CONAN THE BARBARIAN #62

“Lord of the Lions!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan and his escorts run into a wild boar. They go up a tree but the captive Dragon-Rider uses this opportunity to try and escape. The stupid idiot jumps right in front of the boar and Conan has to jump down and rescue him. The ungrateful idiot tries to escape again and this time runs into a bush viper that kills him. Belit finds out she is captive of Amra and his black lion companion Shlomo. Amra plans to take Belit as his mate which doesn’t go down well with Belit. She strikes him and gets knocked out.

When she come to she gets the story of Amra’s origin. He was the son of an Aquilonian noble that was forced to flee his homeland. A storm shipwrecked them on the Black coast and a tribe killed his father. While taking Amra to their village a tribesman kills a lion cub and the pride comes and slaughters the men. A lioness who lost her cub adopts Amra and with his adopted brother Shlomo they grow up to terrorize the local tribes. Amra takes over some local ruins and gets tribute from the tribes.

Belit has a run in with one of Amra’s women. Makeda threatens to kill Belit but Amra has grown tired of Makeda and kicks her out. Makeda is wandering the jungle when a leopard attacks but Conan comes and with his bare hands breaks the leopard’s back. Conan finds out where Belit is and has Makeda lead him to her. Only Makeda warns that before she left she cast a curse that will bring up demons from the ground.

Well this was a fascinating issue. Conan has some numerous run ins with various animal life. We also get an origin for Amra. Roy did lift it from Burroughs but still an interesting twist to the Tarzan story. A good balance of exposition and action in this issue.

BARBARELLA DEJAH THORIS #1

“Conceptually Exploiting the Construct of Time”
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: German Garcia

Dr. Gitu is an alien who is a renowned scientist. Someone is also trying to break into his lab to murder him. Gitu knows this and accepts this. Later Barbarella comes for an appointment to purchase something. She finds the doctor murdered and is sorry this happened. She does find a note addressed to her. Gitu has directions to solve his death. The directions lead to a mirror that is a portal somewhere. Barbarella fearlessly enters.

10,000 years in the past Dejah Thoris is excavating a site for scientific research. The area is devoid of minerals but they find a mirror buried in the sand. The mirror is brand new and Dejah falls into it. She finds herself in a dark place with Barbarella. Barbarella likes Dejah immediately but Dejah does not feel the same. They explore the place and find out that they are under water. Water that teems with vicious life.

So another team-up with two characters that you wouldn’t expect to meet. Not a bad idea for these two very different characters. So far well it is the first issue so we will get a lot of exposition. The story does have potential and I love the art. The two women look beautiful and have very different personalities so there can be some interesting interactions in exploring this new world they find themselves on.

RED SONJA BIRTH OF THE SHE-DEVIL #2

“Untitled”
Writer: Luke Lieberman
Artist: Sergio Davila

Sonja and Ozzyus are looking for passage on a boat. Only the guy they are dealing with decided to turn them in to the authorities. He doesn’t get to enjoy the reward for Sonja stabs him in the neck. Then she manages to lead the mob away as Ozzyus steals a boat and the two take off. The king of Khawaris is tracking Raka and finds his camp. Only it is deserted because Raka has attacked his capital. Using a gas that turns the citizens into homicidal maniacs. Raka plans to use this gas to control the world.

Sonja and Ozzyus are sailing and find a young girl stowaway. They also are attacked by a giant octopus and later find themselves floating on the wreckage. The young stowaway comments that the two don’t seem to be friends. We get a flashback to when Sonja was a young girl. A rich merchant hired Ozzyus to guard his caravan. Sonja made friends with his daughter Shashanna. Only Ozzyus was a criminal and takes over the caravan. One of the men he hired Raka decides to kill the merchant and take his daughter. Sonja wants to fight him but Ozzyus knocks her out. Thus the enmity that she feels for him.

The second issue continues to give us a rich story for Sonja’s early days. We get to see that Raka is a truly dangerous nut who uses a drug to mind control people. Sonja is one impetuous badass that goes after mobs and giant octopus with vigor. A glimpse into the origin of Sonja’s obsession with finding Raka and Shashanna. Ozzyus is shown to be a dishonest criminal who brought up Sonja in his criminal schemes. A very enjoyable series.

THE WARLORD #12

“Sunset”
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell

Morgan comes back to Shamballah and finds it in ruins. The laser cannons that Deimos activated have done a good job of destroying the city. Morgan comes on Tinder who leads Morgan and friends to a safe area. He finds Tara and Jennifer with Tara wounded. He also finds out that Tara is pregnant. He plans to go to Deimos but is confronted by Tinder. Tinder is worried about Alysha who is Deimos prisoner. The two begin to fight.

