“Toward Shadowed Places”
Writers: Bruce Jones & Brent Anderson
Artist: Brent Anderson
Dherk is fixing the equipment that keeps the antarctic weather from freezing Pangea. While exploring Shanna comes on a room that has what look like little miniature animals under little glass domes. The griffin a half-lion half-eagle fascinates Shanna. So much in fact that she decides to take it with her. This proves to be a big mistake as the animals are real and have been kept in a stasis for all these millennium. It now grows to a huge size and is very hungry. It leaves a trail of dead animals all the way to the Aerie Shalan. Ka-zar, Shanna and Dherk join Buth and the Aerieans in defeating the griffin. They drive it into a volcano. At the end they find a doorway at the base of the volcano. An inscription above the door says, “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”
Another enjoyable installment in the story of Pangea. There is still some tension between Shanna and Ka-zar but they seem to be getting over their issues. Shanna seems a bit off. She is acting like an airhead. There was also a strange look at one point that passed between her and Dherk. Something seems just not right. So we end with them standing at what looks like the gates of Hell. A great place to end the issue.
Writers: Brian Wood & Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman
John and Dejah have crashed in a bad part of Helium. Dejah has taken off to see Den Thokar by herself. John and his green friends are going to see Tars Tarkas. As they leave their flyer is attacked by drones. The drones shoot needles that have a bio-engineered toxin that kills green men. Only John and the pilot survive. They head to a place where Tars Tarkas is organizing resistance against Den Thokar. Meanwhile Dejah meets Den Thokar and he has a lot of issues from being abandoned by John Carter.
The second issue shows how Barsoom has changed. There is much more advanced technology as illustrated by the self-replicating drones. Barsoom is now a society that has abandoned its old chivalry. Indeed the city of Helium makes Detroit look like Vegas. Tars Tarkas is now a huge Thark over 20 feet tall. The Green men go through transformations over time. Tars is the first to live to such an age to experience such a transition. We also learn that Den Thokar is actually a great great grandson. This is such a fascinating idea. There is still so much more to explore. What happened to the other characters for instance. The other nations on the planet. Den Thokar claims he is the Jeddak of all of Barsoom so you wonder it there are any independent nations on the planet. Looking forward the to next issue.
“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell
Morgan is heading back from his epic confrontation with Deimos and runs into a polar bear. He manages to kill it with his pistol and speculates that it got lost and wandered into Skartaris. Later he finds out the truth that he is the one lost. For he comes upon the sun of the surface world. He forgot that the compass will point north any way he goes so close to the north pole. Before he can turn back a Soviet Mig fighter buzzes him. The fighter decides to open fire. Morgan manages to bring it down with is pistol. The story ends with a helicopter approaching. Meanwhile Tara and Shakira decide to head out in search of Morgan and leave Jenny in the care of Faaldren.
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Tom Yeates
Thiron has returned to King’s Isle and demands from the masters why his sword speaks with the dragon that he killed. The masters refuse and this gets young Thiron to challenge them. The head master opens a chasm and challenges Thiron to jump over it. When he does the chasm widens and he falls to his doom. But the Dragonsword has the soul of the dragon in it and can fly. So he manages to fly back and fight the master. Before the fight is finished a beautiful woman appears. Anne the Archmage and head of the school has arrived. She takes Thiron to her abode and tells him the story.
A long time ago the emperor Quisel made a pact with the dark forces to gain a battle ax. This ax is invincible and now the balance between light and dark is upset. The school has been searching for a warrior to take on the evil emperor. Now with the magical Dragonsword they believe that Thiron may be that warrior.
So this was a fun little side trip in Morgan’s adventures. He gets to visit the surface world and battle a Soviet Mig. Now that is a nearly impossible feat to take down a fighter jet with a pistol. Its understandable that he was so cocky after such a feat. Of course the pilot had friends and they are coming which makes a great way to end this.
The Dragonsword epic is rolling along nicely. Now Thiron is a young hothead which we get to see. I loved the test and his ability with this new mysterious Dragonsword. The dragon is very cryptic but consistent with his proclamations that Thiron is doomed. He also likes to pronounce his m’s as mmmmm. Dysillus the halfling squire is a great idea as the comic relief. I am looking forward to the confrontation with this evil emperor.
