CONAN THE BARBARIAN #78

“Curse of the Undead-Man”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Mistress of Death” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

A reprint from Savage Sword of Conan #1.

Well not much to write about today. They reprinted a story from the first Savage Sword. A good solid story and in color this time. I think I preferred it in Black and White. Anyway read about it.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #1

“The Cult of Koga Thun Part One: Shipwrecked”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Ron Garney

Conan is adrift on some wreckage after a major sea battle. He survives eating shark. A slaver comes by and pulls him out to sell in Stygia. So another slave named Suty nurses Conan back to health. When Conan recovers he decides he doesn’t like the idea of being sold into slavery. So he first manages to take the finger off his guard and use the finger bone to pick his lock. Then he drags Suty who is chained to him along and breaks out from the deck. He kills some of the crew and goes to the captain’s quarters. Here he finds the captain is actually a serpent-man in disguise. Conan kills the serpent-man and knocks over a lamp which sets the ship on fire. He takes a jeweled box and drags Suty to the deck. There he manages to jump in an escaping rowboat and the two leave the burning slave ship. Later on shore Conan busts into his stolen box and finds sand. Dumping the sand out causes Conan to see visions. He sees a map to treasure and a powerful new opponent.

“The Shadow of Vengeance Part I”
By Scott Oden

Ghaznavi the Regent of Khawarizm is confronted by a mysterious intruder in his chambers. The intruder is the head of Nine. The man Karash Khan is there to answer the prayer of Ghaznavi for a price. Ghaznavi offers to give the Nine use of a temple of Erlik if they will deliver vengeance against Conan who slew his master Jehungir Agha.

When Marvel reacquired the rights to Conan they resurrected the old Savage Sword title. This first issue has lots of promise. It has a very gritty and tough Conan that is in the spirit of Howard. We have a Conan who tears off the finger of his guard and uses it to pick his lock. He survives by eating the sharks raw that were trying to eat him. He plows his way through opposition to escape with some loot. The ending that establishes the treasure he will quest for and the companion he has acquired hint at a wild ride ahead. I am enjoying this new Savage Sword. The only thing that disappointed me was I was hoping that Marvel would bring back the old magazine black and white format. But I guess like other things from the seventies such as disco and bell bottoms are just not destined to return.

The backup novella has some interesting potential. It takes place after Howard’s The Devil in Iron. The servant of the man Conan killed wants revenge and enlists the services of this mysterious group. I’m looking forward to learning more.

THE ADVENTURES OF MR. CRYPT & BARON RAT #2

“Buckle Up, Mr. Crypt-The Great Race is Here!”
Writer: Troy Vevasis
Artist: Alexsandar Jovic

Mr. Crypt comes home and finds Baron Rat gone. Just then a race car drives up and it is driven by none other than Baron Rat. Baron Rat says the car is a gift to Mr. Crypt. Mr. Crypt doesn’t know how to drive but gives it a whirl. Soon him and Baron Rat are speeding through the streets. Apparently at such high speeds it becomes apparent to the locals that a living skeleton is driving the car. Soon a torch and pitchfork welding mob is after them. An approaching truck delivering tar and feathers has to swerve to avoid collision and dumps it’s contents on the mob.

Just than a woman stands in the road demanding that Mr. Crypt stop. She is the real owner of the car and had it stolen while gassing up. Miss Carlyle is impressed with Mr. Crypt’s driving and invites him to drive her car in the upcoming race at Fancy Town. He reluctantly agrees and with Baron Rat they accompany her to Fancy Town. Seems Miss Carlyle owns the town and takes them to the Fancy Palace home of the million dollar menu. There she orders plates of cheese which Baron Rat gorges himself on. Next morning Mr. Crypt drives in the race. He gets a flat tire but Baron Rat pull through with a quick change. Then Mr. Crypt wins the race and the beautiful trophy.

So this story has Mr. Crypt getting himself into another reluctant adventure. He also gets another friend in Miss Carlyle who knows that Mr. Crypt is a skeleton and will keep the secret. Baron Rat is proving the be the perfect companion for our lovable living skeleton. Another fun and simple story about the lovable Mr. Crypt and his adventures.

