“Conan in the City of Magicians When Wizards Make War”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan
Zula takes Conan to a meeting of the Black Ring. There he offers to have him lead the army against the invading Kushites. The wizards debate this offer with Hak-Heru offering to save the city with his demon horde. Yet the wizards are open to it so Hak-Heru challenges Zula to a game of Zinat. It looks like a board game but Conan is transported as the piece for Zula. He has to fight various creatures and wins. He gets transported to Hak-Heru’s dungeon and frees Imhotep.
Meanwhile the armies of Kush arrive. The wizards set twin stone gargoyles against it. Ageera the Witch Smeller casts a spell that forms a giant skull. This clashes with the gargoyles and both are destroyed. Hak-Heru summons the demon horde, but Imhotep arrives and cuts the wizard in two with his scythe. He then has his horde which is under his control start to slaughter both Khesetta’s army and Kush’s. Conan reminds him of his vow, and he quits to take his horde to free Conan’s crew.
After everything is done, Thoth-Amon comes to put the city back to order. Imhotep frees Conan’s crew and the two part company. Conan is back to being a pirate.
This ending of the City of Magicians storyline was very satisfying. There is much strange magic and creatures that Conan has to fight. A big epic battle between two armies and two magical forces. Conan gets revenge on Mongo. Imhotep gets his revenge and his demon horde back. Thoth-Amon makes a guest appearance. Conan gets his crew back and Zula remains in Khesatta to follow his dream of being a powerful wizard.
Now this was the end of the policy of chronological stories for the magazine. After this they would go back to the old policy of adaptations and jumping around. I think was inevitable as it limited Conan to being a pirate when there are so many rich story ideas to explore.
Conan and Jorma battle the Hyperboreans when they suddenly just disappear. Conan doesn’t make much of this and finds out his mother as well as father is dead. So, he and Jorrma decide to become mercenaries. Conan comes up with the idea to take down the Aquilonian settlement of Venarium. He has Jorrma join the Aquilonian army. Conan will be a scout for the Cimmerians. Jorrma is to open the gates but gets caught and tossed in the dungeon. Fortunately, he has powers to hypnotize the girl that brings him his meals. She knocks out the guard and goes and unbars the gate. She gets killed and this sets off Jorrma who explodes magic and destroys the settlement. Conan is happy that Jorrma survived, and they go to get a drink.
Wow is this an issue that just goes off the edge. There are all sorts of weird magic happening, and Conan seems to be oblivious to it. He also has no emotion when he hears his mother died. The story also has relegated Conan to a secondary role in the story. Plus, it gives us a seminal moment in the history of Conan. i.e., the siege of Venarium which seems nothing like what it should be. Fortunately, Roy Thomas would retcon this in a later issue and we get the proper story of this event. Jorrma has all these weird powers which aren’t really explained, and Conan is oblivious to it. A very, very weird issue that I didn’t really care for.
Some zombie Germans are enjoying beer at a bar and get into a fight. Outside Rock and Easy Company know they are getting close to their objective. A factory with zombies guarding it. They ambush a truck but find it filled with zombies. Yet they manage to take them out. While observing the factory they see that Hitler’s doctor arrives so they know that Hitler can’t be far away. A zombie patrol finds them, and another fight ensue before they get away in the captured truck.
This was another fun issue. Didn’t know zombies could drink beer. Anyway, there was plenty of zombie killing action. They find the factory where they are created. They also find Hitler’s doctor and figure that the big guy himself is somewhere around. A short comic but enjoyable.
Sing and Ju-Long have a discussion on how Ju-Long came to the island. Seems that the German scientist Vogel was working with Von Horn to steal Professor Maxon’s research. He doesn’t know how Arkwright got involved but managed to get a job as his right-hand man. They fight off some of Vogel’s creations and continue on to find Virginia. Virginia meanwhile gets rescued from her Dayak captor by Number Thirteen. Virginia gets reunited with Bulan and a British lieutenant. They also find Sing and Ju-Long. Together they find out that their ship was set on fire by the pirate Muda Saffir. Saffir also has captured Professor Vogel and his notes.
