“The Slithering Shadow”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan is lost in the desert. This only companion a former slave girl that he rescued named Natala. Conan was a mercenary employed by the rebel prince Almuric in his rebellion against the King of Koth. The defeated army moved south through Shem and Stygia. At the border of Kush the army was destroyed by the combined armies of Stygia and Kush. Conan taking the girl rode into the desert on a camel. The camel died and it looks like the two don’t have long.

Miraculously they see a city in the distance. Going to it they find the gates not locked and what looks like a dead man lying on the ground. Only the man isn’t dead and attacks the two. Conan kills him and then throws the body down the well in frustration at not being able to retrieve the water. They wander the city and explore one of the buildings. Inside they find a table set with a meal and help themselves. They later find sleeping figures and a mysterious shadow that goes around eating up the figures.

They finally meet a woman named Thalis. She tells them they are in Xutotl. The inhabitants are always drugged up with Black Lotus. Also their god Thog goes around and eats up people. Thalis has fallen in love with Conan and kidanps Natala. She ties her up and starts whipping her but doesn’t notice that Thog comes up and eats her. Conan searching for the women meets up with the inhabitants and has to fight them. Fleeing he runs into a room where a girl pulls a cord and he finds himself falling through a trap door. He lands in the chamber Natala is captive and battles Thog. He blinds the creature and it falls back into the pit it came from. Later severely wounded it looks like Conan has had it. Only Natala finds the healing elixir the people use which heals Conan. The two take food and water and head for the nearest oasis.

“Sing a Song of Sonjas”
By Roy Thomas
Photos by Al Satian

A photo essay of two Red Sonja cos-players at Comicon in San Diego.

“Solomon Kane’s Homecoming”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapting poem by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Virgilio Redondo and Rudy Nebres

Solomon Kane comes back to his home village of Devon. He tells about his time fighting the Spaniards. His battles with vampires and other undead creatures before leaving to continue to wander the Earth.

So we get another excellent adaptation from Howard. He seems to excel at spooky lost cities filled with strange people and even stranger creatures. This stuff never gets old with me. I love this setting of a city filled with drugged out users and a blob like creature. Conan is at his finest. Also once again it the duo of Buscema and Alcala producing some beautiful artwork.

We get an article of beautiful women dressed as Red Sonja. That never gets old with me either.

Finally Roy gives us the poem written by Howard but with illustrations to go with it. Howard was an accomplished poet and it was an added bonus to get an illustrated story with it. Another outstanding issue in the series.


“Riders of the River-Dragons!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan is showing the Black Corsairs some of his fighting techniques. He successfully shows them leverage when Belit decides she wants to test her sword skill against Conan. Conan has no problem beating Belit since she is a bit crazy and flies off the handle. Later The Tigress comes to the village of the Watambi Tribe. They give her tribute in ivory every time she passes by. This time they have no ivory for the Dragon-Riders have stolen it.

After Conan calms Belit down they accept the chief’s invitation to a feast. So they have a feast and dancing before going to sleep. Later that night the Dragon-Riders come. Men riding the backs of large crocodiles they instill fear in the tribe. Only Conan goes on the offensive. He manages to turn the crocodiles against each other and rally his men and the tribe to drive off the riders. Only at the end he finds that Belit was kidnapped. A dying rider tells they attacked to placate Amra a legend that runs with lions. Conan vows bloody vengeance.

So Conan is settling nicely into the pirate life with Belit. Belit is a bit nuts and can be a bit impulsive but the two seem to hit it off. Conan is already a moderating influence on her. So these Dragon-Riders were cool. Plus we hear of Amra. Now Amra was what Conan is known as on the Black Coast so Roy is setting up how Conan got his nickname. I really love the change of pace with adventures in the Hyborian equivalent to Africa. The whole area has such great possibilities for stories and Roy takes advantage of this.


“Chapter 4: The Oath”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artists: Kate Niemczyk and Scott Hanna

Years ago Belit’s father and N’yaga were best friends. Atrahasis is worried because Belit’s mother suffers from madness and may not live lone. He gets N’yaga to promise to look after Belit. Which is why he has come back to her now that she is a pirate captain. The ship comes on a Stygian ship and The Tigress manages to capture it. Belit decides to take the ship to Stygia and also drags along the eye of a sea-beast. She uses the eye as ballast to shoot at the Stygians. She lands and is greeted by the high priest. Later in his chambers he offers Belit employ as a privateer. Belit decides that the Stygians are not worth the effort and chokes the priest unconscious.

