DEJAH THORIS #2

“Attack of the Great White Ape!”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Pasquale Qualano

A great white ape is attacking Dejah and her party. It kills the other male student that she brought along before Dejah and her bodyguard Sajad dispatch it. So the three survivors continue on in the search for Ephysium. After a long walk they make it to the valley of Otz. The two girls do some research and are attacked by plant men. A ship rescues them but instead of it belonging to Helium, it is crewed by green men. They take the three to the city of Thurd. Dejah meets the jeddak Nars Jartas. The Thark warrior that Dejah helped escape from execution.

So Dejah gets a valuable lesson in life. Being a leader can get your followers killed. What was to be a simple peaceful expedition turns very deadly for some poor students. The issue had some interesting action with fights with a giant white ape and plant men. A mysterious city where members of both the Thark and Warhoon have joined together. And the return of the green man that Dejah helped escape. An interesting story.

SWORDQUEST #1

“Earthworld”
Writers: Roy Thomas & Gerry Conway
Artists: George Perez & Dick Giordano

In a kingdom two twins Torr and Tarra are thieves. They are also the children of a warrior named Tarr. Soon after their birth the warrior and his wife were summoned before the new king Tyrannus. Tyrannus was given a prophecy by his wizard Konjuro that the twins would depose him when they grew up and sentenced them to death. Tarr held off the king’s warriors long enough for his wife to escape with the twins.

The wife went to an old friend and his wife. She gave them the twins to raise and the wife wrapped up some vases and jumped off the cliff making it look like she killed herself and the twins. So now the twins decide to steal from the wizard Konjuro. They successfully break in and steal a gem. The wizard then sends a demon after them but they manage to escape it. They then break the gem and release two mystical beings that give them a quest. Find the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery. A chasm opens in the ground leading to the first world they must pass Earthworld.

Another thief Herminius is also looking for the sword and follows. The twins split up and explore the twelve chambers of this world. Tarr has a run in with Taurus the bull and steals his key. Tarra meets up with the friendly Virgo and gets a star that can transport her. The two have various run ins with other zodiac characters. Some friendly and some hostile. Herminius manages to turn some of the zodiac beings against the twins. Finally the two twins meet and the star from Virgo transports them to the center chamber with the sword. The are given smaller swords as the main one blasts a hole in the floor and descents to the next level. Torr and Tarra must continue on into Fireworld with Herminius following and the evil wizard observing them.

So this was a mini-comic from the old Atari game Swordquest. I found the comic much more interesting then the game. It was a puzzle game that you could win some expensive item that you would have to sell to pay the taxes. Never figured the game out but just loved the comic that came with it. Thanks to Dynamite they have released all three mini-comics so I can find out the continuing adventures of Torr and Tarra.

THE WARLORD #6

“The Lone Defender of Shamballah!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears

So Travis is about to be burned on the cross. Regine turns against Brovis but he slaps her down. Meanwhile Terry manages to get the craft started and take off. When the craft starts then Travis once again miraculously transforms into a being with godlike powers. He calls his two winged-horses which cause hurricane winds and drive the Kolosian army away. The Kolosians decide to banish Brovis to a deserted atoll. On the atoll Brovis comes on Alexa who managed to escape from a nest of pteranodon.

So the series continues its slide into complete and utter shit. Well Travis magically is revived and just magically takes care of everything. I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on. Ten years have not made this series any more likable than when I first read it.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #6

“The Sleeper Beneath the Sands”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sonny Trinidad

Olgerd Vladislav the deposed chieftain of the Zuagirs is riding in the desert. He collapses and is about to be buzzard food when a caravan passes by and rescues him. The kindly leader and his daughter nurse Olgerd back to health. This caravan is part of a religious order that is making a pilgrimage to ruins in the desert. Every century they must recite some words or the sleeper beneath the sands will wake. Olgerd also hears that Conan the man who deposed him is going to these ruins to meet his lieutenant. When the lieutenant comes Olgerd kills him and then kills the leader. He takes his daughter hostage and forces his men to capture Conan when he arrives. This they do and Olgerd is going to torture him when the Turanians arrive. At this time the sleeper wakes. It drives off the Turanians and drags Olgerd down with it. The daughter sacrifices herself to drive the sleeper back to hell.

