Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano & Mike Decarlo
A mysterious woman dressed in black spandex and an Irish accent approaches the Atari Headquarters in California. It is 2005 after the Five Day War and the Break-up. The woman uses her skills and tools to penetrate the force field and knock out the guards. Meanwhile in Earth orbit Commander Martin Champion is overseeing construction to a space station. He manages to stop a panel that breaks loose and save lives. While getting patched up by Dr. Lucas Orion they get a message from Lydia Perez. She has orders that the two report immediately to Atari HQ. While on the ride down Champion thinks back to the first time he met Perez. Back on October 18, 1998.
The new moon base had just started up when enemies decided to toss a meteor at it. The survivors were running out of air and Champion was put in charge of the rescue mission. Perez was his co-pilot and the two managed to get to the Moon in time to save the survivors. So they meet Perez after landing and she drives them to HQ. Along the way Orion sees joggers and this triggers his memories. During the Break-up he was a medic with the U.N. in Africa. The jeep he was in is hit my a mortar. He finds a crying child and rescues her from the approaching rebels. Orion during this conflict decides to accept an offer to work for Atari. Back to the present the jeep they are riding in gets to the HQ and the mysterious figure in black follows them through the door.
So Atari would include these little bonus mini-comics with select game cartridges. This one was included in the Defender game cartridge. I have to say that these comics were some very serious works both in story and art. In fact the comics survive but the game cartridges are history. I really was fascinated by this comic so much that I looked forward to the comic more than the games that came out. That Atari was basically running everything in the future somehow just seemed to make sense back then. The post-war future was something that I loved to read about and the future they created seemed quite plausible. This mini-comic series was just a brilliant idea.
“Revenge of the Barbarian”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Black Vulmea’s Vengeance” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala
Conan is a pirate captain and wakes up after the ship had a successful haul. A Stygian galley filled with wine that the crew proceeded to drink. They drank so much that in the morning the whole crew is passed out. Conan who comes on deck then sees a Zingarian buccaneer approaching. Only Conan is still sober and puts up a fight but is soon overwhelmed. Later the Zingarians sink the pirate ship and Conan is taken to it’s captain Dom Castillius. Conan knows that the captain is the infamous Basqus the Butcher. A very unpopular man who put down a revolt and had to have a new identity forged for him.
So Conan to save his life concocts a story of buried treasure on the Black Coast. This has Dom and his men take Conan into the jungle to a ruined city. Only the city has a savage tribe guarding it. Conan escapes as the savages massacre the crew. Only Dom manages to escape into the ruined city. Seems the tribe won’t go enter because of the demon that lives there. Now Dom has to fight Conan which they proceed to do. Conan wins but spares Dom’s life after he finds out the captain has a wife and daughter.
The two men have to leave because another tribe that doesn’t have the superstitious fear of the city is coming. The two had to fight the demon which is a giant snake. They wound it and follow the blood to a passage out of the city. They find a jewel necklace which Conan splits in two and shares with Dom. Then they fight the chief and his men. At the last minute the two are saved by the wounded snake coming back and attacking the savages. The two men make it to safety.
“Meet the People Behind Conan”
By David A. Kraft
A biography of the people responsible for Savage Sword. They include Robert E. Howard, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala and Marie Severin.
“Conan of the Silver Screen A Special Report”
By James Delson
An article on the development of a Conan movie. To star Arnold Schwartzenegger.
So this special issue has a very special place in my heart. It is my very first introduction to Conan. Back around Christmas 1977 an eight year old boy found this magazine in a discount supermarket after church in Price, Utah. He was immediately captivated by this character Conan. The world he lived in and his adventures among pirates and savages. With lost cities, treasure and giant snakes. The bright colors definitely helped this mag but the art and story won me over. Soon after I would grab up any issue of Savage Sword with glee. My copy shows some serious love for you can tell it was reread many times over.