This was an enjoyable issue. We find out some backstory on Professor Vogel and Arkwright. It is tied in from the villain Von Horn from the original novel. They manage to get everyone together only to find the evil pirate has Vogel and his notes. Now they are trapped on the island and Vogel’s experiments may continue somewhere else.
They set it up for another mini-series. I do hope that one gets written. American Mythology has seemed to stop putting out ERB stories. That would be a shame as I really love Wolfer’s writing. Hopefully we will get continuing stories in the ERB universe.
A probe sent by NASA to explore Venus gets hit with a mysterious radioactive anomaly. The probe goes down off the coast of Florida. Oscar Goldmans sends Steve Austin and Rudy Wells to lead the recovery effort. Everything goes fine until a diver gets injured. Luckily Steve jumps in and uses his bionics to get the probe and save the divers from great white sharks. Meanwhile the OSI has decided to scrape funding for the bionics program. They plan to instead go with robot agents. The prototype is given the face of Steve and called Number One.
This is a hypothetical season six for the classic TV show. Like the Bionic Woman they did, I find it so far to be very compelling. It goes back to the Deathprobe the Soviets used to set up the main plot. A subplot also deals with the threat to the bionics program as someone develops a new robot. It has the feel of the TV series and we get stuff like a battle with sharks which could never for budgetary reasons ever have appeared. A fun little blast from the past of my childhood.
“Conan and the City of Magicians Part IV Kheshatta!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan
Conan arrives at Kheshatta. He manages to steal some camels from a caravan to gain entry. Only he gets knocked out by someone and finds himself on the slave block. He is surprised when his old comrade Zula manages to buy him. Zula is now a wizard and has taken over his old master’s title and estates. After a bit of playful fun fighting the two comrades make peace. Only a vengeful female wizard decides to send a demon to attack Zula. The two have to fight it to win. Zula will help Conan find Imhotep and rescue him. Meanwhile the army of Kush is approaching the city to make sure it never threatens Kush again with a demon horde.
“The Haunter of the Ring”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Jerry Decaire and George Freeman
King Conan comes to visit his friend Count Trocero. Trocero has married a new girl but there are problems. Trocero believes he is the reincarnated soul of a former evil ancestor who killed his wife. His wife was that woman in the past and is now trying to murder him. Conan figures out that the problem is from an old, rejected suitor who gave the wife a cursed Stygian ring. This ring will compel the wearer to kill the one they love. Now he summoned a demon to get the wearer of the ring. Only Conan managed to slip the ring on the guys finger and the demon comes and takes him.
In this issue Conan finally gets to Kheshatta. He has to sneak in and gets captured and sold into slavery. A surprise to find that Zula has become a lord of the city. There is a fight between him and Conan because Conan doesn’t trust the wizard Zula. Yet they make up and he will help Conan. Ends with the Kushite army approaching. Promises a big action-packed final with all the actors coming together. I really am enjoying this storyline and it builds on past stories that Roy wrote.
The backup is another non-Conan Howard story he adapted to Conan. Once again it is a very entertaining story. It feels like something that Howard would write which of course he did. All his stories I am sure can translate very well into Conan stories. A fun and enjoyable read.
Conan confronts his friend Jorrma after he goes through fire unscathed. Jorrma doesn’t fight Conan but will submit to his judgement. Conan can’t kill his friend and they reconcile. They go to a bar and Conan hooks up with a woman. Jorrma finds out that Hyberboreans are going to raid Conan’s village. They go to fight them, but the Hyberboreans are captured and sacrificed by the evil sorceress. She uses their blood on her monster men to turn them into the Hyberboreans. Conan arrives in time to join the battle with the fake Hyberboreans. His father is killed by the evil sorceress that takes over one of the Hyperboreans. She then turns into a werewolf and leads an attack with other wolves on the village. She kills Conan’s mother. She plans to kill Conan but a magical amulet that Jorrma gave him prevents it.