“Gods of the Hyborian Age Part One: The Homes of the Gods”
By Robert L. Yaple

An article on the various gods that are worshipped in the Hyborian age of Conan.

“Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Cimmeria?”
By Lin Carter

An article on how after Howard’s rejection of Kull stories he altered them with the Conan stories we now came to love.

“People of the Dark”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Alex Nino

Jim O’Brian is going to some old caves to kill his rival Richard Brent. They both love the woman Eleanor Rand. He slips and falls then wakes up as Conan. Conan after the destruction of Venarium. Conan comes on a woman Tamera and her lover a Gunderman named Gaeric. He chases them into a cavern and finds them tied to an alter of lizard-men. Conan frees them and they make their escape. Only Tamera and Gaeric are killed. Jim O’Brian wakes up in modern times and sees Brent with the woman he loves. They are about to be attacked by a giant snake creature. O’Brian fires at it with his pistol and kills it but the dead body falls on him and knocks him over a cliff killing him.

So Roy did a sequel to “A Witch Shall be Born” from last issue. It tells the fate of Olgerd the deposed Zuagir chieftain. Very influenced by Lovecraft with its giant monster.

The two articles were interesting. I enjoy good scholarly work on Conan’s fictional age and origins.

Finally the Howard adaptation was excellent. I believe this was non-Conan story that just happened to use the name Conan. Howard loved to recycle names. Roy just changed it slightly from ancient Ireland to Cimmeria. Still an excellent moody story of reincarnation and finding redemption in a future life.

DEJAH THORIS #1

“Untitled”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Pasquale Qualano

Dejah is still obsessed with finding the lost city of Ephesyium. Her tutor insists its a myth. Yet she approaches the Royal Academy for help. She gets three young students assigned to help her. She tries to take a flyer and start her search but her father stops her. So she decides to set out on thoat the Martian horse. With her three students they ride out into the harsh Barsoomian desert. Soon they attract the attention of two banths the Martian equivalent to lions. Dejah manages to kill one with her sword but two may be too much to handle. Already the banths have killed one of her students. Fortunately her old body guard Sajad Surma arrives in time. He kills the other banth but soon after the group must face the rampage of a great white ape.

So the series starts off with a quest by a petulant princess. Dejah is obsessed with finding the lost city believing that it will save Barsoom. The comics definitely give Dejah more personality than Burroughs did. She is a warrior which in the comics all women are. A big departure from Burrough’s Barsoom. The issue also shows the dangers of Barsoom. I am not real enamored with the armor that the artist decided to give Dejah. It is clunky and not what Barsoomians wear. Still a minor quibble for a good start to a series.

RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT! #2

“Facts Pages”
Writer: Ben Meares
Artist: Renzo Rodriguez

“Framing Sequence”
Writer: Ben Meares
Artist: Deivis Goetten

A husband and his wife are visiting the odditorium in Hollywood. The man wants to leave but does start to get interested in the displays.

“Egyptian Cats”
Writer: Oliver Kaplowitz
Artist: Marcelo Basile

525 B.C. the Persian king is offended when the Egyptian king sends an imposter instead of his daughter for marriage. So he marches his army. At the battlefield the Persians ride around holding cats and threaten to kill them if the Egyptians don’t run away. They do run and the Persians conquer Egypt.

Fact Page
“Egyptians Lost a War Because They Loved Cats!” King Cambyses II persuaded his troops to carry into battle cats knowing the Egyptians reverence for them. Cats were worshipped due to their ability to hunt rats, cobras and other dangerous critters.
“Speaking of Dangerous Critters…” Robert Ripley owned a 28 foot-long boa constrictor named Gertie.

