TRAGG AND THE SKY GODS #3

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“Slaves of Fire Mountain”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Dan Spiegle

The Sky Gods have decided to establish a base inside an active volcano. They need slaves to do the heavy lifting and luckily their puppet Gorth convinces the strongest men to go to the Sky Gods and worship them. When they get there it becomes quite clear that Tragg was right but its too late. The men are impressed into slave labor. Tragg’s brother Jarn manages to go to Tragg and tell him of the tribes predicament. The three go to Fire Mountain and while escaping a pterodactyl the three are captured. The leader Zorak wants to test the devolvo rays on Tragg turning him into a sub-human beast. Keera is still infatuated with Tragg even though he has rejected her. She manages to save Tragg and he along with his mate, brother and chief manage to escape. After fighting off a large reptile trapped in the volcano the four successfully escape with Tragg and Lorn going off to find others to fight for the cause of freedom.

So Tragg’s tribe finally learns the truth. Probably a little too late but Tragg and Lorn are no longer the outcasts that they once were. Keera is still infatuated with Tragg. Her fiancĂ© Zorak suspects. Keera takes out her rejection on Lorn. Kind of like a soap opera with space aliens and cavemen. A real enjoyable treat.

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ASTONISHING TALES #7 KA-ZAR AND DR. DOOM

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“Deluge!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Herb Trimpe

The man-god Damon is flooding the Savage Land and eventually the world. Ka-zar with the help of Zabu causes a stampede of dinosaurs that temporarily stops Damon. But he is an immortal god and it looks as if Ka-zar will be unable to stop him. Luckily Tongah’s sister finds a pod with the body of his lost love Lelania. She sacrifices her life so Lelania can be brought back to life. The two reunited lovers then blast off into space.

“…And if I Be Called Traitor!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Gene Colan

T’Challa gets the drop on Dr. Doom but Doom uses the honor of the Black Panther to get out. Asking for a fair fight when Black Panther drops his gun Doom then uses his energy ray in his armor to knock him out. Black Panther is resourceful and manages to bust out of captivity. He threatens to detonate the Vibranium if Doom doesn’t leave. Doom doesn’t call his bluff and returns home neither a victory or loser.

Both stories in this issue were sort of mediocre. Surprising since Roy Thomas always writes such excellent stuff. Not a lot happened in either stories and the protagonists didn’t have to do much to achieve victory.

THE WARLORD #9

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“Lair of the Snowbeast”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan, Mariah, and Machiste have landed in a valley during a blizzard. The valley has a perpetual cloud cover preventing sunlight and making it a snowy wasteland in the tropical world of Skartaris. The three are attacked by the prehistoric progenitor of the wolverine. The giant wolverine mauls Morgan badly before be can put seven shots into its skull. Just then warriors on mastodons arrive and capture Mariah and Machiste leaving Morgan for dead. Luckily an intelligent Yeti comes along and uses its sorcery to heal Morgan. Morgan takes off to the warriors city to rescue his friends. In the fight when it looks like all is lost the Yeti comes back and rescues Morgan. Machiste thinking the Yeti is kidnapping Morgan impales it with a spear. Luckily the Yeti turns out to be a beautiful butterfly woman. She was cursed to live in the body of the Yeti until someone would come and see the inner beauty. Thus setting her free.

An enjoyable story. An unexpected snowy environment was an interesting change of pace. A major development is Morgan getting a new change of clothes. Gone is his tunic and in its place a loincloth. He will keep this look throughout the series. Another theme that Grell likes to write is that looks can be deceiving. That what is ugly is not necessarily evil and what is beautiful is not necessarily good. This comes up again throughout his writing and next issue will be another example.

THE RAMPAGING HULK #9

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“To Avenge the Earth”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Sal Buscema & Rudy Mesina

The pre-Avengers Iron Man, Thor, Ant-man, and Wasp have shown up to take on the Krylorian disguised as Iron Man. The Hulk is also there and being angry and confused he decides to just go smash everyone. Well the Krylorian manages to slip away and head back to the World Fair Grounds in Queens were their underground base is located. The Hulk and the other superheroes follow and eventually band together and destroy the Krylorian base and force them to flee the Earth.

“Shanna The She-Devil”
Writer: David Anthony Kraft
Artist: Tony De Zuniga

An artist portfolio showing sketches of the beautiful Shanna with a biography on her past history.

“The Wrath of Raga-Shah!”
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artist: Tony De Zuniga

Shanna has decided to take a break after the adventures she has had in Africa and India. She settles in San Pedro, California to continue studying veterinary medicine. She has a pet Python that she keeps and has little friendly fights with and sees a psychiatrist. One day with a friend at the new Taj Mahal shopping center she runs into a man that looks like her arch enemy Raga Shah. The man does turn out to be Raga Shah and his death cult of Kali runs the shopping center to finance the cult’s plan to bring death to the world. Shanna is captured and tied on an alter to be sacrificed but breaks free and kicks Raga Shah’s ass. She then feeds him to her pet python and decides to leave for Africa.

