“Night of the Red Slayers!”
Writers: Gerry Conway & John Jakes
Artists: Marie and John Severin
It is a hot summer in Valusia and the heat brings out tempers. Kull has to break up a fight by his Red Slayers that the minstrel Ridondo started. Ridondo is part of a four man conspiracy to depose Kull. The conspirators make a deal with the mysterious Melkori. The next day Melkori visits the court of Kull with his beautiful daughter. The daughter Jirane persuades Kull to take her on a cruise. So Kull leaves the city and goes off boating.
While away his Red Slayers start to murder innocent citizens and prominent opponents of Kull. The citizens start to openly rebel. Brule manages to inform Kull and he finds out that Jirane is actually an animated wax dummy. He goes to Valusia and rallies his real Red Slayers against the phony wax Red Slayers that Melkori had created. When he defeats them he throws Melkori to the Valusian mob to met out justice.
So Roy Thomas has left the writing to very capable hands. Gerry Conway using a plot by John Jakes tells an exciting story with an evil sorcerer. The conspiracy it shaping up to be a major opponent to Kull’s rule. Kull is shown that Alecto his commander of the Red Slayers and Brule the Spear-Slayer are reliable friends. The series is starting to shape up as a very viable ongoing series.
“A Match Made in Hell!”
Writer: Mike Carlin
Artists: Ron Frenz & Armando Gil
Its the big wedding day for Ka-zar and Shanna. All of the Aerie Shalan is gathered for the ceremony. Even Shanna’s step-daughter Leila manages to make it. The ceremony is interrupted when Leanne leads an army of her Lemurians, Pterons and an amphibious race known as the Tubanti. Dherk turns on them and the high priestess is reveled to be Belasco in disguise. Belasco transports Ka-zar, Shanna and Leila to his volcanic lair as his forces attack the Aereans.
So Belasco plans to turn Ka-zar and Shanna into demons so they can breed a new race of demons. He force feeds them a formula and they do turn demonic. Then Belasco takes Leila and transforms her soul into one of the bloodgems that he needs. Leanne decides that Belasco is evil and turns against him by freeing Ka-zar and Shanna. Ka-zar manages to take Belasco’s sword which is the only thing he fears. In his demonic state Ka-zar doesn’t hesitate to run Belasco through. With his death all his evil magics are reversed and Ka-zar and Shanna revert to their human selves. Leila also is restored. It ends in a simple ceremony that finally marries the two before they must face the hordes of Belasco’s army.
So the big event has arrived that every reader of this series was waiting for. That is the marriage of Ka-zar and Shanna. Naturally it deserved a double sized issue and plenty of action. The new writer Mike Carlin shows he can deliver with this exciting issue. Demonic Belasco is an excellent choice to be the wedding crasher. It looks real bad for the Aerie and our heroes. Leanne redeems herself by turning on her master. The final ceremony was simple and yet touching and was a fine way to end this issue. Now we must see how the newlyweds will deal with all the chaos that Belasco has started.
“When Diana Met Jaime!”
Writer: Andy Mangels
Artist: Judit Tondara
It is 1977 Washington D.C. A large explosion at the Cramer building attracts two superpowered heroines. Wonder Woman and Jaime Sommers work together to save people and put out the fire. They work well together but have an important meeting to attend. A big gathering of all the intelligence agencies is meeting at the I.A.D.C. An evil cabal known as CASTRA is planning something big. Jaime and Diana Prince are conveniently assigned together to check out some scientists.
So as the Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman the two manage to foil CASTRA agents from kidnapping the scientists. Then jumping on the invisible airplane the two save Steve Trevor and his team from an ambush. While they were gone CASTRA manages to infiltrate I.A.D.C headquarters, gas the occupants and steal vital information from the main computer I.R.A.C.
Now this is one cool idea for a series. Both Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman were shows I loved back when I was a kid. It actually makes sense to team these two characters up since they are from the same time. It stays true to the series with its evil cabals intent on dominating the world. Just a pure nostalgic trip back to 1977. We get bionic moves, invisible planes, golden lassos, and bell-bottom pants. Makes me want to check out the shows that I have on DVD.
