“The Scarlet Citadel”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Frank Brunner
King Conan shortly after his ascension to the throne of Aquilonia faces his first external threat. The kingdom of Ophir requests help in repelling the invasion of Koth. So he rides to Ophir with 50 knights but is betrayed. Koth and Ophir are in alliance and ambush his forces. Only Conan survives and is taken in chains to Khorshemish the capital of Koth. He is imprisoned in the Scarlet Citadel the stronghold of Tsotha-Lanti the wizard who is the true power in Koth. Conan refuses to abdicate his throne so is thrown into the dungeon as Lanti and the kings go off to conquer Aquilonia.
Conan is meant to be eaten by the giant snake in the dungeon but a black slave interrupts the snake’s meal. The slave is there to get revenge on Conan who as Amra killed the man’s brother. Only the snake eats the man and Conan is able to grab the dropped keys and free himself. Then kills the sadistic eunuch Shukeli but is unable to open the locked gate. So he explores the dungeon and finds a man being tortured by a plant. Conan kills the plant and frees the man who turns out to be a rival wizard named Pelias. Pelias helps them get out of the dungeon and in Tsotha-Lanti’s quarters he uses a crystal ball to show him what is happening in Aquilonia.
The combined armies have laid siege to a major border city. A prince named Arpello who has the backing of the alliance has seized power. So Pelias conjures a flying dragon to carry Conan back to his capital. Conan arrives and throws Arpello off the balcony and takes control of the country. Later he leads an army that relieves the siege and sees both kings killed. Conan manages to cut off Tsotha-Lanti’s head but the wizard is still alive. An eagle that Pelias sends grabs the head and the headless body goes chasing after it.
“A Gazeterr of the Hyborian World of Conan”
By Lee N. Falconer
An alphabetical listing of the various places and peoples that inhabited the Hyborian and world of Kull. It deals with places starting with the letter A.
“The Brunner Bran Mak Morn”
Artist: Frank Brunner
A portfolio of artwork of Bran Mak Morn by Brunner
So this issue has a full length adaption of one of Howard’s King Conan stories. A really enjoyable tale filled with wizards, giant snakes, treachery, magic and humor. I loved the small touches like Conan while in chains getting a satisfying grin to hear the wounded enemy on his trip. It had believable enemies like a vengeful black from his time with the Black Corsairs. Also had some fun humor like the wizard losing his head and having to chase after it. Or the creepy eunuch that loves to torture people getting run through. Plus for a change we get a new artist. I love the Buscema/Alcala team but it is nice to get some variety now and then.
The Hyborian Gazeteer is also a worthy project. Listing all the countries, places and peoples in the Howard universe with concise descriptions and listing the books or comic issues that the entry appeared in. Includes all of Howard’s works plus the comics and stuff written by DeCamp, Carter and Nyborg which had just been acquired by Marvel. An enjoyable issue.