“Trial By Combat!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The Valley of Iskander” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Howard Chaykin & Ernie Chan
Conan is in Attalus to deliver the Eye of Set to it’s king Ptolemy. First Conan takes up the offer of an evening dinner and rest at Bardylis’s fathers house. He hides the gem before going to sleep. This proves to be a good idea for a Stygian merchant hired some thugs and kidnapped Conan while he slept. The merchant Ablah is hired by Hun-ya-di to steal the Eye of Set. Conan manages to break free of his bonds and kill the thugs but Ablah escapes. Later Conan goes back to Bardylis and finds that they were drugged by wine from Ablah. Just then soldiers for the king command Conan to appear before Ptolemy. When he arrives he finds that Ablah has told lies that Conan tried to murder him. In the accusations Conan manages to insult Ptolemy who gets angry and attacks Conan. Conan manages to give him a good beating. A soldier than arrives with news that Stygians are attacking the valley. Since Conan defeated Ptolemy that makes him the king.
I am enjoying this Howard story of a lost valley of misplaced Greeks from Alexander the Great’s army. Roy manages to adapt it quite well into a Conan story. A cast of colorful characters and plenty of action. Conan manages to beat up a whole bunch of people including the arrogant king. Now Conan is the reluctant ruler of this city under attack. Looks like an exciting conclusion to this adaptation next issue.
“The Cult of Koga Thun Part Three The Siege of Kheshatta”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney
Menes the librarian is taken by the serpent-men. They are taking her to Koga Thun. Conan intervenes and makes short work of the snake-men. Then a mysterious fog comes and engulfs the trio. Conan finds himself a prisoner of Koga Thun. Some evil branches keep him trapped. Koga Thun starts to read Conan’s mind to get the map in his head. Menes comes and rescues him by pushing some acolytes into the flames. The three get out but Sutys is bit by a snake image that was on Koga’s hand. Conan and company go to the catacombs under the city and are confronted by zombies.
“The Shadow of Vengeance Chapter III”
By Scott Oden
Octavia has gone to an inn to wait for Conan. She is awakened by a mysterious figure that uses some hypnotism. She then under some sinister power goes out alone at night.
So Conan has a direct confrontation with Koga Thun. Not one of the most exciting encounters. There was some good action early with the snake-men. Then it was just too easy for Conan to be captured. It was also way too easy for Menes to rescue him. I don’t quite get what happened. I still have interest in the story and will see what happens in the next issue.
As for the prose story. So far a well written story. I am very interested to see where this goes.
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Scot Eaton
1936 Cross Plains, Texas. James Allison lies in bed delirious. He has visions of many past lives as a warrior. The one most prominent is as Niord. A barbarian who killed a giant snake. Some entity is urging him to find warriors for a fight against the evil Set. His first is Marc Spector the Moon Knight in the present. His visions get Khonshu the god that gives Marc his powers to seek him out. Next is Solomon Kane in 1584 England. Kane is with a companion about to check out a sinister castle. People in the nearby village have been killed and something evil in the castle is responsible. This becomes apparent as his companion is killed by a door handle turning into snakes.
Then his visions take him to 1522 France. Dark Agnes has just killed some assassins and she takes her wounded friend to a nearby village. Only the village is full of snake cult people. They capture Agnes and take her to be sacrificed to a giant snake. Finally in the Hyborian age Conan is found. He has just fought a giant snake and has visions. So Moon Knight goes to James Allison’s abandoned house in Cross Plains and finds some of the cultists digging up the body of Allison. Kane finds snake cultists in the castle. Agnes manages to break free of her bounds and fight the snake. Conan has visions of the giant snake. Then Allison transports Moon Knight to be with Solomon Kane. Dark Agnes finds herself with Conan in the Hyborean age.
“The Get of Garm”
By C.L. Werner
Solomon Kane is riding through the English countryside at night. He comes on a ruined coach and its occupants torn to shreds. There is also a giant hellhound with one huge red eye. The hound is after a survivor in the coach. Kane manages to fight off the hound and it runs into the night.
