THE WARLORD #9

“Then…Now…”
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan and Shakira are hunting down the remnants of Kate Archer’s brigands. They track them into a swamp. There are six but two decide they are no match and run off. This leaves four which is very easy for Morgan to take them down. So they head back to Shamballah. There Ewan McBane has decided to do a documentary about Skartaris. He interviews Tinder, Jennifer and Tara. Tinder and Alysha find time to get together and Tinder tells of his childhood. At the end Kate Archer returns to Castle Deimos and helps out a revived Deimos for the clone machine.

So this was a laid back issue. Morgan and the others have time to relax. Ewan decides to do a video log about Morgan so we will get some more history. Which is a good idea I suppose for new readers. Some romances are developing between Ewan and Jennifer and Tinder and Alysha. Also gives us the foreboding of having Deimos return so we know that this is the calm before the storm. I really enjoy Grell doing the artwork on his title. He has a way with showing the story through images with a minimum of exposition or dialogue.

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SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #18

“The Battle of the Towers”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan has lost Yasmina to the Black Circle. Conan rides down and encounters his Afghuli tribesmen. Only they blame him for the execution of the seven sub-chiefs and now want his head. So he is forced to flee. He comes on Khemsa who is barely alive. Khemsa gives Conan a magical belt to protect him and tells where he must go before he dies. Then Conan runs into Kerim Shah and whats left of his men. They agree to an alliance to rescue Yasmina from the Black Circle.

Meanwhile Yasmina wakes up a prisoner of Master of Yimsha. The guy is a real tool and very condescending to her. He uses his magic to show Yasmina’s past lives to break her will. Conan and Kerim assault the tower that guards the entrance to the mountain fortress. They are attacked by a mad dog and a hawk. They successfully storm the tower and manage to kill the acolytes that manned it.

“A Handbook Shall Be Born”
By Fred Blosser

A review of The Annotated Guide to Robert E. Howard’s Sword’s and Sorcery by Robert Weinberg. Fred had positive things to say of the work and thought it a very comprehensive guide to the works of REH.

“Crimson Blades of Dark Vendhya”
By Fred Blosser

A review of The Swords of Shahrazar a collection of works by REH. They have stories of Francis X. Gordon and Kirby O’Donell. Two Irish-American adventurers in contempory India and the Middle East. Talks about the origins of the characters and has a positive review of the book.

“Rattle of Bones”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Howard Chaykin

Solomon Kane and a French traveler stop at The Cleft Skull an inn in the Black Forrest. Solomon doesn’t trust the innkeeper and wants to find a bar for the door. The search has them find a skeleton chained to the wall in a room. As Solomon goes to confront the innkeeper the Frenchman pulls a pistol on Kane. He reveals himself to be Gaston the Butcher a murderer Kane was tracking. Before Gaston can kill Kane the innkeeper comes and cleves his skull. The innkeeper was driven mad from a stay in prison and now kills all his guests. He tells that the skeleton was a magician from Russia that he had to keep chained or the skeleton would come to kill him. Only Gaston freed the skeleton and he gets pulled into the room. When Kane enters he finds the skeleton has strangled the innkeeper.

So we get two classic Howard stories in this issue. A continuation of the excellent “The People of the Black Circle.” Conan has everybody after him in this Hyborian version of India. He has to ally himself with the Turanian spy Kerim Shah and they manage to make headway on the Black Seers. The master of this group of wizards is a really unlikable guy who you just can’t wait to get killed. One of Howard’s finest and expertly adapted by Thomas.

The two reviews were OK. Nothing special since these books are probably long out of print.

Finally the Solomon Kane was another excellent Howard adaptation. A very spooky tale with elements of the supernatural and evil men getting their just deserts.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #58

“Queen of the Black Coast!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan is in Messantia riding a stolen horse. He has just escaped a court after killing the judge for being unreasonable. He comes to the wharf and jumps on a departing merchant ship. At swordpoint he forces them to take him away. The captain Tito is wise enough to comply and so Conan finds himself going to the Black Coast. The Argos sails down the coast past Shem and Stygia until it reaches the Black Coast. Only they are discovered by the Tigress. The Tigress is the ship of Belit the Queen of the Black Coast and her crew of black corsairs. The pirates overtake the ship and kill the crew although Conan is not that easy. Luckily Belit really wants him. After Conan fights their best warrior and tosses him to the sharks, Belit makes an offer Conan can’t refuse. Join her crew and he her lover.

