THE WARLORD #3

“Beasts Against Blades!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears

So Travis is now considered the god Crassus. Regine plays up the god belief and Brovis is taken to the dungeon. Travis then starts to enjoy the perks of godhood. On the surface in Antartica his fiance and friend have landed their helicopter. They find a cypress tree growing in the snow. They also find a T-Rex which smashes up their helicopter. Then it chases them over a ledge. They land in a body of water in a tropical environment. Back in Shamballah Travis is summoned to open the door that the god Crassus left. Surprisingly he uses the medallion he has around his neck and the door opens. Inside is a rocket.

So the story so far continues to have merit. Travis is now considered a god and his new girlfriend Regine is helping him along with the act. His friends on the surface have found a way into Skartaris. We get some more background on the legend of Crassus. And it ends with the reveal of the mysterious rocket. It has kept my interest in finding out what happens next.

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SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #3

“At the Mountain of the Moon-God”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Pablo Marcos

Conan is enjoying the celebrations after his defeat of Nahotek. He goes with princess Yasmela to her room when a dying man bursts in. It was a spy sent by Yasmela to find the whereabouts of her brother held captive by Ophir. He dies but delivers a map showing a secret passage to the Mountain of the Moon-God. Her handmaid Vateesa is jealous of Yasmela because she loves Conan. So Vateesa goes and sells the map to the king of Koth. Strabonis the king of Koth sends his man Sergius and his men to rescue the king so he can claim Khoraja for his kingdom.

Conan has taken off to rescue King Khossus with two men. While climbing the cliff Sergius starts an avalanche that kills the two men with Conan but Conan manages to escape and find a cleft that leads inside. Sergius and his men are ambushed and captured. Conan though manages to free the king and capture the traitor Vateesa. They flee down the cleft as the Ophir commander pours the cauldron of hot oil down. The oil manages to hatch a pterodactyl egg. The pterodactyl kills Vateesa but Conan breaks off it’s beak with his bare hands and manages to kill it. He returns the king to Khoraja but Yasmela has decided to marry the Stygian prince in exile that once served Natohk. Conan being Conan just shrugs and takes some serving wenches to celebrate.

“The First Barbarian Chronicles of the Sword Part II”
By Lin Carter
Illustrations by John Severin

The second part of the article on the birth of sword & sorcery. This one deals with Robert E. Howard and his first ever story of sword & sorcery “The Shadow Kingdom”. He wrote nine Kull stories in total but only was able to sell two.

“The Testing of Blackmark”
Writer and Artist: Gil Kane

Blackmark has now grown to adulthood. He apparently escaped slavery and became a successful bandit chief. Only King Kargon has captured him and is pissed that Blackmark is still not cowed. So he has him fight in the gladiatorial arena. Blackmark is paired with Balzamo the man who served king Amarix. He was there when Amarix transferred his knowledge into Blackmark’s mother. The two fight a giant fire-breathing lizard. Blackmark manages to kill it by climbing a statue in the arena and jumping down and driving his sword into the lizard’s brain.

“Kull of Atlantis”
Writer: Roy Thomas with quotations from “Exile of Atlantis” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A brief retelling on Kull’s origin. This was originally planned as a Kull paperback that was to be done by Thomas and Smith but never came to fruition.

“Demons of the Summit”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Bjorn Nyberg
Artist: Tony daZuniga

Conan is in the Turanian army and escapes the Khozgari after they ambush and massacre the men he was with. Only one man survived with him. The come on a woman named Shanya the daughter of the chief of the Khozgari. They take her as hostage and plan to go through the Misty Mountains. Shanya warns them that demons inhabit the mountains but Conan is not superstitious. When they get there his companion is crushed by a boulder and the girl is kidnapped. Conan follows to a fortress inhabited by some weird guys in masks. Conan kills them all and has to fight a spider like demon.

So this has an excellent sequel to “Black Colossus” from last issue. Thomas knew how to write just like Howard. The story is an enjoyable telling of the loose threads that Howard never explained.

The article is an interesting telling of Howard’s early Kull stories and why they didn’t become the success with “Weird Tales”.

Blackmark continues to be an interesting read. We are introduced to King Kargon and his scheming wife. There is also a rocket in the arena that foretells that the one who makes it fly will rule the kingdom. Blackmark also sees the warlord that killed his parents as a guest of Kargon. Sets up all the big plot points to this epic.

