RED SONJA: AGE OF CHAOS #6

“Untitled”
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Jonathan Lau

Sonja is fighting Kulan Gath who has possessed the body of Purgatori. He also manages to kill Evil Ernie. Ernie manages to infuse his power into Sonja’s sword before he dies. This is enough to cut off Purgatori’s hand. The pain is enough for Purgatori to focus and regain control of her body. Sonja still has to fight her. Sonja manages to get hold of Gath’s amulet. She places it on a dead corpse and Gath finds himself brought back. Because Sonja has altered the future Purgatori dissolves and all the characters go back to their time. The events did not occur and the future is safe. Sonja lets a weak Kulan Gath go wander off into the desert vowing to kill him later.

So the series ends. I have to say I am very underwhelmed. It was a quick read since not much happened. A very anti-climactic ending. This wholes series just didn’t really do anything for me. I’m not a fan or familiar with the Chaos characters so I was already not invested in the characters. This was a crossover that I don’t think should have happened. It didn’t fit well into Sonja’s world. I suppose a different writer could have done something better but the whole concept just doesn’t seem all that interesting.

RED SONJA AND VAMPIRELLA MEET BETTY AND VERONICA #6

“Untitled”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artists: Maria Laura Sanapo, Ivan F Silva with David Anton

Betty and Veronica are prisoners of the Vampiri who have been responsible for all the deaths. Their science teacher who was missing and thought dead and a guy who dresses like Dracula but named Vudosol are the leaders. They have been using their followers by giving them a Drakulon blood serum that enhances them but is highly addictive. So some have been getting greedy and they decided to frame the Cult of Chaos for all the murders. Just then Vampirella comes to the rescue. She finds out the two and others have followed her from their planet which is in the middle of a blood drought. Sonja also comes to the rescue with the football team. The two Draculons are holding their own until Dilton comes and hits them with a school bus. The two vampiri disappear and the teens that were helping them are arrested. Later Vampirella is determined to go back to her home and the others pledge to accompany her. Outside Vudosol and Eve are watching. Eve is in fact Vampirella’s sister Draculina.

OK so there was a bunch of stuff going on in this issue. In fact it seemed to be a bit rushed. Now the series was originally meant to be a six issue run. But it was so successful that Dynamite extended it for another six. So this story arc is coming to an end and another starts next issue. Now I don’t know how this extension affected the ending for this one. So far it ended on a very confusing note with really no explanation of why Sonja and Vampirella came to Riverdale. I will say that the next idea of visiting Draculon is an interesting idea. So we will see where it takes us.

MACHINE MAN #3

“Rime of the Ancient Wrecker!”
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artists: Herb Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith

Hassle is continuing on to Sanctuary. She suspects that Bain let her escape and thinks the tracking bug was in the floater she stole. So she steals another but the bug was implanted in her ear. Machine Man and the others are taken to Sanctuary. There they find out the Ancient Wrecker is none other that MM’s old friend Gears Garvin. MM finds out that forty years ago someone attacked Gear’s garage. Paul Spaulding was killed and MM and Jocasta were taken. Soon after Bain starting manufacturing robots. He knew she was responsible but couldn’t prove anything. So he started the Wreckers. Hassle arrives but following her is Arlo Stark the Iron Man of 2020 and his robot army. A big fight ensues with MM managing to defeat Iron Man and save the floating city of Sanctuary. He than vows to take the fight to Sunset Bain.

Another exciting issue the this limited series. Machine Man meets his old friend Gears. We learn a little of what happened to Machine Man and his friends. We also have some dramatic moments where Machine Man shows he has human feelings. Arlo Stark apparently is not related to Tony but bought the company and name after his death. Sunset Bain and Ambassador Brickman are real anxious to stop Machine Man and live in constant fear. A cool look at this future world of 2020 with flying motorcycles, floating cities and sonic showers. The character Hassle has short green hair which in all honesty is actually a thing in 2020. Only instead of a badass resistance fighter she most likely would be some kook going through ten year old tweets to expose unwoke behavior. Yes reality can be stranger than fiction.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #73

“The Changeling Quest!”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: John Buscema

Conan is captain of a Barachan pirate ship that is ambushed by two Zingaran warships off the coast of Shem. The ship is captured and Conan manages to escape and swim to shore. Yet the Zingaran king wants Conan and orders his elite guard to follow and capture him. Conan steals a canoe and makes his way down the Styx river. His canoe gets knocked over by a hippo and he has to fight a crocodile. Further to the south a Stygian noble is over the dead body of what looks like his twin brother. Just then six brigands break in. The noble gets real upset when the leader takes his necklace. He gets knocks down and the place set on fire.