The story has a bit of a convolution to it. Jorrma retrieved the box from his dead parents burning hut only to find it filled with jewels. Including an amulet with magical powers he gives to Conan. How did he know? Don’t know but maybe will be revealed in future issues. Not really sure why the evil sorceress needed to turn her beast men into Hyperboreans instead of just using beast men. Yet Conan loses both his parents in this issue so we get an origin on what happened to them. It was always hinted at even by Howard that his parents were dead when he left Cimmeria. I suppose this is as good an origin as any. A decent story that keeps you interested in finding out why this sorceress is out to get Conan.
It is 1944 and Hitler listens to his general tell him the grim situation. This angers him and he tears the general’s head off. He demands that a doctor accelerate a Regeneration Plan. Later an American listening post is attacked by German soldiers who are already dead. Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are doing traffic direction when they get a message to report to HQ. There they learn that the Germans are reanimating their dead. They have to find the location where this is happening and take it out. They visit a lab that has captured one of the dead soldiers. This soldier breaks free and only by shooting its head off do they defeat it.
When I heard about them bringing back Sgt. Rock and combining it with zombies, I was intrigued. When I heard that the actor Bruce Campbell was writing, I was very intrigued. From the opening of Hitler tearing off a head with his bare hands I knew this was going to be a wild ride. A real over the top adventure with zombies and Nazis galore. The first issue does a great job of introducing us to the story. What they are planning, and that Rock and Easy Co. are the ones assigned to stop this. I have a deep affinity to Sgt. Rock. He was the first comic that got me hooked on comics all those years ago. The new version stays faithful to the character while updating it to the modern zombie craze. Looking forward to future issues.
Townsend, Virginia, Sing and a Lascar are confronted by the creations of Professor Vogel. They run away to their ship which they find now in the hands of the pirate Muda Saffir. They escape back and run into the British soldiers of Arkwright. Meanwhile Vogel finds Number 13 and tells him that Arkwright is evil and they should find Virginia. Virginia gets kidnaped by one of the Dyak pirates as the monster men attack the British. Townsend goes after the kidnapped Virginia with a surviving British soldier. Sing confronts Arkwright’s assistant who we find out is Sing’s grandson.
This was a fast-paced story. It had plenty of action with the Monstermen, pirates and British soldiers. Vogel is concerned about his creations while his creations are struggling with their new freedom. A big reveal is Ju-Long the guy working for Arkwright is Sing’s grandson. A fun story that keeps the spirit of Burrough’s creation and expanding on it in a realistic way.
The savages have boarded the cruise ship. They start killing the passengers. Wynn goes to look for Rah Rah as Scully gets in a fight with Reynold who overheard that he had an affair with his wife. The first mate decides to start up the just fixed engines which break up the ice. It also tears a hole in the hull and the ship starts to sink. Wynn manages to jump overboard but gets captured by armed men with Coronado patches on. Scully and Trina manage to also escape and with Rah Rah’s help find the trail to Wynn. Only they arrive as a submarine is submerging.
The final issue to this mini-series delivers. It has plenty of action with the savages invading the ship. Plenty of mayhem and also a fight with Reynold and Scully. Reynold gets left behind. The big ending has the reveal of the mysterious sub introduced in the first issue returning. The crew kidnap Wynn and leaves us with this cliffhanger. Sadly, the series was cancelled, and we never did find out the mystery of the submarine and Wynn’s kidnapping. I do hope that sometime in the future Chuck can continue the story. I think IDW is hanging by a tread so it will have to be another venue.
I am glad that the series was revived after twenty years. A really fun and enjoyable post-apocalyptic take on an ice age. I loved the main characters and hope that I don’t have to wait another twenty years to see the continuing adventures.