CONAN THE BARBARIAN #56

“The Strange High Tower in the Mist!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema

Conan, Yusef and Tara come on a mysterious city on the road to Messantia. The three have a bad feeling about it and their horses refuse to enter. So they tie them up and go in on foot. The city is filled with warriors that stand around and talk in a low voice. The three come to the tower in the city and see a beautiful woman emerge. Then a bat-creature swoops down and takes her to the top of the tower. The warriors of the city seem to not care so Conan and his friends go in to rescue her.

They come to two stairs and split up with Conan going up one and Yusef and Tara the other. Both come to bars and Conan being Conan just bends them apart. Yusef and Tara try a door to the side and find a hideous little man named Mad Jakk chained to a chair. He asks to be freed. Conan gets to the top and fights the bat-creature. He manages to defeat it and it then dissolves. So does the woman and the city starts to fall apart. Conan comes on Yusef and Tara and they flee the city as it collapses and disappears. Yusef and Tara then tell their story. That the man Mad Jakk was shunned for his looks and decided to study magic. With a spell he created the city. The city had a life of its own and would use the kidnapped woman to lure brave adventurers. Then capture the warrior so it would have inhabitants to keep it company. Only Conan managed to defeat the bat-creature and thus destroyed the city. So the three continue on to Messantia.

Well this was an interesting little filler issue. I always love the strange cities that have to be explored. This one was weird and gave Conan and his two companions a good little adventure. Excitement is building for they are coming to the sea and in my opinion the greatest story arc of the Conan comics.

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PRINCESS OF VENUS #1

“Untitled”
Writer: Pat Shand
Artist: Alfret Le

In the tree city of Vepaja the young janjong(princess) Duare watches the palace guard train. She practices the moves and gets a reprimand for such unjanjong like behavior. Later faltargan(pirates) attack the palace. Wengor comes to lead Duare to safety. Only he leads her to the faltargans for he is in their pay. The faltargans leave a message that they are working for the Thorists and the Jong(king) must surrender his kingdom or they will kill Duare.

The faltargans are taking Duare through the woods of Vepaja to their ship. Duare manages to escape and lead the faltargan to a giant spider which kills them. She then has to fight some strange creature but her practice in fighting manages to save her. She finds the pirate ship and has to fight the arrogant captain who she easily bests. Then she manages to take the ship back to the palace and expose the traitorous Wengor.

A one shot special that showcases a time in the life of Duare. I think this is an excellent idea for Duare has never gotten much attention in comics and she is one of those few women that Burroughs established as a bad ass chick in her own right. This story gives us a princess who is very capable of taking care of herself. The art was beautiful and Duare just looks gorgeous. I would like them to do more solo stories about Duare. She is a very interesting character with lots of possibilities.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 THE COMIC #2

Writer: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, Mary Robinson
Host Segment Artist: Todd Nauck
In-Comics Artist: Jack Pollock

Kinga Forrester is happy with the success of the Bubbulat-R. Now she has a Black Cat comic loaded in and it sucks in Jonah and Crow. They find themselves riding with the Black Cat a female superhero from 1946. They are in her motorcycle sidecar when it crashed into a rocket of Totino’s Pizza rolls that Kinga has inserted to shill for her sponsor. She has Max launched on the rocket which explodes and he falls screaming to Earth in a burning parachute.

“Black Cat and Jonah”

An evil kingpin named the Rook plots against the Black Cat. The Rook likes to play chess with live people and is pissed at the Black Cat for taking out all his evil kingpin buddies. So he gets a plan to launch a contest offering $50,000 to the person that can identify the secret identity of the heroine. Jonah is a radio announcer and is approached by the Rook to publicize this contest. Later he follows the truck with all the entries and the Black Cat also follows. They are discovered and shot at. Jonah is run off the road but Black Cat saves him. Then takes off and follows the truck to a castle.

“Tail of Death”

Crow is transported to another comic. This one has a brother named Joe who is a mad scientist trying to make a rat huge. His brother knows that Joe is insane but humors him. One day Joe turns a rat small. The rat bites him and infects him. So he shrinks his clothes and all. The brother locks him up in a parrot cage until he finds a cure. He does and brings him back but Joe is insane and kills his brother for locking him up in a cage. Later he finds out that the salts used were unstable and he shrinks again. He runs from the rat that he experimented on and gets eaten by a cat that he was mean to. At the end Crow is the Crow Keeper.

So now the other two characters are inserted into their own comics. Did they pick some real winners to use. These comics are just bad and it is hilarious to see how they riff on them.