So the story is an adaptation of a non-Conan Howard story. Roy manages as usual to turn it into a top notch story. This one a special color issue which added to the experience. Add to it the interesting bibliographies of the various people involved in the issue. Didn’t know that Alcala in his youth worked for the resistance in Japanese occupied Philippines. The movie article was of interest to me historically as I got to find out the directors that were being considered for the movie. A very special issue for me at least. One that takes me back to my childhood.
“Daggers and Death-Gods!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema
Conan and Belit with some of the crew of the Tigress are sneaking into Messantia the capital of Argos. They go to fence their plunder with Publio. They are ambushed along the way by rivals to Publio but manage to easily beat them off. At Publio’s they get paid and he has a proposition. He offers gold if the two will retrieve a page from the Book of Skelos. It is in the Temple of a Thousand Gods. This temple has statues of gods from every land. Inside they are confronted by the priest that guards the temple. The statues of Dagon and Derkata come alive and attack the two. Conan figures out that the statues coming alive are illusions and breaks the spell. The priest admits defeat and shows them the page. As Conan goes for it he is confronted by Red Sonja who is also there for the page.
You know this is probably the first Conan comic I ever read. I remember some of the scenes as a young boy reading this while waiting at the dentist office. Never really realized this until many years later. So anyway this was a fun issue. Belit and Conan having to sneak into Messantia to fence their loot. Some comic relief with the two city watch telling Brythunian jokes. The Temple of a Thousand Gods was a cool idea and the statues coming alive was handled well. Ends with an appearance by Red Sonja so we can look forward to a fight with her next issue.
“Catacombs of the Moon”
Writer: Christopher Mills
Artist: Gabriel Rearte
Nah-ee-lah and Pal-don are heading back to Laythe after their adventures with Abby and Ethan from the Fear on Four Worlds series. Going through a swamp the two are attacked by a giant toad creature. They are saved by a hunting party of Kalkars. They take the two back to a ruined city. There the commander gets information from Nah-ee-lah by threatening to torture Pal-don. The two are thrown into the dungeon as the Kalkar commander plans to use Nah-ee-lah to find the secret entrance to Laythe. Nah-ee-lah finds an opening in her cell and crawls through it. She ends up falling threw the floor into a pool surrounded by bats.
So we get the first mini-series on the Moon. So far it looks good. The art and story are top notch. It has a feel of Burrough’s world that he created. The weird creatures. The evil Kalkars. The ruined cities. I am so excited that Burrough’s creations are getting the proper treatment they deserve. A very good time to be a Burroughs fan.
“Part 2: The $4,178,512 Man”
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: David Hahn
Steve Austin has just had his leg cut off. Now him and Niko have to escape by going through the missile silo. The guards manage to puncture a fuel tank with their gunshots. Soon the missile will explodes. Niko leads the two to an underground mine that leads out. Steve sets off the fuel and incinerates the guards as the explosion blows up the missile. The two than make it to an abandoned monastery and Steve manages to repair his leg. But the battery is low so he climbs up on the roof to power it up with a lightning strike. Only the Soviet helicopter finds him on the roof.
So we learn that the Japanese industrialist was planning to nuke Hawaii in revenge for Hiroshima. Steve and Niko do manage to inadvertently blow up the missile and thus foiling the plan. Niko is upset that the mission has gone south. An interesting idea to have Steve’s bionics failing him and thus turning his bionic powers into a liability and asset at the same time. An enjoyable series so far.
“Storm Over Skartaris”
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell
Joshua goes to Machiste for help in uniting the forces of Skartaris against the coming alien invasion. Machiste then leads McBane to the crashed SR-71 where the old radio is salvaged. McBane manages to get it working. Joshua finds the crew of the airship that they brought down last issue. He offers them help in fixing it up in exchange for helping against the aliens. A female captain Bloodhawke has to lost a fight before she agrees to help.
