CONAN THE BARBARIAN #44

“Of Flame and the Fiend!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story “The Tower of Blood” by David A. English
Artists: John Buscema & The Crusty Bunkers

Conan wakes up in the dungeon with Sonja. The two discuss what has happened to them when Morophla comes. He forces Conan to accompany him to his holding pen for the degraded human captives. He has plans to have Conan mate with his captives for fresh new stock for blood. He uses some powder to stimulate Conan and it descends into a psychedelic distortion as Conan is forced to perform. Later he is brought back to the dungeon. Uathacht the sister comes along and shows a desire for Conan. Conan agrees to be with her if she can set Sonja free. She later comes back with news that she has bound her brother’s soul. Only her jealousy drives her to try and kill Sonja. Sonja manages to win the knife fight and kills Uathacht. Then they are free and find their swords. Morophla while bound can still conjure images from Conan’s mind. So Conan fights a golden ape, an octopus and medusa headed giant snake. Sonja manages to spread oil and set it on fire. The fire reaches Morophla and kills him. The two escape with the help of the bat-men that are now free. Sonja at the end knocks Conan out with a rock since she does not want a man looking after her and rides off leaving an unconscious Conan.

Well this was a strange story. A bit risque for the seventies with its none to subtle rape of Conan. It was still an interesting story. It was nice to see Sonja and her interaction with Conan. An interesting experiment but good that we end it and move on to Conan and his adventuring in the Hyborean world.

CARSON OF VENUS #2

“The Flames Beyond”
Writer: Christopher Paul Carey
Artist: Cyrus Mesarcia

Carson is prisoner of the Havatoo scientist Varlek Sar. Carson finds out from Loto that she was transported back to Earth but Varlek was able to bring her back from Brooklyn. Varlek has been experimenting with the astral projection and has used the Myposians because of their latent ability. He has also launched a satellite and shows Carson what is happening back on Earth. The Axis powers are on the path to victory. Varlek has a way to help save Earth if Carson will use his psychic power of mental projection. Carson decides to help and agrees to the experiment. Once he projects his image in the room then Varlek has the ability to create hundreds of Carsons under his control. Meanwhile Duare, Ero Shan and Nalte are rescued by the angan. Duare convinces them to help rescue Carson if she can get help. So she has them fly her to the Falsians and their fleet of land ships. At the end the combined army is marching on Havatoo.

So there is a lot of callbacks from the novels. Varlek Sar is developing some sinister power. I loved that they manage to bring back Loto/Betty Callwell and give her some more story. I am curious to find out why the Falsians are helping. A very enjoyable continuation of the Carson of Venus sage.

LEGENDERRY RED SONJA #5

“Untitled”
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Rodney Buscemi

Sonja is tracking Kulan Gath’s bomb in the sewers of Big City with a geiger counter she got from Madame Curie. It leads her to the bomb and a gristly discovery. Gath has decapitated a lot of people and piled the heads around the bomb. He plans to detonate it and be rewarded by the dark gods. Gath and Tesla come and discover Sonja when her geiger counter makes noise. Gath sics the rats after her but Sonja evades them and makes it to the bomb. She is able to keep the rats at bay because of the radiation in the bomb. She takes the bomb and leaves after beating up Tesla and throwing a severed head at Gath.

So at the Nautilus Sonja dismisses her crew and takes the bomb out of the city. Gath and Tesla use magic to transport themselves to her sub. Sonja gives Tesla a beating and traps Gath in a mystical symbol she drew on the floor. She escapes the sub and the bomb blows up killing both Tesla and Gath. Later celebrating her victory at the local tavern she is approached by the members of Thorne’s gang. The gang is there to swear fealty to Sonja the new Queen of the underworld of Big City.

So the final issue goes out with a big bang literally. This was a very satisfying series. I liked this new Sonja and her steampunk world. I do hope that they do some more of this series in the future.

THE WARLORD #2

“Brutality in a Barbarian Land!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears

Brovis the brutal prince from Kolosis picks a sword fight with the stranger. He almost kills him when Regine the woman that rescued him intervenes. She convinces Brovis to fight the stranger in the arena in front of the people which he accepts. So Travis learns some sword fighting techniques from Regine. He has no memory of where he comes from or even his name. He does have a cockiness to him. While this goes on we learn of the Shamballah legend of Cassus the Warlord who will come at Shamballah’s time of need. On the surface Travis fiancee Alexa convinces her friend Terry to take a helicopter and continue the search for Morgan. The chopper has to make an emergency landing to refuel as a storm approaches.