So this issue brings an end to the Krylorian Conspiracy. Probably about time but I did enjoy those kooky stumblebum Krylorians. I also enjoyed the retro Hulk adventures in the sixties. This is the last issue in the black and white format. The next issue will have a whole new look in color, story and high grade paper. Kind of missed the old format but greatly enjoyed the new format.

The Shanna stories and portfolio were excellent. Shanna has never been drawn to look so sexy. She has got to be one of the most beautiful women comic book characters. The portfolio did a great job of giving a summary of what happened to Shanna in the past. The story shows Shanna as one bad ass woman. Absolutely fell in love with her. If you read my Ka-zar entries you’ll see that she will be back.

TRAGG AND THE SKY GODS #2

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“The Day the Earth Thundered”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Jessie Santos

Tragg and Lorn go back to their tribe to warn them about the Sky Gods plan to enslave them. But jealous Gorth does a good job of turning the tribe against them. Still the chief hears Tragg out and agrees to have him escort Gorth to see if the Sky Gods have returned. Seems a stupid idea to put Gorth who hates Tragg as the designated guy to accompany Tragg. True to his form Gorth knocks Tragg on the head and dumps him into a pit.

Tragg is a very strong caveman and still manages to slay a sabre-tooth barehanded and continue on. The Sky Gods have decided to exterminate the local tribe fearing they are a threat. Using Mesmagas on Gorth he will lead the tribe to a plateau where the Sky Gods can instigate a stampede of the dinosaurs to kill the tribe. Tragg meanwhile gets captured by the only female alien Kreera who happens to fall in love with Tragg. Tragg uses this to escape and with a captured jet pack stops the stampede. Unfortunately Gorth still turns the tribe against Tragg and he and his mate are forced once again into exile.

The second issue starts to set up what we can expect from this series. Tragg is very strong and smart and will singlehandedly save the day. The only female alien of course develops an obsession with him. The aliens are marooned and must conserve power which will limit their ability for mischief. This is a very fascinating and unique comic. Very fast paced with a lot of action going on.

ASTONISHING TALES #6 KA-ZAR AND DR. DOOM

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“‘Ware the Winds of Death!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Barry Smith

Ka-zar is escorting his friend Tongah back to this village. The peaceful night is disturbed by the coming of Damon. Damon a god-like being long ago lost his love Lelania in an accident in the Savage Land. In his grief he tried to drown the Savage Land. He disappeared for an unknown reason but now is back. Still pissed off he is once again trying to flood the Savage Land.

“The Tentacles of the Tyrant!”
Writer: Larry Lieber
Artist: George Tuska

Doom has tortured information from some poor guy that Vibranium is located in Wakandia. Doom need the Vibranium to build invincible rockets. So he uses his underground drilling machine to tunnel from Latveria to Wakandia. His tunneling sets off a volcano which attracts the attention of the Black Panther who is also the king of Wakandia.

The Ka-zar story starts off with potential. Seems the Savage Land is just awash with omnipotent gods. I didn’t understand why Tongah and Ka-zar were fighting unless it was the influence of Damon. Hopefully it will be clearer in the next issue.

The Dr. Doom story is another interesting one. This time he’s going up against an bona fide hero. It looks like they will have a story that you won’t be rooting for Doom.

SCOUT #9

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“Bad to the Bone!”
Writer: Timothy Truman
Artist: Sam Parsons

It is now 2001 and Scout is wandering Colorado. After getting into a fight with some Hell’s Angels who are rustling cattle he meets Beauregard La Duke. A good ol’ boy from West Virginia who owns a town and has a large herd of cattle. His prosperity has drawn the attention of Colonel John Pate of the Salvation Army. He plans to confiscate La Duke’s herd. Luckily Scout is around to help stop his plans. Also Doody has gathered a large following with his strange blend of the Bible and Lord of the Rings. Government agents are manipulating Doody for some sinister Project Mountain Fire.

“Airboy”
Writers: Charles Dixon & Timothy Truman
Artist: Timothy Truman

A special preview of a new series. Its a revival of an old ’40s comic series. In this story we are introduced to The Heap. A Swamp Thing/Man-Thing type creature. Originally Baron Von Emmelman a WWI pilot shot down and crashed in a swamp. The swamp turned him into a walking creature called The Heap. He later helps heroes in their battle against the Nazi and senses he is need again.

A new storyline for Scout. The new character of La Duke is a real treat and sounds like he was modeled on a real person. Fascinating that Truman envisioned the Big Tire Truck craze as surviving into the 21st century. Or maybe La Duke is a fan of the Fall Guy. Some other interesting developments. President Carver is no longer a junkie and is becoming a threat to the shadowy guys that control the government. Sgt Winters teams up with Israeli ambassador Glanzman who is also a Mossad agent to find out what’s behind the sinister Project Mountain Fire. Also the Salvation Army is a very weaponized organization in this alternate history America. Who would have thought that?

