“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.