ATARI FORCE #8

“Part 8: Babe’s Story”
Writers: Gerry Conway and Andy Helfer
Artist: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez

Babe and Hukka have taken off in a shuttle to help Morphea. Only they manage to crash on some unknown world 500,000 miles away. Babe has to fight off a three-headed serpent. Then he meets a small little warrior guy. The little alien is carrying around a dead companion and is being chased by other bad looking aliens. Babe and Hukka decide to tag along with the little guy. They fight off some giant dogs. Then Babe takes out a large artillery piece located on a mountain. Finally they arrive at the aliens camp and Babe and the little alien attack. Babe’s huge strength manages to destroy the main armory and thus destroy the camp. At the end Scanner One finds them and they also take on the new little alien as part of their crew.

So this issue was devoted to Babe. Along with the Hukka the two have some fun adventures. They meet up with some little alien that has lost his people to these evil red alien invaders. A good issue in giving Babe the spotlight. We haven’t had much with him except comic relief. He is an infant who has incredible strength and is basically a living rock. So he bumbles through the story with a childlike innocence. The little alien doesn’t speak any language we understand so his story is told manly visually. Which they succeed in doing. Hopefully we will get more of the little alien’s story now that he is part of the team. A nice solo story to highlight one of the crew that up to now has been in the background.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #37

“Sons of the White Wolf”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Sal Buscema & Rudy Nebres

At a Turanian military outpost in Hyrkania the commander is awakened by sounds of men getting ready to move out. He goes and finds that Osmaan his second in command has now mutinied. He has convinced the men to follow him. They renounce Tarim the Hyrkanian god in favor of the old worship of the White Wolf. So they kill the commander and then raid a nearby village called Djemal. The men put everyone except the young women to the sword. They also capture the commander’s wife a beautiful red-haired woman named Alondra.

Later Conan comes riding by on a camel. He is the chieftain of the Kozaki and going to meet the Vilayet Pirates to negotiate an alliance. He finds one of his men who was killed by the followers of the White Wolf. He gets Conan to promise to seek justice for destroying Djemal. Conan then goes and tracks the army to an oasis. There he manages to steal Alondra. They make it to an oasis that is reputed to be haunted by a demon. The demon is a giant crab that Conan manages to kill while taking a swim.

Conan comes on the abandoned oasis and sees men. He thinks they are his Kozaks but they turn out to be a rival tribe known as the Juhanna. Conan manages to convince them that the pagan rebel Hyrkanians are a threat and they join forces after Conan has to kill the second in command. Yet the chief thinks Conan is a threat and has his slave assigned to kill him in battle.

So the White Wolves come to the oasis and find the wells filled in with rocks. In anger Osmaan starts to execute the captive women and this gets the Juhanna’s to attack instead of starve them out. In the fight the Juhanna chief is killed and Conan kills Osmaan. He then goes on his way to meet up with his Kozaki.

“Moon of Skulls Part II”
Writer: Don Glut adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: David Wenzel

Solomon Kane has been tracking the kidnapped daughter of a friend and his trail ends in the African city of Nergal. He finds Marlyin Taferal and gets her story. Just then the evil queen Nakari arrives and finds Kane. She pulls a cord and Kane falls through a trap door.

So this issue has a very interesting main story. Another one that Thomas adapted from a non-Howard Conan story. It has plenty of fun action. The main villain is especially evil. Osmaan is a total nutcase that has megalomaniacal dreams of starting his own empire. Naturally Conan has to put a stop to it. In addition there is plenty of tribal intrigue. A giant crab in an oasis and the beautiful red haired love interest. Sal and Rudy are a nice change of pace for art and they do an excellent job.

The Solomon Kane story is also enjoyable but somewhat brief. They cut the second part in two so that is why it feels a bit short. Still this is one of Howard’s best Solomon Kane stories and the writer/artist team does an enjoyable job.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #77

“When Giants Walk the Earth!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan is in the dungeon with a giant. He guards the meteor that turns hawks giant and attacks Conan for daring to touch it. Meanwhile in the temple Neftha seduces her master the priest-king of Harakht. The warrior-king Hor-Neb is not having the same results with Belit. Belit refuses his offer of being queen in exchange for leading her Black Corsairs to his army. Back in the dungeon Conan manages to beat down the giant but stops from killing him. The giant named Gol-Thir is a sad figure. Once he was the head of the guard but the meteor has turned him into a giant. His giantism is slowly killing him. Gol-Thir shows Conan the way out. So Conan climbs out of the pit and makes his way to the palace. Only he finds himself trapped in the arena with both kings and Neftha watching.

