CONAN THE BARBARIAN #102

“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.

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