CONQUEROR OF THE BARREN EARTH #1

“Book 1 The Ravager!”
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall

The escape pod from the ship sent to Earth arrives and an admiral announces the failure of the mission to the Senate. The Qlov have destroyed the ship and one escape craft with her portege Jinal Ne Comar has managed to make it to Earth. So she will lead the mission to rescue the survivors and establish bases on Earth. Meanwhile on Earth Jinal and her companions are returning to Arq after their failed attempt to get the Old Ones to help. Jinal has plans to conquer the Earth herself. After a run in with some hostile raiders the group makes it to Arq only to find it in ruins. The people slaughtered and the name Zhengla written in blood on the walls. A survivor tells of a huge army that is now at the waterworks.

The group goes there and fights its way in. Chairman Mangle with the survivors and 100 Harahashan are still holding out. Barasha and his people break out to head south and gather the rest of the tribe from their winter camp. The humans blow the entrance and hold out. Only the Mulge break through. The Mulge are allied with this conqueor and with his troops manage to overrun the waterworks. At the end Jinal finds herself captive with the conqueror Zhengla wanting to make her his bride.

So the backup story from The Warlord graduated to its own mini-series. It picks up right where it left off. Jinal has plans for conquest but looks like someone beat her to it. This someone is a very Genghis Khan type. I was glad this story got it’s own series. It really helps to see it get the room to expand on the story. Already we know that the Humans are coming and there is this new threat of a conquering army. A good start to the story that gives readers a brief recap and gets right into the action.

ATARI FORCE #1

“Part One: Fresh Blood”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

On Roc’s World two mercenaries Dart and Blackjack are tearing up a bar. General Ki has short changed them on a job and they mean to collect. Only they have to flee the place when the police arrive. Dart had a vision of them coming so the two blow a hole out of the back wall. They find out the bar is on a cliff and start falling. Luckily Dart has a grappling hook and stops their fall. General Ki sneaks out after the police arrive and visit his employers. A Kargg and his master a mysterious guy in a red suit and helmet. The master is not happy with Ki for he wanted Dart and Ki’s greed messed it up. So the master tosses Ki into an acid river.

On the planet Egg some travelers land and lure one of the inhabitants in with candy. The inhabitants grow as huge as mountains but the young children can still walk. The travelers have plans to sell the child. On New Earth a young man named Tempest is running a maze with robots after him. Tempest has the ability to phase to different locations and escapes the maze. We find out that his name is Christopher Champion who is the son of Martin and Lydia from the original Atari Force. Lydia was changed by exposure to unshielded exposure to the multiverse. It killed her and gave powers to her son. The father blames Christopher for her death and has been estranged from the young boys upbringing.

On moon Alpha Tulka Oly aka Packrat is stealing the Klavian crown jewels. He is cornered by the guards and goes crazy because he hates being cornered. He escapes and decides to go to New Earth for his next destination.

The mini-comic series gets it’s own title. Set 25 years after the events we are introduced to the various characters that will be part of this series. A very diverse lot. Christopher is the only one that so far has a link to the original series and he has a very interesting backstory. The other characters are also intriguing and interesting enough to want to find out more. Also the main evil villain is introduced who is also mysterious. A solid first issue for this new and unique series.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #31

“The Flame Knife”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague deCamp
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

Conan is in the capital of Iranistan when an assassin tries to knife him. He manages to easily dispatch his assassin and make his way to his second in command. Conan tells how someone tries to kill him and he thinks its the king. Conan refused to lead his Kozaki against a rebel hillman because that rebel help him. So the king wants Conan out of the way. This is confirmed when a young woman named Nanaia who is in the king’s harem comes to him. She tells Conan of the plot and asks that she take her with him which Conan is glad to do. So the next morning Conan leaves the city with his Kozaki and heads to the rebel hillman. The king is furious and orders his troops after Conan. Later an assassin tries to kill the king. His guards manage to stop him and the assassin is revealed to be a member of the cult of the Sons of Yezm. They have been after neighboring kings and now the cult has targeted Iranistan.