Finally the Kull story was an interesting look at a possible project that was never done. The Nyberg story was also an interesting look at Conan’s days in the Turanian army. Another excellent issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #44

“Of Flame and the Fiend!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story “The Tower of Blood” by David A. English
Artists: John Buscema & The Crusty Bunkers

Conan wakes up in the dungeon with Sonja. The two discuss what has happened to them when Morophla comes. He forces Conan to accompany him to his holding pen for the degraded human captives. He has plans to have Conan mate with his captives for fresh new stock for blood. He uses some powder to stimulate Conan and it descends into a psychedelic distortion as Conan is forced to perform. Later he is brought back to the dungeon. Uathacht the sister comes along and shows a desire for Conan. Conan agrees to be with her if she can set Sonja free. She later comes back with news that she has bound her brother’s soul. Only her jealousy drives her to try and kill Sonja. Sonja manages to win the knife fight and kills Uathacht. Then they are free and find their swords. Morophla while bound can still conjure images from Conan’s mind. So Conan fights a golden ape, an octopus and medusa headed giant snake. Sonja manages to spread oil and set it on fire. The fire reaches Morophla and kills him. The two escape with the help of the bat-men that are now free. Sonja at the end knocks Conan out with a rock since she does not want a man looking after her and rides off leaving an unconscious Conan.

Well this was a strange story. A bit risque for the seventies with its none to subtle rape of Conan. It was still an interesting story. It was nice to see Sonja and her interaction with Conan. An interesting experiment but good that we end it and move on to Conan and his adventuring in the Hyborean world.

CARSON OF VENUS #2

“The Flames Beyond”
Writer: Christopher Paul Carey
Artist: Cyrus Mesarcia

Carson is prisoner of the Havatoo scientist Varlek Sar. Carson finds out from Loto that she was transported back to Earth but Varlek was able to bring her back from Brooklyn. Varlek has been experimenting with the astral projection and has used the Myposians because of their latent ability. He has also launched a satellite and shows Carson what is happening back on Earth. The Axis powers are on the path to victory. Varlek has a way to help save Earth if Carson will use his psychic power of mental projection. Carson decides to help and agrees to the experiment. Once he projects his image in the room then Varlek has the ability to create hundreds of Carsons under his control. Meanwhile Duare, Ero Shan and Nalte are rescued by the angan. Duare convinces them to help rescue Carson if she can get help. So she has them fly her to the Falsians and their fleet of land ships. At the end the combined army is marching on Havatoo.

So there is a lot of callbacks from the novels. Varlek Sar is developing some sinister power. I loved that they manage to bring back Loto/Betty Callwell and give her some more story. I am curious to find out why the Falsians are helping. A very enjoyable continuation of the Carson of Venus sage.

LEGENDERRY RED SONJA #5

“Untitled”
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Rodney Buscemi

Sonja is tracking Kulan Gath’s bomb in the sewers of Big City with a geiger counter she got from Madame Curie. It leads her to the bomb and a gristly discovery. Gath has decapitated a lot of people and piled the heads around the bomb. He plans to detonate it and be rewarded by the dark gods. Gath and Tesla come and discover Sonja when her geiger counter makes noise. Gath sics the rats after her but Sonja evades them and makes it to the bomb. She is able to keep the rats at bay because of the radiation in the bomb. She takes the bomb and leaves after beating up Tesla and throwing a severed head at Gath.

So at the Nautilus Sonja dismisses her crew and takes the bomb out of the city. Gath and Tesla use magic to transport themselves to her sub. Sonja gives Tesla a beating and traps Gath in a mystical symbol she drew on the floor. She escapes the sub and the bomb blows up killing both Tesla and Gath. Later celebrating her victory at the local tavern she is approached by the members of Thorne’s gang. The gang is there to swear fealty to Sonja the new Queen of the underworld of Big City.

So the final issue goes out with a big bang literally. This was a very satisfying series. I liked this new Sonja and her steampunk world. I do hope that they do some more of this series in the future.

