RED SONJA #4

“So We Meet Again”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Sonja and Max confront Gath at the museum. Gath is revealed to have come to America back in 1893 and made a killing in the stock market. Subsequently assuming the identity of his son and grandson he continues to make money and buy up New York. Now he practically owns the city. He also has hundreds of fanatical followers. Max’s memory starts to come back. He was from Meru the city that Gath destroyed. He learned some magic and used it to transport him and Sonja into the future. Gath then summons the Demon Beast of Khauran which starts to destroy the museum. Max and Sonja hold it off so the innocent civilians can evacuate. It ends with the museum collapsing and Sonja and Max transported to safety using Max’s magical powers.

So now we get a lot of questions answered in this issue. Gath came a century ago and set himself up as a powerful businessman who owns most of the city. He has a bunch of kooky followers and plans to use the Demon to destroy New York and rebuild it as a monument to himself. Max is from Sonja’s time and the only survivor of the city of Meru that Sonja was trying to safe against Gath. So now that the sides are set up we can have a real battle.

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THE WARLORD #57

“Double Entendre”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mike Texiera

Travis Morgan has been imprisoned in the dungeon of Darvin while his double has assumed his place. He contacts his main backer Praedor who heads the conspiracy. He’s to back their position now while Morgan is kept in the event they still need him for a hostage. Tara starts to reconnect with her old love Graemore. Tinder starts his career of cutpursing for Darvin.

“Death By Fire”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Lady Chian and Wyynde attack the sub-men to stop the sacrifice of Arion. Its a daunting task since their numbers are endless and could overwhelm the two brave fighters by sheer numbers. Meanwhile Arion in a coma is in battle with three beings on the metaphysical plane. They call themselves the Balance and consist of Chaon, Gemimn and Tynan. They goad him to use his powers which in the real world are unleashed breaking the ice prisons that the three were encased in. This was their plan to get Arion to release their physical forms.

So this is more of an exposition issue than anything. The main character is basically a prisoner in an iron mask. His double has managed to fool everyone including Tara. Darvin is involved with the conspirators as hired help. Tinder is stealing purses. On the whole not much is happening but sets up an interesting conflict for future issues.

Arion is also somewhat of a slow entry. The fight he was in ends with the Balance being freed so this also sets up an interesting conflict for future issues. So two slow stories but needed to further the plot.

SAVAGE TALES #3 CONAN THE BARBARIAN

“The Lurker From The Catacombs”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on “Red Nails” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is looking for Valeria who wandered off in the city of Xuchotl. He finds her battling two fanatics from the opposing faction. He rescues her and with Techotl leads them to his people. They traverse the catacombs and are attacked by a creature that is used by the enemy. Conan wounds it with his sword. At the sanctuary of Techotl’s people they are greeted warmly by Prince Olmec and Princess Tascela. Now they can post five more red nails to a post for the enemy that was killed. They find out the history of this conflict. Fifty years ago a rebel faction was forced to flee Stygia. They made there way to the city and managed to capture it. Later two brothers got into an fight over a woman and now the two factions have been trying to kill each other off. Conan and Valeria are offered a job to fight for them in exchange for treasure. The two agree.

The enemy then attacks and a final battle ensues. The enemy is slaughtered. Olmec sends Conan to check out their stronghold with two of his warriors. They go there and find the dead creature that Conan wounded and the heads preserved in jars of those that were killed. The warriors accompanying Conan go insane and try to kill Conan. Meanwhile Olmec makes his move to capture Valeria but he is stopped by Tascela and her powers of hypnotism. Tascela needs Valeria to sacrifice so she can maintain her youth.

“An Age Undreamed Of”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on Savage Tales. Seems this issue is once again being put on hold to see if its profitable. Thomas goes on to explain the format he envisions and hopes that the magazine will come back.

“Red Sonja She-Devil of the Turanian Steppes”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Esteban Maroto

A two page spread of Red Sonja with text on how Howard described her.

“The Crimson Bell”
Writer: Ray Capella
Artists: Al Wiliamson & Frank Brunner

A text story with illustration about Arquel of Argos. Arquel is after a mercenary army lead by two women who robbed his father’s castle. Set in the world of Conan.

“The Fury of the Femizons”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita

A reprint from Savage Tales #1.

“Red Nails in the Sunset”
By Roy Thomas

An article on the art for Red Nails from Weird Tales. It shows the drawing that have not appeared in over forty years since this story was first published.

“The Once and Future Talon”
Writer & Artist: Jim Steranko

An article about an upcoming sword and sorcery project by Steranko called Talon. Sounds like it had potential and will have to see if it was ever done.

“A Probable Outline of Roy Thomas Career”
Writer Unknown.

An article on Roy Thomas and his career from a English High School teacher to Executive Editor at Marvel.

“An Informal History of Barry the Barbarian”
Writer Unknown.