Conan arrives at his friend and finds that he is having trouble with raiders from a place inhabited by demons. He shows one of the men killed and Conan recognizes him as a Khitain. The Khitain also has the symbol of the Flame Knife on his chest. So Conan with his trusted lieutenant, the girl Nanaia and three others go to scout out this valley. During the night they are ambushed and Nanaia is captured and three of Conan’s followers are killed but Conan and Tubal manage to beat them off. They follow the blood trail to a wall and Conan finds a hidden entrance. It leads to a hidden city. Conan sends Tubal to get help as Conan decides to bluff his way in. He meets former Zuagir comrades guarding the trail and convinces them he is expected. So they take him to the Magus who rules the cult of the Sons of Yezm. Conan manages to convince him that he could be useful and learns the origin of the city of Yanaidar.

The Magus is part of an ancient cult but used his wealth to gather the members of this cult from all over the world and rebuild the city of Yanaidar. The Magus has plans to rule the world and says that the Tiger must decide if he can join their cult. So Conan is put in a room and given drugged wine which he doesn’t take. A young woman named Parusati was sent to find out information and Conan convinces her to show him where Nanaia is being held. So she leads him through a secret passage to her cell. Conan kills the guard and frees his woman who is to wait for him in the secret corridor. Later Conan is summoned to the throne room as the Tiger has arrived. Conan finds out the Tiger is Olgerd Vladislav who Conan deposed as leader of the Zuagirs and left for dead in the desert.

“A Gazetteer of the Hyborian World of Conan Part II”
By Lee Falconer

A guide to the places in the Hyborian and world of Kull from B to F.

So Marvel had just got the rights to all Conan stories including those written by deCamp, Carter and Nyborg. Now Roy could adopt those and chose this story. It was a non-Conan story that deCamp adapted to Conan. An enjoyable story with some mysterious cult that has people from all over the world gathered in a rebuild city. It also ends with the return of a character that Conan left for dead. Now Thomas did write a sequel years back that had Olgerd dragged to hell by a demon so this does contradict the version by deCamp. Yet I believe Roy did manage to explain that away in the next issue.

Otherwise the second entry to the Gazetteer was an informative read. All around another enjoyable installment to this wonderful magazine.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #70

“The City in the Storm!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Marchers of Valhalla” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

The Tigress is in a storm and is forced onto the rocks of an island. The island has a city and soon they are attacked by ape like men from the city. After beating them off a beautiful woman approaches them with a peace offer. The city is Kelka and the priest of Ashtoreth then comes with gifts of gold and food. He makes a deal with Belit and Conan. Their city has to pay tribute to a Barachan pirate named Auro. So they agree fight this pirate and start repairing their ship. The pirate Auro comes and they easily drive him off. The grateful priest of Kelka invites the crew to a feast which Conan accepts. Only the wine is drugged and Conan and the Black Corsairs find themselves now captive and slated for sacrifice to the goddess Ashtoreth.

Another non-Conan Howard story adapted. Once again it is a fine tale that shows Howard knows how to write. An adventure with a lost mysterious city. Pirates and beautiful women. So far I am intrigued to find out more about this city that has ape-like men but beautiful women. This story sets up the reader to want to find out this and of course how Conan and crew manage to get out of being sacrificed. Also we get the first inklings of a problem in one crewman named Kakawu who is a coward and has a hatred of Conan.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS VS THE BIONIC WOMAN #3

“Untitled”
Writer: Cameron DeOrdio
Artist: Soo Lee

Kelly manages to sneak out plans to the safe at Naris despite Jaime Sommers looking around at the security agency. The angels find out they need two keys to get into the safe. One from Jaime and the other Oscar Goldman. Jaime meanwhile wonders why she can’t catch these new thieves and why they wear halter tops. She gets curious and looks at the formula she guards and finds out that it is a cure for paralysis but the evil corporation would rather use it to create super soldiers. She goes to Dr. Rudy Wells and finds out he invented the formula and hired the Townsend Detective Agency.

Well we get some answers to who the mysterious inventor is. Now Jaime finds out she is probably working for an evil corporation. Couldn’t see that coming a mile away. Filled with lots of solo soliloquies and talking about stuff. A really dull story and not really optimistic of it improving in the final issue.

PELLUCIDAR #2

“Wings of Death”
Writer: Mike Wolfer
Artist: Vincenzo Carratu

Dian the Beautiful is now a captive of the Mahars. She is thrown into the dungeon to await her fate which the Sagoths gloat will be death. She is visited by a Weiroo who was the ambassador from his people to the Mahars. He wants Dian to help him escape and go back home. As a token of his good faith he leaves her a knife. Tanar has been freed from the gorobar by the Va-gas from the moon named Na-Va-No. The two manage to infiltrate the Mahar city of Kazra. They get into a fight with the Sagoths when discovered and are forced into the underground river that threatens to pull them under. The Weiroo has gone to the Mahars to get them to give Dian to him as a slave. They refuse and when he goes back to her cell he finds the Sagoth guard dead and Dian escaped. Dian making her way out of the city runs into the party of invading Horibs.