Finally the Belit sage begins. I started the color Conan during this time and just have real fond memories of the stories. I think that this was the beginning of some of the greatest Conan stories that Roy Thomas did. Howard had Conan spent a few years with Belit in untold adventures which Roy used to really tell some awesome tales. Belit was Conan’s first true love so she was definitely an important part of Conan’s life. This adaptation was a great start to their amazing story.

AGE OF CONAN BELIT #2

“Chapter 2 The Mad Quest”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Kate Niemczyk

A sea monster is attacking the ships. Belit takes action and jumps to the Tigress. She has the crew man the catapults and start firing. This drives the beast off but it wrecks the hipster captain’s ship. Belit basically than takes over the Tigress. She has a plan and also takes action by altering the maps so the hipster travels back to the place where the sea monster was first encountered. Hipster captain is angry but when he hears Belit’s plan decides to go with it.

So the sea monster comes but they pour oil into the sea and set it on fire which kills the monster. Then they drag the corpse to the city of Barathan. Belit offers it’s queen that they can kill sea monsters for a price. The queen shows that they can control the creatures by summoning one.

“Bone Whisperers Episode Two”
By Michael Stackpole

N’yaga tells Belit that they must go to the island of Knefetalla. He can’t use the bones to pinpoint where the Codex is for fear of alerting others of their intentions. Belit comes up with having N’yaga pinpoint a location that will point them in the right direction. He does this and it is in open waters. They go there and find a ship and capture it. It was a ship that stole treasure from Knefetalla so they are on the right path.

Well Belit is showing that even as a young girl she is a leader. She already seems to be in charge and the prissy hipster captain and his androgynous first mate have already lost control of the situation. So far she has shown that she knows what she is doing. Although her scheme to get hired to kill monsters has run into a snag.

The prose story is proving to be a well done story. Its well written and exciting with vivid fight scenes and a plot that fits well into three pages of story.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 THE COMIC #4

Writers: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, and Mary Robinson
Host Segment Artist: Todd Nauck
In-Comics Artists: Mike Manley, Jack Pollock and Mimi Simon

Kinga is very happy with how her comic book experiment is going and has Ardy load the Black Cat comic.

“Black Cat The Buddha’s Secret”

Linda Turner is the glamorous Hollywood actress that is the crime fighting heroine Black Cat. She is on the set of “Blood on the Idol” playing a Chinese woman. Back in those days Caucasians usually played Asian parts. After her scene she buys a Buddha statue from Fu Chu who rents out props from his trade company. His son objects because he already sold it to someone in China but Fu Chu could care less and sells it the Linda.

Later Linda sees someone stealing her Buddha statue and takes off as the Black Cat to follow. The man goes to Fu Chu’s Import House and inside she runs into Jonah who is playing around with the fire breathing dragon statue. The two find Fu Chu’s son in a transdimensional temple that is bigger on the inside than the outside. His son is being whipped and Black Cat rescues him after beating up some big Chinese guys. The temple priest Tensin tells that the son stole rubies and put them in the statue to pay off his bookie Rocky. Fu Chu forgives his son but Rocky shows up with his hoods to collect.

“The Clay Coffin”

Crowkeeper tells the story of Hortense a great sculptor and married to Grover. Grover starts having an affair with the beautiful maid. So Hortense drugs the maid and encases her in her sculptor. She wins a prize and uses it to get plastic surgery and become beautiful. Then she gets hired by her cheating husband who starts an affair with her. Only Hortense gets revenge by killing him and planning to make a sculptor of him. Only she slips while dragging the body and falls in the lime pit.

Kinga then turns on Tom Servo but finds the scene is stuck at the mother’s place with the bots enjoying a nice meal. So Kinga comes as some kind of Mary Poppins advertising Totino Pizza Rolls. She created a Totino tornado that is driven by Max. Only Max loses control and ruins her plans to destroy this scene. At the end Synthia comes up with a plan to get thing back on track.

Well another really funny issue. The stories they highlight are incredibly goofy and convoluted making them a joy in riffing. And I also enjoy the host segment that link them. Just like the TV show. A very enjoyable issue.

THE WARLORD #8

“The Forgotten Conclusion”
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan has to fight off some beastmen that are attacking him and the girl. While he fights we get a flashback to before Morgan lost his memory. Shakira went off to hunt as Morgan and his men waited for the brigands lead by Kate Archer. They explore the ruins and discuss what the statues of the gods were. The discussion turns philosophical about the meaning of life. Then the brigands attack them and Morgan is the only survivor.

Back to the present and Morgan has defeated the beastmen. The woman he was defending is covered in blood and laughing. She says that she picked Morgan to be her champion. That she was with him since he was born and we get a montage of Morgan’s past. Morgan remembers and the woman kisses him. Then Morgan is woke up by Shakira. She came back from hunting and found him. So the two ride off with the woman looking on.