Deimos watches through his crystal ball. He tells how he found that Tinder was Morgan’s long lost son and this seemed to be his plan. Kate decides that Deimos usefulness to her is done and tries to knife him. Only he turns her into a black mouse. Alysha manages to free herself and go to Tinder and Morgan who are fighting. The fight comes to what looks like a victory for Morgan as he stands triumphant over Tinder. Then he notices the watch that falls out of his pouch. This gives Tinder the time to run Morgan through with his sword. Alysha comes with the news that he is Morgan’s son. Later Deimos goes to Tara’s chamber to get his final revenge and is confronted with what looks like Morgan. Only it is Tinder dressed as Morgan. He pushes Deimos into a magical mirror that transports him far away. Tinder has an emotional reunion with his mother. There is a funeral for Morgan. At the end the mouse that was Kate is eaten by Shakira in her cat form.

So this was a very shocking issue. They actually killed Travis Morgan the main character of the Warlord. A character who was around for forty years, around two hundred issues, two revivals, a reboot, and numerous guest appearances in other DC titles. I don’t know if this was Grell deciding to kill off the character because he was bored with it or pressure from the editor to boost low sales with a younger new character. Either way I was not happy with the decision. I would have just liked to series to have a dignified cancellation because the series only lasted another four issues. So it didn’t succeed in boosting sales.

What I really didn’t like was how he died. It was a very pointless death. Why would Morgan and Tinder fight to the death. Just didn’t make sense. It was great that Tinder finally found out he was the lost son Joshua. I didn’t care for the how. I was not happy with this at all.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #22

“The Pool of the Black One”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Sonny Trinidad

Sancha is the daughter of a powerful noble in Zingara. She was captured by the freebooter Zaporavo and is now his captive woman. While lounging on the deck she is surprised that a big barbarian crawls on the ship from nowhere. Conan had to flee Tortuga in a leaky rowboat and managed to make it to the deck of the Wastrel. Zaporavo decides that Conan can join the crew and after a fight with one of the crew that breaks the crewman’s neck, Conan is accepted as one of them.

The ship makes it to a deserted island far out in uncharted waters. Sancha is ordered to stay on the ship as the crew goes ashore. There the crew pick and eat the fruit as Zaporavo goes off into the jungle alone. Conan later follows after him. Sancha decides to check this out and swims to shore. There she follows the two into the jungle and comes on the dead body of Zaporavo. She is then confronted by something that causes her to scream.

Conan has followed the captain to kill him and take over the ship. So he does confront Zaporavo and his superior skill does take out the captain. Conan then explores the island and comes on a strange city. Inside he observes these giant black demons at a pool of green water. They have one of the crew captive and throw him in the pool. Conan ducks and later sees the creatures leave with one putting a figure on a ledge before he leaves. Exploring the pool he finds the ledge filled with little figure including the crewman that he saw thrown into the pool. Just then one comes back with Sancha captive. Conan manages to kill it and rescue the girl. Only now the others are coming back carrying the captive crew.

“Sea Hawks Maritime Trade and Piracy in the High Hyborian Age”
By Robert Yaple
Art by Rick Hoberg

An article on sea trade in the Hyborian age. It includes the major maritime powers and what was traded. Also includes the major pirate factions.

“The Chaykin Barbarians”
Art by Howard Chaykin

A portfolio of Howard Chaykin’s drawings of Conan, Red Sonja and Solomon Kane.

“Voice of the Bloodstained God”
By Fred Blosser

A review of an LP released with L. Sprague DeCamp reading two of his Conan stories. One “The Bloodstained God” and the other “The Curse of the Monolith”. Gave it a very positive review.

“The Dragon at Castle Frankenstein”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Sonny Trinidad

Solomon Kane comes on three knights dragging a young woman somewhere. Naturally he intervenes and kills two of the knights. From the survivor he finds out that the knights are working for Baron Frankenstein. So Kane with the young girl named Cathryn goes to the castle to confront the baron. There he finds that the baron was taking the girl for sacrifice to a dragon. Seems years ago his brother slayed a dragon but also died in the attempt. Now another dragon has come and the baron is a coward and chooses to sacrifice young women than slay the dragon. Kane lives to fight evil and forces the baron to show him the lair. He fights the dragon and Cathryn sacrifices herself to distract the dragon so Kane can kill it.