Well this is one cool idea for a story. Some enjoyable nods to Howard with James Allison who was in the story “Valley of the Worm.” This links him to three Howard characters, Conan and Solomon Kane being familiar to comics. Also a new one. Dark Agnes has never to my knowledge appeared in comics or anywhere else outside her original stories by Howard. She is a welcome addition and surprised she was never used before. A strong female character in the Howard tradition. Oh and they also threw in a superhero. Moon Knight is perfect to fill out the cast. An excellent story that I look forward to continuing.
The backup prose story is also an excellent one so far. Kane having the battle some evil demon dog in the dark creepy countryside. The writer establishes a very creepy atmosphere for this story. The character of Kane is written as he should be. This series is definitely a winner so far.
“Part Ten: Home is the Hero”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Jose Garcia Lopez
Dart is overjoyed to find out Blackjack is still alive. Martin thinks he is an agent of the Dark Destroyer. Later Dart gets Blackjack’s story. He was picked up by the Dark Destroyer’s ship, thrown into the brig and tortured. He eventually recovered and escaped by overpowering his guard. As he escaped he saw Dart and her friends leave the ship. So he stole a flyer and followed. Meanwhile the Dark Destroyer is mining a piece of anti-matter to use against New Earth. Tempest is wounded and tries to find some help. He goes to his former girlfriend Melissa but she turns against him. Then he goes to Dr. Orion who nurses him back to health. Orion tells Tempest of the second encounter with the Dark Destroyer back in the days of the first mission of Scanner One. Just than Hunter and the Atari security break in and arrest Tempest.
So they brought back Blackjack who was a very popular character. He seems to be genuine but his escape from the Dark Destroyer was too easy. Otherwise most of the issue focused on Tempest. He finds out his ex-girlfriend is useless. Dr. Orion finishes the story of the original Atari force. This issue like the last gives readers not familiar with the mini-comics some much needed background. A decent issue with the promise of big revelations in the story to come.
“Legions of the Dead”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter
Artists: Sal Buscema & Tony Dezuniga
It is early in Conan’s youth and he has fled Cimmeria because of a blood feud. He joins up with the Aesir under their chief Njal. They are going into Hyperborea to rescue his daughter Rann who was captured by slavers. They arrive at the fortress Haloga of the witch queen Vammatar. The sight that greets their eyes are Njal’s scouts strung up and being slowly tortured to death. At night Conan decides to do something and sneaks off. He climbs the walls and frees the daughter Rann. Then he sets the fortress on fire. Njal is overjoyed at the turn of events and starts to head back to Aesgaard. Yet they are soon overtaken by the Hyperboreans. The witch Vammatar has made zombies of the Aesir scouts and those that died in the fire. The Aesir fight bravely but are soon overwhelmed by the zombies. Conan manages to steal Vammatar’s horse and send off Rann before he is captured. The daughter escapes but Conan and the surviving Aesir are herded to the slave pens.
“Portfolio of Robert E. Howard”
By Ruby Nebres
Six art portfolios by Nebres of Howard characters. They are Red Sonja, Solomon Kane, King Kull and of course Conan.
“A Gazetteer of the Hyborian World of Conan Part VII”
By Lee Falconer
The glossary of place and people from Q to S.
“Moon of Skulls Part Three and Four”
Writer: Don Glut adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: David Wenzel
Solomon is now captive of Queen Nakari of Negari. She is there when Kane regains conscious. She has a fascination with him and offers him the opportunity to rule by her side. Naturally being a devout Puritan he refuses and tells her to “begone daughter of Satan”. She doesn’t take that well and tells him how she will torture the young girl Marylin. Later Kane manages to escape his guards and find the secret passage. He comes on a man in dungeon who was the high priest. From him he learns that Marylin is to be sacrificed tonight on the night of the Moon of Skulls. He tells Kane to slay the false priest behind the skull in the tower. Before he can give directions he dies. So Kane takes the wrong turn and finds himself outside the tower watching the sacrifice. Yet he finds a guard that has his pistol. So he uses the pistol to shoot the skull in the tower. This causes the people to go nuts and start killing everyone. Nakari is killed by one of her people. Kane rescues Marylin as the city collapses.
