“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.

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