So the ship is launched and loaded with the old laser cannons that Deimos used to attack Shamballah. Jennifer will use Morgana and her powerful magic to power the cannons. They open the portal to Wizard World for all the magical energy that existed back then. This allows Deimos who is back in Wizard World to escape. McBane contacts the U.S. Air Force and warns them of the aliens. The military fail to stop the ship with missiles and it enters Skartaris. There the magically powered cannons destroy it. The explosion closes off the polar opening from the surface world. At the end the Air Force general is watching the video documentary that McBane filmed about Skartaris and Travis Morgan The Warlord.
Well the final issue. On the whole it was a well done ending. It felt a little rushed but I suppose if your getting cancelled its better to get everything tied up. Grell gave us a solid ending that give this series some type of closure. Warlord has been with this blog from the beginning. Every Monday I read a new issue. Now its over and I feel sad. This was my favorite series and rereading them just made me realize how much I do miss this series. Hopefully Grell can get some kickstarter campaign to give us another mini-series or graphic novel. I would love to find out what happened to the characters. I still didn’t like them killing off Travis Morgan but I got into the new Warlord. This title has seen many resurrections so hopefully there’s still a future for the Warlord.
“Beyond the Black River”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Tony Dezuniga
In the Aquilonian border province of Conajohara a young Balthus has come to maybe find a new home. Walking through the forest he is rescued by Conan from a Pict. Conan has signed on as a scout with the local fort. The Picts under the witch doctor Zogar Sag is uniting the Pict tribes. Along the way they find the body of a local trader that Zogar Sag wants revenge against. Zogar is pissed that he was arrested for stealing ale and now uses a swamp demon to take his revenge on those that imprisoned him.
Conan and Balthus take the headless body back to Fort Tuscalan and there Conan gets an assignment to kill Zogar Sag. So with Balthus and some frontiersmen they cross the Black River. Balthus is left behind with another to guard the canoes while Conan takes the main group to the village. Balthus is captured and finds himself tied to a stake with another survivor. He finds out the Picts ambushed the group. Conan managed to escape.
So Zogar Sag comes and performs his juju and a sabretooth tiger comes and kills the survivor. Then a giant snake comes to eat Balthus. Only Conan throws a spear into it’s head and causes the snake to blindly attack the Picts. Conan frees Balthus and the two escape the village after killing Zogar Sag’s pet ape.
“The Other Queen of the Black Coast”
By Fred Blosser
An article on a Mexican comic that adopted the story “Queen of the Black Coast” in 1965. Called La Reina de la Costa Negra it had the ship crewed by Vikings and Conan a blonde viking. They battle a talking ape for the treasure. A very loose adaptation of the story.
“Retribution in Blood”
Writer: Don Glut
Artists: David Wenzel & Marilitz
Solomon Kane has come to Transylvania to kill Dracula. Years ago he had the chance but owed the vampire a favor so spared his life. He comes on a funeral lead by a woman. The woman Morgit is the daughter of the local priest. Dracula recently kidnapped her sister Julka and her father went after her. Neither was heard from again. Dracula came and caused the death of her mother.
So Solomon with Morgit goes out to Castle Dracula. Kane climbs the wall and is confronted by Dracula. Dracula takes Kane’s wooden sword and is about to kill him when he hears a scream. Julka has been turned into a vampire and is about to kill her sister. Dracula wants both sisters as his brides and stops her. This gives Kane time to set both vampires on fire and kill Dracula by driving a wooden crucifix through his heart.
So this issue had another Howard adaptation. One of his more violent and downbeat story. I think this is my favorite of the Conan stories he wrote. The second part was the first black and white Savage Sword that I ever read so when I finally got this issue it was exciting to read how the story started. One heavily influenced by James Fenimore Cooper and his frontier stories. The Picts being the Indians and Aquilonians the settlers. An excellent adaptation with beautiful art that captures the mood.
The article was OK. Interesting to learn about this unauthorized Mexican comic. A very crudely drawn one that had a very weird story.