Later Belit plans to take The Tigress and leave her crew but N’yaga convinces her not to. So with the crew they set sail. Only the Stygian priest has awakened and uses dark sorcery and human sacrifice to Set to strike Belit down.

“Bone Whispers Episode Four”
By Michael A. Stackpole

Belit has come to Knegetalla and has an audience with it’s king Toraten. Belit offers to return treasure that was stolen by pirates. She charms the king and he takes her on a tour of his vast wealth. He shows her the Codex Osyrania.He also reveals he knows her true plan. The wine he gave her was drugged and Belit wakes to find herself in the dungeon with N’yaga. She meets her fellow prisoners of the Ibex clan. The king is a tyrant and uses his enemies for sport in the arena. Belit is sentenced to die in the games.

Well this issue had some confusing plot points. Like what the hell was the point of her visit to Stygia? Where did she get the giant sea beast eye? There was some real sloppy writing to this issue. Some of the background to Belit we get was interesting. Still I just don’t think this origin is doing the character that Howard created justice.

The novella on the other hand is competent. For a short story it does a job of telling an interesting story. Probably the highlight for this issue.


Writers: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, Mary Robinson
Host Segment Art: Todd Nauck
In-Comics Artists: Mike Manley, Jack Pollock, Mimi Simon

Kinga wants to look good for the final issue. She has Ardy install a Hourglass Powerglass to speed up the stories. So first off is Black Cat. Her father was injured but is kidnapped by thugs along with Jonah and taken to the Sempel Farm. Black Cat confronts Resnick but he escapes with the injured Tim Turner. Later he is tracked to his yacht and Jonah and Black Cat finally manage to rescue the old coot.

Tom Servo manages to knock out their guard and with Shelley manage to escape. They wander around and run into the kidnappers but escape and are rescued by the police. At her parents house we find out that Shelley’s agent was behind the kidnapping. He pulls a gun but Shelley’s boyfriend rescues her. We find out the two are in love and getting married. Shelley will also quit acting. Tom goes back to file his story.

“Devil Claws”

A man named Darling is the darling of the music world. Unfortunately a car accident has him losing his hands and being replaced by hooks. Now he can’t play the piano. One night Crow approaches him and offers to reattach his hands. So Darling goes to his apartment which is a questionable lab where he can have his hands reattached. Kinga sees that this is hackneyed and decides to end it by creating a Totinos Pizza Roll volcano. Crow enters the volcano and a huge explosion results. Kinga is depressed that her experiment failed but wait. The comics are printed and everybody loves them. She is happy and then has the machine blown up. Only it leaves behind the Crow Keeper.

Well this was a pretty fast paced issue. The stories definitely were very hard to follow but the jokes were the best in the series. So everything was tied up and this seemed to be a successful experiment. I love MST3K and so I found the comic just as lovable as the TV show. A very interesting idea on how they pulled this off and very faithful to the spirit of the show.


Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Chad Hardin

At castle Deimos Kate Archer is trying to get Deimos to remember his past. She has successfully used the Mask of Life to create a new clone that transfers all the memories to the new body. Only Deimos has no memory and seems to have no interest in learning. Ewan McBane is continuing his documentary on Skartaris and Travis Morgan. This time he interviews Mariah, Machiste and Shakira. The first two give some background on themselves while Shakira of course still remains a mystery. All tell Ewan that they he has to ask Morgan if they want to know the man. Tinder is offered the leadership of the various tribes and factions in the Outlands. He consults Morgan who recommends against taking on any leadership role. Back to Castle Deimos Kate is impatient with Deimo’s learning and slashes his face with a sword. This gets Deimos angry and possibly brings back his memories.

So another low key issue. The big reveal is Deimos is back but not quite there mentally. Although that seems to be changing. Otherwise some more background info on the supporting characters to refresh our memories. Tinder seems to be taking on the mantle of leadership. He seems to be more suited to it than his father. Another excellent issue with plenty of beautiful artwork and a story that winds toward something big.


“Vengeance in Vendhya”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan and Kerim Shah have defeated the acolytes and now assault the main castle. They break in and are confronted by four of the mystics. They have hypnotic powers and manage to freeze in place the attackers. Then they have the Irakzai henchmen come forward and give their sword to the wizards. They then use it to decapitate the henchmen. Conan manages to grasp the Stygian belt that Khemsa gave him. It gives him the power to go and break the glass globe that gives the wizards their power. This kills the four wizards and Conan and Kerim continue on. Then they confront the master who uses his power to split open Kerim and take his beating heart. Only Conan manages to almost kill the master. The master turns into a giant snake and tries to kill Yasmina. Conan seriously wounds the snake. Then takes Yasmina out where he plans to take her with him since he loves her.