“A Matter of Necessity!”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Carmine Infantino
The planet Carillon is attacked by the Haalmhad. They literally destroy the planet. Now they are headed to the third planet in the system named Cymoril. Cymoril is defenseless and has hours left. The Haalmhad are a nomadic people that travel in a giant starship. They are apparently threatened by a possible alliance this system was about to enter. Starlord’s ship decides to go to the rescue. We learn that the ship was at one time a sun that had two inhabited planets in its orbit. One day a fleet came and shot a missile into the sun causing a supernova. The sun’s consciousness survived and was later rescued by our sun’s master. She then was made into the ship that Starlord would use.
So Starlord agrees to help the ship and he manages to sneak aboard the Haalmhad ship. There he sabotages their systems. The Haalmhad are forced to abandon the ship and start over on an uninhabited world. So Starlord and his ship manage to save Cymoril without killing the Haalmhad.
“Time Travel: The Fantasy of Science Fiction”
By Arthur Curtis
An article on time travel fiction. It points out that time travel has no actual basis in science and should be classified as fantasy. He goes on about the history of time travel in fiction. It includes movies and TV. This was an informative article about time travel. There were a number of books that sounded interesting and I might try sometime.
Writers: Don & Maggie Thompson
Artist: Lee Elias
A man finds himself in front of a statue of Adolf Hilter. It lists him as dying in 1973 and this is the place the Lincoln Memorial should be. Harry Pitzer knows he is not back in his own world. So a twist of the knob on his belt and he is in another world. This one ruled by the Romans. World after world he goes to. Some are like his but have subtle differences. Others are completely different. A world with British and Arab soldiers fighting a battle. The Union Jack flies on the White House. Aliens are invading one world.
Harry is from the future of 1990. This time has discovered the secret of dimension jumping. It is illegal but Harry hit a dimensional patrolman who materialized in front of his car. He took the belt so he could go to a more advanced dimension and grab a money making idea. In this case a new paperclip. Now he is desperate to get back because the dimensional police can track the belt and also know if a person doesn’t belong in a dimension. Unauthorized travel to dimensions is death.
Finally Harry gets back to a world that looks like his. He finds his house and car with the damage to the front. So he sets the belt to travel by itself and plans to make a lot of money on his new found invention. He goes to the bookstore and realizes he has made a mistake. The book he finds is “The Collected Love Poems” of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
So this Starlord story was an exciting one. We get to find out about his ship who has a sentience of its own. It was a sun. The ship was willing to go it alone if Starlord didn’t help which shows the ship is an independent entity. This had an epic feel with the Haalmhad ship and its destructive power. An enjoyable story.
The real fun story was the backup which overshadowed the main story. I loved this idea of a man traveling into parallel worlds. Just a wealth of strange worlds that had dinosaurs, cavemen, aliens and victorious Nazis. There was some real humor in the various newspaper headlines. James Dean Wins an Oscar. Communists Praise Senator Joe McCarthy. President Agnew Wins a Fourth Term. Katherine Hepburn Elected President. Pentagon Warns WWIV Inevitable. Of course the big reveal that he was mistaken about his world was priceless.
“Arba & Dakarba”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones
Groo and Rufferto are traveling through a desolate land that is devoid of people. They come upon giant apparitions of Arba & Dakarba. The two evil witches have cast a spell to drive off people from their domain. Only Groo is too stupid to be scared of these giant illusions. So he continues on to a village. The village has been terrorized by the two witches and are desperate. So desperate they actually hire Groo to help them.
Now the two witches have to come up with something to defeat Groo. After careful consideration they feel only Groo could defeat Groo. So they create a giant Groo and order him to go destroy Groo. The giant is as dumb as Groo and spends its time eating the villagers food. So they then create a hundred normal size Groos. Groo gets into a fray with all these Groos and ends up destroying the village. The two witches use their last amount of power to banish the duplicate Groos. The giant Groos comes and demands food. Their power exhausted the duo are forced to flee the wrath of giant Groo. The villagers can now rebuild free of the evil witches tyranny. The young girl Kayli comes and asks Groo for help in finding her father which Groo gladly decides to help.