So the big day comes. A fight to the death with the hand of the princess Tara as a reward. Travis also gets Brovis to agree to give up his kingdom if he wins. So they fight and Travis doesn’t even use his sword. But he moves so quick that he beats up Brovis. The crowd think he is a wizard and demand his death which the weak king will oblige. Only as Travis waits for the guards he takes off his shirt. The people are stunned and bow down to him. For Travis wears a necklace around his neck with the symbol of Cassus.

So the second issue continues to be interesting. Travis is shown as someone with some very good skills. There is a love interest growing between him and Regine while his other love on the surface that he doesn’t remember is still searching for him. Some stuff I don’t get is how he can understand Skartarian or why the Skartarians speak English. It does set up a mystery that makes the reader want to find out more in the next issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #2

“Black Colossus”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Alfredo Alcala

A thief comes to the ruins of Kuthchemes an old civilization that was sacked by Hyborians centuries ago. He comes to the tomb of the wizard Thugra Khotan. The thief manages to find a way into the old tomb and after battling a cobra finds a room filled with treasure. Only there is a sinister figure there too. Later the Princess Yasmela gets another dream from the mad priest Natohk who has managed to unite the various nomad tribes. He taunts her that he will take her for his queen. The princess asks her handmaiden for advice and she suggests preying to Mitra. As she preys in his temple a voice tells her to go and give command of her army to the first man she finds. So she does and it is Conan who is a mercenary in her army.

So she appoints Conan general to the dismay of her nobles. For the small state of Khoraja is in a bad situation. Her brother the king has been taken prisoner by a neighboring kingdom. Another larger one wants to annex the state and Natohk has raised a sizable force to conquer her small kingdom. Conan takes charge and marches the army to battle. The find Natohk’s army and the knights ignore Conan and charge. Only it is a trap and Natohk uses sorcery to defeat the knights. But Conan pulls things together and defeats the army. Natohk kidnaps Yasmela and takes her back to Kuthchemes and his tomb to perform a ritual for power. Conan follows and manages to throw his sword and kill Natohk who turns out to be the ancient wizard Thugra Khotan. Yasmela shows her gratitude by giving herself to Conan.

“Chronicles of the Sword an Informal of Sword-and Sorcery Fiction.”
Writer: Lin Carter
With illustrations by Al Milgrom, Alan Weiss and Joe Stanton

An article of the birth of the genre. He starts with Lord Dunsany an Irish poet who wrote in the early part of the twentieth century. He was an influence of Lovecraft who influenced Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard.

“Blackmark Chapter II”
Writer & Artist Gil Kane

On the post-apocalypse New Earth the young Blackmark shows signs of intelligence and strength at an early age. One day a warlord comes to conquer the land. Blackmark’s father refuses to submit and is killed. Blackmark’s mother is raped and killed. The young Blackmark is left and vows to get his revenge by conquering the New Earth. Only slavers find him at the end.

“The Beast from the Abyss”
Writer: Steve Englehart adapted from “Black Abyss” by Robert E. Howard & Lin Carter
Artists: Howard Chaykin & The Crusty Bunkers

Kull is visiting the city of Kamala. The city is known for its decadent pleasure and Kull finds the Baron Ergon a gracious host. As Kull leaves the festivities Brule comes with news that his fellow Picts have been kidnapped. Kull and Brule follow the trail to an underground chamber. There the decadent Baron Ergon is using the captive Pict as a sacrifice to a worm creature. Kull kills the pagan worshipers and flings a burning torch at the worm and sets it aflame.

So this issue had a Howard story which is a classic. It has Conan thrust into a role of leadership which he is obviously suited for. A dead wizard come back to life. He rides a chariot pulled by a demon winged camel and driven by an ape creature. And of course Conan gets the girl at the end. A wonderful story.

The article was interesting and the first installment of a series. The articles for this magazine were usually interesting.

The Blackmark story continues to establish the character. It now gives him his motivation. A fun story combining Conan type action with a futuristic post-apocalypse world.

