CONAN CLASSIC #8

“The Keepers of the Crypt”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on synopsis by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is in Corinthia being pursued by Corinthian soldiers. They have a treaty with Numalia and they want Conan for the death of the governor’s niece and theft of antiquities. Conan causes a landslide that kills the troops except the leader. Bruin is a Gunderman mercenary that recognizes Conan from the Battle of Venarium. A brief fight ensues that Conan wins. He then wanders off and finds a ruined city. It is inhabited by a giant Gila monster that Conan kills by throwing rocks down its throat then stabbing its exposed belly.

So he comes on a temple and meets Bruin who was not killed. They make a truce to explore for gold. Inside they find the lost treasure of Lanjau. Conan and Bruin play dice for a jade serpent with gems that Conan wins and bags it. The giant mummies come alive and the two have to fight their way out. The sun disintegrates the mummies than an earthquake brings the city down and separates Conan from Bruin. Entering a village he finds Jenna who now owns a tavern from the gold she stole. Conan finds the gems have turned to dust and something is alive in the bag that has the jade serpent. The magistrate with soldiers enters to arrest Conan. When he reaches into the bag a snake bites him. The distraction allows Conan and Jenna to flee the village.

“Conan the Marvelous A Tale From the Crypt”
By Roy Thomas

An article on the background to the story. It was a synopsis of a Howard story found by De Camp in the sixties. It was rewritten by him as “The Hall of the Dead.” Since he didn’t have the rights to the pastiches he rewrote the story. He changes the blob monster to a dragon which Barry drew as a giant Gila monster. Changed the location from Zamora to Corinthia to fit the current story arch. He also uses the tavern girl to reintroduce Jenna. He includes the original synopsis for the reader.

Another excellent Thomas/Smith early Conan. Once again a Howard story idea is adapted and I loved it. A very fun story with giant monsters and mummies. We get some glimpses of Conan’s early life with the famous Battle of Venarium. Bruin is a good companion for Conan on this adventure and Jenna is back in his life. I love these early young Conan adventures.

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PLANET OF THE APES URSUS #6

“Untitled”
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Lalit Kumar Sharma

Ursus is leading the gorilla army into the Forbidden Zone. The Ape council orders Zaius to accompany him. Through flashbacks we see an earlier life. Zaius is visiting Ursus and Qama in Terminus and they are expecting their first child. He wants to offer Ursus a job in Ape City but he refuses. Terminus is a good place to raise a gorilla child and Ursus is dedicated to building his family. Unfortunately his wife dies in childbirth and leaves him alone.

So the army reached the mutant temple and starts to destroy the missile. Ursus is shot after gunning down Taylor. As Taylor and Zaius argue Ursus has a vision of his wife holding their newborn child as the world ends.

The final issue ending as expected. Most was an adaptation of the end of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. It did have some important moments to show Ursus in a more happier time. He had such a tragic life that you can understand why he is filled with such hate. Not only towards humans but God himself. You end up feeling sorry for him and sad at his death. I great way to end his story.

BSG VS. BSG #2

“Untitled”
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Johnny Desjardins

The Galactica and the fleet are pulled through a wormhole. On the other side they literally collide with another Galactica. After they untangle the ship’s Commander Adama with Apollo and Starbuck go over to the other Galactica. There they meet Admiral Adama and President Roslin and the other crew. Introductions are made and some surprise that Apollo and Starbuck are named after the call signs of Lee and Kara. Suddenly they notice that Apollo looks like Zarak and have the group arrested. They think that Apollo and Zarak may be skin jobs. A medical test reveals otherwise. At the end the Pegasus is being lead into the wormhole by the alien Kali.

So the second issue starts off strong. There is the mistrust that is there and not helped with the one crew thinking Apollo is a skin job. They manage to keep both crews in character. Apollo wonders why they need a different name to fly. There is some flirting between the Starbucks. The only complaint is the artist draws President Roslin looking like a twentysomething. She should look older to be believable as President. Otherwise a solid issue and look forward to the next.

THE WARLORD #114

“When A Legend Dies”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall

The peasants in a village are being taxed to death when the Warlord shows up. He organizes the peasants into an army to overthrow the baron. Only he betrays the peasants and leads them into an ambush. Morgan was paid by the baron. We later find out it is Desaad using technology to impersonate Morgan. He is doing his master Darkseid’s biding to discredit the Warlord. Desaad is ambushed by a female Vashek and he reveals himself to make an alliance.