Hor-Neb commands Conan to choose from two doors. One has Belit behind it and the other a leopard. Neftha finds out the right door from her lover and signals Conan. Only Nor-Neb lied to his brother and Conan confronts a leopard. Hor-Neb then has a guard go to arrest Neftha. Neftha manages to knock the guard into the arena and take his sword. The falling guard distracts the leopard and she throws the sword to Conan. He goes to the other door and rescues Belit. Then Gol-Thir is prodded into the arena to fight Conan. Only Gol-Thir manages to lift up Conan into the stands before dying of his giantist. Conan manages to throw his sword and a wounded Hor-Neb falls into the arena and gets eaten by the leopard. His brother spares Conan at Neftha’s pleading and Conan then jumps into the arena after grabbing a spear and kills the leopard and saves Belit.

So this issue is a special one that it is the first of the Conan comics that I ever owned. Got it from a value pack and always enjoyed this issue. For some reason never really started buying this series on a regular basis till much later. Thankfully I did collect all the back issues. So this issue was an enjoyable one. Filled with action and Conan defeats the evil king. Neftha proves to be more than a meek slave. Conan and Belit show they have deep feelings for one another. Plus a tragic death of poor old Gol-Thir. Ends with Conan and friends maybe gaining some allies in Stygia.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #5

“Untitled”
Writer: John Jackson Miller
Artist: Edu Menna

The Okaati have arrived at Gehenna prime a desolate planet to deliver the Human fleet to the Cylons. It looks grim for the Humans. Baltar starts to deliver the Tylium but quickly turns on the Okaati. The Comitat have arrived and it looks like they are delivering the Galactica. Yet it soon becomes clear that the Galactica and Comitat are allies and attack the Cylons. They defeat the army on the planet then the Basestars. Baltar is forced to flee with Lucifer. With the Okaati defeated Adama as the current leader of the Comitat can decide their fate. He proposes that the Okaati settle on the Kiernu’s world. Since the Cylons destroyed them it is abandoned and perfect to settle on. The Comitat will watch over the Okaati and the Humans will continue on in the search for Earth.

The final issue was a very satisfying end. The Cylons were defeated and Baltar escapes to scheme again. You can’t get rid of your perfect villains. The Okaati are defeated but get a chance at redemption with the chance to settle on the Kiernu’s world. I really enjoyed this series. It had the feel of the old TV series. All the characters felt just right. Clearly the writer had a love for the series and crafted an enjoyable story. I’d love to see more Galactica from him.

THE ADVENTURES OF MR. CRYPT & BARON RAT #1

“Bigfoot in the Wild!”
Writer: Troy Vevasis
Artist: Aleksandar Jovic

Mr. Crypt one bright morning finds a message from the mayor on his doorstep. The mayor needs to see him right away. So he goes down to his office and finds out the village needs him. Seems Bigfoot has been terrorizing the locals and since Mr. Crypt is such a renowned vampire hunter he should have no trouble taking care of this new menace. Reluctantly Mr. Crypt agrees and goes home. After delivering the news to Baron Rat his friend gets some new hunting clothes for both of them and off to the forest. There they find Bigfoot and he is really scary. He chases Mr. Crypt who trips and loses his hat and mustache revealing him as a skeleton. Bigfoot warms to Mr. Crypt since both have so much in common. He invites both Mr. Crypt and Baron Rat back to his cabin for cheese. Mr. Crypt agrees to get him food and books so he doesn’t have to go into the village anymore. He informs the mayor that Bigfoot will not be a problem anymore and goes to spend time with his new friend.

So now Mr. Crypt and Baron Rat are prominent in the stories. I approve of this since his rat friend is also lovable and the two work well together. Once again an enjoyable simple story about friendship and not judging people by appearances. Mr. Crypt has made a new friend and saved the day. Mr. Crypt and his friend Baron Rat are just as lovable as ever. Bigfoot while starting out very scary turns out to be a lovable guy. A fun book for all ages.

