CONAN THE BARBARIAN #21

“The Monster of the Monoliths!”
Writer: Roy Thomas inspired by “The Black Stone” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan has escaped from the Turanians with an arrow in his back. He crawls up the stairs at the dock of Makkalet and does not get a welcome from the locals. Luckily the king’s guard commander rescues Conan. After his wounds heal he is taken to the king and his entourage. There they agree to hire him and Conan is assigned a mission. With three others he is to sneak out of the besieged city and reach Khurustan. The city is obligated by royal marriage to come to Makkalet’s aid.

So they manage to sneak out but first they must stop at The Black Monoliths of Xuthlan. To perform an ancient ceremony to ancient gods. The monoliths are cared for by an old hermit and his young female companion. The captain kills the hermit and knocks Conan unconscious. He wakes to find himself tied to an alter with the woman. The captain kills his companions then sacrifices the woman. This brings a hideous toad creature from the monolith. Conan manages to free himself but the creature continues to stalk him. Conan figures that the armlet the queen gave him is attracting the creature so he tosses it to the captain who is eaten by the toad. The toad goes back into the monolith and Conan rides off to delivery the request for aid.

This was another loose adaptation of a Howard story and so of course is excellent. Thomas knew how to write Conan and it shows. So we get a fun story with betrayal, royal intrigue, mysterious pagan rites and supernatural monsters. Conan manages to overcome everything and takes all the threats head on. Just like Howard portrayed him. Not really sure why he feels obligated to continue on with the message since he was clearly set up. Still Conan does have his unshakable barbarian code of honor. And the siege of Makkalet is still not over and has plenty of potential.

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