Well this was a fascinating issue. It was sort of used to give the readers a refresher about Morgan. It was well done with the soldiers that were with Morgan being the boisterous and rowdy bunch of men you would expect of warriors. Yet they display a true insight into the nature of life. The woman while never named is obviously Death. Morgan has run into her before and her speech was identical to the one give before. She just had a change of color to her hair. This introspective story with beautiful artwork by Grell himself make this a winner.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #17

“On To Yimsha”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan has the Devi Yasmina his prisoner in the village of his friend Yar Afzal. Khemsa the mystic hypnotizes one of Afzal’s men to deliver a black pearl to him. The pearl turns into a spider that kills Yar Afzal instantly. A mysterious voice then urges the tribesmen to kill the outlander. Now Conan has to fight his way out of the village with Yasmina. Fortunately Khemsa conjures a dragon to stop any pursuit.

Conan and Yasmina continue on to Afgulistan and pass the sinister mount Yimsa the home of the Black Seers. Here Conan is confronted by Khemsa and his lover Gitana. Khemsa uses his magic to subdue Conan. Before he can do anything a whirlwind comes from the mountain and four of the Black Seers are there. They use their hypnotism to make Gitana jump off a cliff then create a fissure that has Khemsa join her. They then fly away in the whirling wind with Yasmina captive.

“Of Buccaneers and Barachan Pirates”
By Fred Blosser

A review of “Black Vulmea’s Vengeance”. Three stories about a pirate in the seventeenth century. The first story was originally a Conan called “The Black Stranger” that was rejected so Howard wrote it as a pirate story.

“The Hyborian Age Chapter 6 The Darkness…and the Dawn”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from essay by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Walt Simonson

As the Picts conquer Aquilonia they basically slaughter everyone. The Hyrkanians and Turanians join forces and start to conquer from the east. Nemedia hires Aesir mercenaries to save them. Soon glaciers drive the northern Vanir and Aesir south. This also drives the Cimmerians and they eventually settle around Turan. Another cataclysm strikes the world and forms in into what we know today.

“Curse of the Black Stone”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Worms of the Earth” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Tim Conrad

Bran Mak Morn goes to the werewoman witch Atla. He seeks the location of the Black Stone of the ancient race that lives underground. He gets it and goes and steals the stone then throws it in a lake. He then has Atla take him to the sub-human race and demand that they bring him the Roman Governor Titus Sulla who is in the Tower of Trajan. They agree and so Brak goes and retrieves the stone after a brush with what might be the Lock Ness Monster. On the way to the meeting he comes on the ruins of the Tower of Trajan. A Roman survivor tells how it collapsed. Later he delivers the stone and is given Titus. Only the Roman governor has been driven insane and Bran puts him out of his misery. He leaves wishing he listened to his shaman not to make a deal with the Worms of the Earth.

Well this was another excellent issue. We first get another installment of “The People of the Black Circle.” This novella has a lot of eastern mysticism and hypnotism. Conan seems immune and it is stated because his culture has no tradition of hypnotism so he was never conditioned to accept it like the Vendyans. This adventure in the India of Conan’s time is well done with its fierce tribesman and mysterious wizards.

The book review was OK. The final installment of the Hyborian age was excellent. Howard gave a very detailed history of the rise and fall of his pseudo-history. A very plausible yarn.

Finally we get the conclusion to “Worms of the Earth”. This was a story about the Picts which Howard had an obsession with. A very dark and creepy tale of this mysterious race that was once human but degenerated into an underground dwelling serpent people. A very poignant ending with Bran not getting the justice he wanted against Titus Sulla. A lesson in dealing with forces that he didn’t understand.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #57

“Incident in Argos!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from episode by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Mike Ploog

Conan and his companions Yusef and Tara have arrived at Messantia the capital of Argos. It is a cosmopolitan city of people from all over the world. The first encounter they have is an arrogant captain of the king’s guard strutting around and pushing people out of the way. He makes the wrong decision to bully Conan. After he gets put in his place the three decide to change their appearance. So Tara is forced to wear a dress and Yusef gets some respectable clothes. Yusef and Tara go to wait in a tavern as Conan goes to get some new armor.

He is knocked on the head by some corrupt guards that sell men to the pirates as oar-men. Only Conan manages to wake and kick some butt. He finds help from an old witch named Momratha. She shows Conan visions of his future and what is happening with his two friends. He watches as the captain they humiliated comes into the tavern and makes improper passes at Tara. Yusef gets angry and knifes the captain. Conan runs to rescue his friends and bursts into the tavern. The guardsmen recognize him and take him prisoner. Next day he is brought before a judge and sentenced to rot in the dungeon until he reveals the location of his friends. Well Conan will have none of that and breaks free and cleaves the judge’s skull in two. He steals a horse and rides off.

