“Kill Me or Cure Me”
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: Steve Ditko
Machine Man as Aaron Stack goes to his day job at Delmar Insurance. His first assignment is to investigate Alternative Resources Center. A big fire has broken out. In the research center the beautiful Dr. Violetta Todd is trying to make magnetically charged gas work as a source of clean energy. She has an accident and turns into a formless gas. Machine Man comes to rescue the workers and comes on Dr. Todd. She is despondent at her condition and wants to be killed. She gets angry at Machine Man who won’t kill her so takes off to find someone who will. She goes to the Baxter building hoping the Fantastic Four can help. The Thing and Human Torch are the only ones there and not really much into science.
Meanwhile Machine Man who was knocked out of the building is rescued by a mechanical genius named Gears Galvin. He fixes up Machine Man and rigs a wheel to replace his damaged feet. Machine Man goes to the Baxter Building and arrives just as Dr. Todd leaves. The Thing and Human Torch think Machine Man is there to also attack them. MM manages to kick both their butts and continue the chase. It ends at a meat store and the frozen locker stabilizes Dr. Todd so Machine Man can put her in a cryogenic chamber until Mr. Fantastic can come up with a cure.
A new writer for the series. I love this guy. He has such a way with words. Gears Galvin first says when he comes on MM, “Hey Man! I know you’re dead–but I hope you’re not.” What a thing to say. So we get a new character in this wonder mechanic who can be MM’s friend. We also get a guest appearance from two of the Fantastic Four thus solidifying MM’s place in the Marvel universe. I enjoyed this issue.
“The Sea of No Return”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Danette Couto
Artists: Ernie Colon and Ernie Chan
Conan is passing through the small kingdom of Ravenna. From a barmaid he gets the story of the local politics. The princess Crigatha is to marry a prince from the small island of Alcalais. The ambassador from Alcalais Jabezo is at the inn with the court jester a dwarf named Stubb. Jabezo for some reason decides to tell Stubb that Conan insulted the princess. This gets the drunk dwarf mad and he attacks Conan. In the struggle he runs into a post and everyone assumes he is dead. They arrest Conan for this.
Later Conan is freed by the regent Torio. He is hired to accompany him on the trip to Alcalais. Seems Jazebo was poisoned and Torio thinks someone on the trip did it. Conan soon gets embroiled in the intrigue on the trip to the island. Others are killed and it is soon revealed that Jazebo was a sorcery who was exiled from Ravenna. He made up the whole phony kingdom to gain control of Ravenna. A fight ensues that sets the ship on fire and Conan managing to kill Jazebo.
“Bront Part Two”
Writers: John Buscema and J.M. Dematteis
Artist: John Buscema
The man from the dystopian society wakes up with no memory of who he is or where he is. He sees a young woman being attacked by a large cat. He fights the cat and kills it with his bare hands. Soon the woman he rescued is joined by her tribe of Amazons. They capture him and the woman he rescued claims him for her own. She as to fight another of the tribe and wins. Thus the man is lead into slavery and given the name Bront.
So they decided to take out a Thomas story that was still hanging around. This was a good idea to wait and instead start the new regime with original stories to show what direction the magazine was going in. It is probably a good time to burn off the leftover scripts from Thomas. This was adapted from a story by Thomas’s girlfriend later wife. It was an enjoyable story filled with plenty of complex intrigue and twists. A large cast that included a sinister dwarf and cowardly royal relatives. Not to mention an evil sorcery and his somewhat complex plan to take over the kingdom. It was well written by Thomas and a welcome return for the man who has guided Conan the past ten years.
We also get another installment of Buscema’s creation of Bront. I loved this character and the wild world he was put in. Filled with beautiful Amazon women and savage beasts this series has already shown great potential and shows that Buscema had some creative ideas as well as artistic talent.
“The Fangs of the Serpent!”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Gil Kane
Conan is in Zamboula when an old woman recognizes him and offers to tell his fortune. Conan gives her a copper to keep her quite about his name. She tells of his fight with the serpent god Xka’Ahk and the way to defeat it is an amulet and steel. Conan scoffs at this but later is given a sword amulet by a merchant. It is a gift from a wealth old woman looking for Conan to be her boy toy for a while. Naturally Conan rejects her and has to fight her guards sent after him. He has no trouble taking them out but it attracts the city guard who recognize him as the former warchief of the Zuagirs. So Conan steals a horse and rides out with the guard in hot pursuit.
