VAMPIRELLA RED SONJA #10

“Drakulon.”

Writer: Jordie Bellaire

Artist: Drew Moss

Sonja and Vampirella are fighting each other and Sonja wins. She makes Vampirella admit that Sonja is the bestest evar. After the fun little tussle there is a feast in Sonja’s honor. She is given a gold ring that she puts on her wrist. This transports her back to Earth and she is with her former followers. Then Vampirella comes and the monsters that they fought attack. Sonja reveals herself to be a vampire and this scares her old followers. Sonja gets upset and wishes she never meet Vampirella. They have another fight with lots of talking about their feelings. They turn into bats and chase each other before hugging exhausted.

So any coherency that was established last issue is thrown out the window. What the Hell is going on. This had to be the most dumbest issue I ever read. Not just in this series but comics in general. The level of incompetency is truly a stunning sight to behold. Be warned that I think you will lose brain cells after reading this.

RED SONJA THE PRICE OF BLOOD #2

“The Price of Blood Chapter Two”

Writer: Luke Lieberman

Artist: Walter Giovani

After the assassination of the Inquisitor Sonja has to keep a low profile as the city guard are looking for her. Her employer comes with her next assignment the Chief of the Guard. She takes Sonja to one of the Chief’s lotus dens. There posing as buyers they get to the production room. Once there they kill the drug dealers and torch the place. This brings the Chief himself to investigate. While there he is killed by Sonja.

This was another fun issue. Sonja is a real badass who revels in a fight. She is still young and reckless but clearly having a good time. The villains are appropriately loathsome. I like how the story is told by Sonja narrating how she got into the dungeon. It gives the reader a foreshadowing that not all is going to go well. I also like the subplot with a Mitra priest and young girl. A nice little love story there. Should be interesting to see how this ends next issue.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #36

“A Stretch in Time…”

Writer: Marv Wolfman

Artist: Ernie Chan

The Thing, Skull and his friends now find themselves surrounded by carnivorous Brontosaurus after jumping in the river to escape the T-Rex. Thanks to the Thing and a thrown giant boulder they manage to escape. Later they have to survive a waterfall but make it back to the Thing’s jet with the salvaged parts. They get it going and find the portal to the present. Only the Jaguar priest with his pet pterodactyls follow them through. The Jaguar priest is obsessed with acquiring future tech to rule the past. The group land at Cape Canaveral and the Jaguar Priest grabs Ann. Fortunately Mr. Fantastic is there to help out. Only he has some problems with his stretch abilities but soldiers on. The Jaguar Priest is captured and Skull decides to give himself up to face trial for the death of his brother.

So ends Skull the Slayer. I am glad that Wolfman used this title to give us some closure on the character. He gets Skull and his companions back to the present. We get some fun battles with dinosaurs and a guest appearance with Mr. Fantastic. I also just love the wise cracking of the Thing. That corny stuff just cracks me up. I really do miss the comics of old. Anyway it is unfortunate that Skull lasted for such a little time. I loved this character and the world he inhabited. We never did get any resolution to the plot of Skull’s old army buddy going after him with an army of mercenaries. Nor did we get to explore this rich world of the past inhabited by people from all ages. Sadly this world or character was never revisited. We have to just appreciate the excellent issues that were created.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #102

“The Iron Lions of Kharamun”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is the leader of a Zuagir band that is very successful. So successful that the other bands want to get rid of him. So the chieftain makes a deal with the priestess of the Lion God. Later at night some guys in lion masks abduct Conan and take him to the priestess. She puts a spell on him that makes him a coward and afraid to even touch a sword. This new cowardice gets Conan driven from his band. He later is reduced to being a beggar in the city. A kind woman with a son takes him in. Unfortunately the Lion God guys in masks come to punish her. They kill the woman and her son while leaving Conan a cowering wreck.

Conan takes the remains of the woman and son to her father in the mountains. This guy helps Conan overcome the curse by giving him a bow that is immune to the curse and telling him to retrieve the Crimson Lotus in the mountains. Conan does this and has to battle a giant winged serpent. Conan manages to overcome his fear and kill the creature. Later on his return the lion men come to punish the old man. Conan manages to kill the lion men and the curse is lifted. He goes back to the Zuagirs to get revenge on the man who overthrew him.

