Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Jonathan Lau
So the demon who I can’t remember her name offers to get the amulet of Kulan Gath for Sonja. All she has to do is a small unspecified favor in the future. Sonja agrees and has to reach into hellfire and burn her hand getting it. Sonja also refuses to use Chastity as the sacrifice to bring back Gath. So the two girls go off to a city in search of whatever. Meanwhile Evil Ernie and his talking smiley face find a dead dragon that they resurrect. Another female demon who looks like the one that helped Sonja is fighting warriors in Hyberborea. Lady Hel recruits her to stop Sonja. Then she goes to Khitai and finds Lady Jade now in control. Jade loves this new setup and dreams of conquering the world. Only Hel reveals that if Sonja succeeds then the setup is all over for her. So she agrees to get in on stopping Sonja.
I am not really all that excited about the series. First there are just too many different characters I don’t know about or can keep track of. I don’t even really understand the convoluted plot and what the objective is. So far Sonja hasn’t done much and seems to be going along as confused as I am. I suppose it could get better but I am skeptical. On a plus note I love the cosplay covers of Shannon Kingston. She captures exactly how I would envision Red Sonja to look in real life.
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Maria Laura Sanapo
Betty leaves the library with her find of women who looked like them back in the seventies. After she leaves someone kills Dilton who works at managing the library. Betty comes back with Sonja and discover a hooded man over the body. The man runs out chased by Sonja. Only Sonja unfortunately because of the no weapons policy can’t stop the man. Dilton though is still alive and manages to make it to the hospital.
The next day Sonja takes out her frustration on the tackle dummy. She gets called to the principal’s office because of her carrying a sword and drinking beer. Also she is failing all her classes. Luckily like many high schools the coach intervenes and this is overlooked because winning football is everything. The girls get together later and Sonja teaches Betty and Veronica how to fight. The next day Betty goes down to the hospital to donate blood and Vampirella tags alone hoping to help herself. The police get an anonymous tip of another murder at the hospital. They arrive and find a doctor murdered and Vampirella in the blood bank covered in blood. She is immediately put in jail.
The saga continues. The evil cult is still up to no good. Yet the girls still have to deal with all the bullshit of high school. I still love Sonja. This girl has a beer for breakfast and that is definitely my kind of woman. I sort of appreciate the subtle humor of this title whether intended or not. Still it does tend to drag more into the drama of the Archieverse than the more action verses of Red Sonja and Vampirella. It interests me enough and I enjoy the art. Also I am curious to see where its going.
“Jolted by Jack O’ Lantern!”
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: Steve Ditko
Machine Man goes to Gears Garvin to get his facemask fixed. He also is upset that he went berserk over the damage and wonders if his sanity is in danger. Meanwhile a ruthless mercenary called Jack O’ Lantern is recruiting lowlifes for his gang. Gears manages to fix the mask and MM is able to go back to work at Delmar Insurance. While there he gets his first assignment. The company is selling advanced super-embassies capable of repelling any terrorist attack. MM along with his coworkers will attend a Halloween party to sell to world governments.
While at the party MM sees a known hood taking pictures. He follows the man to his HQ and meeting with Jack O’ Lantern. MM doesn’t want to get in a fight because he is afraid he will lose control again. Only his 850lb body falls through the ceiling. A fight ensues and MM manages to kick some butt but gets his face damaged again by Jack O’ Lantern. So he goes to the embassy party with his machine face as the costume. Meanwhile Jack O’ Lantern and his henchmen easily get into the party. He bought an invitation from a banana republic. His men proceed to take over the super-embassy but MM once again foils his plot. At the end he decides to take a leave of absence from his job.
Well the cover says it all. This is the last issue. It was a fun issue. DeFalco explores a lot of the issues that Kirby originally did. MM is afraid of going nuts like the other models. People are still afraid of him even though he saved their lives. Jack O’ Lantern is a kooky over the top villain that I loved. This was a solid issue that ended the series well. Now I don’t know about some future appearances in other titles but Machine Man did return in his own series as we will see later.
“The Dweller in the Depths”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: John Buscema & Steve Mitchell
Conan stops at the village of Meshken for some drink at the tavern. Only the village is mysteriously deserted. He soon finds himself confronted by the women of the village. They accuse him of being a demon that stole their men. They proceed to start to stone him until a blonde on horseback stops them. Fhala takes Conan home and tells him of the problem and hires him to help her find the reason. So the first stop is the castle of King Vahalken. They find the fabled wealth of the king not up to reality. He tells that some magic has been steadily stealing his gold and jewels from his locked room. When he hears that Fhala is the daughter of Laroughe he goes nuts and tries to have them arrested. Conan has to fight his way out of the castle.
Later they come on a lake with a dirt tower on the island in the center. Soon zombie like men come carrying sacks. Conan attacks one and has to chop it’s head off. The body is revealed to be full of ants that were animating it. They then sneak into the tower and find themselves in an underground cavern system. An ambush by a man with the head of an ant shows what they are up against. They come on the main chamber that has their queen. A woman whose body has grown to huge proportions. She constantly is fed sacks of sugar and pops out eggs. On further exploring the caves they come on a man tied to a stake being force fed. This man is Laroughe the daughter of Fhala.
