Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Andy Kubert
Ka-zar and Shanna have left the warmth of the Savage Land to trek out into the Antarctic wastes. They are tracking Gregor and their son Matthew. In addition to the cold they have to fight leopard seals. They find what looks like their son’s skeleton but it was a penguin’s wrapped in their son’s blanket. They finally find their son and Ka-zar fights Gregor. He manages to subdue him and drag him back home. There they find out from Gregory that Parnival Plunder is still alive and was the one who wants Ka-zar dead. Ka-zar and Shanna decide to go to New York to confront him.
So that cyborg guy is Ka-zar’s brother Parnival. Last time he showed up he was frozen into the Antarctic ice so I wonder how he got out and made all that money. There is also some tension between Ka-zar and Shanna. Shanna blames Ka-zar for Matthew getting kidnapped because he brought technology into the Savage Land that Gregor used. A bit unreasonable but Shanna is sure a Luddite in this series. Sets up the series for an adventure in New York.
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Steve Uy
This is the story of two cats. Both like to just sleep and not be bothered. They also both have much more hyperactive friends they live with. One day they hear an interview on the TV. Ichabod Gross is president of Pet Mogul a large pet chain store. He tells of his new method to make cats more like dogs. Now both Garfield and Grumpy Cat dismiss this and go back to sleep. Gross’s plan will effect them. He needs test subjects. His two spies Slither and Snoop have found the most perfect subjects.
So both go to the respective houses and Slither lures Garfield out by an offer of free lasagna. Snoop pretends to be their to give away a 60 zillion dollar prize. Both cats are taken but loyal friends Odie and Pokey see this and give chase. The two are locked in a cage and take an immediate dislike towards one another. Why? Because it saves time.
I didn’t know that pet chain’s kept such shady people on the payroll. Now this was a title I just had to get. I loved Garfield from the old days when I read the comics in the newspaper. Combining him with the internet meme sensation Grumpy Cat just seems perfect. The story is just fun and filled with humor. Ichabod Gross is the perfect villain and you learn all sorts of fun facts like there is a service called Sticks R Us that deliver sticks anywhere in the world. How it stays in business is beyond me.
Writer: Cary Burkett
Artist: Dan Jurgens
The New Atlanteans have got the drop on Tara and her men in the ancient weapons cavern. Fortunately a mysterious hooded man armed with a laser pistol attacks. This gives Tara and Scarhart a much needed break which they take full advantage of and defeat the New Atlanteans. Far in the future Morgan, Shakira and Krystovar are stuck in the secret military base in Utah. Morgan spends his time learning about the flying saucers and other futuristic technology. Krystovar spends it in study learning English. Shakira is just bored. So bored she turns into a cat and sneaks out. She is chased by mutants and hides in a ruined city. When she gets back her description of the outside world disturbs Dr. Reno. They go out and find the world destroyed in a nuclear war. It is also the year 2303.
A plane ride in a Cessna with Morgan, Reno, Krystovar and Shakira takes them to the ruins of Salt Lake City. Here they are caught in a tractor beam from a large futuristic USAF ship. Instead of being treated with respect they are jailed and accused of being spies.
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall
Jinal and her friends are fleeing the pursuing slavers. Jinal notices that more Harahashan have joined them. It seems Barasha has brought more of his friends. The pursuit takes them to a box canyon and it looks like they are trapped. But it was a trap for the slavers. They are surrounded by lizard-men and the slavers massacred. Later Jinal finds her weapons in a wrecked vehicle and vows to never lose them again.
So Morgan is now in the future. It gets more interesting that the world is destroyed by nuclear war. Even more interesting is the futuristic USAF craft and their final destination Washington D.C. Burkett has been taking the Warlord on a pretty wild ride and I am enjoying every minute. He even manages to bring up that Morgan has already traveled into the future. Reno explains that it must have been an alternate timeline. I love that he is so familiar with this issues past. The big futuristic USAF ship hints at an advanced civilization still kicking in this future. Sets up nicely the interest in the reader wanting to find out more. Oh he still hasn’t forgotten Skartaris with showing us Tara and her adventures. An adventure with a mysterious man that also needs solving.
The Barren Earth is coming along nicely. It was announced that it was getting its own very deserved mini-series so that was something to look forward to. Barasha shows what a valuable ally he is and Jinal seems more determined than ever to find the ancients in their floating city.
“Guns of the Savage Land”
Writers: Chuck Dixon and Timothy Truman
Artist: Gary Kwapisz
A nearly naked man is found wandering out of the Nevada desert. He speaks a language nobody recognizes and has serious radiation poisoning. Dr. Wyatt Wingfoot an anthropologist is called and finds out the man speaks an ancient Paiute language. He theorizes that he came from the world under the Earth that the Paiute legend says the tribe originated from.
So he goes to recruit Ka-zar and his wife Shanna. They are living in England because the Savage Land tribes united and rejected Ka-zar’s rule. Now Ka-zar is estranged from Shanna and slowly going insane from living in civilization. This trip piques his interest and with Shanna they head out to discover this new land. Borrowing the Fantasticar from the Fantastic Four they find a world under the surface filled with dinosaurs. They find the lost tribe but there has already been contact with civilization.