A brief biography on artist Barry Smith who draws for Conan.

“He Comes from the Dark”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on Red Nails by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan comes upon Techotl who was stabbed in the back by Olmec when he betrayed Valeria. He has crawled to warn Conan of his treachery. So he comes later upon Olmec strapped to a torture device. He frees him in exchange for leading him to Valeria. Olmec tries later to stab Conan in the back but doesn’t succeed. Conan comes on the throne room were Tescala is sacrificing Valeria. A steel trap in the floor catches Conan’s foot. Just then the old body of a lover of Tescala arrives with a wand that shoots a laser beam. He starts shooting down the survivors and Tescala frees Conan so he can kill the old man which Conan does. Then Tescala grabs the fallen wand but is stopped by Valeria who stabs her in the back. The two decide to leave this place and seek riches as pirates.

Well the only really thing of note about this issue was the adaptation of “Red Nails.” This was one of Howard’s best stories and was a true joy. It was to be spread out over another issue but the second cancellation had it included in this one. Of course this series still has life in it as we will see next week.

Otherwise not much of interest. The articles ranged from interesting to boring fillers. The Femizon story was a reprint from #1. I understand including it here since the first issue didn’t get much circulation but since I read it just recently not much new.

GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #8

“Weaver & Scribe”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

Weaver is getting chewed out by his publisher. His stories are boring. So the publisher suggests that he write about Groo. The public loves all that death and destruction. So with his faithful secretary Scribe they head out to find Groo. They come upon a mill being burned to the ground. Weaver decides to lie and make up a story that Groo started the fire. Workers overhearing him confirm that is what happened. So his lie is actually the truth.

Well he eventually meets up with Groo and accompanies him. Only instead of Groo destroying anything the people he comes upon decide to destroy their things themselves hoping Groo will go away and leave them alone. So one night Groo tells of the little boy he is helping to find his father. Weaver likes this and changes it to a little girl. Oh and the girl has a large inheritance who she wants to share with her father.

So it comes as a surprise when they meet up with Kayli. Groo of course got it wrong about the boy. So Weaver’s lie gets it right again. Except for the wealth inheritance. Hordes of men have descended on the publishing office claiming to by Kayli’s father. Kayli, Weaver and Scribe are forced to flee the village.

Weaver is a reporter who has no problem with making up sensational stories to further his career. Always travels with his secretary Scribe who writes his words down. They look suspiciously like real life writer Mark Evanier and letterer Stan Sakai. This is denied by Mark as just a coincidence. Anyway another meeting of the characters in the Groo universe. This time Groo is once again not responsible for the disaster at the end. This seems to be a pattern for this mini-series.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #13

“Till Death Do Us Part!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Brent Anderson

After defeating Belasco Ka-zar and Shanna are having a fight. The fight upsets Shanna so much she isn’t paying attention and falls into the river. Ka-zar jumps in but hits his head and knocks him out. Shanna meanwhile is swept far down river. A python attacks her but luckily a man rescues her. He takes her back to his village and nurses her to health. The man is Mele and his daughter Leila are a peaceful race of people with tails. Shanna finds peace with these people. Then tragically Leila is carried away by a winged reptile. Mele is going to commit suicide since that is the way of his people when they lose all the people they love. Shanna is despondent and agrees to marry Mele. At the end Ka-zar comes with Leila who he rescued.

They decided to take a more leisurely approach with this issue. So we still have issues between Ka-zar and Shanna which inadvertently separate them. An interesting people that Shanna has found herself with. A very overly sensitive people who commit suicide when a loved one dies. Its understandable why Shanna would agree to marry Mele. Now she is committed and Ka-zar has found Mele’s daughter. So whats in store for their relationship? This is what has been driving this title and once again a big roadblock is thrown up. Makes for an interesting read.

RED SONJA #3

“So We Meet Again”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Sonja is discovering the joy of a hot bath in this modern world when she hears Max being attacked. She grabs an antique sword for the wall and jumps to the rescue. Max gets the motorcycle to leave and Sonja insists on driving. She is a fast learned and they careen down the streets. Max later seeks shelter at the bar that he found Sonja at. The bartender has a friend who is studying Hyborian history at Columbia. At the university she sees a picture of Kulan Gath who in this world is known as Hank Gault. Gault owns most of the city and supports the Hyborian department at the university. There is a fundraising dinner tonight and she arranges for Max and Sonja to attend.

At the dinner Sonja fits in since the servants are dressed as Hyborian warriors. Sonja doesn’t serve but she gets into a fight with Gath’s men. At the end Gath arrives and confronts Sonja.

The story is moving along nicely. Sonja is a quick learner and already speaks some English and can drive a motorcycle. She has friends who speak her language and she is confronting Gath. Transporting her to the modern era is turning out to be a great idea. Waiting for the confrontation with her old nemesis in next issue.