“Curse of the Unicorn”
Writer: Cary Burkett
Artist: Dan Jurgens
Morgan and Shakira are back in Castle Deimos. They don’t have much time to celebrate because a black unicorn comes through the mirror. It manages to scratch Shakira with its horn and run off. Then a large dark skinned warrior comes through and gets into a fight with Morgan. Jennifer knocks him out with her magic then probes his mind to find out where he comes from.
Thus we find out the story of Wayhan Hunnuh. A mighty warrior who manages to capture the black unicorn. As a reward he gets the chief’s daughter as his bride. So he goes off to hunt another trophy for the event and comes back to find his entire tribe dead from a plague. The unicorn brought it so now he changes his name to Scarhart and vows to kill the unicorn. He chases it through a waterfall and ends up in our world.
Just then Shakira collapses and it looks like she has the same plague. So Morgan goes off to capture the unicorn. Scarhart knocks Jennifer out and goes after both Morgan and the unicorn. Morgan tracks it into the dark lands and finds it being attacked by a carnivorous plant. He saves it but the fight knocks him out. At the end Scarhart finds the prostrate Morgan.
“The Garden of the Mulge!”
Writer: Gary Cohen
Artist: Ron Randall
Renna mounds an expedition to save Skinner from the Mulge. Jinal insists on coming along in spite of Renna’s hostility toward her. So they follow the tunnel and come to a vast underground garden. The Garden of the Mulge. It is filled with deadly carnivorous plants and they fight their way through. They come on the Mulge just as a priest starts to pour its mushroom fungus on Skinner in one of their religious ceremonies. Renna shoots the priest and now the group faces the hostile Mulge.
So the big news for this issue is that Mike Grell is no longer with the series. So how did his replacement do. Ok I guess. The story was good and interesting but just seemed a little ho-hum. The Scarhart character looked a lot like Arak and he just didn’t really interest me. There was some funny moments with one of the castle guards who is always complaining how weird it is to work at this castle and maybe he should get a new job. I always wondered where Jennifer hired her staff. The castle is out in the middle of nowhere even for Skartaris. So I remember being a little apprehensive about the future for this title with what seems to be not the greatest start to the Grell-less future.
The Barren Earth continues on in its excellence. Renna finally brings it out in the open that she is jealous of Jinal over Skinner. It seems many others think Jinal is also in love with Skinner although she denies it. Still there is a clear love triangle forming. The Mulge garden was a cool idea. It seems this issue is heavy on carnivorous plants. This also ends in a cliffhanger that you can’t wait to find out its resolved next issue.
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artists: Michael Golden & Bob McLeod
Howard and Beverly are going back to Howard’s home world of Duckworld thanks to Winda Wister’s ability to shift the cosmic axis. So the pair find themselves in New Stork City which was Howard’s old home. Naturally a big hairless ape attracts a lot of attention. What they weren’t expecting was that the ducks mob the two tearing off their clothes as sacred objects. The two manage to run away and hide out in an alley. They then go to Howard’s parents home.
The home is now a sacred shrine and a large crowd is gathered to hear the Reverend Ganter who heads the Witness of the Ascension Cult or WACies. A few years ago Howard was at Quent State University when an anti-war protest was fired on by the national guard. President Duxon was there and Howard was yelling at him when the cosmic axis shifted and brought him to Earth. Now a cult has arisen around the event.
Howard is not happy with the Reverend and reveals himself. He tells the people to start thinking for themselves which they do. Howard and Bev get on the Tonight Show with Johnny Quackson to tell their story. But the reverent Ganter has a plan and uses a guest to turn on a vacuum cleaner and tear off Bev’s clothing. It reveals her as a truly non-duck being and turns the people against Howard for taking her as a lover.
So with the help of Truman Capoultry the two find Duktor Strange who just happens to be a drunk in the alley to transport them back to Earth. They escape in time before Gander and his boss Uncle Scrounge MacDrake get to them. At the end they find themselves in a swamp with the Man-Thing behind them.
Writer: Lynn Graeme
Artist: Ned Sonntag
It is the sixties in San Francisco and three street jugglers are performing. Cheyanne, Qwami and Moonchild. A guy named Riff falls in love with Cheyanne and rescues her cat from a biker. He gets knocked on the head and the three take him back to their place.
