“The Black Hound of Vengeance!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith
Conan is assigned to Balthaz for a raid into Makkalet. The goal is to kidnap back the living incarnation of the Tarim. So at first it goes well. They are confronted by a small guard that is quickly eliminated. It is when Conan and some of the others get in the temple that the trouble starts. He meets a girl who is the queen but pretends to be a common temple priestess so as not be killed. Then Conan confronts the evil priest who conjures up a living skeleton. Finally as Conan reaches the chamber of the Tarim he falls through a trap door and has to fight the Black Hound of Vengeance. A big black dog that he eventually defeats by choking it with a chain then stabbing it. He makes it back to his ship and finds out Balthaz ordered Fafnir who lost an arm to be thrown overboard because it wasn’t worth wasting food on a cripple. This really angers Conan who stabs Balthaz with his own silver dagger. Prince Yezdigerd orders Conan killed but Conan slashes his way to Yezdigerd and gives him a scar on his cheek before jumping overboard.
Another enjoyable action filled story by Thomas and Smith. The big event in this issue is Conan giving Prince Yezdigerd a permanent scar. This is the start of an animosity with the prince and later emperor of Turan that follows Conan throughout most of his life. Interesting to see how Conan developed such a strong friendship with Fafnir who he was so intent on killing when he first met. A great story that showcases Conan’s loyalty to his friends and contempt for civilization’s religions as he states that he didn’t think highly of weak gods who would let themselves be kidnapped.