“The Phoenix on the Sword”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Vicente Alcazar & Yong Montano

Ascalante is a nobleman who is planning to assassinate King Conan. His four co-conspirators known as the rebel four are Dion a noble who wants the throne. Gromel who aspires to command the elite Black Dragon regiment. Volmana a dwarf who seeks power and Rinaldo a mad poet. Ascalante has as his slave the wizard Thoth Amon who had his serpent ring stolen and had to flee Stygia.

The plan calls for the conspirators to attack Conan who will be alone in his chambers as the guard has been bribed to leave it unguarded. Thoth Amon is ordered to work with the fop noble Dion and make sure he doesn’t lose his will. While there he finds Dion has the serpent ring and Thoth Amon kills him and takes back the ring. With his new power he summons an ape creature to go and kill his former master Ascalante.

Conan meanwhile has a dream and is visited by the sage Epimitreus who warns him of the attack and puts a magical phoenix symbol on his sword hilt. He wakes and finds the conspirators entering his chamber. He attacks and shatters his sword on a helmet but then takes down an ax from the wall and starts swinging. He manages to kill most of his attackers when the ape creature that Thoth Amon summoned comes and kills Ascalante. Then it attacks Conan and his ax is useless against it. At the last moment he grabs the shattered sword with the magical phoenix symbol and that kills the beast.

So the second annual was the first annual to have new material. Roy decided that was the perfect place to adopt the very first Conan story. It was originally a Kull story “By This Ax I Rule.” It was rejected so Howard rewrote it with Conan and added the wizard Thoth Amon. It proved a hit and Howard continued on a streak with Conan story after Conan story. This story was an enjoyable read with a savage Conan taking on his attackers and a mysterious magical beast.


“Catacombs of the Moon”
Writer: Christopher Mills
Artist: Gabriel Rearte

Nah-ee-lah wakes up after her ordeal with the little people underground to find herself captive of the Aa-Gas a tribe of four armed monkeys. The Aa-gas prove friendly and agree to help her rescue her companion Pal-don from the Kalkars. The Aa-gas prove to be fierce fighters and manage to slaughter the Kalkars. Nah-ee-lah rescues Pal-don and he recognizes some of the landmarks and knows where they are. So the two leave their new found friends and head off to Laythe.

So this series ended with Nah-ee-lah finding some friendly monkeys and they manage to rescue her friend. A good interesting story with beautiful artwork. My only complaint was it was resolved a little too easy. The Aa-gas were just so powerful and overwhelming that our main heroine didn’t really have much to do. The series was still an enjoyable tale. It had the feel of a Burrough’s story with its evil Kalkars and other strange creatures. The ERB Universe is still a big success for American Mythology in my opinion.


“Part 4: The $68,004 Man”
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: David Hahn

Steve has been knocked to the bottom of the ocean. His legs aren’t working well and it looks grim. On the boat Niko attacks her cousin and kills him. Then she lifts the anchor which passes by Steve and he grabs on to it. He manages to climb aboard and with Niko head off to the mainland. At the airport Steve calls ANSA and gets a recording. While at the airport they notice the Soviet jetliner and run over there and attack the Russians.

They find out the Soviets have abandoned Amari and are actually going to Hawaii to stop his assassination attempt. They invite Steve and Niko alone which they agree to. They catch up to Amari’s plane but Amari cleverly calls for help that a Soviet plane is threatening him. So the Soviets decide to leave and offer to allow the two to parachute out. Niko gets a chute but Steve jumps out without one and tries to land on Amari’s plane. He misses and crashes into the jungle.

So Steve gets saved and Niko has to kill her cousin. This is a poignant scene in what is for the most part a parody. So then they hook up with the Soviets and have some humorous banter. I still don’t get why the Russians are now anxious to help after being willing to provide a nuclear warhead to bomb Hawaii. We find out also that Amari’s main goal of nuking Hawaii is to get the Vice-President. For during the war as a general he was instrumental in choosing Hiroshima. A fun quick moving story.


Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano & Mike Decarlo

Commander Champion, Dr. Orion and Perez are introduced to the director and another member of their group Mohandas Singh. The mysterious intruder is also their eavesdropping on the conversation. At that moment the security control detects the intruder. Sirens go off and red flashing lights. The combination puts Singh into a trance as he relives a past tragedy. When he was a kid he lived in the streets of New Delhi as an orphan. With his friend Raja they were begging for money from a rich British tourist. The tourist dropped his wallet and thought the two boys stole it. He calls the police who take off after the boys in their car. Later the man finds his wallet on the ground and realizes his mistake. Unfortunately the police chase the boys to a river where Raja falls and hits his head. He drowns but the rich tourist feels guilty and puts the young Singh through the finest education available. So he is now a world renowned computer expert.

So the intruder manages to beat up the security guards and go into the secret room. The others follow and see the ship Scanner One. Champion tries to subdue the intruder and gets his ass handed to him. Fortunately the intruder is Li San O’Rourke the director of security. She was testing the security and found it lacking. She is the last member of the crew for Scanner One. While they check out the ship she tells Singh her story.

She was a soldier during the Five Day War and assigned a squad that was to liberate an occupied oil field in the Arabian peninsula. She was a lieutenant and her friend her sergeant. Her friend went to disarm the explosives while O’Rourke took out the main control complex. Only she was too late and the explosives were detonated killing her friend.

So the crew gets it’s mission. Scanner One is able to travel through other dimensions. The war left the environment damaged and the world’s population is faced with starvation. So they must seek out a world to colonize. Thus the crew head out into the multiverse.

The second comic from the game Berserk. It manages to introduce the other crew members and give their backstory. We get the basic plot to this series. That they must travel through alternate dimensions to find a habitable world to settle. Otherwise the human race is in big trouble. We find out that Atari has an enemy called Co-op. Another conglomeration of corporations after the collapse of nation states. This was really cool idea and loved this post-apocalypse future. Still get a kick out of Atari running everything or almost everything.


“The Children of Jhebbal Sag”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Beyond the Black River” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Tony Dezuniga

Conan and Balthus have escaped the Pict village and go west to avoid the Picts. Only they find a leopard stalking them. Zogar Sag has called those animals that still remember Jhebbal Sag to help him in tracking down the intruders. Conan cleaves the leopard’s skull with a well placed ax throw. Later he uses a symbol of Jebbal Sag to discourage other leopards from following them.

After a battle with some roaming Picts the two make it over the river into Conajohara province and find Fort Tuscelan about to fall to hordes of attacking Picts. So the two decide to warn the settlers and have them evacuate east to Velitrium. Balthus manages to gather the settlers and finds a stray dog named Slasher whose owner was killed by Picts. The two form a rear guard to slow the Picts and sacrifice their lives in the process.

Meanwhile Conan goes to warn the men who went to the salt licks for salt. He finds them and they also head out for safety. Conan bringing up the rear hears his friend Balthus and goes to help. Only he finds a large flame burning in the field. The demon that Zogar Sag uses has come for Conan. It leaves the flame and attacks but Conan manages to cut off it’s head. Later at Fort Velitrium he hears from the sole survivor of Fort Tuscelan that Zogar Sag suddenly died and fell into a fire with his head nearly cut off.

“Conan the Syndicated”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

An article of the new syndicated newspaper strip written by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. Has some examples.

“Shadow of the White Wolf”
By Fred Blosser

A review of the book “Son of the White Wolf.” It has three stories of El Borak a Howard creation of an adventurer in South Asia and the Middle East.

“The Readers’ Robert E. Howard”

A portfolio of amateur works sent in to the comic. They have drawing from Robert F. Walters, Ivan Saxby, Clyde Caldwell and Jeff Easley.

So this was the first black and white Savage Sword that I ever read. I found it just as awesome even without any color. I was definitely a fan of Conan by now. This was the conclusion to the story that was heavily inspired by James Fennimore Cooper and his tales of the early frontier of colonial America. An enjoyable story of savage Picts and magic that Conan has to fight. His success in this campaign is what lead to his eventual ascension to the throne of Aquilonia.

The articles were short but interesting. I would love to someday have a collected works of the syndicated newspaper strips. The El Borak stories I will have to check out some time too. I know Thomas adapted them to Conan stories starting next issue. Finally the portfolio had some talented artists. Don’t recognize the names but they did definitely had talent.


