CONAN THE BARBARIAN #97

“The Long Night of Fang and Talon! Part Two”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan is tied up on an alter as Ajaga calls the beasts to the Bloodmoon feast. They come from the jungle, snakes, crocodiles, leopards, and hawks. Ajaga will have them tear apart Conan. At this time Belit with Sholo come on the scene and attack. Belit manages to knock out Ajaga and free Conan. Conan than dumps a cauldron of water on the symbol of Jhebbal Sag. Ajaga comes to surrounded by his animals but has forgotten the language because of the knock on his head. So his creatures turn on him. When they finish tearing him apart, they revert back to their true natures and attack each other. Sholo saves Conan from one of Ajaga’s cheiftains but is impaled on the spear. The timely arrival of the Black Corsairs save Conan and Belit. They free the captive chief’s daughters and sail off with all the booty they can carry from Abombi.

The end of the Beast King of Abombi sage. It was an enjoyable story. The beast king came to a gruesome end by his own animals. Shlomo sacrificed his life to save Conan. Conan and Belit secure their position on the Black Coast. Now we are fast approaching the big 100 issue. Roy could have tried to pad this story out some more but choose wisely to end it. So we will get some more fill in adventures until the big 100 event.

KAMANDI CHALLENGE #5

“Sub Tropical Thunder”
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Ivan Reis

Kamandi and Vila are on a machine being hunted by the Kanga Rat Murder Society. Vila has an idea to save them. She drives the machine over a cliff and wraps her body around Kamandi. They both survive the fall and now Vila has formed herself into a raft. They both go to sleep as a ship comes on them. Kamandi awakes to find he was rescued by Babal Crow a dog-man and his ship the SS Typhoon. Unfortunately Babel thought Vila was a bunch of twigs and left her behind. Kamandi has to work for his passage and gets dropped off when they reach land.

Kamandi meets a famous passenger named Raja Maccao. A tiger-man who was a world famous wrestler and now a famous detective. He agrees to let Kamandi tag along on his next assignment. Along the way they are ambushed by raiders called the Bintur Horde who ride giant owls. Raja escapes by jumping into a river but Kamandi is captured. He is sold to a crazy racoon doctor that wants to harvest his organs. Dr. Vokolo has this three-D printer and he needs templates to store in it’s system. Raja manages to escape the giant fish that tried to eat him in the river and track down Kamandi. When he gets there he finds that Dr. Vokolo has already removed Kamandi’s organs.

I got to hand it to this writer. He really left the next writer a challenge. I found this story very fast paced and interesting. The characters were just all wonderful and the artwork did it justice. I loved this new character Raja Maccao. A tough old tiger who is gregarious and has this outgoing personality. I was sorry to see them get rid of Vila but hopefully she will return. The writer for the last issue didn’t give us how he would have got Kamandi out of the cliffhanger from last issue.

THE GREATEST ADVENTURE #7

“Untitled”
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Cezar Razek

The fleets of Helium and the First Born have met in battle. The Resolve is proving to be very decisive in this battle. It’s weapons are causing destruction while it is impervious to the gunfire of Helium. So Tarzan with John Carter and the crew of The Venture volunteer to board the Resolve. They manage to get on and decide to split up. One group going to take out the engines while the other the bridge. Tarzan goes off alone.

Meanwhile Rokoff and Miranda have a falling out and go their separate ways. Esteban meets up with Tarzan. At this time John Carter’s group capture the bridge and gain control of the ship. Yet the victory is short lived as Tarzan is found dead. He is buried with honors as Jane plans to continue the quest.

This was an enjoyable issue. There was plenty of action as they board and capture The Resolve. I finally noticed that Esteban Miranda is the one from Tarzan and the Golden Lion. He bears an identical resemblance to Tarzan which is why Rokoff recruited him. I thought he died in the book. Anyway just another incongruity in the canon of Burroughs. Its obvious that Tarzan has faked his death and uses Miranda as the corpse. Still looking forward to see how this series ends.

MACHINE MAN #8

“Super-Escape”
Writer and Artist: Jack Kirby

Machine Man is trapped in an old missile silo by a criminal syndicate known as The Corporation. He agrees to surrender if they release Dr. Spaulding. The chief agrees and puts the Doctor on a helicopter for home. Once safely free Machine Man tries to escape but the defenses include an acid gun if he tries to use his magnetic boots to climb out. So Machine Man transfers power from his hand weapon to his rocket boots. Thus he rockets out to freedom.

Only the thugs are waiting outside with sonic weapons and knock out Machine Man. They take him to their secret underground HQ. The plan is the copy him and reproduce others they can sell. Only Machine Man proves more powerful than they expected. He breaks free and with his flamethrower hand melts the sonic cannon. The chief and his lieutenants escape in a pneumatic train as the complex is about to be destroyed by an atomic bomb. Machine Man converts his feet to wheels for the track. He takes off after the thugs. Meanwhile General Kragg in a jet finds the chopper with Dr. Spaulding and rescues him. They continue to search for the Corporation’s HQ and find it just as the nuke goes off.