Meanwhile Morgan, Shakira and Mariah are in the castle of V’zaar Hagar-Zinn. Morgan finds a scroll on the floor and figures out it was left by Zinn as a clue. They recite the spell and are transported to Zinn who is captive of demon. The demon is in another dimension and plans to steal their life force to invade Skartaris. Morgan and his companions manage to free Zinn and make it to the portal. Zinn stays behind and sacrifices his life to close the portal. Meanwhile Tara wonders what to do about the spreading aging disease. On the surface CIA agent Redmond manages to torture out the location of Skartaris from the tourist back in the annual.

This issue and the next is a crossover with the Legends mini-series. A concept where The Phantom Stranger and Darkseid debated the strength of legends. Not really familiar with it since the Warlord is the only place I ever ran into the series. It is here that DC decided to merge the Warlord with their universe. I think this was a big mistake. Warlord just doesn’t gel with superheroes. I know it was made to increase exposure and sales but I think it hurt the title in the end.

So about the story. Not too bad. It was fast paced and seems to finally be moving the plot along after a long and plodding quest. The concept of Desaad going about to destroy the Warlord’s reputation has some merit. The aging disease is spreading so we finally have some serious tension. The introduction of a female Vashek is also intriguing. She seems real bitter at the loss of her mate by Morgan. And the CIA subplot also holds some possible future interest. Finally there is a sense that something big is finally approaching. Not a bad issue.

UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION #6

“Foreword is Forearmed”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial about this issue. It is all about alternate worlds, alternate views, and alternate futures about religion. The main concern is the main story by Moorcock that is controversial and they stress its just a story and if easily offended should not be read. Apparently they were being proactive for this issue.

“One Giant Leap for Mankind”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Gene Colan and Dan Adkins

A man is visiting Tyme in his shop as they watch the first moon landing. He shows him the slow glass and the various stories they reveal. The man an Arab is skeptical about the possibility of different gods. In the end it is revealed that the first man on the moon is Abdul Mohammed and he plants a flag with the Islamic crescent. In this alternate reality the Arabs managed to unite and use their oil wealth to purchase the space program.

“Behold the Man”
Writer: Doug Moench adapted from story by Michael Moorcock.
Artist: Alex Nino

Carl Glogalier is an amateur Jungian psychiatrist who owns an occult bookstore in London. He argues with his atheist girlfriend who complains he has a messiah complex. One day one of the men he makes friends with shows him the time machine he invented. Carl uses it to go back in time to 28 A.D. to meet Jesus. He is found by John the Baptist and becomes one of his followers. Soon he makes his way to Jerusalem and finds out the real Jesus is a hunchback imbecile who can only repeat his name. So Carl takes on the role of Jesus and starts to preach. He picks twelve disciples that are literate to record the teaching. Then he has Judas betray him so he is crucified.

“Thru a Glass Slowly”
By Bob Shaw

The creator of the slow glass concept gets into technical detail about how it works. Kind of a bit dry.

“Old Soldier”
Writer and Artist: Bruce Jones

A man that hunts dangerous animals on far away colonies rides on a ship with a new experimental drive. It ages him to an old man. The man can not find a job and his wife leaves him. So he is on a swamp world hunting a giant lizard. He manages to kill it with a spear. Only it isn’t an alien world but his son’s terrarium and he shrunk himself down to small size. Now he has proven he is not too old.

“Mind Games”
Writer and Artist: John Allison

A young man in the future is drafted into the army when WWIII starts. He finds himself in Burma about to take a hill. Suddenly he is in front of God. God is displeased with him and sends him to Hell. The man wakes up to find he was the victim of an enemy gas attack.

“Visitation”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Reuben Yandoc

In some pilgrim type village a woman is about to be burned at the stake. Suddenly a six legged spacecraft appears and the villagers think its a sign from God not to burn the woman. The ship lands and out comes a four armed creature that looks like an insect. The villagers capture it and are going to burn it at the stake when the rest of the crew arrives and rescues him. We find out that the ship is from Earth and was visiting a more primitive world.

So this issue deals with some very heavy concepts that are religious in their content. Obviously the one about the time traveler becoming Jesus is a bit controversial. At least back then I’m sure it was. Personally I found all the stories in this issue very well done. Unfortunately they announced that this was probably the last issue. Actually it was the next to last issue as we will see in the next issue.