“Talons of the Man-Tiger!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan and Belit are confronted by Red Sonja who also is there for the page from the Book of Skelos. She tells her story about being hired by Karanthes the Ibis priest from Stygia. Well Sonja eventually gets around to insulting Belit and she loses her temper. A sword fight shows that Sonja is the better swordwoman. So Sonja knocks out the torch and grabs the page in the darkness. Conan and Belit go after her and find her horse. Conan stays to search for Sonja as Belit goes to stop the crew of the Tigress from sailing in the morning.

Conan continues to go after Sonja as a mysterious robed figure follows him. Conan is stopped by a familiar female voice. It is Tara who is now pregnant and needs help in rescuing Yusef from the king’s dungeon. Conan goes to rescue his friend from the dungeon. He sneaks in and confronts the jailer. Only the robed man following uses magic to turn the jailer into a Were-Tiger. Conan still manages to defeat the jailer and rescue his friend. Belit comes back in time to help out. Yusef and Tara escape on a wagon as Red Sonja rides by and out the gate of the city. The two pursue her.

Well an exciting packed issue. A guest star of Red Sonja who has a crossover with her title. A cat fight between Sonja and Belit that ends inconclusively. It was nice for Roy to bring back Tara and Yusef. I loved these two and it was enjoyable to get some closure on their story. So the big crossovers continue next issue with not only Red Sonja but King Kull making a guest appearance.


“Catacombs of the Moon”
Writer: Christopher Mills
Artist: Gabriel Rearte

Nah-ee-lah has fallen into a pool of water in an isolated chamber while escaping her dungeon. To make matters worst the chamber is filled with viscous bats. She sees a light underwater and dives under. Swimming through an underground cavern she comes into a chamber filled with little people. Soon after her is a viscous monster called the Nitratha. The creature grabs one of the little people and Nah-ee-lah picks up the fallen spear and throws it into it’s eye. It releases the man and goes back underwater. The little people are grateful and take Nah-ee-lah to their leader a very old woman. From her we find out the history of these people. They inhabited the city above ground until the Kalkars and their revolution. The ancestors were pacifists and fled underground where they deteriorated to the state they are now in.

The old woman wants to keep Nah-ee-lah there to breed new children. But the man she saved instead shows her the passage to the surface. Nah-ee-lah finds herself in the jungle and decides to take a nap. In the bushes sinister eyes watch.

So the second issue has our heroine escaping the bats to find a lost race of people. She has to fight off a monster and the old crone who rules the place wants to use her to breed some new blood into the race. Naturally Nah-ee-lah wants nothing to do with that and fortunately the man she rescued returns the favor. This is an enjoyable series. It stays true to what Burrough’s created. The strange people, creatures and situations are what you would find in a Burrough’s book. The art tells the story with a minimum of dialogue and exposition. Another excellent issue.


“Part 3: The $1,475,964 Man”
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: David Hahn

The Soviet helicopter fires a missile at Steve Austin. He does manage to evade it and just than a lightning strike hits him. It powers him up but caused some damage to his bionics. His legs just propel him into the chopper and he damages it. This panics the pilots who decide to leave. It fact they decide to abandon Mr. Amari’s plan so the evil industrialist has to come up with another to get revenge against the U.S. Steve and Niko go to the village to look for a phone and Niko takes them to her family’s home. Steve inadvertently tears open the wall with his malfunctioning bionics. Niko’s cousins agree to get them off the island on the family fishing boat. Only the cousins are in the employ of Mr. Amari and Steve’s bionics fail by having his bionic arm punch himself in the face. He falls overboard and sinks.

So this issue we get quite clearly that Steve’s bionics are going on the fritz. Still he manages to drive away the Soviet gunship. We also find out Niko comes from the island and has a personal grudge against Mr. Amari. Her cousins are in his employ and ends on a cliffhanger. An amusing story but the character just doesn’t feel like the TV show.