So we are finally to the epic “Queen of the Black Coast” adaptation. Roy was really on a roll of creativity with this issue. The classic Howard story starts with Conan escaping after killing his judge in court. Thomas manages to craft a story that shows us that event. He sets in up very believable and it flows nicely with the current story that Roy has been telling. He get to see civilized justice meet barbarian justice and it does not disappoint. We are now in my opinion entering the golden age of the Conan comics.

AGE OF CONAN BELIT #1

“Chapter 1: The Lost Verses”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Kate Niemczyk

In Asgulin a port city in Shem the dread pirate admiral Atrahasis is looking for his young daughter Belit. She is girl who dreams of being a pirate herself and slaying a sea monster. Soon Atrahasis is taken by some men. They are debt collectors and take Atrahasis out to a sandbar to die. Belit goes to her father who doesn’t want any help but talks to his daughter throughout the day. As night approaches he doesn’t want it to end this way so Belit puts him out of his misery.

She goes back and finds her father’s fleet being plundered. She is captured by slavers who are stealing the flagship Tigress. Later the ship is captured by another pirate ship with a hipster crew and Belit is freed. Belit joins the crew and wants the Tigress for herself. She also continues to search for a sea monster which shows up at the end.

“Bone Whispers Episode One”
By Michael Stackpole

N’yaga is in his village when he is visited by Belit. He throws the bones to tell her future and sees her fate entwined with a black maned lion. Belit is there because she is looking for the Codex Osyrania. The Codex is a magical book that reveals all the treasure that has ever been hidden. N’yaga warns against the Codex for he was given it my Belit’s father to safeguard it. He also tells that the captain he served took it to buy back his ship he lost in gambling. Yet he also saw in the bones that he was destined to go with Belit to retrieve the Codex for he knows where it is.

So Marvel is doing a series that highlight the characters from Conan’s world. This first one is Belit who was Conan’s first love. She is one of my favorites in the Conan universe and I loved the old Marvel stories from Roy Thomas. Now Marvel has decided to ignore his origin and create a new one. Personally I like Roy’s better but this does have potential. The Belit here is more the classic albino that Howard originally envisioned. She has the same drive and fighting spirit that Belit should have. The only thing that perplexes me is why the hipster pirate crew?

Marvel has also decide to include as a bonus in all their new Conan series a prose novella. I love that idea. So far the Belit novella has started off with an interesting idea. Looking forward to both stories.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 THE COMIC #3

Writers: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe and Mary Robinson
Host Segment Artist: Todd Nauck
In-Comics Artists: Jack Pollock and Mike Manley

Ardy has managed to stabilize the Bubbulat-R with a device that can pick which comic to watch. So Kinga starts with Tom Servo Teen Reporter. Tom is with Shelley’s family and finds out her parents were sorry about her ugly duckling childhood. So they indulge her now that she is a big Hollywood star. Over breakfast Tom and Chuck get into an argument over Chuck being a dickweed. Later Shelley takes Tom for a ride in her airplane but forgets to check if there was enough gas. Now the plane is going to crash.

Kinga then switches over to Black Cat and Jonah. Jonah wanders to the castle of the Rook. His henchmen are looking through the contest letters to find a clue of the real identity of the Black Cat. The Rook activates a hidden trap door to throw Jonah in the dungeon. The Black Cat comes out of the moat after crashing her cycle in it. She too enters the castle and gets suckered by the trap door in the floor. Fortunately Black Cat uses the electrical wiring to short circuit the lock on the door. Then she and Jonah grab some guns and take the Rook and his minions prisoner.

“Terror On High”

The final story is Crow as the Crowkeeper narrating a story of two guys who visit a monastery in the Bavarian Alps. They are there because the monks have been preserving the bodies of lost travelers in the cellar for hundreds of years. Some of these travelers were carrying valuables. So the two sneak in and steal the loot. Then they take off. First they come to a cabin and find Kinga and her gang having a Totinos party. Crow comes and breaks this up because he isn’t getting any residuals. Then the two guys find another cabin. Here they are attacked by the bodies of the men they stole from. They fall down into a crevasse and die of hypothermia. The monks find the bodies and put them in the cellar.

So they seem to be getting the hang of this format. The three stories all flow together nicely. The jokes are good and enjoyable. They make a lot of fun out of these bad cheezy comics.