Arba & Dakarba are a mother daughter witch team. They are evil and have been known to try and use Groo in their evil schemes. Naturally Groo always causes them trouble and they usually lose their power. If you put their names together and spell it backwards you get Abra Kadabra. So this was a fun outing. Groo gets to have a fray with himself many times over. The evil witches get what’s coming to them and by some miracle the village actually comes out ahead.
Oh and we finally get the main quest that will be in this series. Groo has embraced the search for Kayli’s father.
“In the Beginning”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Brent Anderson & Carlos Garion
Ka-zar and Shanna go back to the cryogenic chamber were Dherk died. Ka-zar wants to explore it better. When they get there Dherk’s body is gone. They track it to another room where it is hooked up to some wire. Just then a flying robot attacks. It drives them into a room that is a video library. Here they can see the history of Pangea and the Atlantean empire. A pipe breaks and floods the room almost drowning them.
Fortunately the water pressure bursts open the door and they are free. Once again they face the robot when Dherk comes to the rescue. He destroys the robot who he calls Mother. Mother was a caretaker for Pangea and was having a breakdown. Later its found out that Dherk is actually a robot that Mother build and transferred its consciousness into. Now Dherk has to fix the refractors to keep Pangea livable.
Now this is where the series is really picking up. They discover the origins of Pangea. It was an Atlantean Disneyland. The Savage Land was a natural phenomena which they used as a stock area and game refuge. The only thing I found a bit unbelievable was the Atlantean tapes having all the writing in English. You would think it be a completely different language. Now Pangea is in danger and we will get to see what new adventures this brings our savage companions.
“Twilight of the Red Queen”
Writers: Brian Wood & Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman
John Carter and Dejah Thoris are living on the moon of Titan. It is a bleak place and it is thousands of years in the future. A ship arrives with some green men. They have come for their help. Barsoom is dying they say. A war of genocide is being waged by a dictator. This dictator Den Thokar is their son. A son that Dejah thought was dead. In reality John Carter faked his death. The boy murdered another child when he was little and apparently is a psychopath. He wanted to conceal that from Dejah who is not too happy about the deception.
So they both agree to go back. When entering the atmosphere the ship comes under attack and crash lands on the outskirts of Helium. This Helium has changed and looks like a ghetto. As they are about to leave Dejah takes off alone into the city.
John Carter has always been portrayed as a timeless figure who can’t remember being a child and seems to live forever. Burroughs established this mystical persona that every subsequent comic adaptation has stuck to. This idea of an actual end to his story is very intriguing. Here we have a visibly old John Carter and Dejah Thoris. They have been living the life of hermits on a bleak desolate moon. We find out this is because of their sons death. A son who is apparently a psychopath and now waging a genocidal war that is destroying Barsoom. Indeed our first glimpse shows a ghetto that is Helium. I am looking forward to how this series develops.
“This Savage World”
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell
A reprinting of Warlord #1.
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Tom Yeates
Young Thiron a recent graduate of King’s Isle is on a quest. He is to find a dragon and kill it with his new sword. He is accompanied by his squire Dysillus who is a talking ape. Thiron finds the dragon guarding his treasure horde deep in a mountain. The two then fight with Thiron jumping into the dragon’s mouth. Then he places his sword in the mouth and jumps out. The dragon shuts his mouth and impales the sword through his brain. Later at the local inn Thiron refuses the reward because he is unsure that the dragon is dead. For you see the dragon talks to him through his sword.
Well they decided to run a reprint of the first issue. At the time I was happy they did this because I had never read the first issue and it was good to get a look at Morgan’s beginnings. It is also a real good story and probably a good time to run it.