“Men of the Shadows”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard

Artist: Gene Day

A Roman legion in Briton is destroyed by the Picts. Five of the legionnaires survive. They attempt to make it back to their base and are picked off one at a time. Finally the only one left is a Norseman and he comes on a horde of them.

This is an issue I remember well from the old days. It was a unique story in that it showed Conan as being a coward which is something I never saw before. It was a real humbling experience for Conan to be a beggar and unable to fight back. The story did a good job of him rediscovering his courage. I loved the ending where he rides back all badass and it’s his rival that shows who the real coward is. Also the first issue that Kwapisz gets a crack at. After Buscema he has to be my favorite Conan artist.

The backup story is another Howard one done by Thomas. That guy was a very prolific writer for it has been years since he left Marvel at this time and they still find stuff from him. A real excellent tale of ancient Briton and Howard’s obsession with Picts. Ends in a cliffhanger that will be told in a future issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #137

“Titan’s Gambit”

Writer: Bruce Jones

Artist: Alfredo Alcala

King Arvenger of Voldhom has this contest where the villages have to submit a champion against his. If they win then they get all his treasury including the golden Monika. If they lose well they forfeit all their gold. Arvenger’s champion is a dim giant named Bolo. Bolo has a simple childlike mind until a dwarf named Twillo plays a tune on his flute. This brings back the memories of Bolo’s parents being killed and he goes berserk. We see this as be defeats a grizzly bear with his bare hands.

Conan is enjoying a drink at an inn when some rowdy brothers disturb him. This results in the brothers getting beat up. A man named Grendl had hired the brothers to be a village’s champion but decides to recruit Conan instead. So Conan wins tournaments and gets the chance to fight Bolo. During the fight Bolo picks up a marble chair and throws it. This breaks open the treasure vault and Bolo sees the golden Monika. Memories flood back and he remembers that Arvenger was the one who killed his parents and took the Monika. The dwarf was the one playing the flute during this time. So he joins with Conan and manages to get his revenge. The king is overthrown and the people get back their gold.

This issue had an amusing story. The reader has a lot of sympathy for the giant Bolo who is clearly being used by the evil king and his dwarf. The story was not one of Conan’s more interesting story or a story that had a lot of action. It also involves a lot of convoluted plot twists to get to the desired ending. Still it kept my interest and sometimes that is enough for a comic book.

VAMPIRELLA RED SONJA #9

“Way Way Back”

Writer: Jordie Bellaire

Artist: Drew Moss

Sonja wakes up on Drakulon and finds that Vampirella is in a coma. Vampirella also has a daughter named Valeria. Sonja also finds out that Drakulon is suffering some kind of disease. Sonja has Valeria take her to the source of this sickness which is in a forest. There they are attacked by some huge creature with multiple blue eyes. Sonja recognizes it as a god of pestilence. They barely escape with their lives. Later back home Vampirella comes out of her coma and reveals that to save Sonja’s live she turned her into a vampire. Sonja is actually happy and uses her newfound vampiric strength to take on the giant god creature.

So now Sonja finds herself on Drakulon and there is this Lovecraftian type god creature that is destroying Drakulon. Vampirella apparently has a daughter who is a bit timid. Sonja is now a vampire and is able to take on this god. Yes there is all sorts of stuff just being thrown into the plot and hoping it will stick. I will say that this issue was a bit more coherent that the last few but that’s not a high bar.

RED SONJA THE PRICE OF BLOOD #1

“The Price of Blood Chapter One”

Writer: Luke Lieberman

Artist: Walter Geovani

Sonja is in a dungeon waiting for the gallows. She gets in a conversation with her fellow prisoner and tells her story of how she got there. After her last adventures a friend recommends a festival in Aquilonia. The Festival of Fire proves to be wild celebration of drinking and dancing. Sonja finds happiness which is short lived. The holy order of Mitra attacks the festival goers as heretics. Sonja is fighting them but is knocked out by a women. Yfat saved Sonja so she could hire her to take out the grand inquisitor and others driving a war of conquest. Sonja accepts and pretends to be a young girl in need of confessing her sins. The Grand Inquisitor takes her to his private chambers and this is the opportunity to kill him. Now Sonja has a 1000 gold price on her head.