Well another excellent issue. This one has another adaptation of a Howard story. Another creepy one with a lost city on a desert island filled with creepy demons. Howard did like these kind of stories but always kept them fresh with new creatures and magic. The only real complaint is I would have liked this to be all in one story but I guess deadlines.

They did fill it with some good backup articles. I find these pseudo-historical articles by Robert Yaple quite informative.

Finally the Solomon Kane story was another excellent one. This Frankenstein must be an ancestor of the famous one. Kane is drawn just as I would envision him and the writer captures the guy’s Puritan fanaticism very well.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #61

“On The Track of the She-Pirate!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema

Conan vows to track down the Dragon Riders and bring back Belit. The Watambis offer some guides which are accepted. Conan before leaving has to up a rebellious Black Corsair in his place. Then after N’yaga give him a potion to protect him from jungle disease, he heads out on the trail. Belit meanwhile manages to escape her captors and falls asleep. Conan comes on the Dragon Riders and uses a chemical that N’yaga gave him to start a fire. This stampedes the crocodiles and with his Watambis they rain arrows on the survivors. From a survivor Conan learns that Belit has escaped. Belit is attacked while sleeping by a giant moth. She is saved by a red haired man in a loincloth with a black lion as a companion. This is the fearsome Amra that the Dragon Riders where going to deliver her to.

So this issue big reveal is that Conan has fallen in love with Belit. It establishes very clearly that Conan has developed feelings for the Queen of the Black Coast. We also are introduced to Amra who is the main villain in this storyline. Amra was the name that Conan became known as on the Black Coast so Roy is skillfully setting up the origin of his nickname. A very enjoyable issue.

AGE OF CONAN BELIT #5

“Chapter 5: All Hail the Queen”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artists: Kate Niemczyk, Scott Hanna, Andrea Di Vito

Belit is caught in the nightmare of the Stygian priest Apheru. She is confronted by her dead father who has taken on the form of an octopus with multiple heads. Belit does overcome this and takes The Tigress to confront the priest. At Khemi she and her crew attack the city. Belit confronts the priest and manages to cut off his head. The priest’s former servants surrender and join Belit’s crew.

“Bone Whispers Episode Five”
By Michael Stackpole

Belit and N’yaga are in the arena of King Toraten. They are to fight and die but Belit doesn’t plan to be the one to die. She and N’yaga defeat a huge warrior. Then they fight and defeat the king’s personal guard. Finally a large black lion is loosed in the arena. Only the lion jumps out of the arena and kills the king. The whole city descends in chaos as the two escape.

Well the final issue was very underwhelming. I mean what the hell was the purpose. She overcomes the evil priest’s dream. Then heads off with her hipster crew and kicks the butt of the evil priest with ease. I don’t even know what the purpose of this whole story was about. As for an origin it sucked. I mean what happened to the Black Corsairs. They were cool. Instead we get this dumb hipster crew and equally dumb eunuch servants of the Stygian priest. What are the Black Corsairs not PC enough? This was very disrespectful to Howard and his creation. A very disappointing series. Hopefully the Valeria one will be handled properly.

The one bright spot was the prose story. I enjoyed it. For a short story it did its job. I know I have read some of Stackpole’s Shadowrun books so he is a competent writer. The story did end a bit abruptly and could have uses some more room to grow. On the whole it was a worthy effort and I do love these bonus prose stories.

RED SONJA BIRTH OF THE SHE-DEVIL #1

“Untitled”
Writer: Luke Lieberman
Artist: Sergio Davila

Red Sonja has retrieved a large gem for a sultan. The sultan decides to give his greatest treasure for a reward. That treasure is his body and Sonja is chained and made a concubine. Only Sonja isn’t one to be played with and kills the sultan. She escapes on a horse and manages to elude her pursuers by climbing a hill. Later she treks to a small village and gets drunk at the local tavern. Someone comes and points out she is the murderer of the sultan and the fight ensues that ends up burning down the tavern. While drinking in the alley Ozzyus comes on her. Ozzyus is the narrator of this story and the man who found Sonja after her family was killed. He raised the young Sonja. He brings news that he knows where Raka is. Raka kidnapped a young woman named Shashanna that Sonja was training. Raka has become some leader of a cult that uses drugs to make his followers invincible and slaughter and rape in the name of Bel the god of thieves.

So this mini-series is exploring the very early days of Sonja when she was just eighteen. A young woman who was very cocky and rash. I love this side to her and am happy that they are exploring this period of Sonja’s life. They maintain the origin that Thomas created and his famous slew a king that gave birth to her legend. Sonja is also given a warrior that took her in and raised her after her family was killed. We are also given a friend that Sonja is questing for and a villain that has endless potential. This series is starting off strong.

