THE GREATEST ADVENTURE #6

“Untitled”
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Cezar Razek

The Resolve has been taken by the mutinous First Born. The creepy old master has managed to take over the mind of one of the First Born. He has him kill the guards guarding Rokoff and Miranda. They leave their cell to go and carry out the master’s grand plan. Tarzan and John Carter are brought to the arena to fight for the amusement of the Warhoon. Tarzan chooses a large spear and amazes the Warhoon when his throw kills the Jeddak. This causes pandemonium as half the Warhoon want to kill them and the other half make them part of the tribe. As they fight Tarzan and Carter use their Earth strength to jump out and go to the equilibrimotor belts Tarzan hid in the desert. This gets them to the Helium fleet. A fleet that has gathered to fight the First Born.

This was a fun issue. Plenty of humorous action as Tarzan and John Carter join forces to escape the Warhoon. On the Resolve we have the mysterious master demonstrate his power of mind control. All this as the First Born gather to conquer Barsoom. Plus we get introduced to Dejah Thoris. I have to say I love the artist work on this series. The women are beautiful. The look has a stylized retro feel. The story also keeps my interest.

MACHINE MAN #7

“With a Nation Against Him!”
Writer and Artist: Jack Kirby

Machine Man is before a Congressional committee to determine his status. He is remanded into the custody of Dr. Spaulding. Outside the mob is hostile but Machine Man uses his extended arm to stop a pickpocket. The crowd then turns to his favor. On the ride home Machine Man and Dr. Spaulding are attacked by a robot called Paratron. Dr. Hiram Girk is out to prove his robot is stronger by destroying Machine Man. Only MM melts Paratron to slag with his flame thrower.

During the night Dr. Spaulding is kidnapped and the kidnappers demand Machine Man surrender himself to save him. So MM surrenders to these guy who take him away in a helicopter. With MM gone the public starts to panic that MM is loose and every bad thing is attributed to him. A sleazy Congressman is using this to further his career. MM is taken to an abandoned missile silo. There he finds out a criminal syndicate is behind the kidnapping. The criminals want to reproduce Machine Men for their own use.

Well this was a fascinating issue. Machine Man gets to defend himself. He has a strange battle with some kooky little guy that built his own robot. His friend Dr. Spaulding is kidnapped by criminals so they can create machine men for their own nefarious uses. I love how Kirby manages to portray the fickleness of people. They easily get swayed one way than the other. Some interesting developments are General Kragg seems more sympathetic to Machine Man. Also the other Congressmen on the panel are willing to give him a fair shake. Only this sleazy one wants to use Machine Man to boost his career. As I said a very fascinating issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #57

“The Eye of Erlik”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan and the Sword of Skelos” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

Conan with Isparana are headed toward Zamboula where Conan hopes to sell it’s ruler the Eye of Erlik. Along the way they are confronted by Yoggites a cult that wants Isparana. So a fight ensues which looks grim for Conan. Luckily the Shanti a tribe that are enemies of the Yoggites comes to their rescue. They take Conan and Isparana back to their camp and agree to help them reach Zamboula.

The Khan of Zamboula through his wizard Zafra knows of their coming. So horsemen are their to escort them to the Khan. Aktar Khan is very happy to get back the Eye of Erlik and agrees to reward Conan and Isparana. Later at night Conan gets a mysterious invitation to meet with someone. So he goes and meets with Balad who is leading a plot to overthrow the despotic Khan. At this time Aktar Khan who has been convinced by Zafra to betray Conan and Isparana sends his soldiers to arrest them. They get Isparana but Conan remains free and vows to get his revenge.

“Surgeons and Sears Life, Death and Medicine in the Hyborian Age”
By Jim Neal

An article on the medicine and doctors of Conan’s time. It goes over the various times a doctor or medicine was used in the literature. Another fascinating and well researched article by Jim Neal.

So the second in the Offutt adaptation was an enjoyable read. It had some action in the beginning. Most of it was the various intrigue among the various characters. Zafra and the Khan’s mistress are conspiring to take over. The Shanti are concerned when they hear the rumors that the chief’s daughter may have been killed by the Khan which she was. There is also the scheming of Balad who seems to be a good guy out to overthrow an evil Khan. A bit convoluted but I was able to follow the story and interested to see where it goes. Plus the artwork is beautiful as always.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #95

“The Return of Amra!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Ajaga the Beast King of Abombi has captured Belit. He takes her to his city and brags about how he plans to have her killed slowly. Conan is assumed dead after being knocked off a cliff by two baboons. The tree branches and body of a baboon manage to cushion his fall. As he lies unconscious a black lion comes and shoos off the jackals. Conan awakes and finds that Shlomo the lion that served the old Amra has now come to look out for him. So Conan heads off to rescue Belit and get revenge on Ajaga.