It has been a while since I read a good old school Sonja story. One without time travel or aliens or crossovers with other titles. Just a good old story set in the Hyborian age against Hyborian foes. This mini-series continues from Birth of a She-Devil which Lieberman also wrote. A young Sonja who is still inexperienced with the world. This is a pretty solid story with interesting characters and good artwork. Interested to see how Sonja ends up in the dungeon and the true motives of this mysterious Yfat.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #35

“Enter: Skull the Slayer and Exit: The Thing!”

Writer: Marv Wolfman

Artist: Ernie Chan

Ben Grim The Thing has been asked by the Air Force to fly a plane into the Bermuda Triangle to look for a missing plane with a Cobalt Bomb on it. The Thing gets into the Triangle and is immediately attacked by a pterodactyl. It drags his plane back millions of years. This pterodactyl is a pet of the evil Inca Jaguar Priest. This priest is about to sacrifice Skull and his friends. The pterodactyl drops the plane off and The Thing can see that Skull and company are in trouble. So the Thing does what he does best which is clobbering time. He easily beats up all the Incans and takes out the evil priest and his magic staff. After freeing Skull and company they determine that his plane is too damaged but maybe they can salvage parts from the plane that brought Skull to this land. While going there they are attacked by a T-Rex and forced to jump into a river. A river filled with dangerous dinosaurs.

Marv decided to give us an ending to his Skull creation and took the time to write one in another title he was editor of. I am glad he did this to give a proper ending to Skull. So far I am really enjoying it. I forgot how fun comics used to be back in the old days. The Thing is always cracking his corny dialogue while beating up the bad guys. I wish comics could have the light-hearted irrelevance that they did.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #101

“The Siren”

Writers: John Buscema and Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema and Rudy Nebres

Conan is visiting an old friend in Argos. He comes on his castle and finds it under siege by Barachan pirates. Conan manages to fight is way to his friend. He later helps in a counterattack that sees his friend’s son captured. Actually he was killed but the pirate captain hides that fact. He gets plenty of gold for the safe return of the son. Only they get back a corpse and the man vows vengeance. So we find him on a ship going after the captain. They chase them to a mysterious fog back. Inside is a fleet of old ships caught in seaweed. Including the pirate ship they were chasing. A beautiful naked woman then appears offering to help. Conan can see she is a demon of some kind and this proves correct. Tentacled creatures then attack but are beaten off but not before taking his friend. Later the friend comes back and it is revealed he is turned into one of the tentacled creatures. That all sailors are eventually taken and turned into creatures of the beautiful siren.

So a giant sea serpent attacks which Conan defeats. Later the siren comes and sings her song which saps the will of the crew. They are taken by the creatures and Conan is saved for the siren. Only he breaks the spell and kills her. This kills all the creatures and Conan is the last survivor. He finds a rowboat and makes his way to shore.

Another enjoyable story plotted by Buscema and fleshed out by Fleisher. It was an enjoyable story with beautiful artwork. The only thing I have an issue with is why didn’t the siren use her song in the first place instead of just having her followers killed in the beginning. Maybe its just me who notices that stuff. Anyway a good solid issue with a full length story.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #136

“The River of Death”

Writer: Bruce Jones

Artists: John Buscema, Bulanadi & Candido

Conan is riding along the Thunder River when he hears the scream of a woman. Investigating he finds a group of hooded men beating to death a woman and taking her baby. Naturally Conan won’t stand by idly and promptly cuts these men down. Unfortunately he was too late and the mother died leaving him with a baby. So he continues on and finds a man hanged from a tree. He cuts him down and finds out he was the brother of the woman killed. The hooded men were followers of Dratha and were going to sacrifice the baby to her. He tells Conan that the father lives in the loch at the end of the river. He tells that there is a great reward for bringing the child to his father and they have a raft.

Conan agrees to help and the two with the baby continue down the river on the raft. They have to deal with vines that come alive, a tidal wave, a whirlpool and horde of mosquitos. Finally as they approach the loch they have to fight Dratha who is a huge tentacled old hag. Conan manages to kill her and they give the baby to his father. The father is revealed to be a huge tentacled male and the baby also revealed to be tentacled. For the reward Conan gets to take all the gold ore lying around.

This was a good story. One where the main antagonist is nature and not some bug-eyed monster or men. Although the ending has the big monster. A surprise reveal at the end that the baby is also a monster baby. (Never bothered to look under the blanket the baby was wrapped in.) Plus Buscema returns as artist. After the next three issues he was to take up the regular artist position which I have to admit I missed these past issues.