The chase leads to the river Styx and Conan forces an ferryman at sword point to take him across. The river is too rough this time of year and the ferry breaks up on the rocks. Conan is washed ashore and comes on some men assaulting a beautiful woman. Conan rescues her and finds out the girl Tamera is on a mission. Her kindly sorcerer master was killed by a rival sorcerer. He was after the Ivory Fang of Xka’Ahk. With both fangs the evil serpent god can be destroyed or controlled to take over the world. She begs Conan to help her recover the other fang and destroy the serpent god. Soon more of the Egyptian dressed men of the evil sorcerer come and a fight sees Conan go over a cliff. Only Conan manages to grab on a ledge and climb back. He goes after the men and the captured Tamera.
It leads him to a ziggurat and the sorcerer. He finds out it is the time traveling Shamash-Sham-Ukin who he met back in issue #7. The sorcerer has come back to the Hyborian age and wants to revive the serpent god so he can travel through the neatherworld. Conan jumps in aand fights his Egyptian men. The fight results in a fire that burns down the ziggurat and Conan and Tamera flee with both Ivory Fangs. At the temple in the swamp Tamera inserts the fangs but Conan soon finds out she lied to him. She killed the good sorcerer and wants the power to rule the world. The serpent comes alive and merges with Tamera. It turns into a giant snake with the torso of Tamera.
Shamash comes with his men but the serpent god shoots beams from his eyes and incinerates the Egyptians. Shamash bails out ands travels somewhere in time. Conan remembers the old crone’s prophesy and uses the amulet to stab the serpent god. Then a steel ax and that kills it and saves the world.
“Death of the Mind–Rebirth of the Soul!”
Writers: J.M. DeMatteis and John Buscema
Artist: John Buscema
In a future dystopia Emmanuel Cody citizen 09346-NW2 is being sentenced for his crime. The trial shows a recreation where the Societal Balance Squad comes to his brother’s apartment. There they gun the brother down because he was leading a resistance movement. Cody then attacks the squad and kills a number of it’s members. Cody says he never killed anyone and the video is doctored. Yet the government sentences him to personality eradication and exile to Backworld.
So Cody is wiped of his memories and put in a capsule and dumped on Backworld. The world is a primitive one filled with dinosaurs. A giant tiger comes on his capsule but a beautiful woman attacks it with her bow and arrows. She just makes it angry and Cody wakes up to the tiger attacking this woman.
Fleisher show he has a knack for writing exciting stories. He even manages to bring back an old character that Thomas created. One I thought was dead but I suppose he could still be alive. A fun story with many chases and fights. A traitorous woman who turns out not to be good. Finally a world threat of this serpent god but luckily he miraculously has the means to easily destroy it. A fasted pace and enjoyable story.
The backup is from an idea by Buscema. He created a fascinating character that I remember fondly from my youth. The futuristic Orwellian world was done quite believably. The guy gets exiled to this savage world filled with all sorts of adventure. A good solid and enjoyable issue.
“Bride of the Vampire!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan
Conan is a prisoner of the vampire king of the Drelleks. The king takes Conan to his room as the Bamulas are locked up. Conan awakes and finds out the king has plans to make him a vampire. The king tells how long ago as a young warrior he was attacked by a bat creature. This creature he killed but it turned him into a vampire. He used his hypnotism to turn his tribe into images of him only not true vampires. Conan isn’t interested in being a vampire and is tossed in a cell. There he meets Essee a woman who is the vampire king’s bride. The king has been keeping her alive for centuries. Now he is tiring of her.
At night Conan is witness to the slaughter of one of his men. To save the rest of his men he must agree to become a vampire. So the Bamulas are freed and Conan negotiates for Essee to be released. Only she still loves the king and drives a spear in his back. Conan turns of the king to save her and ends up running and climbing the outside cliff. The king climbs up while at this time his Bamulas have returned. Conan manages to push the king off the cliff and the king is impaled on his spear still stuck in his back. Essee decides to die with her love and Conan cuts off the king’s head and burns the rest of the Drelleks.
This was a very good issue. Conan had to agree to an oath to voluntarily allow himself to become a vampire. Yet he doesn’t carry through with the oath and this really bugs him. He hopes while fleeing the king that the king doesn’t remind him of the oath for he might just submit. His Bamulas under his rival Basuto come to his rescue showing they have more honor and courage then expected. A good two part story for Conan’s brief stay with the Bamulas.