They come on his hill-men being slaughtered by the Turanian army and Conan can’t abandon his former men. They see in the distance the approach of the Vendhyian troops. Yasmina goes to them and with Conan rallying his men defeat the Turanians. At the end a giant vulture that was the master attacks but Conan kills it. Conan then must watch Yasmina go back to her duty of being Devi of Vendhya as he continues to lead the hill-men.

“The Buscema Barbarians”
Art by John Buscema

A portfolio of four full page drawing of Howard characters. They are Conan, Red Sonja, Solomon Kane and Kull.

“The Man Who was Conan”
By Fred Blosser

A review of “The Last Celt” by Glenn Lord. Blosser fells that it is a definitive biography of Robert E. Howard with an extensive Bibliography.

“The Castle of the Devil”
Writer: Don Glut adopted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Alan Kupperberg and Sonny Trinidad

Solomon is in the Black Forrest and comes on a naked woman strung up. He frees her and finds that she was placed there by Baron Von Staler who she claims is the devil himself. Kane being a devout Puritan can’t tolerate such an evil man and vows to put an end to his reign. Along the way he meets a fellow countryman named John Silent. He convinces him to join his quest and the two set out to the castle. They try to gain employ as mercenaries and after a brief fight are allowed to meet the Baron.

Baron Von Staler they find out has been born with the legs of a goat. So he does look a lot like the devil incarnate. They find he does worship Satan and are hired on. Later at night the two sneak to his secret chamber and find that he has to sacrifice a virgin every year for five years and bath his legs in the blood. Then with his pact with Satan he will gain human legs. Only Kane and Silent break in and set fire to the Satan Carving. This turns the Baron into a full image of Satan. His own guards are convinced the creature killed their employer and destroy the Satan Baron.

So we end the epic adaptation of “The People of the Black Circle.” The second longest story Howard ever wrote and probably one of his finest. It had a climactic confrontation with the seers and the master. A spectacular fight that sees Kerim have his beating heart torn out and Conan fighting the master as a giant snake. This was a story that had Conan have real feeling for Yasmina which hasn’t happened since Belit. Alas the two were not meant to be and must go their separate ways. Yasmina was one of the strong female characters that Howard created and one of the few that won the affections of Conan. An excellent story well written and adopted by Thomas with the usual beautiful artwork by Buscema and Alcala.

The portfolio was of course beautiful. The article was an interesting review of a book.

Finally the Howard adaptation of another fine tale. This one a Solomon Kane story. In it he gets to battle a worshiper of Satan which Kane lives to battle. He’s captured here nicely as an avenging Puritan and this villain is just perfect for him. Solomon Kane is probably the most underrated of Howard’s creations and is nice that Marvel did him justice.


“The Ballad of Belit!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

The Tigress is raiding a Stygian ship. Belit seems to have a special hatred of Stygians. Conan after the battle asks old N’yaga about that so he tells Belit’s story. She was the daughter of the king of Asgalun. Until her uncle Nim-Karrak conspired with Stygians to overthrow her father. In a bloody palace coup her father is killed and N’yaga who was Belit’s tutor manages to escape with her. On her father’s ship The Tigress they escape to N’yaga’s home of the Southern Islands. He convinces his tribesmen that Belit is the daughter of Derkata the Goddess of Death. So Belit grows to womanhood learning to fight and hunt.

On the day that warriors are inducted Belit demands to be one. The chief Uzumi sets a task to recover the Eye of Dagon a silver eye from their statue. It was stolen by the Mound Dwellers a race of worm people. So Belit accepts and manages to take the eye. She comes back during an eclipse and Uzumi blames her for the eclipse but Belit manages to capture him. The Mound Dwellers tunnel to the village and Belit pours liquid silver down the chief’s throat. This attracts the Mound Dwellers who take the chief. N’yaga then gets the people to acknowledge Belit as the daughter of Derkata and made chief of the tribe. She then embarks on piracy which is where Conan found her.

So the origin of Belit was very vague in the story by Howard. So Roy took what little their was and crafted a very engaging origin. I am reading the new origin that Marvel just put out and it doesn’t hold a candle to Roy’s version. Explains clearly how a white woman became the leader of a black pirate crew and viewed as a goddess. Definitely a classic.