An oil company has set up a base to drill for oil. Lead by an ex-Legionnaire named Lestrade he runs a brutal operation. Some of the mercenaries attack the tribe and Ka-zar with his friends manage to defeat them. Ka-zar decides to arm and teach the tribe to use the guns. They attack the base and destroy it. Shanna leaves Ka-zar and Zabu because of Ka-zar’s erratic behavior.
The only graphic novel of Ka-zar ever done. It was between the third and fourth series. There were a number of differences with the characters that go against what was established in the various series. Shanna seems to want to live in civilization while Ka-zar has a real hatred for it. It seems to be the other way around in the series. Also they have their son named Kyle instead of Mathew. It was never really explains what this world under the Earth was. It seems like some sort of Pellucidar type world. Ka-zar also seems to be a bit unstable with a power mad desire to rule and bloodlust to kill the outsiders. I suppose it could be the effects of his insanity.
Still what is good is the overall story. Truman and Dixon are experts in writing good quality action stories. Kwapisz was some beautiful art. So we get an interesting adventure story. Lots of action and machine guns mounded on dinosaurs attacking the evil oil company. Not sure where this fits into the Ka-zar continuity or even if its supposed to. It seems like a sort of alternate world adventure. Definitely worth the look for the story and artwork.
“Moon of Blood!”
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Mike Ploog
Ardyon is now in complete control of Valusia. He is going to have Kull beheaded in front of the public. Narda his former concubine goes to her old tribe and ask Kargan the chief for help. He give her an enchanted necklace that will save him. So she manages to visit Kull and give him the necklace. Next day as he is about to be executed Brule comes back and tries to save Kull. The numbers are too great and when the ax-man strikes his ax turns into a giant snake that kills him. Kull frees himself and together with Brule and Narda flee to Kargan’s tribe.
Kargan is somewhat of a tyrant and he plans to execute an innocent Pict. Brule tries to intervene and is also taken prisoner. Kull seems to not care. This is because the necklace also saps his will making him a slave to Kargan. Kull rebels against this and manages to tear off the necklace. He fights Kargan and cuts off his hand and banishes him. The people are happy and want to make Kull their chief but he is determined to regain his throne.
Writer & Artist: Unknown.
The small village of Oakfest was suffering attacks by barbarians. A hero named Dralla saved the village and in return the people build a stone statue of him. Years later the village is suffering famine. An old man pleads for Dralla to save them. While the old man has a fever the village discovers gold all over the place. The old man recovers but finds out that nobody will help him. He was too sick to gather the gold. Dralla comes to life and is not happy with the village’s treatment of the old man. He makes the gold disappear and takes to old man away leaving the village to suffer famine.
So this series has a new writer and artist and I think both did an excellent job. Clearly the story has a whole new direction. We get a clear understanding that Thulsa Doom has full control of the army and government. Kull does have some friends but is essentially alone in his quest to retake the throne. This sets up a great start to an epic quest for Kull to regain his throne. Now he will have to rely on himself as he has various adventures in his search to overthrow Thulsa Doom.
The second story was a filler and an old reprint from the fifties. A morality play that was a bit goofy but I found it interesting and the moral was a good one. Not sure where Dralla fits in God’s scheme with the universe but happy the old man got rewarded for this selflessness.
“Law of the Jungle”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Andy Kubert
Zabu is seriously wounded and under the care of Shanna. So Ka-zar goes off to hunt down the man responsible. He successfully tracks Gregor down and gets into a fight with him. Later Shanna and a recovered Zabu also arrive. Unfortunately Gregor’s tribal allies manage to kidnap their son Matthew from the nanny that was taking care of him. Gregor gets on his rocket sled and takes off with Matthew. Ka-zar manages to rip off an aileron and the sled goes crashing down in the Antarctic wastes.
Another exciting issue in the new series. Ka-zar shows that he should not be underestimated. It ends with a good cliffhanger. I love the art from Kubert. I notice that comics from the nineties were very minimal in dialogue and descriptive narrative. I think that this story is effective in how it shows the story visually.
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Red Sonja survived the explosion and his now fighting off vultures as she heads to Las Vegas. Holly and Spike think she is dead and are looking to make enough money to head back to New York. So they take their last $20 which Holly thinks she can turn into enough for two tickets back. Unfortunately they choose the casino that is run by the Aranhas gang. Sonja find her way to the casino and uses a direct approach. She beats up everybody and finds out where the boss is. The boss turns out to be an old woman. She offers Sonja a job but she isn’t interested. Just then the FBI raid the place. A mysterious agent uses magic to shield the three girls and lead them to safety. He turns out to be Professor Mallory the man they were looking for.
So Sonja finally gets her showdown with the head of the Spider Aranhas gang. Turns out the gang is run by a corporation that uses the casino and other shell corporation to launder the money. Interesting development that I wasn’t expecting. Neither was I expecting the appearance of Mallory who looks like a harmless old man but has some very powerful magic. I am very intrigued in finding out his story.
