the village. The humans are killed but Ursus’s foster father is wounded. Ursus also falls in love with Qama. Sgt. Moench and his squad are in the Forbidden Zone when the mutants cause them to black out. Moench finds himself naked and manages to escape only he is mad.

This issue dealt with showing why Ursus is so filled with hate and fear for humans. It also had a very tender side to him as he falls in love. So in spite of his actions you still feel for the guy. We also see the beginnings of the military dictatorship that forms after the first movie and why they march into the Forbidden Zone with an army.

G.I. JOE VS. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN #4

“Untitled”
Writer: Ryan Ferrier
Artist: SL Gallery

Mike Power has managed to tear out the Cobra implants in Steve’s head. Now the Bionic man is back in control and ready to payback Cobra. Only Cobra had a plan B. They set off the atomic reactor in Steve’s bionic arm. Soon it will blow and kill thousands. The only option is for Steve to get on the rocket glider he was using before and get away from the island. He does this and there is a big atomic explosion in the atmosphere. Steve manages to escape. He removed the arm and tied it to the rocket glider. Then jumped into the sea.

Meanwhile in Switzerland Scarlet manages to defeat the twins Tomax and Xomat with her bolos. Snakes Eyes kicks Shadow Storm’s butt. Seeing his henchmen defeated Cobra Commander makes his escape. The explosion of Steve’s arm knocks out the electronics in the plane and it crashes. But Cobra Commander escapes the crash to cause trouble for another day.

The ending for this series was quite satisfying. Steve is brought back to being good. We have what looks like his self-sacrifice but he figured out a way to survive and save the day. Snake Eyes easily shows he is one badass and Scarlet also defeats the sadistic creepy twins. Seems sadism and overconfidence are the downfall for Cobra. This combined two properties that I remember fondly. I just love these kooky team-ups they are doing nowadays. Only disappointment is I would have liked to see Mike Powers fly with his spinning helicopter blade using his spinning hand. Well maybe next time.

THE WARLORD #112

“The Obsession”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan and Shakira are traveling in the liberated underwater craft when it is attacked by a giant fish. They abandon the craft and make it to shore. There they are set on by armed men who knock out Morgan. The men then treat Shakira as their kidnapped princess Orana. Shakira plays along and gets Morgan freed by claiming he was the one who helped her escape. The real kidnappers go to check on the princess and Morgan follows then frees her. They get back in time to rescue Shakira from being assassinated by the next in line to the throne.

Meanwhile back in Kiro Mariah is still obsessed with Morgan. At the bazaar she gets a new sword to replace her lost one. An old crone gives her a necklace that is supposed to make her true love fall madly in love with her. Taking this as a sign she seeks out a wizard who can teleport her to Morgan. It works and at the end she meets Morgan and Shakira as they leave the kingdom. The necklace works as Morgan falls madly in love with her.

Well this was a very fast paced story. It went so fast there are some real holes in the plot. Like how did Morgan know to follow the kidnappers. The story seemed very rushed and while the quest has to be moved along it still should have some quality stories. Not a bad idea but a bit hackneyed to have Shakira resemble the real princess and she just plays along.

The other big development is Mariah and her strange obsession that she has just developed out of the blue. I suppose she has a history of falling in love real quick but come on. Oh and she has a magic necklace that makes Morgan fall madly in love with her. This was just a real off the wall development and I really didn’t care for it. It was unrealistic and did a great disservice to the characters that Grell created. The series is starting its slide down in quality.

UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION #4

“An Official Inquiry”
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artists: Don Glut and Frank Chiaramonte

Sandson O. Tyme is getting ready to close up shop when a figure comes and teleports him to an inquiry of the Tribunal of the Universe. They are concerned about Slow Glass and want to find out if its a threat. They find that a mysterious being gives him the supply. In the end they find no threat and he is returned to Earth. In fact the constable is the one supplying Slow Glass and plans to use it to overthrow the Tribunal.