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Walter Simonson
Kamandi has just been reunited with his mother. Only she was shot by the animal people death worshippers. He soon finds out his mother was not his mother but a robot. This robot transmits that he has found Kamandi and initiated protocols to deliver him. The tower than becomes a rocket and blasts off into orbit. Kamandi joins the death worshippers in fighting the robots. He gets help from the sharks that come wearing jet packs. A dying shark give him his jetpack which helps Kamandi reach the bridge. There he finds that the rocket is taking him to the Tek-Moon an orbiting station. Kamandi disables the cloaking device and the rocket is attacked by the UFO Gorillas. Lead by Silverbeck they board the rocket with Kamandi’s help. He finds out the creature behind his kidnapping is a small malformed guy that is all head. He calls himself the Misfit and needs the genetic material of Kamandi for some nefarious plan. He also tells him he knows where his father is. Kamandi attempts to ram the Tek-Moon but the defenses destroy the rocket. Kamandi and the apes are sucked into space and falling toward Earth.
This writer knows how to tell a story. He has the mother not actually be the mother but a robot. There is plenty of wild action with sharks on jetpacks and gorillas in UFOs. Kamandi finds out his father is still alive and he gives us another cliffhanger of Kamandi falling. Only this one is a spectacular fall. The writer from the last issue gives how he would have continued. He would have had Kamandi save his mother who would than release the toxin and kill thousands of animal people. Now Kamandi has the moral dilemma of saving innocent lives or his mother. An interesting idea although I think I like this current story better. Coming to the final ending next issue.
Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Eoin Marron
So Dale is attacked by spiders but luckily has a large gun that blows them to pieces. So later at night he reflects on his past. He has a talk with his mother about his abusive father. The two bond by making fun of his dad’s gut. He also gets support after revealing he is in love with a man. So after this he tries many different plans to destroy the centipede. None are successful. Another flashback with Dale and his boyfriend having an argument as the centipede destroys the city. His boyfriend chastises him for running away instead of fighting. The centipede in spite of being powerful enough to destroy a planet is incapable of taking out this dipshit survivor. So he starts throwing spiders at Dale. Dale shoots them than decides to eat some of the mushrooms that the centipede leaves around. Dale has a psychedelic experience where he flies around naked and making out with his boyfriend.
God is this series a heaping pile of shit. We get to find out Dale’s father is abusive and unloving. His mother is just so understanding. A good lecture about Dale’s fears of turning into all the toxic masculinity that his father is. He tries all sorts of stupid attempts to kill the centipede. The dumb centipede can’t even kill this loser. Yes this series is pure shit. I have a feeling it’s not going to get any better.
“The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls”
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Steve Ditko
Senator Brickman goes on a rant after seeing Machine Man on the news saving a school bus full of children. He needs to demonize Machine Man to energize his Presidential campaign. His aids suggest that they get the public to think Machine Man will steal their jobs. Brickman loves this and starts to campaign to stop Machine Man from stealing jobs.
The senators two aids than go and visit a brother who is a scientist. This scientist is conducting experiments on a volunteer by taking density from another dimension and transferring it to the test subject. This damages the man’s mind but makes him super strong and invincible. A special microphone can communicate with the guy. They find out that they can control the dense guy and decide to frame Machine Man. They dress him up as Machine Man and rob a bank. Soon the police are after Machine Man. Machine Man comes on the imposter and tries to stop him but the dense man is too powerful. Machine Man decides to surrender and while in jail the imposter strikes again proving Machine Man’s innocence. Machine Man manages to track down the dense man and defeat him by taking the microphone. The scientist is able to cure the dense man and everyone is happy. Only Brickman still goes on about how Machine Man is a threat to people’s jobs.
Man is there a lot going on in this issue. I didn’t even get into the sub plots of a woman stalking Machine Man’s alter ego Aaron Stack at the insurance company. Wow is the science just goofy beyond belief. Drawing density from another dimension and making someone very dense. The over the top Senator Brickman with the huge mouth and his nutty drive for President. I tell you they knew how to shove a ton of story into an issue back than. A real lost art nowadays.
“Children of Rhan”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan
Conan is on his way to a job in Vanaheim after visiting Cimmeria. He decides to take a short cut through the Pictish Wilderness. It proves a bad idea as he is ambushed by Picts. He manages to escape across a foot bridge. The Picts don’t follow him across. On this mysterious butte he is attacked by an unseen person in the bushes. Conan stabs out with his sword and finds he has killed a young woman. Worse is the woman had a 5 year old daughter. Conan takes the young girl with him to find her a home. Yet overnight the girl ages five years to a ten year old. By the next night she is a full grown woman. The girl says Surhon which is a city in Vanaheim so Conan takes her there.