The Airboy is an interesting glimpse. I have heard of this comic and it does sound interesting. The Heap is probably the inspiration for Swamp Thing/Man-Thing characters. The series does have an old pulp feel to it.

THE WARLORD #8

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“The City in the Sky”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan and Mariah are relaxing on the palace grounds with Machiste. Suddenly a flock of pterodactyls descends and attacks. Mariah is carried off and Morgan grabs on to a departing pterodactyl with Machiste right behind him. It takes them to a floating city in the sky. After fighting off robots the two find Mariah with the caretaker of the city named Skyra. Tragg the caretaker is a cyborg that can control the city. It was an outpost of one of the old Atlantean city states. It survived the war and Tragg now lives alone and uses the pterodactyls to hunt for meat.

Tragg thought has a sinister ulterior motive. Luring Morgan and Machiste into a freezing chamber with the other humans on ice. Tragg is a cannibal and plans to put Morgan and Machiste on ice while he uses Mariah for female companionship. He doesn’t count on Morgan’s .44 in destroying the freeze machine and letting them escape. He also underestimates Mariah who manages to grab Morgan’s .44 and blow Tragg’s head off. The three escape on homemade gliders as the city crashes to the ground.

This is a special issue in that it was first Warlord I read. My mom bought it for me when we were on vacation up at my grandparents cabin. I was captivated by the story. Two cool guys and a beautiful woman. A futuristic floating city with robots and a cannibalistic cyborg. Pterodactyls and guns and swords. Beautiful artwork. This issue got me hooked on the Warlord.

So some interesting developments in the story. Machiste gets a spiked mace to replace his severed hand. How cool is that. We get introduced to more of the leftover Atlantean technology. And Mariah starts to show that she is one bad ass woman that can take care of herself. A real favorite in my collection.

TRAGG AND THE SKY GODS #1

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“Spawn of Yargon”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Jesse F. Santos

A tribe of Neanderthals are visited by two aliens. They descend from the sky in a golden globe. The aliens are two scientists from the planet Yargon. They are humanoid with golden skin and green hair. The two scientists decide to help evolution along and kidnap two women who they then proceed to genetically alter. The two women give birth to two children a male and female named Tragg and Lorn. The two bare a remarkable resemblance to the Sky Gods. The Sky Gods then leave.

Twenty-five years later the two grow into adulthood and it is apparent the they are different and much smarter than the tribe. This causes fear among the tribe and a hothead turns the tribe against them saying its their fault the Sky Gods left. Tragg and Lorn flee. At this time the sky gods return but there has been a revolution on Yargon and these Sky Gods are interested in conquest. They will enslave the inhabitants but run into trouble when a Triceratops wrecks their ship stranding the Yargons. Tragg and Lorn manage to kill one of the gods and know that they are not invincible. They pledge to stop the sky gods from enslaving their people.

This is the first in this old Gold Key series. A fascinating idea with aliens visiting our past and being responsible for the progenitors of modern man. This was at the time of “Chariots of the Gods” craze which is still with us. They have dinosaurs in this story but explain that some areas the dinosaurs still survived. I suppose that’s possible. It think this series was ahead of its time and quite sophisticated for a children’s comic book.

ASTONISHING TALES #5 KA-ZAR AND DR. DOOM

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“Rampage!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Barry Smith

Ka-zar manages to escape the clutches of the pterodactyl and brings him and Zaladane down for a crash landing. They crash at the temple of Garokk. There they find a pool in the temple which will remove the powers of the sun god. Which is a good thing because Garokk has gone insane and wants to destroy all life. After defeating the demon that guards the pool Ka-zar lures Garokk to the pool where he is able to push him in. Garokk dies and Zaladane perishes when the temple caves in so the Savage land is safe.

“A Land Enslaved!”
Writer: Larry Lieber
Artist: George Tuska

Doom returns from his vacation on the Riviera and is ambushed by the Red Skull. Using Doom’s own weapons he subdues him and puts him on display in an adamantium case. Then the reign of terror begins with all the dissidents and undesirables being rounded up for the concentration camp. Doom is not so easily defeated. Using a generator in his armor that harvests the Sun’s energy he breaks free and defeats Red Skull and his Exiles. Using hypno-gas on his captives he makes them think they have been shrunk and sends them on a rocket for their island.

So the Sun God saga comes to a close. The Petrified Man is put to rest and Zaladane’s insane conquest is stopped. The Savage Land is at peace but that would be boring so I’m sure there is something new in store for the next issue.

The Dr. Doom story was excellent. Some great villain on villain action. They actually picked a villain that makes you root for Dr. Doom to succeed. I have to say that I find myself enjoying the Dr. Doom stories a lot more than I thought I would. They are very entertaining.