“At the Mountain of the Moon-God”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Pablo Marcos
Conan is enjoying the celebrations after his defeat of Nahotek. He goes with princess Yasmela to her room when a dying man bursts in. It was a spy sent by Yasmela to find the whereabouts of her brother held captive by Ophir. He dies but delivers a map showing a secret passage to the Mountain of the Moon-God. Her handmaid Vateesa is jealous of Yasmela because she loves Conan. So Vateesa goes and sells the map to the king of Koth. Strabonis the king of Koth sends his man Sergius and his men to rescue the king so he can claim Khoraja for his kingdom.
Conan has taken off to rescue King Khossus with two men. While climbing the cliff Sergius starts an avalanche that kills the two men with Conan but Conan manages to escape and find a cleft that leads inside. Sergius and his men are ambushed and captured. Conan though manages to free the king and capture the traitor Vateesa. They flee down the cleft as the Ophir commander pours the cauldron of hot oil down. The oil manages to hatch a pterodactyl egg. The pterodactyl kills Vateesa but Conan breaks off it’s beak with his bare hands and manages to kill it. He returns the king to Khoraja but Yasmela has decided to marry the Stygian prince in exile that once served Natohk. Conan being Conan just shrugs and takes some serving wenches to celebrate.
“The First Barbarian Chronicles of the Sword Part II”
By Lin Carter
Illustrations by John Severin
The second part of the article on the birth of sword & sorcery. This one deals with Robert E. Howard and his first ever story of sword & sorcery “The Shadow Kingdom”. He wrote nine Kull stories in total but only was able to sell two.
“The Testing of Blackmark”
Writer and Artist: Gil Kane
Blackmark has now grown to adulthood. He apparently escaped slavery and became a successful bandit chief. Only King Kargon has captured him and is pissed that Blackmark is still not cowed. So he has him fight in the gladiatorial arena. Blackmark is paired with Balzamo the man who served king Amarix. He was there when Amarix transferred his knowledge into Blackmark’s mother. The two fight a giant fire-breathing lizard. Blackmark manages to kill it by climbing a statue in the arena and jumping down and driving his sword into the lizard’s brain.
“Kull of Atlantis”
Writer: Roy Thomas with quotations from “Exile of Atlantis” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith
A brief retelling on Kull’s origin. This was originally planned as a Kull paperback that was to be done by Thomas and Smith but never came to fruition.
“Demons of the Summit”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Bjorn Nyberg
Artist: Tony daZuniga
Conan is in the Turanian army and escapes the Khozgari after they ambush and massacre the men he was with. Only one man survived with him. The come on a woman named Shanya the daughter of the chief of the Khozgari. They take her as hostage and plan to go through the Misty Mountains. Shanya warns them that demons inhabit the mountains but Conan is not superstitious. When they get there his companion is crushed by a boulder and the girl is kidnapped. Conan follows to a fortress inhabited by some weird guys in masks. Conan kills them all and has to fight a spider like demon.
So this has an excellent sequel to “Black Colossus” from last issue. Thomas knew how to write just like Howard. The story is an enjoyable telling of the loose threads that Howard never explained.
The article is an interesting telling of Howard’s early Kull stories and why they didn’t become the success with “Weird Tales”.
Blackmark continues to be an interesting read. We are introduced to King Kargon and his scheming wife. There is also a rocket in the arena that foretells that the one who makes it fly will rule the kingdom. Blackmark also sees the warlord that killed his parents as a guest of Kargon. Sets up all the big plot points to this epic.
Finally the Kull story was an interesting look at a possible project that was never done. The Nyberg story was also an interesting look at Conan’s days in the Turanian army. Another excellent issue.