So this issue we get a shorter story so they can finish the Solomon Kane story. I enjoyed this tale of Conan’s youth. We know it was established that Conan was a slave to the Hyperboreans and that is why he has an intense hatred of them. This was a fun story to show the story behind that event. The Hyperboreans are a very evil lot. The use of zombies and their torture show that Conan’s hatred is well founded. It would be many years later that Roy would write the story of his escape from the slave pens.
The Solomon Kane story comes to an end. I always enjoyed this comic version. Nakari was very beautiful and evil. The setting of this lost Atlantean city in Africa has a very Burroughs feel to it. Another excellent Howard story which shows that the guy was brilliant as a writer.
“The Lost Valley of Iskander!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Howard Chaykin & Ernie Chan
Conan has just helped Mer-ath become the sole king of Harakht. He asks a favor of Conan. Everytime a new ruler is crowned Harakht and a village trade gems called the Eye of Set. In return for delivering the gem Conan and his companions will get safe passage to Luxor. Conan agrees for the passage and to piss off the new high priest Hun-ya-di. So he takes off and is ambushed by the followers of the high priest. The fight causes an avalanche which kills most of Conan’s adversaries. Along the way he finds a beautiful blonde woman named Bardylis trapped under a boulder. Conan lifts it off and she guides him to the city of Attalus. This city was founded by followers of Alexander the Great who were pulled through a time warp to the Hyborian age. They founded this city in a lost valley. Conan meets with it’s king Ptolemy.
So apparently Big John was too busy to do this issue so a story already written was pulled off the shelf and altered to fit the currently storyline. Which explains why Conan is sidetracked on this adventure instead of the main quest. Still this is an excellent story. Another non-Conan Howard story adapted quite ingeniously to the world of Conan. Chaykin’s art is very much in the style that Buscema established. Yes this does interrupt the main plot but its still done in an enjoyable and entertaining way.
“The Cult of Koga Thun Part Two Go Ask Crom”
Writer: Gerry Dugan
Artist: Ron Garney
Conan and Suty are in northern Stygia on their way to Khesatta. They come on piles of burned dead bodies and have to fight two followers of Koga Thun. Conan grabs a foot from a pile of dead and beats the two to death. Then they reach Khesatta and find Koga Thun tearing apart the city looking for the treasure. Conan and Suty gain entrance to the city posing as someone there to sell a slave. Conan can’t find any recognizable landmarks because they are tearing apart the city so goes to the library to consult the maps. The librarian a woman named Menes gets the drop on him with a crossbow. Suty comes in and gets shot in the hand. Conan discusses with Menes the catacombs beneath the city and Conan thinks that is where the treasure is. Menes wants the treasure to get rid of Koga Thun. At the end soldiers come to bring Menes to Koga Thun.
“The Shadow of Vengeance Chapter II”
By Scott Oden
Conan comes with his Kozaks and woman Octavia to meet with the Red Brotherhood. The meeting is to negotiate an alliance between the land Kozak bandits and the pirate Red Brotherhood.
Well the story continues to get interesting. Conan is now is Khesatta a city that is being torn apart by Koga Thun. Another story where Conan uses a body part to get out of a situation. He also meets up with a woman who will probably help him in his quest for the treasure. Suty seems to be comic relief. So far not a bad story.
The novella was mostly descriptive exposition of Conan and the location he was at. It serves to introduce the characters and situation. The writer describes Conan and his environment beautifully. Hopefully we’ll get some more substantive plot next issue.
“Slay Bells Ring!”
Writer: Troy Vevasis
Artist: Aleksandar Jovic
It is Chirstmas and Mr. Crypt comes home with some big news for Baron Rat. Miss Carlyle is coming and the three are going to visit Bigfoot. Miss Carlyle comes in a snowcat and the three go to the forest. While walking in the forest they are met by Bigfoot. He warns then to leave because some hunter is after him. Naturally the friends stay to help out Bigfoot. They stretch a rope across the trail and make plenty of snowballs. Soon the hunter comes in a sledge pulled by two dogs. The rope trips the sledge and Mr. Crypt disarms the hunter with a well thrown snowball. Without his rifle the hunter turns coward and slinks out with his tail between his legs. The friends go back to Bigfoot’s cabin and exchange gifts. Baron Rat painted a picture of him and Bigfoot together that he gives him. Miss Carlyle gives Mr. Crypt a trophy commemorating his race win. Mr. Crypt gives her a book on racing. Just then the wood fairies come and they listen to them sing.