Another fun issue. Machine Man is really the Swiss army knife of robots. The guy just has all sorts of stuff he can turn into. So funny that the criminals are somewhat upset that Machine Man doesn’t keep his word to cooperate. What do they expect? Their criminals. Criminals with nukes which is just nuts. They knew how to comics back in those days.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #58

“For the Throne of Zamboula”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from book “Conan & the Sword of Skelos” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema & Tony DeZuniga

Conan has been betrayed by Aktar Khan. Now he seeks vengeance. He allies with Boland the rebel that seeks the throne. He also gets the Shanti tribesmen to join in by luring out his loyal troops. Than Conan attempts to sneak into the palace to free Isparana. Only they were waiting for him and soon he is captured. He is tortured for a while before being brought before Zafra. Zafra attempts to kill Conan with his magic sword. Only Conan manages to evade the sword and leave the room. The sword needs to kill once activated and turns of Zafra. Conan than takes the sword and a uniform from a guard he kills to find Isparana. He finds her in the dungeon being tortured and dispatches the guards and torturer.

With Isparana they go to the throne room to take Aktar Khan captive. Only he is surrounded by guards and the two are forced to surrender. The guards are sent outside because Aktar Khan wants to use his magic sword to dispatch the two. Only with Zafra dead it doesn’t work. Boland and the rebels arrive and Boland dispatches Aktar with a well placed arrow. Conan is disgusted by the cowardly way Boland killed him. Before Boland and do anything Zafra crawls in still alive. He commands the sword to kill Boland which it does. Conan cuts off Zafra’s head before he can turn it on him. The people proclaim Junghir Khan the young son of Aktar the rightful Khan.

“REH: Bard from the Shadows”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the poems of Howard. A somewhat dry article.

“Mirror of the Manticore”
Writers: Roy Thomas and Fred Blosser
Artist: Kerry Gammill

Olgerd Vladislov crawls off into the desert to die after his encounter with the creature at the oasis. While in the desert he witnesses a father and his daughter escaping bandits. The leader Khemal Bey kills the father and takes the daughter. They leave a mirror with a manticore figure in the frame behind. Olgerd than finds from the dying father that the mirror can heal him. He tells Olgerd how if he will rescue his daughter. Olgerd agrees and uses the mirror to regenerate himself. He goes off and confronts Khemal to a duel for control of his brigands. Olgerd wins and becomes known as the Tiger.

The final ending to Offutt’s novel. It was an enjoyable ending that had many twists and turns that were unexpected. Conan negotiates different factions to rescue Isparana and defeat the Khan. What I found unexpected was how Boland showed himself to be just as equally an unjust ruler. Zafra the wizard shows up unexpectedly and kills Boland which was another surprise. An enjoyable story that I will have to someday read the books.

A fun bonus was the story of how Olgerd Vladislov came back from his encounter with the creature from a Thomas story. This was before they got the rights to DeCamp. So after adapted the Flame Knife there was some discrepancies unanswered as how he came to escape the creature. So Thomas had Blosser come up with a story outline and I have to say it did a good job. We now know how Olgerd escaped to once again confront Conan. A good solid issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #96

“The Long Night of Fang and Talon! Part One”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan and the lion Shlomo continue on to Abombi. They find a cave that leads to the city. Only a trap was set and the floor gives way. Conan and Shlomo are thrown into an underground river. A giant electric eel attacks Conan. He gets a shock when his sword touches the eel. So Conan has to use a rock to cut off the eel’s head. Conan then passes out from lack of oxygen and floats to the surface. The followers of Ajaga find him and take him to Ajaga. The beast king has plans to sacrifice both Conan and Belit to solidify his bid to control the Black Coast.

Shlomo is swept down the river until he is washed ashore. There he manages to find Belit who is captive with the daughters of chiefs from surrounding villages. Shlomo recognizes Belit and manages to tear out the bars so she can escapes. The two continue to look for Conan as Conan is tied to an alter to be sacrificed.

So Conan has some fun adventures that highlight how much a bad ass he is. An interesting idea to bring back Shlomo from the early days and have him be a loyal companion to Conan. Belit is shown to also be a tough woman who refuses to give up. Another early comic I remember as a kid that I enjoyed very much.

KAMANDI CHALLENGE #4

“The Wild Wondrous West”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Carlos D’Anda

Kamandi and Vila are about to be sacrificed to the giant jaguar god. Kamandi gets out of it’s hand and stabs it with his knife with little effect. He gets scooped up into the mouth and wakes up with two jaguar-men looking at him. The two are Professor Cano and his assistant R’Lash. The giant jaguar then eats Vila who falls in with her leg and arm gone. Luckily she can grow them back. Cano found machinery abandoned in the jungle and build the giant robot to control the primitive jaguar people.