So we get to see Howard’s world and it is one strange place. Back in the Playduck issue they had articles about the cult that arose from Howard’s disappearance so it was nice to see them incorporate that into this story. It would seem that a cult would arise from such an occurrence happening. This was an enjoyable story and loved seeing the world that is like ours except for intelligent ducks running it. Interesting that the big villain Uncle Scrounge MacDrake looks exactly like Scrooge McDuck. Now Disney was threatening to sue Marvel over Howard for looking like Donald Duck which is why the story with him getting pants was done. This was of course before the two entities merged so it seems a pretty risky move back then.
The Street Peeples backup is slated to be a regular feature for this series. Inspired by the sixties and real life people that the author knew. Frankly I found the whole story to be a load of shit. Just stupid beyond belief.
“Play of the Gods Part III”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones
Well a lot of stuff is happening in the new world. The clergy are still planning on converting the natives to Diothos. Unfortunately their army is in sad shape. Made up of prisoners drafted from the dungeon they are a sad looking bunch. That they hire Groo to train them does little to improve the situation. The local natives are growing resentful of the invaders and plan to fight them. When the army chickens out they manage to call Groo who starts to slay the native soldiers. But a kind native saves Rufferto from a falling wall. Groo is moved by this act and the natives take advantage to bring Groo to their side. They ask what he wants and the answer is Cheese Dip. The natives have no idea what that is but start looking for it.
Meanwhile Ahax makes his way to shore after his ship sank. He finds out that Groo did take the boards from the bottom and sell them for a roast pig leg. He convinces the natives to build a new boat. Of course he also has to face the wrath of Taranto and the clergy for trying to leave them behind while he escaped with the gold. And the gods are unset because the heavens are filling up with all these gods and the people are resorting to converting people by force.
The third issue is this series is another enjoyable read. Plenty of witty satire about religion. Plus you have the goofy antics of Groo and all the characters that inhabit his world.
“The Journey Back”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Dan Jurgens
Morgan and Shakira are heading to the settlement they heard about from the settlers. When they get there they find a huge bridge stretching off into the distance. During the great migration bridges were built to Skartaris so they don’t have to worry about getting a boat. But Morgan’s attire is a bit suspicious to the locals. When he tries to buy a ticket to Skartaris and pay in Skartarian gold coins this gets the local shop keeper to put in a call to the authorities. So Morgan and Shakira just take off and enter the bridge.
Of course the authorities are notified and a patrol craft catches Morgan and forces him to surrender. But Shakira was able to change into a cat. When the two patrolmen come to arrest Morgan, Shakira gets the drop on them. So Morgan and Shakira take off in the stolen patrol craft. Morgan is still a skilled pilot who evades other craft and the heavy AA fire. He still can’t avoid it forever and the craft is hit and goes down.
Shakira manages to drag Morgan away and find shelter in an apartment. The owner is one who still speaks Skartaran so Shakira can communicate. He is also an army medic and patches up Morgan. He thinks the two are part of one of the warring factions in Skartaris. When he overhears them wanting to go to Castle Deimos he agrees to take them. Only the Castle Deimos is the hottest bar in town. Morgan decides to get a drink and while in the bar a newscast comes on showing his picture. The whole bar is out to get him when Shakira notices the mirror on the wall is from the original Castle Deimos. So they jump in and finds themselves back home.
So this is the final issue that Grell will write for this incarnation of the series. It was a strong story that came to a satisfying conclusion. That is what I love about Grell in that he moves the story along. This three issue storyline was fast paced and ties up neatly. It was sad that Grell would no longer be part of the character he created but after 71 issues, an annual and first special issue I guess he wanted to move on to other things.
“The Tomb of Drakula!”
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artists: Michael Golden & Bob McLeod
The writer for “True Vampire Stories” is sacked from the magazine. Harold H. Harold is so upset he jumps out the window from six stories and breaks both his legs. So later Howard is coming home from the drycleaners at night when he is confronted by Dracula. Dracula decides to feast on poor Howard and regrets it when he finds out that Howard is a duck and not a midget. So Howard comes back home not himself. He attacks Winda trying to drink her blood. He is chased out and later tries to attack two cheerleaders with the same results.
After this incident Bev and her friends are visited by Harold H. Harold in a wheelchair. He explains what happened to Howard and that he is a vampire hunter. So next night they track Howard and Dracula to the Cleveland Zoo. Howard is busy draining the ducks and Bev manages to snap him out of the trance he is in. They then manage to stake Dracula but Dracula promises Harold new story ideas so Harold saves him. Dracula rewards him by turning Harold into a vampire.