Conan comes on the burning place and manages to rescue the noble and two horses from the stable. The noble Warz Bel Doqh convinces Conan to help him retrieve what the brigands took in exchange for half. Conan agrees and they go off on horseback. Only the horses are very scared of the noble and Conan has to tie a bandana around the horse’s eyes. They stop at a tavern and there the Zingarans that pursue him attack. Conan manages to fight them off and escape with the noble and a bargirl.

The brigands stop for the night and three of them kill the other three so they get a bigger share of their loot. The three continue into the swamps of Kush. One gets sucked into quicksand. Another goes his own way and gets captured by cannibals. Conan and company continue to follow with the Zingarans close behind. They are attacked by a horde of ghouls but one look at the noble who is getting weak scares them off. They then have to fight off cannibals and drive their horses over a cliff into a river to escape them. The trail leads to a cave where they find the last brigand dead. He was killed by a giant spider which Conan manages to defeat.

The noble gets his necklace and we find out he was an alien. He needs to take the form of a human but it only lasts a fortnight. The noble takes Conan’s form and leaves him to die. Only as he goes off he is captured by the Zingarans and beheaded. Conan recovers and with the bargirl continues on now not having to worry about the Zingarans.

“Island of Pirate’s Doom”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Danny Bulandi

Mettallus a merchant from Argos is shipwrecked on a deserted island. One day pirates come and he watches what from a distance seems to be a dispute with a foppish man. The fop jumps off the rowboat and runs into the jungle. This fop is actually Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. Metallus finds out that the pirates are on the island to find a temple filled with gems. After rescuing Valeria they hide in a cave behind a waterfall. Outside they hear the approach of the pirates.

I really loved this story. It had just about anything you could ask for in a Conan story. Pirates, giant spiders, ghouls, cannibals, crocodiles and aliens. It goes from what starts out as a pirate story to a chase through Stygia and Kush. Conan is chased while he chases someone. You do get some foreshadowing that the noble is not quite right but the revelation is something that was very unexpected. Filled with exotic locations and equally exotic foes it keeps you guessing from beginning to end.

They still also have some Thomas stories left. The guy was a prolific writer. This tale about Valeria is one I remember fondly as a kid and think it is great story. Uses a character that I like and hasn’t been used much in book or comic literature. A real grade A issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #110

“Beware the Bear of Heaven!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Sons of the Bear God” by Norvell Page
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan is confronted by a giant bear. The Aesir are panicked but Conan notices the grass doesn’t bend to the bear and concludes it is an illusion. The illusion turns to a black smoke and knocks out Conan. He finds himself being carried tied to a pole. They arrive at a city of dwarfs and gain an audience with the king. The king sentences Conan and Erfu to the arena to fight the True Heaven-Bear without weapons. Conan manages to use his chains to wrap around the bear and break it’s back. Erfu claims it was his magic and the king appoints him with his slave Conan as the new executioners. Later in their quarters the are visited by a beautiful woman who wants to court Conan. Conan isn’t interested but notices after she left that she is attacked by a panther. He jumps down to rescue her and the panther turns into an Aesir that struck Conan while he was tied up. The Aesir fights for the woman and Conan kills him easily. The woman then claims Conan as her husband.

I am really enjoying this adaptation from a writer I never heard of. This story is very offbeat which makes for a unique experience. Conan is in his awesome badassness as he breaks a bear’s back and defiantly tells off the king. Now he finds himself married which he has no interest in but being Conan has no problem with being with the woman. The story leaves open so many questions unanswered which makes a reader want to find out more. A well done issue.

