“The Curse of the Golden Skull!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on short story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Neal Adams
Rotath of Lemuria lay dying killed by Kull. He utters a curse and many years later a hillman comes to the ruins of the temple. He finds a golden skeleton and when he touches it the skeleton takes the man’s flesh. Conan is part of a troop of Turanians transporting the princess Yolinda north. They are ambushed by hill-men. Well armed hillmen with armor and good weapons. Only Conan and a black Juma are spared to be slaves. They are taken to a tropical valley and a mysterious tower. The hillmen’s leader is a golden skinned man. He plans to marry Yolinda and have his children be heirs to the Turanian throne.
A brief fight sees Conan and Juma knocked out and put to work in the gold mines. They escape to the passage where the gold is sent and find a giant lizard. The lizard is eaten by a giant snail. The snail chases the two after they load up with gold. They lead the giant snail to Rotath who is about to marry Yolinda. The snail eats Rotath’s golden skeleton and Conan and Juma ride off with the princess.
So this story was originally meant for the Savage Tales magazine but it was on hiatus so got transferred to the Conan series. It had twelve pages cut so some stuff is missing. Still the story was exciting and filled with many interesting monsters, wizards and action. This is also the first time Juma appears in the series. Juma was a creation of deCamp and Carter so obviously their stuff was becoming available to the series. I can see this as a Howard story. Another excellent story in the series.