Finally the Solomon Kane story was excellent. A moody piece that complemented the main story. I suppose only a badass like Kane could kick Dracula’s butt.
“Fiends of the Feathered Serpent!”.
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The Thunder Rider” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema
The Tigress is sailing toward Argos to fence their loot. Along the way they are ambushed by Stygian warships and forced to flee far from land. They arrive at a strange island with a tall mountain. Landing for supplies they find a stairway carved into the mountain and a hut by the beach. Inside the hut is the preserved dead body of Ahmaan the first black corsair who disappeared over a century ago. Next to him is his ax which only Conan can lift.
Leaving the hut the group is confronted by a horde of dwarfs that have descended the stairway. The leader strikes a hand held gong that knocks the group out. Conan, Belit and N’yaga are taken to the leader Tezcatlipoca. Tezcatlipoca was summoned by the islands inhabitants by magic when the pirate Ahmaan landed. He defeated the pirate with sorcery and left the preserved body as a warning. He throws Conan in the dungeon and want to have fun with Belit. Belit manages to grab a knife and plunge it in his chest. N’yaga leaves to get help as Belit goes to free Conan. She frees him and they are confronted by a feathered serpent. Conan manages to cut it’s head off. Then they find that Tezcatlipoca is still alive. Conan stabs him and it doesn’t kill him. As Tezcatlipoca chokes Conan, Belit yells that Ahmaan has come back to live. He drops Conan and at the window sees Ahmaan standing and taunting him. This was enough of a distraction for Conan to grab the enchanted ax and kill Tezcatlipoca. We later find out that N’gaya uses his magic to move the corpse. The ship departs the island.
So we get another non-Conan Howard story that was adapted into a Conan story. This was an excellent story with a strange magical island. An invincible wizard , a lost pirate legend and a giant feathered serpent. Howard was a brilliant writer and this story once again reinforces that. A good one shot story to fill the time between story arcs.
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: German Garcia
Dejah and Barbarella are finding out why they have been brought to this future Mars. The Wind-Walkers are a race that travel around stripping worlds of their R.U.S.T. Dr. Gitu has a plan to use the R.U.S.T to open a portal that will take the inhabitants back to the planet’s primordial beginning. It will also destroy the Wind-Walkers and save countless worlds from being destroyed. So the two agree and open a portal. They talk about their feelings some more. Gitu comes back animating the mud and gives them both some valuable possessions. Then the two kiss and leave back to their respective times.
Well the story ends and I can’t say I’m impressed. A lot of endless talking about feelings. The whole plot was one big nothing burger. I loved the art. The two heroines looked beautiful. Still this was a missed opportunity that could have seen a really fascinating story with these two. I like the characters and they worked well together. Sadly they didn’t get a writer that could deliver. So ends a very disappointing series.
Writer: Christopher Hasting
Artist: David Hahn
Niko Abe a Japanese agent has uncovered that a powerful Japanese industrialist has a nuclear missile on his private island. So she contacts the Americans and is disappointed that they send only one man. Colonel Steve Austin is a very cocky and arrogant guy. He brags about being a bionic cyborg. So the two infiltrate the island and find the missile. The KGB has arrived and brings a nuclear warhead. As the two try to leave they run into the guards and Steve manages to beat them up. A guy in a suit with a devil mask manages to chop off Steve’s legs with a samurai sword. Niko uses one of the severed legs to electrocute the attacker. As she carries Steve off they are confronted by more of the guys in devil masks.
So I enjoyed the first issue of this series. It had a tongue in cheek quality that was just meant to be fun. The setting of 1974 and an island of a Japanese industrialist with a nuclear missile really fits into the times. Now the only complaint was the writer did maybe overdue a little too much the arrogant cocky attitude. The TV character didn’t have that. I also don’t remember Steve Austin having a laser in his eye. Been a while since I watched the show so maybe that was there. Overall this was a fun and enjoyable start to this series.