ATARI FORCE #7

“Part 7 Counter Attack”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Jose Garcia Lopez

Tempest is being tortured by Psyklops an underling of the Dark Destroyer. Psyklops draws power from the psychic suffering of others. Dart and Pakrat are in the vent watching this. Before they can do anything a viperhound attacks Pakrat and Dart is forced to fire on it. This sets off the alarms and they flee. On board Scanner One Martin hears his son is being tortured from Morphea who can sense it. So he decides to surrender to the Dark Destroyer. The Dark Destroyer allows him on the ship and finds the bomb hidden on him. He than gloats on how he will make Martin suffer.

Morphea sneaks aboard the Dark Destroyer’s ship and uses her psychic ability to shield herself. She confronts Psyklops who uses his powers to bring back painful memories that Morphea has. As a child growing up in the creche she was different and felt emotions. This was punished by her mother. Morphea breaks the memory and defeats Psyklops and rescues Tempest. Dart and Pakrat manage to take over the engine room and threaten to blow up the ship if Martin and the others aren’t set free. The Dark Destroyer agrees and everybody returns to Scanner One as the Dark Destroyer leaves the area. Morphea makes a discovery that Babe and Hukka have left on a shuttle.

Wow was there a lot of stuff going on. Martin confronts the Dark Destroyer. Tempest gets tortured but rescued by Morphea. We get a glimpse into Morphea’s history and how she grew up. Dart and Pakrat manage to work together to save the day. Everybody gets out to fight another day. What was looking grim in the beginning turns out very positive for our heroes. Of course Babe and Hukka are now gone. A very fast paced issue that answers questions and raises a lot more.

MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #9 SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN

“The Trail of the Bloodstained God”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by L. Sprague deCamp and Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Ton Dezuniga

Conan is Arenjun the City of Thieves in Zamora. Some guys stole a map from him leading to treasure. While walking the streets he hears someone being tortured and investigates. A Kezankian tribesman is having hot coals put on his chest. Conan decides to rescue him for he may need a friend among the Kezankians. Conan manages to free him and kill most of the guys in the room. Then while jumping over a wall he is hit by a thrown chair. He wakes up to an Iranistani named Sassan who has been following him. He too is after the treasure in the Temple of the Bloodstained God. Conan agrees to join forces and head out to the Kezankian mountains.

They are ambushed by Keznakians and forced to flee. They then run into the guys who stole Conan’s map and were torturing the man. They join forces and fight off the Kezankian horde. Only three are left Conan, Sasson and Zyras. They agree to share the treasure and make their way to the temple. First Sasson gets crushed by the giant door. Then he go in and find a golden statue of a troll festooned with rubies. Now Zyras attacks Conan for the treasure and gets killed. Then the Kezankian chief with a lone survivor get the drop on Conan. Only the survivor is the one who Conan rescued and turns against his chief. The chief kills him and then the golden statue comes alive. It kills the chief and Conan fights it off with a brazier and pushes it into the cleft in the floor. Conan survives but without any treasure.

“Uncle Crom Wants You An Essay on the Hyborian Legion.”
By Don and Maggie Thompson

The Hyborian Legion is a fan club devoted to filling in the gaps and inconsistencies in the Conan story.

“A Chronology of the Conan Comics”
By Jim Neal

A chronological history of the Marvel Conan comics up to the time of this issue.

“Day of the Red Judgment”
Writers: Roy Thomas and Christy Marx
Artist: Howard Chaykin

Red Sonja has decides to come back to Hyrkania and visit her home. She then is drawn to a cave and finds a race of golden skinned and red haired people. They take her prisoner. She finds out from a woman named Zora that the people are called The Favored and have been fighting ape like men called the Drommach. They believe Sonja to be a white skinned destroyer that was left out to die as a baby. Before they can execute her the Drommach attack. Sonja finds out their goddess is the goddess that gave her powers. The goddess has also been manipulating the Drommach as their god and Sonja curses the goddess out. Then she rescues Zora and the two are the sole survivors. They leave the mountain before it collapses.

So another special color issue. In the letter column Roy says they wanted to make Savage Sword a color series but the cost was too prohibitive. So we get the last color special of Savage Sword. I love the color but admit the black and white art has a power all its own. The stories were excellent. The Conan story was another deCamp rewrite of a non-Howard story. As expected it was filled with plenty of action and intrigue among a varied cast of characters. The articles were good interesting fillers.

Finally the Red Sonja piece was also quite good. Not a big fan of Chaykins art but the story was top notch. It hinted at a new origin for Sonja. Later her and Zora would continue on in the new color Red Sonja series which will hopefully appear here sometime in the future.