“Chapter 3: The Lesson”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artists: Kate Niemczyk and Scott Hanna

Queen Tanada of Barathan uses her occult powers to revive the dead sea monster that Belit dragged in. Belit shows that she is one bad ass chick as she cuts off the head of the monster. This impresses the queen who agrees to hire Belit’s ship. So The Tigress has a successful run of pirating all over the Hyborian world. During this time Belit grows into a young woman and increasingly gains the respect of the crew. One day at a tavern she receives a message that Queen Tanada has decided to revoke her sponsorship.

So she goes to the hipster captain and his trangender first mate to tell them the news. Soon the Kushite navy will be after them. Prisca the first mate calls out Belit to a fight. The drunk hipster captain instead decides to fight Belit but Prisca gets in the way to save him and takes the sword cut meant for him. Apparently there was a romantic relationship between them. The hipster then gets angry but ends up dead as his lover. The crew proclaim Belit captain but they must then deal with the arrival of the Kushite navy.

“Bone Whispers Episode Three”
By Michael A. Stackpole

Belit buries the treasure she took from the Knefetallian ship. She wants to use it to reveal if the ruler of the island has the Codex Osyrania. Then she gets on a boat and with N’yaga and two of her men set sail for the capital city. She finds that the king knew she was coming and expecting her. He also warns her that her life is at an end.

So Belit finally grows up. Not surprising that she has no problem of taking the captaincy from the ineffective hipster captain and his transgender first mate. Not really sure what a hipster or for that matter a whole ship crewed by hipsters is doing in the Hyborian age. Some of the plot seems a bit convoluted with her and this kooky agreement to hunt sea monsters. But I have to admit I do have in interest in how this ends. Plus the artwork is good and Belit looks quite sexy.

The short story is also keeping my interest. The writer paints a vivid picture of this mysterious city on the island. It ends on a cryptic note so I’m also interested on how this ends.


Writers: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe and Mary Robinson
Host Segment Artist: Todd Nauck
In-Comics Artists: Mike Manley, Jack Pollock and Mimi Simon

Synthia has build the Rover Extruder. This device will get Crow and the other bots out of the kitchen they are trapped in. So it creates bubbles that take them out. Then we can get back to Tom Servo Teen Reporter. Last we left Tom he was on a plane with teen starlet Shelley. They crash the plane but some hick manages to call it in to the police which of course gets reported on the radio. The thugs who tried to kidnap Shelley happen to be hiding out in a shack and decide to try kidnapping Shelley again. So they find the two sitting around a fire and take them back to their shotgun shack in the wild.

In the Black Cat strip poor Chu’s son saves his father by throwing himself in front of him and taking the bullets meant for his father. This distraction allows the Black Cat and Jonah to kick ass on the thugs. They later stumble on the hiding place for the gems. Then we cut to a whole new story that has Jonah go to a carnival which ends up being a commercial for Totinos Pizza Rolls. Linda Turner is going with her father and runs into Jonah. Then she gets kidnapped by a disgruntled magician who wants her jewels.

“Iron Doom!”

Crowkeeper narrates a story of a castle where the Lord of Mader would kill people in the iron maiden. A descendant wants to turn the castle into a horror museum. He finds a dead body in bed and has the servant help him get rid of it. Then pushes the servant down the stairs and for some inexplicable reason the whole castle blows up.

Well another comic in the saga. This one was full of groan worthy puns. The stories were also very incoherent and disjointed. Which makes for a perfect comic riffing experience. One more and Kinga will have a mini-series.


Writer and Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan and Shakira are hunting down the remnants of Kate Archer’s brigands. They track them into a swamp. There are six but two decide they are no match and run off. This leaves four which is very easy for Morgan to take them down. So they head back to Shamballah. There Ewan McBane has decided to do a documentary about Skartaris. He interviews Tinder, Jennifer and Tara. Tinder and Alysha find time to get together and Tinder tells of his childhood. At the end Kate Archer returns to Castle Deimos and helps out a revived Deimos for the clone machine.

So this was a laid back issue. Morgan and the others have time to relax. Ewan decides to do a video log about Morgan so we will get some more history. Which is a good idea I suppose for new readers. Some romances are developing between Ewan and Jennifer and Tinder and Alysha. Also gives us the foreboding of having Deimos return so we know that this is the calm before the storm. I really enjoy Grell doing the artwork on his title. He has a way with showing the story through images with a minimum of exposition or dialogue.