“The Enchanted Village”
Writer: Don and Maggie Thompson adapted from story by A.E. Van Vogt.
Artist: Dick Giordano

The only survivor of a crash on Mars wanders for water. He comes on an isolated village. It is automated but the food is no good. The shower uses some type of poison instead of water and the beds are heated rock. The village was designed for the Martian inhabitants. The survivor tries to force the village to adapt to help him survive but the village instead changes the man into a native Martian.

“The Dreaming Kind A Conversation with SF Master A.E. Van Vogt”
interview by Alan Brennert

A conversation with the author about were he comes up with his ideas and views on writing.

“Otis Adelbert Kline: Visionary of Venus”
By David Anthony Kraft

An article on a pulp writer from the thirties. He did his own space opera series about Mars and Venus.

“A Vision of Venus”
Writer and Artist: Tim Conrad adapted from story by Otis Adelbert Kline

A scientist has been able to make a psychic link with a warrior on Venus. Lotan is tasked with recovering a rare fungus on an island. He finds a woman in distress and rescues her. The woman has the fungus in her shoes and Lotan can become rich and nobility so asks her to marry him.

“Fantastic Worlds”
By Don & Maggie Thompson

An article on upcoming conventions and some newly released books.

“Good News from the Vatican”
Writer: Gerry Conway adapted from story by Robert Silverberg.
Artist: Ading Gonzales

Some friends in Rome discuss the selection of the new Pope. A robot is one of the candidates and they debate the wisdom. The bishop and rabbi are for it. The new Pope is the robot now named Sixtus the Seventh. He blasts off at this inauguration.

“Encounter at War”
Writer: Jan S. Strnad
Artist: Rich Corben

An alien race of gnomes has invaded the Earth. A soldier is captured and taken to their planet. With the help of his commander also captured they manage to fight their way back home.

“Kick the Can”
Writer and Artist: Bruce Jones.

Two childhood friends that were rivals for the same woman meet on a hunting expedition to an alien world. They try to kill each other over the woman but the woman is killed.

This was another enjoyable issue filled with mostly good solid Science Fiction adaptations. My favorite was the Vogt story but the Kline and Adelbert ones were also interesting. I would like to check out Adelbert’s stuff. It is very ERB and sounds fun.

Kick the Can was also a solid story about two guys and their rivalry since childhood for a girl. Very believable. The Slow Glass starts to have some more depth to the story with this plot to overthrow a tyrannical ruler of the universe.

The only one I didn’t care for was the Encounter at War. Very confusing with them being captured and rescued by some lizard-man. Very little dialogue so never had a clear picture of what’s going on.

CONAN CLASSIC #5

“Zukala’s Daughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas inspired by poem “Zukala’s Hour” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is passing through a small village in Zamora on his way to Shadizar the Wicked. The sky starts to turn dark and the villagers flee. The daughter of Zukala is coming to collect the wizard’s tax. A tiger materializes and Conan fights it to save a woman and her son. The tiger pins Conan but doesn’t harm him. Instead he hears a voice saying that she will never harm him. Then the tiger leaves.

The villagers tell that the tiger is Zukala’s daughter Zephra who can turn into a tiger. She is eternally young like her father and can see the future. The villagers offer Conan the gold they are supposed to pay Zukala if he kills him. Conan agrees and goes to the castle. There he finds a masked man conjuring but a demon named Jaggta-Noga to collect his taxes. After it leaves Zephra finds Conan and tells him that she saw they were meant to be lovers. Zukala finds them and a fight starts with Conan damaging Zukala’s mask. Zukala flees but Jaggta-Noga returns and attempts to kill Conan but Zephra turns into a tiger and stops him. She is seriously injured and Zukala banishes the demon. Then he takes his daughter and the two vanish. Conan takes the gold and continues on to Shadizar.

“Conan the Marvelous Zukala and Daughter”
By Roy Thomas

Roy tells the story about how this issue came about. Based on a poem by REH. Also has some sketches for alternate scenes of Zephra dying at the end and Conan knocking out the demon. Ends with a beautiful color map of the Hyborian Age.