THE WARLORD# 56

“Conspiracy”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mark Texeira

Joshua Morgan has made it to Shamballah after the Therans have killed his parents. He has taken the name of Tinder after his real name causes too much attention. His armband the Timex watch is also causing him grief. A gang of young boys are trying to take it. Just in the nick of time their leader Darvin a sort of Fagin type who controls the gangs of orphaned boys intervenes. He recognizes the armband and sees a great way of making money so offers Tinder a job.

Meanwhile his true parents are just blocks away in the palace. Morgan is about to get involved with politic. His ideas about freedom are not well received by the council who have a very medieval outlook on life. So Morgan storms out. He later sees his mate Tara greeting an old childhood sweetheart. He goes back to his room and feels he is getting old. An image of another Morgan confronts him in the mirror. When he turns he is knocked unconscious. A conspiracy is replacing him with a lookalike.

“Trial By Ice!”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Arion along with Lady Chian and Wyyndde the best of the royal guard embark on the quest to find Arion’s master Caculha. The quest takes them to the city of Taja. Once it was a seat of culture and learning before falling to the ice. Now it is inhabited by sub-men. The sub-men attack and Chian and Wyynde manage to hold their own. Arion on the other hand once again loses his magic and is taken prisoner. Chian and Wyynde pursue and come upon Arion about to be sacrificed by the sub-men.

A new chapter in Travis Morgan’s life. This one finds him hanging up his adventuring ways to settle in to court life. Grell shows through the wordless emotions how this affects him. Now he must be a politician and he doesn’t find it to his liking. He is also a bit insecure with the arrival of Graemore a minstrel who was a childhood sweetheart. He is feeling old and useless. Of course he is going to be replaced with a duplicate. Add the fact that his son is living on the streets and we are getting a story with intrigue and a touch of Oliver Twist. A different direction for the Warlord and one that shows a versatility in storytelling.

The Arion story is also taking an exciting direction. A quest to find his old master and recover his magic. Otherwise Atlantis is doomed to the ice age. We already get a glimpse in a possible future with the city of Taja. Wyynde is a great addition to the quest. A stoic native American looking warrior who is both fierce and sensitive. It ends like the main story with a cliffhanger. The story complements Warlord with the same sword and sorcery and we get the exploration and fights that are missing from the Warlord story.

SAVAGE TALES #2 CONAN THE BARBARIAN

“Red Nails”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Valeria a woman pirate who was serving as a mercenary for the Stygians has been forced to flee after killing the commander who was forcing himself on her. Now she is in the wilds south in the black kingdoms. Conan has followed her because he wants her and was bored with the garrison duty. His courtship is put on hold when they are attacked by a stegosaurus. The stegosaurus eats their horses and tries to eat them. Conan finds some poison in apples and manages to poison the beast. Now on the plans where the jungle ends they come on a city. The city appears to have been abandoned a long time ago.

Valeria rests and falls asleep while Conan continues to explore the city. When she wakes she comes on a man being attacked by a walking skeleton. The skeleton is a man in disguise and Valeria kills him managing to save the man she saw. This man Techotl tells that they are in the city of Xuchotl. He is part of a clan who lives by the west gate and they are in perpetual warfare with the clan at the east gate. She goes with Techotl to find Conan in the city.

“The Hyborian Rage”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial explaining this series. Two and a half years later after the failure of the first issue this series gets another go. This time Marvel is devoting resources to come out with several lines of the Black and White magazines. This series will be oriented toward Conan and other Robert Howard type stories.

“Robert E. Howard: Lone Star Fictioneer”
Writer: Glenn Lord.
Artists: Frank Brunner & George Barr

An abridged article from the Howard biography The Last Celt.It tells of Howard’s early life growing up in Cross Plains, Texas. How he started writing at nine and sold his first story at eighteen. He eventually made a living at one time making over $2,000 year. This was a great article and I have a love of Howard’s work. It is amazing that he managed to make a living writing while living in the middle of nowhere.

“Dark Tomorrow”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Gray Morrow

In the future ecological disaster forces people to live in enclosed cities. They come up with a chivalry code that has them dueling for any slight to their honor. Its meant to cull the population. Karl Linders kills someone in a duel then will be exiled outside. Instead he and his mate escape. They are about to then get executed by the Wets outside. The Wets have been engineered to live in the polluted atmosphere and service the machinery outside. Damian Linders is the brother of Karl and helps him escape. Karl then shows his contempt for all Wets and Damian then kills Karl. Definitely a dark story but quite interesting.

“Cimmeria”
Writer: Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A poem by Howard about Conan’s homeland Cimmeria.