“Frozen Girl”
Writer: Dale Mettam
Artist: Moy R.

Upstate Minnesota 1980. A young girl leaves a bar and starts driving home in freezing weather. While changing the radio station she swerves to avoid hitting a rabbit and hits a tree. So she starts walking to find help. Just in front of a home she collapses and the owner finds her lying there. Taken to the hospital she is frozen so much that the needle breaks when they try to insert an IV. A doctor insists that they warm her up and she survives.

Fact Page
“A Woman was Frozen in Sub-zero Temperatures and Survived!”
December 20, 1980 Jean Hillard was found in 22 below weather frozen stiff. A heating blanket wrapped around her revived her and she made a full recovery.
“Here’s a Cold Hard Fact…” In 1936 11,000 boys were polled and Robert Ripley was the most popular man in American. J. Edgar Hoover came in second.

“Irish Giant”
Writer: Annie Nocenti
Artist: Fred Harper

Liberty Jones is researching the DNA of Charles Byrne the Irish giant in the Hunter collection. Protesters want the giant to be buried at sea. For in the 1780’s the giant died and John Hunter who collected medical curiosities wanted his bones. So he hired some men to steal the bones and replace the coffin with sand.

Fact Page
“The Irish Giant” was 7’7″ tall and considered the tallest man at the time. His condition was caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland. His skeleton is on display at the Hunterian Museum in England and people are pushing for his skeleton to get a proper burial. Scientists have sequenced his DNA and are close to building an exact replica of his skeleton.
“From Big to Small!” Robert Ripley had a mummified baby named “Atta-boy” It was 6.5 inches and photographic evidence exists. The specimen is lost and is considered the holy grail of Ripley’s collection.

“Winchester Mansion”
Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Marcelo Basile

Two men are working on the Winchester mansion. The older one tells why it is being built. Sarah Winchester married the man who founded the Winchester gun company. After her husband and daughter died she turned to the occult. A medium told her she must build a place for the ghosts of those who where killed by a Winchester rifle. So she had a house continually being built.

Fact Page
“Sarah Winchester Build a House for Ghosts!” This house is claimed to be haunted. The house has 161 rooms and the number 13 in prevalent. Sarah died at 83 and left a will with thirteen sections each signed thirteen times.
“Is a Ripley Odditorium Haunted!” The one in Key West have accounts of a spectral girl running around.

“Stingy Jack”
Writer: Howard Mackie
Artist: Lucas Meyer

In a bar in New York a man makes a comment on why people carve Jack O’Lanterns. The bartender tells the story of Stingy Jack. A man in Ireland who was always playing tricks on people but had the gift of gab and always had other people pay for his drinks. One day the devil comes to claim his soul and Jack asks for him to turn himself into a coin so he can buy his last drink. But Jack has a crucifix and the Devil can’t turn back. Jack gets an agreement that the Devil will not come for him for ten years. Later after ten years the Devil comes and Jack asks another favor. To retrieve an apple. Once in the tree Jack puts out holy symbols and gets an agreement that the Devil will never be admitted to Hell. So when he dies he can’t get into Heaven but the Devil will not let him in Hell. The Devil gives Jack an ember to light his way between the two. He carved a lantern in the turnip he was buried with and can only come to Earth on Halloween. So the Irish carved their own lanterns to keep his spirit away. When they came to America the pumpkin was an ideal fruit to use. At the end the man thanks the bartender and leaves in a cloud of smoke. For he was the devil.

Fact Page
“The World’s Heaviest Pumpkin Became the World’s Largest Jack O’ Lantern!” October 20, 2010 Scott Cully carved the worlds largest at 1,800 pounds.
“A Believe It or Not! Cartoon is Responsible for Making ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ America’s National Anthem!”
November 3, 1929 Ripley’s cartoon revealed that America had no national anthem. March 3, 1931 Herbert Hoover signed legislation making it so.