CONAN CLASSIC #7

“The Lurker Within!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from “The God in the Bowl” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is approaching the city of Numalia when he comes on a woman in a chariot being attacked by a pack of wolves. Conan jumps into action and rescues the women. Lady Aztrias is a haughty woman and starts to boss Conan around instead of thanking him. She lost her driver in the attack and commands Conan to take her home. Conan complies because he wants access to the city. In the city he scrapes the wheel of another noble and gets into a fight with Kallian. Only Aztria’s presence stops Conan from being arrested.

So he finds out why Aztrias wants him. A group of Stygians traveling north stopped at Kallian’s palace of antiquities to store a gift for Karanthes the priest of Ibis. She wants Conan to steal the gift. So at night Conan breaks into the palace and finds the bowl empty and Kallian dead. The nightwatch finds him and summons the guard who thinks that Conan murdered Kallian. Aztrias comes to cover her ass and accuse Conan. Suddenly there is a scream and the nightwatchman comes crawling back talking of a “god with a long neck.” The god is a giant snake with the head of a man that has snakes coming out of his head like Medusa. The god kills everyone except Conan who manages to kill it. At the end he looks into the empty bowl and sees the image of Thoth-Amon.

“Conan the Marvelous The God in the Bowler”
By Roy Thomas

An article about this issue. He flew to London and met with Barry to plan this issue. It was an unpublished work of Howard’s that was found in the fifties and released. Interesting Stan Lee wanted to cancel this series since the sales were steadily declining and he wanted to use Barry on a superhero title. Roy convinced him to wait and sales started rising until this was one of Marvel best selling title.

Another excellent early Conan story. An adaptation from a Howard story and you can see that the man was a brilliant writer. This is the first time Conan has any dealing with Thoth-Amon the Stygian wizard who is destined to become his greatest nemesis. Barry was the one who came up with the ram horns the wizard has. The only alteration to the original story is changing the person who hired Conan from a man to a woman. This was good idea since it works so well to have this bitchy woman who Conan’s barbarian code of honor won’t let him kill. Interesting to learn this was the final issue that was experiencing a sales slump and how it almost ended. That would have been a real loss.

PLANET OF THE APES URSUS #5

“Untitled”
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Lalit Kumar Sharma

Ursus is with Zaius and his guardian exploring the No Ape’s Land for the renegade humans. They find ruins and one building holds the statue of Abraham Lincoln. Naturally the apes freak out over a human statue and wonder what this means. While the guardian goes on about his fundamentalist beliefs the humans attack. During the fight Zaius manages to save Ursus’s life. The guardian is killed and Ursus and Qama confess their love. Zaius burns down the human library.

Meanwhile in the present Ursus is upset that his friend Sgt. Moench has come back in a paranoid delusional state. His ranting of heatless fires and disappearing humans further confirms the presence of humans in the Forbidden Zone. His friend later dies and Ursus goes to the museum and takes his grief out on the stuffed astronaut Dodge.

So in this issue it is revealed that Zaius and Ursus visited the old ruins of Washington and discovered the truth about history. The issue quotes the lawgiver and the sacred scrolls a lot which I found an interesting insight into ape culture. This issue once again does an excellent job of portraying the positive side of Ursus. We see him in love. His grief at the loss of his guardian. There is also a touching scene with his friend Moench who was driven nuts by the mutants and later dies. We are getting a real understanding for how Ursus turned out the way he did and some empathy for him.

BSG VS. BSG #1

“Untitled”
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Johnny Desjardins

The Battlestar Pegasus has just destroyed the Cylon bases in an epic battle. Then they warped away. Now the ship is damaged in an unknown part of space. The Galactica probably thinks they were destroyed. So while repairing the ship they get a distress call. It is from a strange lizard woman. She wants help and claims to know the location of Earth. So Cain goes down to the planet which is hollow. There he finds the woman who claims to be a Cylon. The race that created the machines. Just then Cylon raiders attack the Pegasus. They are there for the woman. Meanwhile the Galactica is also battling Cylons. The Cylons seem a bit different but the Vipers hold their own. Suddenly a wormhole opens up and pulls the fleet into it.

So this is a fascinating idea. Take the old cheezy seventies Chariots of the Gods show and combine it with the post 9/11 allegory gritty re-imaging. Only in comics could this happen. I am a fan of both versions so I am intrigued with the concept. So far it has my interest. The mysterious woman of the Cylon race is an interesting idea. So far we have only seen the one universe. The next issue should have the meeting of the Galacticas and really start to move along.