Finally the Kull story was an enjoyable read. I believe based on a fragment of a Howard story finished by Carter. A wonderful tale of a decadent civilization and Kull’s barbaric justice.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #43

“Tower of Blood”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by David A. English
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chua

Conan and Sonja are being chased by bounty hunters. The heirs to the king Sonja killed put a big bounty on her head. They manage to shoot an arrow into Sonja’s horse. So Conan finds a cleft in a hill to hide in. Once their they manage to start an avalanche and kill all but one of the bounty hunters. So without horses the two explore what’s through the cleft and find a fog enshrouded valley. A bat creature attacks them which Conan kills. Then they make it to a mysterious tower and a figure knocks them out with a thrown vile that releases a smoke.

Conan wakes and finds that they are prisoners to an immortal brother and sister named Morophla and Uathacht. The two were driven from Stygia by Thoth Amon and cursed to need blood to remain alive. They ruled over a city of humans but the mist in the valley killed and devolved them over time. They plan to use Conan and Sonja to repopulate their human herd. The jealous Uathacht pushes Sonja into a pit that has a cannibalistic monster named Dromek. Conan jumps in and defeats the creature with a bone. Morophla uses his mesmerism to force Conan to take Sonja into a cell where they await their fate.

So here is another interesting story. I never heard of this David English but from this I would like to read some of his work. Continuing on from the debut of Savage Sword we have Sonja and Conan together. Its obvious that Sonja is a likable character and destined for great things including her own series. So how will Conan and Sonja escape from these creepy wizards. Looking forward to the next issue.

CARSON OF VENUS #1

“The Flames Beyond”
Writer: Christopher Paul Carey
Artist: Cyrus Mesarcia

Carson is in his anotar(airplane in Amtorian) test flying it with his mate Duare and friends Ero Shan and Nalte. They are attacked by angan(bird-men) and shot down. The angan accuse Carson of slaughtering his people. They take the four to Brokol the city of the plant men. Carson is accused of abducting their goddess Loto. See Escape from Venus.

Just then another anotar comes and strafes the city with R-rays. The man who attacks is Varlek Sar from Havatoo. Carson finds out from Ero Shan that Varlek is a scientist in charge of finding Carson and bringing him back for his scientific knowledge. So this proves his innocent with the angan and Carson has them fly the group to the city of Mypos and the fish-men. Carson knew that Varlek would be there and the group infiltrate through the underwater passageways. Only they get captured. Carson manages to use his astral projection to lead the dumb guard to his cell and knock him out and escape. Only he then blunders into the throne room with Varlek and the girl Loto or Betty Callwell from Earth.

I just love American Mythology. They really understand the Burrough’s universe and hire writers who do it justice. We get a visit to several places from the novels. In fact this story feels like something that Burroughs would have written. There is a plot hole is how Carson knew Varlek would be in Mypos but a small detail. Burroughs did have his own occasional plot holes so just adds some flavor. I am looking forward to the continuation of Carson’s adventures on Venus.

LEGENDERRY RED SONJA #4

“Untitled”
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Rodney Buchemi

Kulan Gath has captured the Nautilus and Sonja and her crew are prisoners. Gath is about to kill Sonja when the ship of crime boss Thorne arrives and starts shooting Gath’s men. During this time Tesla decides to knife her lover D’nar. Then Thorne comes on the ship carrying his portable gatling and runs to his daughter. Only Gath stabs him with a sword and his daughter seems unfazed at the death. Then she goes to Gath and calls him her love before kissing him. Sonja is disgusted by this but manages to save her crew and get the Nautilus away from Gath’s ship. Gath is left with a chest full of the mysterious explosive element. Sonja heads to the Big City and seeks out Madame Curie for help in defeating Gath.

So this issue had a real development that I didn’t see coming. I never would have thought that Tesla would have some romantic relationship with Kulan Gath. I think I was shocked as Sonja was. This was an exciting issue and takes the story to a whole new level. Should be interesting to see how Madame Curie fits into the conclusion.

