“The Battle of the Towers”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala
Conan has lost Yasmina to the Black Circle. Conan rides down and encounters his Afghuli tribesmen. Only they blame him for the execution of the seven sub-chiefs and now want his head. So he is forced to flee. He comes on Khemsa who is barely alive. Khemsa gives Conan a magical belt to protect him and tells where he must go before he dies. Then Conan runs into Kerim Shah and whats left of his men. They agree to an alliance to rescue Yasmina from the Black Circle.
Meanwhile Yasmina wakes up a prisoner of Master of Yimsha. The guy is a real tool and very condescending to her. He uses his magic to show Yasmina’s past lives to break her will. Conan and Kerim assault the tower that guards the entrance to the mountain fortress. They are attacked by a mad dog and a hawk. They successfully storm the tower and manage to kill the acolytes that manned it.
“A Handbook Shall Be Born”
By Fred Blosser
A review of The Annotated Guide to Robert E. Howard’s Sword’s and Sorcery by Robert Weinberg. Fred had positive things to say of the work and thought it a very comprehensive guide to the works of REH.
“Crimson Blades of Dark Vendhya”
By Fred Blosser
A review of The Swords of Shahrazar a collection of works by REH. They have stories of Francis X. Gordon and Kirby O’Donell. Two Irish-American adventurers in contempory India and the Middle East. Talks about the origins of the characters and has a positive review of the book.
“Rattle of Bones”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Howard Chaykin
Solomon Kane and a French traveler stop at The Cleft Skull an inn in the Black Forrest. Solomon doesn’t trust the innkeeper and wants to find a bar for the door. The search has them find a skeleton chained to the wall in a room. As Solomon goes to confront the innkeeper the Frenchman pulls a pistol on Kane. He reveals himself to be Gaston the Butcher a murderer Kane was tracking. Before Gaston can kill Kane the innkeeper comes and cleves his skull. The innkeeper was driven mad from a stay in prison and now kills all his guests. He tells that the skeleton was a magician from Russia that he had to keep chained or the skeleton would come to kill him. Only Gaston freed the skeleton and he gets pulled into the room. When Kane enters he finds the skeleton has strangled the innkeeper.
So we get two classic Howard stories in this issue. A continuation of the excellent “The People of the Black Circle.” Conan has everybody after him in this Hyborian version of India. He has to ally himself with the Turanian spy Kerim Shah and they manage to make headway on the Black Seers. The master of this group of wizards is a really unlikable guy who you just can’t wait to get killed. One of Howard’s finest and expertly adapted by Thomas.
The two reviews were OK. Nothing special since these books are probably long out of print.
Finally the Solomon Kane was another excellent Howard adaptation. A very spooky tale with elements of the supernatural and evil men getting their just deserts.