Writer: Cary Burkett
Artist: Pat Broderick
Morgan, Shakira and Krystovar are flying through some strange void in the flying saucer. They get pulled into the real world by a tractor beam. When the ship lands they are greeted by a man who seems to know them. Before they can question the man the three are confronted by their future selves. The presence of three people meeting their future selves cause a reaction in the man that greeted them. He starts to spew energy and the three friends are thrown back into the void.
They are then drawn to the U.S.S. Eldridge in 1943. The invisibility experiment has caused some strange stuff and they meet the same guy. Once again they are drawn to a different place with the same guy. He gives the three chronal-dampener belts. So now Morgan and company find themselves at a secret base in Utah that is developing the chronal radiation to power flying saucers. The man is identified as Dr. Reno Franklin and they are in the far future of 2068. Meanwhile Tara and the others left behind are ambushed by New Atlanteans and Jennifer Morgan is making her way to find her father.
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randell
Jinal, Skinner and Renna are on their way to be sold at the slave market of M’Breem. They meet a fellow captive named Yishrah. He is a traveling shaman and has the feel of being a charming rogue. He knows of D’roz the floating city of the ancients. At the slave market they are purchased by Barasha only he forgets to pay for them. They make a haste escape from the city with the slavers in pursuit.
So this is where we are finally getting some answers to the US/Atlantean connection. I loved the idea of using the Philadelphia Experiment story. Of course this story also raises a lot of questions that still need exploring but this military base in the future has such wide potential. It makes the reader want more which I eagerly awaited back in the day.
The Barren Earth continues on in a fast paced and amusing way. I love the way they freed Jinal and her friends. Bid real high at a ridiculous price then skip out without paying. We get introduced to a new character in Yisrah. He does seem to be a happy go lucky rogue that probably shouldn’t be trusted too far. He does seem to know about the ancients that Jinal is on a quest for which is why she freed him. The mystery for both stories continues with some questions answered but many more to be asked.
“Demon in a Silvered Glass”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Bolton
Kull is bored with the uneventful peace and prosperity of the kingdom. When he hears of reports of the dead coming back at the royal crypts he now has some chance at excitement. Kull and Brule arrive at the crypt and are confronted with the walking zombie corpse of King Borna the tyrant that Kull slew to be king. Kull manages to push a heavy stone column on the corpse crushing it. He then goes to a local wizard named Sekhmet. While there he gets bewitched by a mirror and falls under the control of Sekhmet’s beautiful daughter Jeesala.
Kull takes Jeesala as his mistress and soon starts to become a tyrant. His Red Slayers discipline starts to collapse. Kull decides to arrest the minstrel Ridondo and have him executed. The people break him out and march on the palace to overthrow Kull. His Red Slayers decide not to get involved. Brule manages at the last moment to break the mirror that has been bewitching Kull. He finds out that Jeesala is a serpent-man as is Sekhmet. They wanted to weaken the kingdom. Then their army of undead royals would take over.
Kull manages to rally his Red Slayers and the angry mob for an epic battle with the undead. Then a Kraken comes to destroy the city. Kull goes to Sekhmet and has to fight a bestial image of himself. He defeats the mirror image and breaks all of the wizard’s magic mirrors. Then kills Sekhmet and the Kraken goes away and the city is saved.
I have to say that this is probably the finest Kull story I have ever seen. Not only is the story so beautifully written but John Bolton’s artwork is awesome. He is perfect for sword and sorcery. This was a full length story and was just exciting from beginning to end. It really allows the story to develop.
“King Kull Must Die!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on “By This Axe I Rule” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Michael Ploog
The conspiracy against Kull is ready to act. Brule and most of the Red Slayers are on a diplomatic mission. The four wait for the mysterious fifth to arrive. Ardyon is a wizard who can use his magics to make the palace guard fall asleep. The conspirators with the exception of Baron Kaanub who is too much a coward go to Kull’s chambers with fifteen armed men. They instead find that Kull is not asleep and waiting for them. Using his ax he practically takes out all his attackers. Ardyon reveals himself as Thulsa Doom. Using his magic he knocks out Kull and seizes the crown for himself. Kull is thrown into the dungeon to await execution.
So we get a whole new direction with this series. The first is the name change. I suppose it does sound a bit cooler. I mean Kull hasn’t been doing any conquering in this title but he definitely does a lot of destroying. Thomas is at his best adopting Howard stories. This particular story actually was a rejected Kull story that got rewritten into the first Conan story. One major alteration is making Ardyon Thulsa Doom and having him usurp the crown.
This is a change that has many possibilities. It will reduce Kull to a wandering individual who has exciting adventures while trying to regain his crown. Now this also does seem to make him into another Conan and there was already a Conan series going on. So it does seem like a risk of redundancy in this title. Kull is unique enough to still give this series a different feel. The move would produce some fine stories for this series.