THE WARLORD #11

“The Once and Future Warlord”
Writer and Artist: Mike Grell

Deimos and Kate are at the castle plotting the Warlord’s downfall. Back in Shamballah Ewan McBane finally gets his interview with Morgan. So Morgan tells of how when he came back from his brief trip to Machu Picchu he found Tara gone. So he traveled to her and found out he had a son. Only the son was kidnapped by Deimos. Deimo’s used the Atlantean science to accelerate the son’s growth then took over the boy’s mind. In the fight Morgan kills his son which was what killed his dream for a free Skartaris.

After the interview they see a creature attack Jennifer. They manage to save her and find out that Deimos is behind the assault. Naturally Morgan goes after him. He is accompanied by his friends Shakira, Machiste, Mariah and McBane. At Castle Deimos they find it deserted except for an old man with a half burned face. He tells that Deimos and Kate left for Shamballah on a dragon. In Shamballah the dragon is attacking the city. Under cover of the attack Deimos and Kate go to the underground computer and activate the laser cannons that were hidden in the city.

Well another issue both written and drawn by Grell. Beautiful full page illustrations are used to once again tell the story very effectively. Deimos is now back to his dickweed self. Morgan actually is happy to have him back. He craves the excitement and challenge and gleefully goes off to what is obviously a trap. Only he fell for the trap in leaving his loved ones behind for Deimos to threaten. A good issue to introduce new readers to his backstory and give us old fans a reminder of what has happened. Sadly the next issue will see a very sad tragedy to the saga of the Warlord.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #21

“The Horror from the Red Tower”
Writer: Roy Thomas and Fred Blosser adapted from partial story and outline by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Sonny Trinidad

Almuric is a survivor of a mercenary army that was landed in Stygia in the employ of Argos. Unfortunately Argo’s ally Koth cut a separate peace with Stygia and the mercenary army was destroyed. Almuric with Conan escape into the desert. They are later attacked by a group of men and Conan has his horse killed and he falls. Thinking him dead Almuric continues on. He hooks up with three brigands and he survives by petty robbery with the three. One day the leader brings back a beautiful blonde girl. Almuric being a chivalrous sort attacks his fellow brigands to rescue the girl. He finds out her name is Lissa and she comes from the city of Gazal. Her knowledge of the world is nine hundred years old and she has a childlike attitude to the world.

So Almuric and Lissa go to Gazal and he finds that the city is in ruins. The people are in a dazed state and seem to be out of it. Almuric finds out that these were refugees from Koth. Scholars and artists they founded the city nine hundred years ago. Now over the centuries they have become indolent and will soon be extinct. The only building in the city not in ruins is a red tower. Lissa fears it and Almuric decides to get the horses ready to leave. He hears a scream and finds Lissa missing. The trail leads to the red tower and he battles a tall white figure. He has heard tales of a god named Ollam-Onga. Almuric uses a phrase from a witch doctor that makes the creature vulnerable so he can kill it with his sword. He finds Lissa and the two ride out of the city. They are then chased by seven horsemen in black. As the horsemen come on them a group of warriors intervene. Just then the moon comes out and the horsemen vanish.

Almuric finds the men are lead by Conan. He takes them back to the city of Tombalku which is run by two kings. A brown one and a black one. The black one was a comrade of Conan during his days with the black corsairs so that is how Conan was freed and became his commander. The city has many different conspiracies going on. The witch doctor makes a deal with the brown king and a coup is launched against the black king. In the fighting the black king is killed but Conan manages to kill the witch doctor and the creature that he sends at them. With his friend dead Conan decides to leave the city and takes his two friends with him.

“What the She-Devil?”
By Mario A. Cavollini

An article on Sonjacon that was held in a Motorlodge in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey in 1976. There was a contest of cosplay Red Sonjas that was judged by such notables as Roy Thomas and Frank Thorne. More beautiful women dressed as Red Sonja. Still never gets old.

So for this issue we get a story that was only partially finished by Howard. It did have an outline on how it was to end so we get a full Howard story. This was actually two stories. The first one didn’t even have Conan in it. It was all Almuric and his adventures with Lissa in the city of Gazal. Then the second part introduces Conan and Almuric is just a spectator to events. They were both enjoyable stories. This time we get two lost cities that each were different but exciting. The themes of a people degrading through centuries of decadence is a common one for Howard. The second city with it’s two peoples one brown the other black was a definite change from the first city and I liked the variety. Thomas and Blosser did a good job of presenting this story and as always the artwork was beautiful.