RED SONJA: AGE OF CHAOS #5

“Untitled”
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Jonathan Lau

Sonja and Chastity have reached the temple. They find that Jade and her vampire minions have also arrived. Chastity manages to chop off the head of Jade which just makes her minions more angry. Then Purgatory shows up and Chastity volunteers to delay her for Sonja to enter the temple and bring back Kulan Gath. Sonja reaches the temple and uses her blood on the amulet. Only it just brings the spirit of Gath back. A real body is needed. Purgatory comes in with the severed head of Chastity. Sonja actually holds her own in the fight. When it looks like Purgatory is about to triumph she barfs up the smiley face of Evil Ernie she swallowed. The smiley face absorbed power from her and brings back Evil Ernie. Ernie uses his magic to bring back Jade and Chastity. Then he turns them against Sonja and Purgatory. Ernie then tries to grab the amulet but it repels him because his magic energy is not compatible. He throws it away and Purgatory catches it. She is then possessed by the spirit of Kulan Gath.

Well they promised non-stop action and they delivered. The whole book was just one continuous fight scene. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The story moved along at a quick pace which is what this story has needed. The bad is well, it was just non-stop action. Not a lot of meat to the story. So we are moving to the conclusion of this and hopefully it will make sense.

RED SONJA AND VAMPIRELLA MEET BETTY AND VERONICA #5

“Untitled”
Writer: Amy Chu and Alexander Chang
Artists: Maria Laura Sanapo, Luis Garcia Marina, Ivan F. Silva, with David Anton, Marlano Taibo, and Alvaro Sarraseca

Riverdale is on edge with all the unsolved murders. Dilton has come out of his coma. Only he doesn’t remember much about his attackers except they were more than one and they were hooded. Veronica comes up with a plan to lure the attackers out of hiding. So Betty and Veronica go on Youtube and announce that Dilton will reveal who attacked him. The school newspaper editor hears this and calls an editorial meeting. So Betty and Veronica go while leaving Sonja and Vampirella to guard Dilton. A good thing for the hooded cultists attack. They reveal themselves to be like Drakulions. Meanwhile Betty and Veronica arrive at the meeting and find out the editor is part of the cult. The two are captured and taken to the cult’s leaders.

The story is picking up a bit. We finally find out that the school editor is part of it. She apparently became a vampire to help her get into an ivy league school. Guess you need that kind of extracurricular activity nowadays. The leaders are revealed to be what looks like Dracula and some blonde chick. The story was OK but nothing really spectacular. What was really disappointing is the quality of the art. From the credits you can tell it was drawn by committee and it shows. Well next week the big final confrontation with the Chaos Cult.

MACHINE MAN #2

“If This Be Sanctuary?!”
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artists: Herb Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith

Machine Man with the Midnight Wreckers are being chased by Baintronic robots. Thanks to Machine Man’s quick thinking he manages to save his friends and destroy the Bainies. Only they lose their skippers in the process and must take the subway. Only $14.37 a person. At Baintronics Sunset Bains is visited by Brickman the former senator who was MM’s nemesis back in the seventies. He is a former ambassador to the UN. They hire Arno Stark the new Iron Man of 2020.

MM and the wreckers visit their underworld contact a fat man named Broadoni. He runs a video parlor that caters to Vidiots. People who are addicted to video games and can be plugged directly into them. Broadoni though has set them up and they have to fight through security robots. Hassle one of the Wreckers stays behind to cover the others escape. Brain the smart guy has to disable MM with his tech to stop him from going back to rescue Hassle. The Wreckers take Broadoni’s jetcar and head to Canada and the Wrecker Sanctuary. When they arrive they find themselves captured in a net. Hassle meanwhile is taken to Baintronics and tortured for the location of Sanctuary. Bain decides it isn’t working and has her taken away. Only Hassle manages to grab a pistol and blast her way to the roof. There is a convenient flying car that she can use. She thinks it’s too easy and she is right. It is a plan by Arno Stark to have her lead them to Sanctuary.