THE WARLORD #6

“Saga Part 6 Death From Above”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Chad Hardin

Hawkins has used the energy cannon on his dirigible to cause an avalanche and destroy Tara and the Shamballahian army. Fortunately Jennifer uses her sorcery to shield some of the army. Still most of the army is wiped out and it looks hopeless to stop Hawkins. Only Tinder has arrived with an army. Hundreds of peasants have come to fight for their freedom. So with the weapons that Morgan stole from the surface his peasant army attacks Hawkins.

Hawkins has decided to get rid of his girlfriend Kate by giving her as a slave to his commander. Just then a boulder comes crashing through from a catapult. Morgan and the army attacks. Mariah breaks free and joins up with her husband Machiste. McBane decides to slug Kate. Morgan manages to jump on the departing dirigible and fight Hawkins. The dirigible crashes and Hawkins manages to escape through the portal to the surface before the energy cannon on the dirigible goes off and destroys the portal. Morgan and his friends celebrate victory as Hawkins finds himself trapped in the cave that was destroyed last issue. An epilogue has Kate going to a temple and putting the Mask of Life on a skull.

Leave it to Grell to bring a storyline to an exciting conclusion in a quick and fast paced way. This story has everything I love about this series. Morgan is shamed by a former comrade from his early fight for freedom. That the cause of freedom is important and worth fighting for. A lot of character growth in this issue. McBane also grows and finds a cause worth fighting. Hawkins gets a fit ending for a power hungry megalomaniac. A happy ending but also leave it to Grell to set up the next battle. Looks like Deimos is once again being brought back to life.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #15

“The Devil in Iron”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

In the Vilayet Sea a Yuetshi tribesman is washed ashore during a storm on the island of Xapur. In the ruins of a temple he finds a figure eight feet tall lying on an alter. He goes and picks up a knife next to the figure. This wakes the giant and he breaks the tribeman’s neck.

Later the Lord of Khawarizm Jehungir Agha is discussing the problem of the Kozaki. Lead by Conan they are causing unending raids on Turan. Jehungir is in danger of losing his position if they aren’t stopped. His councilor has a plan. He has noticed in meeting to exchange hostages that Conan has taken a fancy to a beautiful slave girl named Octavia. He plans to let it be known through spies that the slave girl has escaped to the island of Xapur. He feels that Conan will come alone to get the girl. So they have Octavia escape and go to the island. Once their she finds that a city has just recently been build and she is captured.

Conan comes to the island and also finds the city. Exploring it he comes on a beautiful woman who talks about the past and falls asleep. Many inhabitants are also asleep. A voice later tells Conan how the ancient city of Dagonia was build by a godlike being made of iron. Khosatral Khel then ruled over the city until a Yuetshi shaman made a knife from a meteor that could defeat Khosatral. He has laid in the temple until inadvertently freed. Then using his sorcery he raises the city and brings back the dead. He fall asleep when daylight comes.

Conan eventually finds Octavia but so has Khosatral Khel. They manage to escape him and Conan goes to the temple to retrieve the knife. He has to fight a giant green snake. Later out of the city he meets Jehungir who had just escaped from Khostral after he slaughtered his men. Conan fights Jehungir and kills him. Then with the knife also defeats Khosatral. He than takes that slave girl with him.

“Arms and the Manner”
By Samual James Maronie
Photography by John L. Focht

An article on the Creative Society for Anachronism and the armor that they use. They interview Brian Flax who makes the armor and he demonstrates how it is used.

“A Portfolio of Robert E. Howard”

A portfolio from six artists of six characters from Robert E. Howard. The artists are John Buscema, Howard Chaykin, Tim Conrad and John Severin. The characters are Conan, Solomon Kane, Red Sonja, Bran Mak Morn, Kull and Thugra from Amulric.

“Conan in the City of Blood”
By Fred Blosser
Illustrations by George Barr

A review of Red Nails that just came out in a new hardcover edition.

“The Hyborian Age Chapter 4: The Beginning of the End”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on essay by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Walt Simonson

Five hundred years after Conan Aquilonia has grown to dominate the western Hyborian world. Arus a Nemedian priest of Mitra sets out to convert the heathen Picts. He finds a chief named Gorm who seems tolerant. So tells him about the western world but the chief is inspired to conquer the Hyborians.

“An Interview with Conan Artist John Buscema”
conducted by John Coltier and John Wren

Talks with artist John Buscema on his upbringing in Manhattan. His first job in advertising and what he likes to draw.

Well another Howard story and this was just excellent. Seems the Vilayet sea is filled with living metal and lost civilizations on the islands. This was such a fascinating story as Conan finds this mysterious city. His kickass battle with a giant snake where he splits the head right down the middle. And of course his battles with his enemies and getting the girl at the end. This was Howard at his best.