THE WARLORD #2

“Brutality in a Barbarian Land!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears

Brovis the brutal prince from Kolosis picks a sword fight with the stranger. He almost kills him when Regine the woman that rescued him intervenes. She convinces Brovis to fight the stranger in the arena in front of the people which he accepts. So Travis learns some sword fighting techniques from Regine. He has no memory of where he comes from or even his name. He does have a cockiness to him. While this goes on we learn of the Shamballah legend of Cassus the Warlord who will come at Shamballah’s time of need. On the surface Travis fiancee Alexa convinces her friend Terry to take a helicopter and continue the search for Morgan. The chopper has to make an emergency landing to refuel as a storm approaches.

So the big day comes. A fight to the death with the hand of the princess Tara as a reward. Travis also gets Brovis to agree to give up his kingdom if he wins. So they fight and Travis doesn’t even use his sword. But he moves so quick that he beats up Brovis. The crowd think he is a wizard and demand his death which the weak king will oblige. Only as Travis waits for the guards he takes off his shirt. The people are stunned and bow down to him. For Travis wears a necklace around his neck with the symbol of Cassus.

So the second issue continues to be interesting. Travis is shown as someone with some very good skills. There is a love interest growing between him and Regine while his other love on the surface that he doesn’t remember is still searching for him. Some stuff I don’t get is how he can understand Skartarian or why the Skartarians speak English. It does set up a mystery that makes the reader want to find out more in the next issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #2

“Black Colossus”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Alfredo Alcala

A thief comes to the ruins of Kuthchemes an old civilization that was sacked by Hyborians centuries ago. He comes to the tomb of the wizard Thugra Khotan. The thief manages to find a way into the old tomb and after battling a cobra finds a room filled with treasure. Only there is a sinister figure there too. Later the Princess Yasmela gets another dream from the mad priest Natohk who has managed to unite the various nomad tribes. He taunts her that he will take her for his queen. The princess asks her handmaiden for advice and she suggests preying to Mitra. As she preys in his temple a voice tells her to go and give command of her army to the first man she finds. So she does and it is Conan who is a mercenary in her army.

So she appoints Conan general to the dismay of her nobles. For the small state of Khoraja is in a bad situation. Her brother the king has been taken prisoner by a neighboring kingdom. Another larger one wants to annex the state and Natohk has raised a sizable force to conquer her small kingdom. Conan takes charge and marches the army to battle. The find Natohk’s army and the knights ignore Conan and charge. Only it is a trap and Natohk uses sorcery to defeat the knights. But Conan pulls things together and defeats the army. Natohk kidnaps Yasmela and takes her back to Kuthchemes and his tomb to perform a ritual for power. Conan follows and manages to throw his sword and kill Natohk who turns out to be the ancient wizard Thugra Khotan. Yasmela shows her gratitude by giving herself to Conan.

“Chronicles of the Sword an Informal of Sword-and Sorcery Fiction.”
Writer: Lin Carter
With illustrations by Al Milgrom, Alan Weiss and Joe Stanton

An article of the birth of the genre. He starts with Lord Dunsany an Irish poet who wrote in the early part of the twentieth century. He was an influence of Lovecraft who influenced Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard.

“Blackmark Chapter II”
Writer & Artist Gil Kane

On the post-apocalypse New Earth the young Blackmark shows signs of intelligence and strength at an early age. One day a warlord comes to conquer the land. Blackmark’s father refuses to submit and is killed. Blackmark’s mother is raped and killed. The young Blackmark is left and vows to get his revenge by conquering the New Earth. Only slavers find him at the end.

“The Beast from the Abyss”
Writer: Steve Englehart adapted from “Black Abyss” by Robert E. Howard & Lin Carter
Artists: Howard Chaykin & The Crusty Bunkers

Kull is visiting the city of Kamala. The city is known for its decadent pleasure and Kull finds the Baron Ergon a gracious host. As Kull leaves the festivities Brule comes with news that his fellow Picts have been kidnapped. Kull and Brule follow the trail to an underground chamber. There the decadent Baron Ergon is using the captive Pict as a sacrifice to a worm creature. Kull kills the pagan worshipers and flings a burning torch at the worm and sets it aflame.

So this issue had a Howard story which is a classic. It has Conan thrust into a role of leadership which he is obviously suited for. A dead wizard come back to life. He rides a chariot pulled by a demon winged camel and driven by an ape creature. And of course Conan gets the girl at the end. A wonderful story.