Kamandi wants to leave but Cano insists on keeping him and Vila for study. Kamandi draws a pistol and shoots out the console screen. Then he scoops up Vila and goes out the mouth. A jet is hanging like a necklace on the robot jaguar. Kamandi manages to get it started and takes off. The jet knocks off the head and Cano and R’Lash must face the jaguar tribe. The jet crashes in the desert and Kamandi and Vila are captured by Kangaroo-men. They are given weapons and a vehicle to have a fighting chance against the Kanga Rat Murder Society.

I vaguely remember the Kanga Rat Murder Society. So this writer brings back an old enemy from the original series. I loved this issue where Kamandi finds a giant jaguar robot run by a mad scientist. This was something that the original series would have had. Vila continues to be a strong companion for Kamandi. The writer from the last issue would have had Kamandi jump in the jet necklace and take off. The jet would burn the giant jaguar and he would run off in pain. Another enjoyable issue.

THE GREATEST ADVENTURE #6

“Untitled”
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Cezar Razek

The Resolve has been taken by the mutinous First Born. The creepy old master has managed to take over the mind of one of the First Born. He has him kill the guards guarding Rokoff and Miranda. They leave their cell to go and carry out the master’s grand plan. Tarzan and John Carter are brought to the arena to fight for the amusement of the Warhoon. Tarzan chooses a large spear and amazes the Warhoon when his throw kills the Jeddak. This causes pandemonium as half the Warhoon want to kill them and the other half make them part of the tribe. As they fight Tarzan and Carter use their Earth strength to jump out and go to the equilibrimotor belts Tarzan hid in the desert. This gets them to the Helium fleet. A fleet that has gathered to fight the First Born.

This was a fun issue. Plenty of humorous action as Tarzan and John Carter join forces to escape the Warhoon. On the Resolve we have the mysterious master demonstrate his power of mind control. All this as the First Born gather to conquer Barsoom. Plus we get introduced to Dejah Thoris. I have to say I love the artist work on this series. The women are beautiful. The look has a stylized retro feel. The story also keeps my interest.

MACHINE MAN #7

“With a Nation Against Him!”
Writer and Artist: Jack Kirby

Machine Man is before a Congressional committee to determine his status. He is remanded into the custody of Dr. Spaulding. Outside the mob is hostile but Machine Man uses his extended arm to stop a pickpocket. The crowd then turns to his favor. On the ride home Machine Man and Dr. Spaulding are attacked by a robot called Paratron. Dr. Hiram Girk is out to prove his robot is stronger by destroying Machine Man. Only MM melts Paratron to slag with his flame thrower.

During the night Dr. Spaulding is kidnapped and the kidnappers demand Machine Man surrender himself to save him. So MM surrenders to these guy who take him away in a helicopter. With MM gone the public starts to panic that MM is loose and every bad thing is attributed to him. A sleazy Congressman is using this to further his career. MM is taken to an abandoned missile silo. There he finds out a criminal syndicate is behind the kidnapping. The criminals want to reproduce Machine Men for their own use.

Well this was a fascinating issue. Machine Man gets to defend himself. He has a strange battle with some kooky little guy that built his own robot. His friend Dr. Spaulding is kidnapped by criminals so they can create machine men for their own nefarious uses. I love how Kirby manages to portray the fickleness of people. They easily get swayed one way than the other. Some interesting developments are General Kragg seems more sympathetic to Machine Man. Also the other Congressmen on the panel are willing to give him a fair shake. Only this sleazy one wants to use Machine Man to boost his career. As I said a very fascinating issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #57

“The Eye of Erlik”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan and the Sword of Skelos” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

Conan with Isparana are headed toward Zamboula where Conan hopes to sell it’s ruler the Eye of Erlik. Along the way they are confronted by Yoggites a cult that wants Isparana. So a fight ensues which looks grim for Conan. Luckily the Shanti a tribe that are enemies of the Yoggites comes to their rescue. They take Conan and Isparana back to their camp and agree to help them reach Zamboula.

The Khan of Zamboula through his wizard Zafra knows of their coming. So horsemen are their to escort them to the Khan. Aktar Khan is very happy to get back the Eye of Erlik and agrees to reward Conan and Isparana. Later at night Conan gets a mysterious invitation to meet with someone. So he goes and meets with Balad who is leading a plot to overthrow the despotic Khan. At this time Aktar Khan who has been convinced by Zafra to betray Conan and Isparana sends his soldiers to arrest them. They get Isparana but Conan remains free and vows to get his revenge.

“Surgeons and Sears Life, Death and Medicine in the Hyborian Age”
By Jim Neal

An article on the medicine and doctors of Conan’s time. It goes over the various times a doctor or medicine was used in the literature. Another fascinating and well researched article by Jim Neal.

So the second in the Offutt adaptation was an enjoyable read. It had some action in the beginning. Most of it was the various intrigue among the various characters. Zafra and the Khan’s mistress are conspiring to take over. The Shanti are concerned when they hear the rumors that the chief’s daughter may have been killed by the Khan which she was. There is also the scheming of Balad who seems to be a good guy out to overthrow an evil Khan. A bit convoluted but I was able to follow the story and interested to see where it goes. Plus the artwork is beautiful as always.