The articles were well done. I loved the interview with Buscema. A very informative article. Also the history of the Hyborian age is very interesting and shows how Howard devoted such detail to the history of his imaginary world.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #55

“A Shadow on the Land!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan, Tara and Yusef are riding back to Ronnoco from their visit to the oracle. They come on the shadow creature eating some peasants and make their way around to avoid it. At Ronnoco Conan finally understands what the prophecy means and takes off. Ronnoco meanwhile tries to hold off the shadow creature by feeding it all the livestock in the city. This just makes it stronger. Vanni the prince decides to flee the city and takes Yvonna hostage. Vanni manages to evade the monster. Conan rides to the crystal scorpion and his horse collapses from exhaustion. Conan takes his sword that he used to kill the scorpion and drives it into its head. This awakens the scorpion and it takes off toward the city.

The scorpion goes and manages to defeat the shadow creature by sucking it up through its tail. Conan ambushes Vanni and defeats the cowardly fop in a sword fight. He takes the captive Yvonna back. Just then armies from Peregona and Carnolla are approaching. Yvonna decides she will not be used for politics and will not marry anyone. So the armies leave and Conan also leaves since their is no war. Tara chooses to accompany him and Yusef also decides to go with them.

So this was a satisfactory ending to the Ronnoco storyline. The shadow creature was defeated. The cowardly Vanni got his just deserts. The princess Yvonna stood up for herself. Murilo has plans to maybe marry the princess for he does have some royal blood. There was a budding romance between Tara and Yusef. Those two make a good couple. Finally Conan continues on to Argos for his meeting with Belit which is the highpoint of the Conan series. Just another two more issues until that fateful meeting.

CARSON OF VENUS WARLORD OF MARS #1

“Untitled”
Writer: David Avallone
Artist: Cyrus Mesarcia

Simultaneously on Mars and Venus a mysterious doorway appears. Both John Carter and Carson Napier show no hesitation as they both step through. They find themselves on the planet Mayzora. Koh-Ray was the scientist who created the doors. He needs heroes to rescue the princess Koh-Sah from the tower of Kah-Nazor the emperor of Meyzora. Well naturally the two are heroes and agree. So they assault the tower which has hundreds of offworld mercenaries and giant robot sentinels. They have no problem fighting their way to the top and capturing the emperor. They free the princess and reunite her with her love Koh-Ray.

I believe this is the first time these two Burroughs characters were ever paired together. I am surprised it hasn’t been done before. Leave it up to American Mythology to do it. This was an enjoyable action story. Both characters were true to the characters Burroughs created and it was a humorous tongue in cheek story that paid homage to them. So we get some fairly harmless insect like aliens with four eyes as the aliens. It looks like John Carter and Barsoom are joining the shared universe that American Mythology has created. I do look forward to more stories that this company will create.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 THE COMIC #1

Writers: Harold Buchholz Joel Hodgson Matt Mcginnis Seth Robinson Sharyl Volpe Mary Robinson
Host Segment Artist: Todd Nauck
In-Comics Artist: Mike Manley

In Moon 13 Kinga Forester has come up with a new diabolical invention. The Bubbulat-R. It takes a comic book and inserts people directly into the comic. She tests it out on Son of TV’s Frank and his lame Funny Animal comic. It works so she sends it to the Satellite of Love. The ship fills with green bubbles and adsorbs the crew. Tom Servo finds himself in the comic Johnny Jason Teen Reporter. He is the title character an 18 year old who works as a reporter for the Green City Journal. His robot companions Gypsy, Growler and M. Waverly are also transported to this strip and will provide their own funny observations throughout the strip.

“Tom Servo Teen Reporter in The Brat”

Shelley Marks is a teenage movie star out on a date with some fop. She is kidnapped by thugs in dinner jackets and forced into a car. Only the car blows a tire and the thugs abandoned their attempted kidnapping. The police and the fop date arrive and think that this was all a publicity stunt. Later Tom Servo is called into the editor’s office with his assignment. He will spend the weekend at the family ranch to find out if this was a hoax. So he arrives and meets the family. There is also the sinister ranch hand who dresses like a Frenchman. He doesn’t like Tom so puts a burr under the saddle when they are horse riding. Tom manages to stay on the horse but needs a change of pants.

Later at night he is awakened by a party. Kinga and Max are there serving Totino’s Pizza Rolls since they are funding this experiment. They also use Tom’s head as a serving tray. Later some punk tries to pick a fight with Tom but he manages to kick the thug’s ass. Shelly and the parents are impressed by Tom Servo.