THE WARLORD #113

“Though Fiends Destroy Me!”
Writer: Michael Fleischer
Artist: Ron Randall

Shakira is gathering firewood and complaining about Morgan’s behavior with Mariah. She sees a whole bunch of cyclops ready to attack and sounds the alarm. Morgan, Mariah and Shakira battle the cyclops successfully. Then they continue on with Morgan fawning over Mariah. They finally reach the Greenfire Sea and the abode of V’zarr Hagar-Zinn. Then they are attacked by flying gargoyles that shoot lasers from their eyes. Zinn sees this in his crystal ball and diverts energy that is protecting him to save Morgan. This works and the three defeat the gargoyles. Only when they arrive at the castle it is empty. The gargoyles managed to capture Zinn and our heroes hear a sinister laugh. Meanwhile in Shamballah Tara is caring for an aged Jennifer when she gets news that the aging affliction is spreading out of the field it originated and heading toward the city. Machiste finds out that Mariah had herself transported to the man she loves. Redmond the CIA agent from the last annual is investigating the incident with the Mayans and finds out the tourist that was rescued by Morgan took a picture of the Mayans and probably knows something. So he arranges to pick him up in a taxi in New York and uses knock out gas to capture him.

Well the love affair between Morgan and Mariah does make me cringe. Morgan plays kissy face with her and just fawns over her real pathetically. This is definitely something that I never cared for. It does nothing for the story and is dumb. Now for the good things. The quest seems to be coming to an end finally. It was really dragging on too long and finally we see an end. It is an interesting end since it seems our heroes are too late so ends on a cliffhanger. We also get some action in other parts of the world. We finally get a little glimpse of Tara and Jennifer. We find out the aging plague is spreading so there is another cliffhanger plot point. Machiste is angry with Mariah leaving. This didn’t seem in character with him. Finally a new subplot involving the CIA agent from the last annual. This was a surprise but a pleasant one. So his quest for the truth will probably bring him to Skartaris.

So while I do have some major issues with the story I was happy that it is finally going in a new direction and out of the rut it was trapped in. Yet it has some good possibilities for future stories so there was some optimism for the future of this series.

UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION #5

“Slow Glass Revisited”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Gene Colan and Frank Chiaramonte

A burglar breaks into the Greenwich shop of Sandson O. Tyme. He breaks one of the slow glass and looks at the reflection. It is his severed head being carried in a bag by a barbarian woman on the moon. He is a bit disturbed by it and decides to get out. Later as he drives his motorcycle he looses control and goes flying into the back of a billboard. The billboard is for a science fiction movie that has a barbarian woman on the moon. The burglar’s head pokes through right where the sack she is carrying is.

“Paradise Found”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Gray Morrow

An inspector comes to a planet to see how construction is coming along. He finds the men seem to just goof off and spend time with the beautiful native alien women. The inspector gets them working and soon accidents start to occur. A man is attacked by snakes and another burns to death. Soon he figures out the native inhabitants are using their psychic powers to manifest the men’s worst fears to save their planet.

“The Many Worlds of Larry Niven”
Interview by Alan Brennert

An interview with hard SF author Larry Niven. How he got into writing and what he thinks of the hard SF field.

“All the Myriad Ways”
Writer and Artist: Howard Chaykin adapted from story by Larry Niven

Gene Trimble is a detective investigating a rash of suicides and murders. They all involve employees of Crosstime Inc. A corporation that goes to alternate universes and finds technology that they can use. He investigates the possibility of a suicide bug.

“Fantastic Worlds”
By Don & Maggie Thompson

An article on new books out. The nominees for Nebula and Hugo awards and what to do at science fiction conventions.

“Addict”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Virgilio Redondo

An addict comes to a back alley to make his purchase from a dealer. The dealer raises the price so the addict in desperation kills him. The police find him and give chase. The addict is a doctor that several years ago invented a chemical that takes away people’s dreams. The world leaders put it in the water to stop any sort of rebellion. The doctor was betrayed and forced to take the chemical. He now buys dream tapes and is addicted.

“Half Life”
Writer and Artist: John Allison

In 2022 uranium is discovered on Saturn’s moon Mimas. This starts a rush of prospectors heading there to get rich. The USS Agamemnon is bought from the military by men to make money transporting these prospectors. On the ship a young miner knocks down an old man. The man tells the young guy he will come face to face with what he hates. Later on Mimas a meteor shatters the man’s helmet and he is instantly frozen but conscious.

This issue was a strong outing. Once again all the stories were very good. I loved the Slow Glass outing. A very original idea and is the basis for the cover. The Larry Niven story I have never read but would like to. The stories were dark but unique and enjoyable. Even the articles and interviews I found more interesting than usual. The series is definitely finding its voice.