“Intruder Alert!”
Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
Artists: Ross Andru, Dick Giordano & Mike Decarlo

A mysterious woman dressed in black spandex and an Irish accent approaches the Atari Headquarters in California. It is 2005 after the Five Day War and the Break-up. The woman uses her skills and tools to penetrate the force field and knock out the guards. Meanwhile in Earth orbit Commander Martin Champion is overseeing construction to a space station. He manages to stop a panel that breaks loose and save lives. While getting patched up by Dr. Lucas Orion they get a message from Lydia Perez. She has orders that the two report immediately to Atari HQ. While on the ride down Champion thinks back to the first time he met Perez. Back on October 18, 1998.

The new moon base had just started up when enemies decided to toss a meteor at it. The survivors were running out of air and Champion was put in charge of the rescue mission. Perez was his co-pilot and the two managed to get to the Moon in time to save the survivors. So they meet Perez after landing and she drives them to HQ. Along the way Orion sees joggers and this triggers his memories. During the Break-up he was a medic with the U.N. in Africa. The jeep he was in is hit my a mortar. He finds a crying child and rescues her from the approaching rebels. Orion during this conflict decides to accept an offer to work for Atari. Back to the present the jeep they are riding in gets to the HQ and the mysterious figure in black follows them through the door.

So Atari would include these little bonus mini-comics with select game cartridges. This one was included in the Defender game cartridge. I have to say that these comics were some very serious works both in story and art. In fact the comics survive but the game cartridges are history. I really was fascinated by this comic so much that I looked forward to the comic more than the games that came out. That Atari was basically running everything in the future somehow just seemed to make sense back then. The post-war future was something that I loved to read about and the future they created seemed quite plausible. This mini-comic series was just a brilliant idea.


“Revenge of the Barbarian”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Black Vulmea’s Vengeance” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan is a pirate captain and wakes up after the ship had a successful haul. A Stygian galley filled with wine that the crew proceeded to drink. They drank so much that in the morning the whole crew is passed out. Conan who comes on deck then sees a Zingarian buccaneer approaching. Only Conan is still sober and puts up a fight but is soon overwhelmed. Later the Zingarians sink the pirate ship and Conan is taken to it’s captain Dom Castillius. Conan knows that the captain is the infamous Basqus the Butcher. A very unpopular man who put down a revolt and had to have a new identity forged for him.

So Conan to save his life concocts a story of buried treasure on the Black Coast. This has Dom and his men take Conan into the jungle to a ruined city. Only the city has a savage tribe guarding it. Conan escapes as the savages massacre the crew. Only Dom manages to escape into the ruined city. Seems the tribe won’t go enter because of the demon that lives there. Now Dom has to fight Conan which they proceed to do. Conan wins but spares Dom’s life after he finds out the captain has a wife and daughter.

The two men have to leave because another tribe that doesn’t have the superstitious fear of the city is coming. The two had to fight the demon which is a giant snake. They wound it and follow the blood to a passage out of the city. They find a jewel necklace which Conan splits in two and shares with Dom. Then they fight the chief and his men. At the last minute the two are saved by the wounded snake coming back and attacking the savages. The two men make it to safety.

“Meet the People Behind Conan”
By David A. Kraft

A biography of the people responsible for Savage Sword. They include Robert E. Howard, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala and Marie Severin.

“Conan of the Silver Screen A Special Report”
By James Delson

An article on the development of a Conan movie. To star Arnold Schwartzenegger.

So this special issue has a very special place in my heart. It is my very first introduction to Conan. Back around Christmas 1977 an eight year old boy found this magazine in a discount supermarket after church in Price, Utah. He was immediately captivated by this character Conan. The world he lived in and his adventures among pirates and savages. With lost cities, treasure and giant snakes. The bright colors definitely helped this mag but the art and story won me over. Soon after I would grab up any issue of Savage Sword with glee. My copy shows some serious love for you can tell it was reread many times over.

So the story is an adaptation of a non-Conan Howard story. Roy manages as usual to turn it into a top notch story. This one a special color issue which added to the experience. Add to it the interesting bibliographies of the various people involved in the issue. Didn’t know that Alcala in his youth worked for the resistance in Japanese occupied Philippines. The movie article was of interest to me historically as I got to find out the directors that were being considered for the movie. A very special issue for me at least. One that takes me back to my childhood.