“The Crusader”
Writer: Unknown
Artist: Joe Maneely

A group of crusaders traveling to the holy land are struck by plague and set up camp. A Saracen with a band of Mongols comes upon them. The leader finds no honor in attacking sick men. The Mongols have no such qualms and the Mongol leader wants the Saracen blade that the leader has. The Mongol treacherously attacks and is killed. Later the Saracen finds out that the crusader leader is his half-brother. An old reprint from the fifties but kind of interesting if a little bit hokey.

“A Probably Outline of Conan’s Career”
By P. Schuyler Miller & John D. Clark, Pd.D.

An article that outlines Conan’s life based on Howards’ writing. It starts with Conan as a youth and his experiences as a thief. He later moves on to being a mercenary and pirate. Finally he becomes king of Aquilonia. A very informative article on the history of Conan.

“The Skull of Silence!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Berni Wrightson

Kull and his Red Slayers are returning to The City of Wonders which is the capital of Kull’s kingdom. He decides to stay at a castle in spite of the warning a slave gives him. The castle is supposed to be where a sorcerer Raama imprisoned the Spectre of Silence. Kull scoffs at such superstitions and breaks the seal on the door. They are assaulted by silence. Kull manages to ring a gong that breaks the silence.

So Savage Tales is revived and it comes back strong. We get two Howard stories adapted by Roy Thomas who you can tell loves his work. Red Nails is supposed to be Howard’s last Conan story he wrote before his untimely death. It is definitely a classic and I can’t wait for the conclusion. The Kull story was also good. I don’t think I did it justice in summarizing it. You have to read it to appreciate it.

The two articles were very interesting. I have an interest in Howard and enjoy reading about him.

It is really great that Marvel managed to revive the magazine titles. I don’t know what my Sundays as a child would have been like without them.

GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #7

“Chakaal”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

Groo’s wandering takes him and Rufferto into a new land. This land has many difference people that speak different languages. This land is four kingdoms that have been united into one. Queen Nada was the one who forcibly united these kingdoms but her tyranny lead to her being deposed. The new queen rules wisely but Nada still schemes to reclaim her throne.

So she manages to recruit Groo into her army. This army attacks the castle of the new queen. Groo of course cuts through the opposing army and makes it into the throne room. There he finds out that the queen is none other than Chakaal the woman he is madly in love with. Well Groo the smitten fool switches sides and Nada is quickly defeated. Chakaal then pledges to hold elections so the people can choose their leader. Now all she has to do is somehow get Groo out of town.

Chakaal is a fierce warrior woman. She is also the woman that Groo is madly in love with. Chakaal is repulsed by Groo’s infatuation but respects him for his fighting skills. She always manages to use Groo to her own ends and is probably the only person in the world to do it successfully. In this instance she manages to neutralize Nada for good and transform the kingdom into a democracy. Groo once again strikes out much to the relief of Rufferto who is usually embarrassed by how Groo acts when he meets Chakaal.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #12

“Belasco..!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Brent Anderson

Balasco has Ka-zar’s friends under his control. He tells Ka-zar his story. That he made a pact with elder gods from another dimension. They gave him great powers and immortality. He in return was to use a pentagram locket to open the way for them to come to Earth. He was going to use Beatrice in the ceremony but Dante stopped him. Now he will take Shanna as his bride and complete the ceremony.

So he first has Buth dropped from the cross he was pinned to and used as target practice by his demons. Then he has Dherk literally tear himself up. Finally Ka-zar is thrown into a cryogenic chamber. Dherk even torn to pieces recovers and deprograms Belasco’s control. He wills his severed hand to free Ka-zar from the chamber. Meanwhile Zabu rescues an injured Buth. Ka-zar with help from the blind descendants of Dante’s crew manages to escape the demons and confront Belasco. Just as the sky is torn asunder and the elder gods are entering, Ka-zar manages to throw the locket into the volcano stopping the elder gods. Belasco bursts into flames and plunges into the volcano.

“Tales of Zabu!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Gil Kane

Zabu is found by an old hyena who is scavenging for food. He takes Zabu back to his mate for food but his mate decides to adopt little Zabu. So Zabu grows up with his adopted family. The older hyena cub Jhet hates Zabu and the younger weak cub Fheta. One day on their first hunt Jhet kills little Fheta. Zabu fights him and ends up killing him. Now once again alone he wanders off.

So we come to the conclusion of the Inferno/Belasco story-line and it is a real shocker. Belasco looks just like Satan with horns and a tail. His hypnotic control of Ka-zar’s friends is quite sinister. Then he has Dherk tear himself apart and Buth killed. You wonder how Ka-zar will get out of this. Yet he does and we get a action packed conclusion. Loved the way Dante’s Inferno was used in this story. Buth at the end hints that since Belasco is immortal this may not be the last they hear of him.

The Tales of Zabu also comes along nicely. Zabu is adopted by hyenas and then loses his adopted family. A very sad life the little cub has and you really sympathize with Zabu. Two great stories with along of emotion.