The article was interesting and the first installment of a series. The articles for this magazine were usually interesting.

The Blackmark story continues to establish the character. It now gives him his motivation. A fun story combining Conan type action with a futuristic post-apocalypse world.

Finally the Kull story was an enjoyable read. I believe based on a fragment of a Howard story finished by Carter. A wonderful tale of a decadent civilization and Kull’s barbaric justice.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #43

“Tower of Blood”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by David A. English
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chua

Conan and Sonja are being chased by bounty hunters. The heirs to the king Sonja killed put a big bounty on her head. They manage to shoot an arrow into Sonja’s horse. So Conan finds a cleft in a hill to hide in. Once their they manage to start an avalanche and kill all but one of the bounty hunters. So without horses the two explore what’s through the cleft and find a fog enshrouded valley. A bat creature attacks them which Conan kills. Then they make it to a mysterious tower and a figure knocks them out with a thrown vile that releases a smoke.

Conan wakes and finds that they are prisoners to an immortal brother and sister named Morophla and Uathacht. The two were driven from Stygia by Thoth Amon and cursed to need blood to remain alive. They ruled over a city of humans but the mist in the valley killed and devolved them over time. They plan to use Conan and Sonja to repopulate their human herd. The jealous Uathacht pushes Sonja into a pit that has a cannibalistic monster named Dromek. Conan jumps in and defeats the creature with a bone. Morophla uses his mesmerism to force Conan to take Sonja into a cell where they await their fate.

So here is another interesting story. I never heard of this David English but from this I would like to read some of his work. Continuing on from the debut of Savage Sword we have Sonja and Conan together. Its obvious that Sonja is a likable character and destined for great things including her own series. So how will Conan and Sonja escape from these creepy wizards. Looking forward to the next issue.

CARSON OF VENUS #1

“The Flames Beyond”
Writer: Christopher Paul Carey
Artist: Cyrus Mesarcia

Carson is in his anotar(airplane in Amtorian) test flying it with his mate Duare and friends Ero Shan and Nalte. They are attacked by angan(bird-men) and shot down. The angan accuse Carson of slaughtering his people. They take the four to Brokol the city of the plant men. Carson is accused of abducting their goddess Loto. See Escape from Venus.

Just then another anotar comes and strafes the city with R-rays. The man who attacks is Varlek Sar from Havatoo. Carson finds out from Ero Shan that Varlek is a scientist in charge of finding Carson and bringing him back for his scientific knowledge. So this proves his innocent with the angan and Carson has them fly the group to the city of Mypos and the fish-men. Carson knew that Varlek would be there and the group infiltrate through the underwater passageways. Only they get captured. Carson manages to use his astral projection to lead the dumb guard to his cell and knock him out and escape. Only he then blunders into the throne room with Varlek and the girl Loto or Betty Callwell from Earth.

I just love American Mythology. They really understand the Burrough’s universe and hire writers who do it justice. We get a visit to several places from the novels. In fact this story feels like something that Burroughs would have written. There is a plot hole is how Carson knew Varlek would be in Mypos but a small detail. Burroughs did have his own occasional plot holes so just adds some flavor. I am looking forward to the continuation of Carson’s adventures on Venus.

LEGENDERRY RED SONJA #4

“Untitled”
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Rodney Buchemi

Kulan Gath has captured the Nautilus and Sonja and her crew are prisoners. Gath is about to kill Sonja when the ship of crime boss Thorne arrives and starts shooting Gath’s men. During this time Tesla decides to knife her lover D’nar. Then Thorne comes on the ship carrying his portable gatling and runs to his daughter. Only Gath stabs him with a sword and his daughter seems unfazed at the death. Then she goes to Gath and calls him her love before kissing him. Sonja is disgusted by this but manages to save her crew and get the Nautilus away from Gath’s ship. Gath is left with a chest full of the mysterious explosive element. Sonja heads to the Big City and seeks out Madame Curie for help in defeating Gath.

So this issue had a real development that I didn’t see coming. I never would have thought that Tesla would have some romantic relationship with Kulan Gath. I think I was shocked as Sonja was. This was an exciting issue and takes the story to a whole new level. Should be interesting to see how Madame Curie fits into the conclusion.