“Interview with the Duck” by Lynn Graeme
A fictional interview conducted with Howard at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan. Lynn comments that Howard conveys himself like a real person so that is how he manages to get by in society as a talking duck. Howard’s biggest pet peeves are he saves the universe many times but his opponents are so ridiculous that its hard to be taken seriously.
“A Fond Look At Fowl Friends” by Bill Mantlo
An article about Howard’s friends. A humorous look at the many friends Howard has made on Earth.
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artists: Gene Colan & Dave Simons
Howard is driving a drunk and his date to a baseball game. The drunk starts pawing his date which causes the cab to crash. A home run ball then crashes through the windshield and a mob of crazed fans tear apart the cab to get the ball. With the cab damaged Howard is out of a job so applies for a babysitting position. The woman is somewhat of a moonbat and leaves him to watch over her three kids. The kids are brats and torment Howard. The father comes home and is also a nutjob. His kids accuse Howard of indecency and this causes the father who calls himself Captain Americana to go after Howard.
So Howard is done with the world of hairless apes and convinces Winda to use her powers to tilt the cosmic axis to send him back to Duckworld. Bev offers to go with him and so the two are transported back to Howard’s world.
Once again this was a mixed bag. I enjoyed the Drakula story. It was a funny goofy story with Dracula who is not happy to taste feathers in his mouth. The writer turned vampire hunter Harold H. Harold is a fun parody of writers. Now the second feature was just once again over the top. The humor was just too heavy handed and not subtle. The big development is that we get to see Howard’s world next issue which promises to be very interesting.
“The Death-Dance of Thulsa Doom!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Marie & John Severin
Everyone in Valusia is celebrating the defeat of the snake-men. Brule is still uneasy about their guest Thulsa Doom. When a tiger that was given to Kull from Ka-nu as a gift attacks Thulsa Doom it raises further suspicions on the man. They have good reason to distrust him for he is an evil sorcerer with a skull for a head. He hypnotizes Kull’s mistress Shiva to steal the other half of the serpent eye jewel. She does and then turns into a giant bird. Kull manages to stop her but Shiva dies in the incident. Angry he goes to confront Doom and finds him in his true guise. He has the other gem and as long as both have one half the other can’t harm each other. Doom uses his magic to cause hallucinations and Kull goes to see the Pict ambassador.
When he arrives he gives him the gem. It was an illusion and Doom now has both gems. He then puts Kull in chains and transports him to the arena. Doom joins both halves together but the power is too great and wipes him out. One part of the gem falls into Kull’s hand and the other into a bottomless pit in the arena. Later Kull decides to throw his half into the pit and erect a statue over it of his chains being broke.
So Kull has returned to its own series. This is the first battle between Kull and Thulsa Doom. Obviously he is defeated but will be back for more adventures. This was a bit of a weird story. All the hallucinations and such. Kull also didn’t really defeat Doom. Doom was defeated by himself which is a bit anti-climatic. Anyway the serpent eye gem is gone so neither Kull or Doom can use it again.
“Trouble In Paradise!”
Writers: Michael Carlin & Bruce Jones
Artist: Armando Gil
So Ka-zar and Shanna are recuperating at the Aerie after their ordeal. Shanna is a bit moody. She is upset that she went to hell over Ka-zar’s death and feels very insecure. Not much time to sort her feelings out when Mt. Flavius starts to blow. To save the Aerie Ka-zar and Shanna must go into the mountain and plant explosives that will alter the flow of the lava. They have to fight some nasty giant apes and the impending eruption. Shanna accidentally finds the ring that Ka-zar got for her and she agrees to marry him just as the volcano erupts. They manage to get to safety to plan their future wedding.
It is revealed that Belasco is responsible for the volcano. He has resurrected Leanne from her coma. She has freed the trapped Pterons and with her kingdom are planning to march on the Aerie.
The big event for this issue is that Ka-zar and Shanna are finally getting married. This is the big payoff that readers have been waiting for since the first issue. The relationship between these two has been one big roller coaster ride of ups and downs. I think that the relationship portrayed between these two is one of the most realistic ever portrayed in comics. So the big wedding will be in next issue which is a special 48 pages long. Of course evil Belasco and Leanne are going to crash so it won’t be a boring event.