His journey takes him to a cave with a bizarre symbol on the ground. Shlomo will not cross it. So Conan goes alone into the cave. There he finds an old witch doctor name G’Chambi. G’Chambi is hiding out from Ajaga and tells him of the symbol and how it relates to Jhebbal Sag. G’Chambi is suddenly attacked by a small dinosaur that found a way in. Conan than fights it and manages to bash it’s head on a rock. He takes out G’Chambi and learns he must draw the symbol perfectly to shield him. G’Chambi dies and is buried as Conan continues on to Abombi.

This was actually the first of the color Conan the Barbarian’s that I started to regularly collect this series instead of casually. I really loved this story. It had a very Tarzan vibe to it and I loved Tarzan. Still do. A cool story with lions and dinosaurs. Cool idea to use a plot point from one of Howard’s stories about Jhebbal Sag. A good solid idea for Conan’s final story arc with Belit and the Black Corsairs.

KAMANDI CHALLENGE #3

“Bug in your Ear”
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Amanda Conner

Kamandi has fallen off a cliff. Luckily a ship is sailing by and notices. The captain a turtle sends some bat-men to rescue Kamandi. Later Kamandi wakes in a dark room. A pod gives birth to a plant woman named Vila. She claims to be Kamandi’s. The turtle captain Fritz of the God Watchers believe that Kamandi is a messenger from the gods. They have a photo of him as a kid that fell from the sky to prove it.

Kamandi later talks to the captive bat people and finds out that Captain Fritz is not a very nice guy. At the dinner he finds out they create plant people so they can eat them. Kamandi refuses to eat Vina and storms off. He tries to convince them that he is not a god. As he does this the bat-people attack. The captive bat-people help Kamandi and Vina escape since being captive they are considered tainted. They fly to the Sun Cult island and are quickly captured by the Jaguars. The Jaguar-men eat the bat-people and tie Kamandi and Vina to a flaming alter. A giant Jaguar comes and announces Dinner!

This writer did a great job of getting Kamandi out of his cliffhanger. He put him with some really crazy animal type peoples. It has the feel of a Jack Kirby story. Vina the plant girl is a lovable companion for Kamandi. She is innocent and beautiful. Ends with a King Kong type story. Oh and the last writer just coped out in how he would have got Kamandi out of his fall. He would have left him to die. Glad he didn’t continue the story.

THE GREATEST ADVENTURE #5

“Untitled”
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Cezar Razek

The Venture has traveled to Mars. Jane is concerned because Tarzan seems to be keeping his plan to himself. When they arrive on Mars, Tarzan has the crew set up camp. Than he takes the ship off by himself. He purposely flies over the Warhoon territory where they shoot down the ship. Tarzan attacks them and kills a few before surrendering. The Warhoon take him back and throw him in a cell with another captive. That captive is John Carter and Tarzan has come to rescue him. Meanwhile the Black Pirates have taken The Resolve to Mars. The crew of The Venture spent time fighting off the fierce creatures of Barsoom and see a huge warfleet approaches them.

So the action gets to Mars or Barsoom as the natives call it. Tarzan has been acting secretive even from his wife. Apparently he has some weird plan to go and rescue John Carter. I liked this issue. It has a mystery and also some fun times as they are now on Barsoom. We also get united with two of Burrough’s greatest characters. The artist really has captured the feel of what Barsoom should look like. The story continues to build up interest and keep the reader engaged.

MACHINE MAN #6

“Quick Trick”
Writer & Artist: Jack Kirby

Machine Man uses his extending eyes to watch as the Autocron invasion fleet enters the solar system. The partygoers that he is with start to annoy him so he leaves. At this time the army has tracked him using the tracker implanted in his head. Only he still manages to elude them and take a taxi. A conversation with the cabbie makes Machine Man realize that there are many people on Earth that deserve to be saved. So he goes and finds Ten-For who has started to go on a rampage. He has a fight that damages his arm. Yet Machine Man uses his hypno power to subdue Ten-For. He than rigs Ten-For as a massive Nova bomb and sends him on his way. Ten-For goes to the Autocron invasion fleet and detonates, destroying the invasion fleet and saving Earth.