The second issue of this mini-series does not fail to amuse me. The story is filled with exciting action and interesting characters. Beautiful artwork and the various strange creatures that Burroughs created. The writer clearly understands and is a fan of Burrough’s work. I am really enjoying these new stories set in the Burrough’s universe.

ATARI FORCE #5

“Galaxian”
Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
Artists: Ross Andru, Gil Kane and Dick Giordano

Scanner One is checking out another world and finds it inhabited by giant hostile worms. So they blast off to continue the search. The next world is perfect. A virtual paradise with no hostile life and plenty of fresh water and vegetation. Then a ship lands and an alien calling itself Aviar an appointed custodian demands to know what they there for. Seems they are in a universe where the sentient life has renounced war and formed a peaceful galactic federation. They follow Aviar to the main world Centerworld to present their case for colonization to the council.

When they arrive the local inhabitants go through a change. They are no longer welcoming and attack the crew of Scanner One. The crew has to blast off and Dr. Orion was able to analyze the cause. The Dark Destroyer is alive and has taken over the minds of Centerworld. The Dark Destroyer was forced to escape to this universe and was powerless until the Earthlings came and their raw emotions gave it strength. Only it can’t control the Earthlings. So Scanner One goes to the asteroid it is on and has to battle through the fleet of the controlled aliens. They manage to destroy the ships while letting the pilots eject safely. Then they destroy the asteroid. At the end the council allows Earth permission to colonize the paradise planet. So on Earth Scanner One is converted to a colony ship with 2000 colonists in suspended animation. Martin Champion and Lydia Perez finally admit their feeling for each other.

The final mini-comic in the series. From the game Galaxian and it does kind of follow the basics of that game. So they finally find a world to colonize. It also hints that a new Atari Force is coming soon and lo and behold DC did release a new series. One which we shall explore next.

The Atari Force mini-comics were a unique and fun idea to add as bonuses to their game cartridges. I personally looked forward to each installment about this unique future after a world war. DC delivered a quality product and it did deserve to get it’s own real comic series.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #30

“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.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #69

“The Demon Out of the Deep!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Out of the Deep” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Val Mayerik and The Tribe

Conan is practicing archery on The Tigress as the ship sails south. A conversation with Belit reveals that Conan saw the Western Ocean once before in his youth. During his time in the north he was captured by Vanir and taken to their village on the shore of the ocean. When they arrive he find that a popular warrior named Fallon has drown. So he is taken to his home to await proper burial. Only his fiance and rival say that this body is not Fallon but some creature inhabiting the body. So later at night it gets up and kills his fiance. The village goes after it with Conan volunteering to help. Later the war chief is killed and the villagers flee to lock themselves in for the night. Only Conan continues to search and finds it at the shore. He fights it and defeats it. In the morning the body turns into seaweed with two eyes.

A flashback story of Conan’s youth. Roy decided to adapt another non-Conan Howard story. This one was interesting but not his best work. Still a nice break from the current story and a chance to see some new artist try out Conan. So basically just an OK issue.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS VS THE BIONIC WOMAN #2

“Untitled”
Writer: Cameron DeOrdio
Artist: Soo Lee

Jaime confronts the three ski-mask wearing angels who have infiltrated the Naris corporation. Jaime is a bit overconfident as one of them manages to punch her in the stomach. Then the three split up. Jaime goes after one of them but she manages to elude her. Another gets the bug they planted and the three angels meet up and cover their escape by blowing up their car. Later Jaime is sparring with Oscar and discusses how she feels bad about losing the intruders. She also has a theory that they bugged the corporation. Meanwhile Bosley and two of the angels talk about how bad it is that the inventor can’t get his formula back legally. Kelly infiltrates the Stoker Security agency which contracts to Naris for blueprints to the corporation. She has to hide as Jaime visits Stoker Security to see if the plans are safe.

Well this second issue was very underwhelming. Not a lot happens and we get a lot of talking and other stuff happening which is not very exciting. The art isn’t all that visually exciting either. Maybe it will pick up in the next issue.