The second book was a real fun treat. I love reading what they thought this time would look like. Obviously all futures are based on the present. So we have video game addiction which was probably something new back in the eighties. Also when Machine Man is disabled by Brain’s disc he starts to babble out old TV commercial jingles from the time. I actually do remember them and this brings back some memories. Oh and think about the inflation they envisioned with $14.37 tickets for a subway. I love reading these retro futures while living in that future.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #72

“The Colossus of Shem”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

A farmer family’s house is destroyed by some mysterious giant monster. Conan after working on a merchant vessel in the Vilayet sea decides to head west. He buys a horse and heads out. He comes on territory that looks like it is in a severe drought. At a local village a mob attacks him to drink the blood of his horse. The mobs stops attacking when they fight over his water bags and gives him time to get on his horse and leave. Later he comes on the destroyed farm and it’s sole survivor a young woman. He finds out about a monster and takes the young woman with him. Later he saves some travels from brigands and drops off the girl.

Meanwhile in the city of Foutan a young girl is curious as to why they can’t go beyond the wall and what is in the giant turtle statue of their god Vekechai. She is caught and sentenced to be expelled over the wall. Her boyfriend Dhan decides to sacrifice himself instead and jumps over the wall. He finds himself in a desert sandstorm and runs into Conan. After the storm they find another group of refugees seeking shelter in a city. The city is run by a wizard with an army of demons. They take Conan and Dhan prisoner. The young girl he rescued manages to free them. They find the wizard and take him hostage.

He tells his story that him and his brother founded the city. Yet he didn’t like his brother’s pious ways and formed a dark cult. He took over and expelled his brother. Ten years later he returned with a warning about the cities destruction. The brother was driven away but took many followers with him. Later a giant turtle came and destroyed the city. The wizard gets scared that the creature is returning and dies.

Conan and Dhan continue to hunt the giant turtle. They find it and Conan manages to lead it over a cliff. He finds out it was a giant machine that sucked moisture out of everything. The city of Foutan was inside it. The survivors exit to the outside world and experience a thunderstorm.

“Preview: Conan The Motion Picture”
By Roger Stern.

Another article with pictures from the upcoming Conan movie. This one gives a brief bio for Producer Dino DeLaurentis, Sandahl Bergman as Valeria and of course Arnold as Conan.

“Conan X 3”

A portfolio from artists Greg LaRocque, Pablo Marcos and Ernie Chan.

Another offbeat tale from Bruce Jones. This one like other before have a little science fiction mixed in with the story. This was another one that takes the character all over the place. He has adventures with several characters that drop in and out. A mysterious city run by a deformed wizard and his army of demons. A giant turtle that sucks moisture from the land and causes a massive drought. He keeps the reader guessing where the story is going. You get the big reveal at the end and it is a surprise. I enjoy his stories but there is one criticism. He always has Conan crack wise jokes which don’t seem to fit his character. Otherwise a very enjoyable issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #109

“Sons of the Bear God!”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel by Norvell W. Page
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan and Erfu are chased into the Sea of Buryat by hostile Shemites. The Sea of Buryat is a vast plain of tall grass. Conan is shot in the arm with an arrow but still manages to take out a few Shemites. Erfu uses his magic to conjure a scary voice that scares off the superstitious Shemites. Erfu is a bit scared of being in the sea of grass but follows Conan. Later he is attacked by a strange tendril of mist. Conan manages to free him and they find a dead Shemite and his horse. Erfu while lifted up sees a group of blond men marching on an upraised road. Conan goes to meet them and come on some dwarves guarding the blond men. The dwarves try to take Conan captive and Conan is forced to kill them. He finds out the blond men are Aesir lead by an old comrade. Niord is not very grateful for Conan’s rescue and seems consigned to some unknown slavery for him and his men. Before Conan can find out more a giant bear attacks.

Conan has reached Shem with Erfu and they find themselves in a mysterious plain of tall grass. A plain with a supernatural reputation. Naturally Conan isn’t scared of such things and thinks that the wizard that inhabits the plains must have a big pile of treasure lying around. This is an adaptation of a story from Howard’s time by another pulp author. Roy fits it in nicely with the world of Conan. He even brings back a character from early in Conan’s life. Ends in an exciting cliffhanger. The story has introduced mystery and generates curiosity in the reader to find out what happens next issue. A very effective and enjoyable issue.