I knew that Machine Man would have to come around and be the hero. I nice little scene with the black cabbie and how everybody is basically in the same boat. Has a nice message considering what’s going on at this time. Wow is Machine Man a robot with some incredible powers. He can now hypnotize robots. Also rig them as a massive nuke and destroy entire alien fleets. He also has friends in Dr. Spaulding and the TV reporter he met at the party. So will Machine Man get the respect he deserves. Probably not. We’ll see next issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #56

“The Sword of Skelos”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan and the Sword of Skelos” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

In Zamboula the khan of that city attends a demonstration by his wizard Zafra. He performs a spell over a sword that can move by itself. It kills two Iranistani spies and Zafra pledges to turn the Khan’s sword into a magical weapon. Meanwhile in Shadizar Conan is ambushed by two men that try to kidnap him. The two are incompetent and Conan easily kills one and takes the other captive. From the captive he finds out the man who hired them. So he is lead to the Iranistani and boldly goes up to him in the tavern. The man Khassek is in the service of the Shah of Iranistan. He wants the Eye of Erlik that Conan possesses. Just than some members of the local watch enter to arrest Conan. Khassek takes the leader captive and locks the men in the tavern cellar.

So the two leave Shadizar and head out into the desert. Conan has the Eye but decides to pretend it is buried in the desert to evaluate if he can trust Khassek. They come on Isparana who is with a deserter from the Turanian army. The deserter kills Khassek before Conan kills him. Isparana tries to kill Conan for his theft of the Eye. In the end she is turned on by the Cimmerian and they end up making love. Also as this happens the Khan of Zamboula kills a native girl from a nearby tribe to get his magic sword.

“To Kush and Beyond: The Black Kingdoms of the Hyborian Age”
Writer: Charles R. Saunders
Artists: Gene Day and John Buscema

An article on the Africa of the Hyborian age. He gives a good explanation of the various countries and tribes. Along with their history and appearances in the Conan literature. Plus beautiful illustrations. A very informative article.

“The DeZuniga Conan”
Artist: Tony DeZuniga

A portfolio of four Conan and one Red Sonja illustration.

So we get the next book that Offutt wrote. Apparently Conan has managed to get back his soul in the third book that came out. So now the story continue with the Eye of Erlik. Not really sure what Conan’s plan is so far. Is he going to try and sell it to Iranistan or Zamboula. Anyway we end up meeting Isparana and it ends in what could be almost a rape scene. Yet Roy manages to turn it into a somewhat more goofy consent act. So far the story does have my interest if not necessarily the greatest Conan story.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #94

“The Beast-King of Abombi!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Zula and some of the crew of the Tigress have decided to leave and find their fortunes in the Hyborian lands. Thus Conan and Belit sail back to the Black Coast. Only they find the villages along the coast either destroyed or deserted. They finally come to the peaceful village of the Watambi. The chief Ombassa is a broken man. He tells the story of Ajaga. Ajaga was exiled from his tribe for trying to overthrow his father. With his followers he went to the abandoned city of Abombi. There a strange mist gave him the power to speak to beasts. So Ajaga has been destroying the areas villages.

He came to the Watambi and demanded tribute which they refused. So he unleased the beasts of the jungle and had baboons kidnap the chief’s daughter. The Watambis are forced to capitulate. Belit agrees to go and put an end to this Ajaga. They arrive at Abombi and Conan leads the Corsairs up the cliff. Only the beasts of Abombi are waiting for them. Three baboons knock Conan off the cliff. Belit is knocked unconscious and the other Corsairs are forced to surrender.

So a new adventure before the big 100. A nice little scene where Zula and some of the crew leave. I love this story of a beast king that uses the old language of Jhebbel Sag. It has a real feel of the Black Coast and its exotic peoples and animals. A good story to wind up the saga of Belit and the Corsairs.

KAMANDI CHALLENGE #2

“Nuclear Roar!”
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Neal Adams

Caesar the ruler of the tigers has set off a nuclear missile. Kamandi tries to disarm it but gets restrained. Luckily the missile was not armed. Instead giant gorillas were using it as a Trojan Horse. In the fighting Kamandi escapes to the Museum of War. A fight with the jackdaw guard uncovers some sort of high tech chair. Dr. Canus and Tuftan arrive and try to stop Kamandi but once he gets in the chair it transports them somewhere else. The three find they are now in the ruins of San Diego. Canus and Tuftan say they are now at the Wild Human Reserve. Before Kamandi can ask a question two giant humanoids knock out his companions. Claiming to be Manhunters they come for Kamandi. Kamandi decides to jump off the edge of a cliff rather that be captured.

That was a wild story. So now Kamandi has been transported all the way across the country to California. A place where there is a Wild Human Reserve. This is something that intrigues Kamandi and panics Canus and Tuftan. Also some mysterious giants are after Kamandi and another ending. Once again a fast paced story with a tribute to the old characters from the original series.

So Dan Abnett the last writer would have had Kamandi escape the explosion of the nuke by stealing an old airplane from the Museum of War. Dr. Canus would have come along and the nuke would explode. An interesting idea. He apparently like Tomasi had the Museum of War in mind to help Kamandi escape. Yet he also envisioned destroying the Tigers. I love the idea of getting two endings for the price of one.