So I remember that MST3K was talking about doing a comic book years ago. I always thought the idea sounded cool and was glad to see them finally take the plunge. I was curious how they were going to do it. Well they actually insert themselves into the comic and riff throughout. They add a little bubble on the word balloons to denote that this was added in and word balloons without the bubble are original comic dialogue. I really thought the jokes were hilarious and this really bad public domain comic from 1962 is just perfect. I look forward to seeing what happened to Jonah and Crow and their goofy adventures in public domain comics.

THE WARLORD #5

“Saga Part 5 The Castle”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Chad Hardin

The army of Shamballah has received the signal from Machiste and is marching on castle Deimos. Morgan and McBane have gone to Tibet. There Morgan sees the night sky for the first time in years. So the first order is to infiltrate the Chinese army base and steal guns and explosives. They do that and must then fight their way back to the cave with the Chinese army in pursuit. They make it to the portal and blow the cave entrance before going back to Skartaris. Ned Hawkins has finally had the scrolls of Deimos translated and the binary code entered by Kate. He manages to activate a huge flying ship. With it he shoots an energy beam that causes an avalanche on the approaching Shamballahian army.

So this issue we have Morgan going back to the surface. During this excursion we get some background on McBane. He was part of the fighting in Northern Ireland and lost a woman he loved to the violence. Also Hawkins now has a powerful Atlantean warship to help him conquer Skartaris. The story ends with Morgan thinking that Tara may have been killed in the avalanche. So a nice cliffhanger to end on. Makes you want to find out how it goes in the next issue which is always the sign of quality writing.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #14

“Shadows in Zamboula”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Neal Adams and the Tribe

Conan is in the desert city of Zamboula when he runs into a crazy old man spouting about how guests from Aram Baksh are mysterious disappearing. Conan thinks little of it because he has rented a room from Aram for the night. It has a heavy door barred to keep him safe. Later that night he is awakened by a man with a spiked hairdo entering his room. Conan kills him and finds out he is one of the cannibal slaves from Darfar. So he goes to visit Aram and comes on a woman being abducted by some more of the cannibal slaves. Seems the populace gives them some free reign to kidnap strangers so they don’t revolt.

Conan kills them and rescues the girl who calls herself Zabibi. She tells a story that the local high priest of Hanuman desired her so gave a potion to her lover to drive him mad. They come on the mad lover and Conan subdues him and ties him up. Nabibi convinces Conan to go with her to the temple and assassinate Totrasmek the high priest. In exchange for a night of passion. So at the temple Zabibi is grabbed by mysterious hands. Conan finds the secret passage and is confronted by a huge black man named Baal-Ptoer. He uses his powers of illusion to disarm Conan. Then he plans to strangle Conan. Only Conan is not that easy to strangle and ends up getting strangled himself.

Conan them comes on Totrasmek using his powers of illusion to make Nabibi think she is being attacked by serpents. Conan kills the high priest and the girls finds the potion to cure her lover but not the ring The Star of Khoraja. So they leave and she cures her lover. Nabibi reveals that her lover is the satrap of the city and she is his mistress. She obviously can’t give Conan what she agreed to but does pay him off with a bag of gold.

Before Conan leaves the city he goes to Aram and cuts out his tongue and beard so he can’t say anything. Then he gives him to the Darfar cannibals as he rides off with the Star of Khoraja which will fetch a fortune from the Queen of Ophir.

“The Worms Return”
By David Anthony Kraft

A review of the new book Worms of the Earth which contain a collection of Howard’s stories about Picts and especially Bran Mak Morn.

“A King Kull Glossary”
By Fred Blosser

A glossary of Kull’s world from A to Z.

“The Silver Beast Beyond Tokertown”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Mike Zeck

A man turns into a werewolf and goes out and kills a man on horseback. Solomon Kane finds the body and takes it to the tavern in town. There a hysterical woman tells the gathering that her brother is a werewolf and out to kill her. The werewolf breaks in and Solomon manages to kill it with a silver knife. Later he has it melted down for a ball for his musket. Then he goes to the man’s mansion and finds his manuscript. It tells how a werewolf killed his parents when he was a baby. That he tracked the werewolf down when he grew up to a gypsy camp. The sister discovers him but she is not the sister. She was the werewolf and turns into a wolf. Only Solomon shoots her with the silver bullet.

So the Howard adaptation was excellent and pure Howard. I loved the scene where Conan and Baal-Ptoer were standing there and each grabbing the others neck. How Conan with ease killed the professional strangler. After all he broke the neck of a bull as a youth. Then the bad ass way he got his revenge on Aram. This was just a joy to get this classic story and the artwork was excellent.

The article and glossary were good fillers.

Finally we get another cool Solomon tale. A moody piece set during the night with a surprise twist ending. This was an excellent issue.