Another excellent story by Thomas and Smith. This one has all sorts of sorcery and demons. Roy really got a lot out of that short poem. Here we see Conan’s barbarian code of honor in defending helpless women and children. His mercenary side in taking the villagers offer. Good thing he just took the money he found at the castle because the good citizens planned to have an accident befall Conan if he won. Zukala would return in later issues and we would find out more about him.

PLANET OF THE APES URSUS #3

“Untitled”
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Chris Mooneyham

Sgt. Moench and his hand picked squad are scouting out the Forbidden Zone. Fire sprouts up but Moench keeps a cool head and notices that it has no heat. They find the ruined city and start to explore as the mutants watch. Ursus has too much berry wine and goes home drunk after talking to a lobotomized Landon. Then we get another flashback. Ursus rescues the doctor that Zaius was with from a group of humans. They continue on to warn ape settlements and come on one that was burned to the ground and all its inhabitants were killed. Ursus is wakened in the morning by a subordinate who reports that a human has escaped. He goes to check it out and is in time for the capture of Taylor and his famous words.

The story is continuing to expand on the backstory of Ursus. We now see his early experiences with rebellious humans in his youth. How him and Zaius were at a young age. An early expedition into the Forbidden Zone by Moench who I am sure is named after Doug Moench. In fact I noticed other ape characters named after artists. I love how the writer slowly unfolds the story so we get some but not all. A good way to keep up the suspense. So we end with Taylor’s “Get your damn stinking paws off me you dirty ape.”

G.I. JOE VS. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN #3

“Untitled”
Writer: Ryan Ferrier
Artist: SL Gallant

Steve Austin is continuing the beat up General Hawk as the other hide out in a bank. The Baroness is gloating on her easy victory. In Switzerland the team led by Scarlett is making good progress moving up the Infinity Tower. They start to just use their rifle butts or fists on the Cobra robots to conserve ammo. Snake Eyes manages to take over the control room. The team makes quick progress but runs into the twins Tomax and Xamot who beat down the Joes. Snake Eyes finds himself confronted by this old ninja brother Storm Shadow.

On the Frisian isles just as Steve is about to deliver the finishing blow to Hawk, helicopters come to the rescue. They carry Mike Power the Atomic Man and some more Joes. The two bionic men fight and Power manages to tear off the Cobra implants in Steve’s head.

So the tide of battle is turning in the Joes favor. Once again it is exciting to see my old childhood buddy Mike Power make an appearance. I thought he was forgotten all these years. He even wears the old Adventure Team logo on his shirt. A fun stroll down memory lane.

THE WARLORD #111

“Terror of the Inland Sea”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

Morgan and Shakira are flying over an inland sea with their newly acquired anti-grav belts when they fizzly out. Falling into the sea the two are immediately set upon by fish-men. Morgan blacks out in the fight and awakes in an underwater city of humans. Arscana was founded by runaway Atlantean slaves. They rescued Morgan and tell him that Shakira was probably captured by the Kingdom of Balstrak. They will most likely feed Shakira to Kraag a giant sea-creature.

Morgan wants to leave right away but the Arscanians will not let him. They think he is an Atlantean and would alert them to their city. So Morgan fights his way out and steals a small craft. Later he is captured by the fish-men and taken to the arena to fight Kraag. He manages to kill it and with Shakira escape the city to the surface. Meanwhile Machiste and Mariah successfully defeat the guards at the tunnel and Machiste punches the usurper with his mace hand right in the stomach before tossing him out the window.

This was an interesting issue. We have the adventures in an underwater environment. A bit unrealistic but still has plenty of interesting action and story. The subplot with Mariah and Machiste came to a quick and surprising ending. I thought they would milk it for a few more issues but I was pleasantly surprised by the decisive end. The only complains are that the quest still seems to be plodding along with no end in sight although in the letter column the new editor hints at big changes soon. Mariah is still whining about how great Morgan is. Also Fleisher has this tendency to characterize Morgan as an old man. He has him always referring to Shakira as a youngster like an old grandpa. Now back when I was a teenager I thought this was out of character. Now that I am Morgan’s age it seems so wrong.