At the city he meets up with a jeweler that is interested in the woman’s necklace. He found a similar one lying around in a field. Conan has the man take him to the field and Conan falls into a cavern. The cavern has an old ship from ancient times when this area was ocean. There is a skeleton with talons and claws. A ship’s log tells the story of Rhan a captain of a pirate ship. His crew mutinied because Rhan had some occult books and marooned him on an island that they buried their treasure. Rhan was later raped by a female creature that lived on the island. When the pirate crew comes back they find Rhan dead and a whole bunch of young girls. The pirates take the girls to be sold as slaves. Overnight they become women and the crew falls in love with them. Only later they turned into hairy monsters with claws and killed the crew. The ship crashed into rocks and sinks.
So now Conan knows the girl is a child of Rhan. That they lived for centuries but age rapidly and turn into monsters when removed from their native land. So Conan takes the girl back to the butte which in ancient times was the island. The Picts ambush them but the girl turns into the monster and kills them. Then chases Conan onto the rope bridge. The surviving Pict manages to cut the bridge and the monster falls to it’s death and Conan manages to survive by grabbing onto the cliff.
“Conan the Barbarian…By Toth
Artist: Alex Toth
A portfolio of seven drawings of Conan by Alex Toth.
“The Devil’s Bait”
Writer and Artist: Gil Kane
Chane of the Golden Hair is riding along when he spots a jeweled sword stuck in the ground. He goes to retrieve it and falls into a concealed pit. Inside the pit is a creature that he fights off. The owner that set this trap comes and takes Chane to his castle. Argon is a hunter that has hunted most of the fierce creatures of the world. He wants to hunt the Hound of Hell. He opens a portal to Hell and it also drags Chane in. Argon sees the hound and chases after it. Only it leads him to the devil himself. Chane is thrown out of Hell as Argon remains trapped.
So Bruce Jones took over the writing chores for this issue. I have some mixed feeling about him but he usually wrote some pretty interesting Conan stories. This one was a very weird but interesting story. It does rely on some very convenient coincidences that seem to force the plot along. Yet with the quality artwork and offbeat story it seemed to work for me.
The Chane backup is also a bit of a weird and offbeat story. It too I still found interesting and think that this character makes a good backup for this series.
“The Men Who Drink Blood!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan
Conan as war chief of the Bamulas leads his tribe to victory over another tribe. Yet there are signs of trouble ahead for Conan. Someone challenges his orders and the witch doctors openly speak against him. Yet for now Conan is content to grieve for Belit while living with the Bamulas. During the night the tribe’s cattle are raided by men with pointy ears and filed teeth. The Bamulas are ready to flee in terror until Conan drives his spear through one and kills it. He proves they are not vampires but just men. From a captive they find the location of these phony vampires and set out to destroy them. They come on a hill honeycombed with caves and surrounded by a wooden palisade. Conan and the Bamulas enter but find that it is a trap. The chief attacks and Conan drives his sword through him. Only it doesn’t kill the chief who is actually a real vampire. The chief knocks out Conan and the other Bamulas surrender in fear.
I really enjoyed this issue. Roy sets it up as a story about vampires. Yet we soon discover they are fake vampires. At the end Conan finds out the leader is a real vampire and are now his prisoner. A brilliant bit of misdirection that surprises you at the end. Roy also sets up the fact that Conan really doesn’t fit in with the Bamulas. This is because his stay will be a short one. We do get an excellent story for the time he is with them.
“Mother, May I?”
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Shane Davis
The robot that took Kamandi brings him to a room and proclaims another ready to be stuffed and mounted. Only the other robot notices that Kamandi is a human and they are not supposed to add him to the Museum of Animal Abominations. They plan to take him to the mysterious Commander. Kamandi decides he doesn’t want to go and grabs an assault rifle off the wall. He shoots his way out and finds that he is on a base in the middle of the Ocean of Giant Waterspouts. He jumps on a jet ski and takes off. He meets up with sharks with arms and guns. They defeat the robots and take Kamandi to an island. They want him to infiltrate the tower on land and kill the Commander. He gets help from other anthropomorphic animal people.
After an ambush Kamandi decides to go it alone. He infiltrates the tower and fights the robots only to be rescued by a beautiful blonde woman. This woman turns out to be Kamandi’s mother. It is a short lived reunion as his mother is killed by others attacking the tower.
After the depressing black and white artwork it is quite refreshing to get an issue with vibrant colors. This was an interesting development in Kamandi finding his mother only to lose her right away. We get some backstory to Kamandi’s past. There was an Android War that his parents went off to fight which caused the Great Disaster. His mother also has plans to destroy all the animal people on the planet which doesn’t sit well with Kamandi. The series seems to be back on track.