THE WARLORD #1

“Untitled”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears

Travis Morgan is leaving his fiancee to test an experimental fighter. In Shamballah a similar scene is acting out only it is Jhan saying goodbye to the princess Tara. Both women will lose their men. Alexa as Travis Morgan’s plane goes down over the arctic. Jhan loses his life to Prince Brovis of Kolosis in the gladiator ring. We find out that Shamballah is not in a very good position. Kolosis is a strong city state that plans to take over the weaker Shamballah. Later on a group of women fishing pull out Travis Morgan from the water. Their boat is attacked by sea creatures and Morgan manages to defeat them. Princess Tara watched this from shore and tries to arrest Morgan since all strangers are first held as prisoners until deemed not a threat. The girl he saves speaks on his behalf. Brovis has also watched and wants to kill Morgan.

So back in 2006 DC decided to revive the Warlord. Only this would be a reboot with a whole new start. I was excited to hear about this and had an open mind about this new re-imaged Warlord. So far the first issue set up an interesting world. Travis Morgan was a test pilot that crashed in Skartaris. Otherwise there was this whole new set up with Shamballah being threatened by Kolosis. The leader a prince Brovis was introduced as a despicable scumbag. Interesting that the artist decided to color all the surface world scenes in black and white. Didn’t really get that. Still this series started out on a solid footing. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to its potential as we will see in future issues.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #1

“Curse of the Undead-Man”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Mistress of Death” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Pablo Marcos

Conan is in the City of Thieves when some priests run from an alley. They are chased by thieves who bump into Conan. The thieves decide to kill Conan because they think he saw their crime. Conan slices up the thieves except the last one because he trips on something. Fortunately Red Sonja is there to save him. Conan picks up a severed finger that he slipped on. They go into the alley and find a man in some circle. Sonja recognizes him as the wizard Costranno. She witnessed his execution earlier. A local madame Berthilda cut off his ring finger and betrayed him. It looks as if his followers were trying to resurrect the wizard. Conan contemptuously throws the finger down and leaves never seeing it reattach itself to the wizard.

So later at a tavern he notices the ring finger on a hooded man. Before he can act the city guard comes to arrest both him and Sonja. A pissed off harlot named them as suspects. So they fight their way out and go to the home of Berthilda. Conan likes to clean up his own messes. They find the wizard summoning a demon. Conan cuts off his hand and throws the body into the pit the demon is rising them. Then they seal the pit and take Berthilda out. Only Berthilda is not grateful and goes back. Conan threw the hand with the ring with the body so the wizard is once again alive to take his revenge. Conan decides once is enough and him and Sonja go off.

“A Hyperborean Oath”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on the new magazine. Basically it will have adaptation of Howard’s Conan stories and other characters. The only exception is the Blackmark feature which was inspired by Howard.

“Red Sonja”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Esteban Maroto, Neal Adams and Ernie Chua

Red Sonja comes back from her mission to Makkalet with the serpent tiara. Only the king of Pah-Dishah decides to interpret as giving his most precious gift as being himself. So Sonja is taken to be cleaned up for his harem. Only Sonja instead manages to use the king’s own dagger and kill him. Then she has to fight the king’s bodyguard who is pissed that he will not have an old age pension. Sonja helps out by making sure he will never need one.

“Conan’s Women Warriors”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the four warrior women that Conan met. They are Belit, Yasmala, Valeria and Red Sonja.

“Blackmark”
Writer & Artist: Gil Kane

In a post-apocalypse future a couple are going to a new place to start over. In the wastes they meed King Amarix and his servant. They are fleeing his people because the king believes in restoring science and that is blamed for the destruction of the Earth. Amarix manages to use his technology to make the young woman fertile and she will give birth to a son that has the memories of the lost science from the old days.

“An Atlantean in Aquilonia”
By Glen Lord

An article on how the failed story “By This Ax I Rule” was cannibalized and rewritten as the first Conan story “The Phoenix on the Sword”.

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint from Savage Tales #1.

So here it is. The very first Savage Sword of Conan. Probably the most successful of the black and white magazines from the seventies. It is the only series to last until the nineties. Needless to say this was an excellent start. The stories were brilliant. The articles interesting. They packed a lot into those 84 pages for a buck. You just don’t get this now days. Out of all the Conan series ever done this had to be the best.

Also the main story takes place after the Conan the Barbarian issue #42. The one I just read last Thursday. I swear I didn’t plan that at all. Just wonderful how it worked out like that.