Conclusion to the Framing Sequence

The guy who didn’t want to visit does not notice it is closing time. As he leaves he notices the hologram of Ripley wink at him.

So this two issue series of Believe It or Not! was very enjoyable. There was a lot of weird stories. It has inspired me to visit the one here at Wisconsin Dells sometime. I hope they do some more of these quirky issues.

THE WARLORD #5

“One Man Against a Warrior Nation!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears

So Travis is now imbued with the spirit of Cassius. He has a sword of truth that cuts through armor like butter. As the Kolosian army slaughters the Shamballahians Travis comes on the old man who tended the stables. He heals the old man and gives him the sword. Which he then uses to blind the archers and stop the cavalry charge by planting it in the ground. Later Travis acquires a pair of winged horses and continues to destroy the Kolosian army. Only at his sunken craft, Terry has to fight off a dinosaur and some great white sharks. Trapped in the ship he manages to start the pumps which pump in air. Unfortunately he pushes the wrong button to start the reactors and instead shuts the ship off. This also takes away the powers that Travis had. So he finds himself tied to a cross.

OK so this is where it really loses me. I mean this was weird. Not good weird but what the fuck is going on weird. All of a sudden he gets these god like powers from his submerged ship. Then he just prances around and cause some mischief with the Kolosians. But then he ends up on a cross. This is just incomprehensible. Sadly it hasn’t improved with age this series. It just descends into total stupidity.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #5

“A Witch Shall Be Born”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and the Tribe

Taramis the queen of Khauran wakes up to find her twin sister she never knew about has taken over her kingdom. Salome was born with the mark of the witch. Every century the royal family has a girl born that is a witch because of a curse. This girl is always named Salome and either put to death are left out in the desert to die. Salome was left out but a wizard from Khitai sensed her and took her. He raised her and taught her powers but expelled her because she wasn’t living up to his expectations. So Salome left and came back to Khauran. Posing as the queen she lets in the mercenary army of Shemites under Constatius. Constatius was chosen because he lacked any good characteristics. He rapes Taramis as Salome goes to impersonate her.

Later Salome as Taramis has the army disbanded and announces she will marry Constatius. Conan who is captain of the guard sees that she is not the real queen and fights back. Only the army was already disarmed and no match for the mercenaries. Conan is captured and nailed to a cross out in the desert to die. Only he survives and is rescued by Olgerd and the nomadic raiders the Zuagir.

The rule under Salome grows more oppressive. The young men are sold into slavery. People are taxed to death and no woman is safe. Salome has also started to worship dark gods that demand human sacrifice. During this time many flee to Conan who forms his own army. He deposes Olgerd and takes over the Zuagir. Using deception with phony siege machines he gets the mercenaries to come out and he ambushes them. Then he sneaks in and rescues Taramis. Salome is killed but not before she unleashed a demon named Thaug. It is killed by the timely arrival of the Zuagirs. The kingdom is restored to its rightful ruler as Conan gets his revenge by nailing up Constatius.

“Kingdoms and Caravans: A Look at Trade Routes in the Hyborian Age”
By Robert L. Yaple

An article on the trade routes that existed during the time of Conan.

“The Kline Conan”
By Robert Kline

Five artistic drawing of Conan from famous scenes by artist Robert Kline.

So this issue was devoted to one of Howard’s most famous story. This is the one that established him as the most badass character in fiction. It was chosen by John Milnius for his movie and has Conan nailed to a cross in the desert. Not an uncommon method of execution back in the old days. Only Conan spits in Constatius face instead of begs. Kills a vulture by biting it and frees his feet himself after his hands are free. Surprisingly Conan beside this didn’t have much to do with the story. Roy gave him more by replacing the scenes of rescue with Conan instead of the young rebel Marcios. This was another one that I had the full color treasury edition and also remember quite fondly.