The new backup story also turned out to be a real winner. I loved this strange medieval world with dragons and talking apes. Both the dragon and Thiron are shown to be some sort of pawns in someone’s plan. Thiron seemed to be a good hedonist. He carries around a flagon of mead and goblets. He also will break the rules to have a good dinner at the local inn. The dragon imprisoned in his sword was an intriguing idea and I looked forward to the next installment.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Carmine Infantino
Starlord has arrived at a desolate desert world in response to a call for help. He is attacked by the dreadnoughts of the Lorq a reptilian race. The ship crashes and severely injures Starlord. The ship decides to create a physical persona of itself and forms a beautiful woman. She names herself Caryth Halyan. She pretends to be a survivor from another ship that found him and healed him. So the two go off looking for the intelligence that brought Starlord to this world. They find a cavern deep inside a mountain. After successfully fighting off hordes of small crabs they connect with the Trinity. The Trinity is about to give birth to a tree of life. Starlord and Caryth fight off the Lorq and defeat them but Caryth loses her human body.
“Three Kinds of the Fannish Encounters”
By Don & Maggie Thompson
An article about science fiction fans. There are three kinds. The first that buy, read and collect the various books and memorabilia. The second is communicating with other fans through fanzines then they recommend three popular ones. The third is direct contact at conventions. Interesting but a bit dated for this now internet age. Oh and don’t call it sci-fi. Apparently that’s an insult.
Writer David Kraft
Artist: Bob Wakelin
A craft lands on the forbidden world of Cyndriana and a pilot prods an elderly couple off the ship. He then murders them and takes their valuable. As he hides it in the jungle he is confronted by a naked woman. She seduces him and later he finds himself attacked by the plant life. As he tries to reach his ship the skeletons of the murdered couple come to life and drag him underground.
Writer: Rich Marshall
Artist: Alfredo Alcala
Cathy Bailey is a college student driving home for the holidays. She stops at a diner for coffee and gets some unwanted attention from a biker. She leaves and later finds the man pursuing her. She desperately tries to escape and ends up crashing the car into a tree. The biker comes and breaks open the window and drags her out. Now a flying saucer is over the crash site. It takes the car and motorcycle then zips away. The man was trying to warn the girl and not after her.
So this Starlord story was a mixed bag. On one hand the story itself was in some ways kind of dull. The redeeming part was having the ship create a human body. There seems to be a love that the ship has for Starlord and now it can actually interact with him. Some beautiful artwork but as I said the story was sort of ho-hum.
The second was also OK but nothing special. Sort of your typical evil doer gets his comeuppance.
The third was my favorite. It was a written story with illustrations to go along with it. A very interesting story with suspense and a twist ending.
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones
So after wrecking Captain Ahax’s ship Groo decides to visit his grandmother. Granny Groo raised him into the man he became and has been apologizing for it ever since. Now Granny Groo lives with the gypsies and the gypsies have really pissed off the local village. They plan to burn down the gypsy camp and form a mob. When they arrive they find out Groo has already burned down half of it. Now the presence of Groo puts enough fear into them to abandon their plans. Granny Groo wisely uses Groo to intimidate the villagers into voluntarily giving up their money to her various scams. She eventually comes up with a plan to get rich and get rid of Groo at the same time. She put him up for sale as a bodyguard and has a raffle. The winner can use Groo to intimidate anyone. So the winner then uses Groo to bully the villagers into giving him anything he wants. Groo though misunderstands one of his commands and destroys the village. The villagers go after the hapless man while Groo decides to move on. Granny Groo ends up with a wheelbarrow full of money.
So Granny Groo. The woman who raised Groo and his sister Groella. Granny is a con artist who is always trying to separate people from their money. She seems to genuinely love her grandson while acknowledging that he is a complete imbecile and walking disaster. She gave young Groo many a spanking and has given the adult Groo a few spankings for his blunders. She usually tries to use Groo for one of her many schemes to get rich with disastrous results. In this instance she actually came out ahead at the expenses of a poor village.
We also get introduced to young Kayli. A little girl looking for her father. She was a passenger on the ill fated ship from last issue and now she hooks up with the gypsies. Granny Groo has plans to use her in her larcenous schemes and young Kayli’s quest will become more central to the overall story arch.