So the final Christmas issue. A bit late but a fun and enjoyable issue. Mr. Crypt has all his friends together for Christmas. They chase out a hunter that was after Bigfoot. A very heartwarming Christmas issue. While Christmas has been over for a while it still gets me in the Christmas spirit. A fitting end to the this limited series. Hope to get more in the future.
“Part Nine: Memory Lane”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Jose Garcia Lopez
Tempest phases to his former teacher and mentor Dr. Venture. There he relates all that has happened to him and his friends since stealing Scanner One. He wants information on the Dark Destroyer. When Dr. Venture tries to access it this alerts Atari security and one Hunter. He shows up at Venture’s quarters and Tempest is forced to flee. He than goes to Mohanda and Li San on New Earth. From Mohandas he hears the story of the early adventures of the Atari force and its encounters with the Dark Destroyer. Hunter is not far behind and once again Tempest is forced to flee. On Scanner One Dart finds a flying remote spy camera and follows it to the dock. She is surprised to find her lost lover Blackjack is still alive.
Well they decided to give the readers a recap of what has gone before. This was helpful I’m sure to readers that didn’t read the original mini-comics. The big developments are one the Atari security man Hunter is introduced. He seems to be a ruthless man and sure to be a formidable opponent to the team. The really big reveal is that Blackjack is alive. This character was very popular with the audience and I was one of those people. A pleasant surprise for him being back in the story. A laid back issue that still delivered some interesting developments.
“The Road of Eagles”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by L. Sprague De Camp & Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Tony Dezuniga
Conan is on a pirate ship after a battle. A battle he lost. His opponent one Turanian named Artaban of Shahpur is also damaged and beaches his ship ashore. Conan decides to also beach his damaged ship and go after him. Meanwhile in a Yuetshi village the horde of Kursan Khan is raiding it. The Khan is killed by a tribesman and the horde decide to put every man, woman and child to the sword. One finds a beautiful blonde woman. The woman knifes her discoverer and rides off on his horse with the horde in pursuit. She runs into Artaban and whispers a word which get his help. His men drive off the horde.
Then the woman named Roxana tells about knowing that the King Yildiz’s brother Teyaspa is still alive and a prisoner in the castle of Gleg the Zaporaskan. Yildiz is dying and his son Yezdigerd is very unpopular so the people would rally behind him. Artaban tells his story. He was an officer in the Turanian army who turned to piracy to pay off gambling debts. As punishment he was sent to destroy the Vilayet pirates lead by Conan. He managed to take the main base and slowly put the survivors to death. Then Conan and the main force came back and that is why he finds himself with few men and no hope. He decides to help Roxana and restore Teyaspa to the throne.
Conan and his men are after him. Conan runs into Vinashko the chief of the Yuetsi. The only survivor he shows Conan the mysterious catacombs his people stored supplies. He also tells of being captive of Artaban and knows his plan to rescue Teyaspa. Conan decides to ambush him and take the prince and ransom him or set him up as king. So Artaban manages to sneak into the castle with Roxana’s help and rescue the prince. Then Conan and his men ambush him. The girl Roxana so despondent that her lover is being captured plunges a knife into Tespaya and herself. Just then a Turanian general arrives to rescue the prince. Only its too late. Also the flame that the Yuetsi people kept goes out and from the many enclosed tombs burst out the Bryluks. A race of batlike men. Now Conan fights his way out against both and finds his pirate crew has left without him. So he figures its time to move on.
“A Gazetteer of the Hyborian World of Conan part VI”
By Lee Falconer
A glossary of place and people from N to P.
Another story where DeCamp used a non-Conan Howard story and turned it into a Conan one. This one was a fun one. With pirates and hordes. There was a fascinating look at Turanian politics. Seems the ruler always kills his brother and their children to prevent a Civil War. Plenty of interesting characters and lots of action. Not to mention hordes of bat creatures. Howard knew how to tell a story.