Conan frees him and finds out the story. The queen is his wife and Fhala’s mother. The mother Meara had dreams of being a leader that conquered the world. When she had a daughter instead of a son she left. Going to King Vahalken she managed to marry him and learn magic from the court wizard. Yet the marriage was loveless and produced no sons. Laroughe when Fhala grew to adulthood went searching for his love. He found her and she was overjoyed to see him. They were caught by the king and tied up on stakes to be eaten by the ants. Only Meara was able to talk to them and the ants that had lost their queen made her the new queen. Laroughe was then used to produce the abominations that were ant-men.
They try to escape and are found out. Conan breaks open the ceiling and floods the caverns. They escape and the tower falls apart revealing that Meara had the gold stolen from the king made into a giant statue of her. Also her first son Thok a giant ant breaks out. Conan fights him and escapes in time before the giant statue falls on Thok.
“A Cimmerian in Hollywood”
An article on the progress of the movie being made. It has biographies of Arnold Schwartzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Gerry Lopez and John Milius. Also has some pictures from the movie.
“Like Father, Like Daughter”
A portfolio from Judith Marcos the daughter of Pablo Marcos.
The Thomas writings were by now used up so back to stories written by others. This Bruce Jones story was a weird one like many of his. Now that is good thing since this story is very unique and interesting. One of giant ants, and ant-men. An interesting twist to make the woman the one who was desperate for sons and world conquest. Not really explained who Meara managed to turn into the ant queen. It was implied that she learned magic so you just have to go with it. This was one that I remember clearly from my youth for being such an offbeat story. If there is one complaint is that Jones has Conan crack too many wiseass jokes. This is not his nature and doesn’t really go with the story.
The movie article is obviously dated now days and is nothing new. I suppose though at the time is was an exciting glimpse at the upcoming movie.
“Demon of the Night!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The Snout in the Dark” by L. Sprague DeCamp & Lin Carter & Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan
Conan confronts Queen Tananda as she is about to whip the slave girl Diana. He instead takes the girl and admonishes Tananda for allowing the cities blacks to enter the inner city. Tananda is adamant that the unwashed masses watch the torturing of Lord Aahmes. So the next day everyone gathers and watches to poor innocent lord be tortured. Conan doesn’t really like such things and gets a sense that Diana may be in danger. He goes back to his place and indeed finds that the case. Lord Tuthmes has sent the Boar demon to dispatch Diana and stay around to finish off Conan. Conan has a fight and manages to seriously wound the creature. It leaves and Conan follows after it. The creature returns to its master the servant of Lord Tuthmes. The crowd sees that he controls the demon that has been terrorizing them and kills the wizard. Than the witch doctor turns the crowd on Lord Tuthmes. He doesn’t stop there but has them turn on all the Stygian nobility. Tananda is killed by her own guards. Conan seeing the situation is completely out of control, rides back and picks up Diana. The two manage to ride out of the city in revolution and continue on north to the Hyborian lands.
The conclusion to the story story adaptation was quite satisfying. Conan is shown to be the man as he fearlessly rescues Diana. Lord Tuthmes is exposed as controlling the beast and gets his just deserts. In fact so does the evil queen. Ends in a big revolution that Conan has to escape. Takes a beautiful blonde to keep him company and continues on to the Hyborian lands. Very soon Conan will leave the jungles of the Black Coast and back to more civilized lands. I am getting tired of the jungle and would like to see him in a different environment.
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Jonathan Lau
Red Sonja is putting to rest the fisherman who was killed by vampires when Chastity jumps past her. She tears apart a vampire that was going to attack her. After a tense standoff, Chastity is surprised that Sonja can speak English and knows of New York. While talking Lady Demon comes around to talk. A brief fight shows that Lady Demon is impervious to their attacks. So she then gives the story of what happened to break time. She was the one that gave the mystic bullet to Catherine Bell who shot it into the amulet in the future. This apparently destroyed time and why Chastity ended up back in the Hyborian Age. The only way to save time is to resurrect Kulan Gath. This gets Sonja mad and she throws a knife into Lady Demon’s eye.
OK so this is basically an exposition issue. A fairly convoluted exposition that involves for some reason that cheating fate by denying Kulan Gath the ability to come back will break time. It doesn’t effect the Hyborian age but apparently there will be no future. I guess so but it is a bit of a stretch. Also I remember this artist and he for some reason draws Sonja with a big hair style which just isn’t her. So we’ll see how the story continues next week.
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Maria Sanapo
Betty, Veronica, Red Sonja and Vampirella are questioned and released by the police after discovering the body of the assistant coach. At Pop’s over dinner they discuss how the police don’t take them seriously and should start their own investigation. So the four question the students and check out the biology lab where two of the victims worked. Nothing comes of it but during lunch another body shows up in the kitchen freezer. A blowhard jock named Jorge. Betty and Veronica have their story rejected by the school paper as being lacking in hard facts. So Betty decides to do some research at the school library. The first old paper she pulls has a picture of the four girls in the ’70s.
Wow, what a coincidence. The first paper she pulls has a picture of them. They also can’t believe the police aren’t taking them seriously or the newspaper editor wants more facts about the occult cult. I am so shocked. I will say I love Sonja having a rare steak for her dinner. That is my kind of girl. Anyway this issue was a bit mediocre. Not much really happens but it did in a very easy way set up some interesting story point for the future.
“Alone Against Alpha Flight!”
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: Steve Ditko
Machine Man has defeated Madame Menace but is unsure it she is still alive. He goes to her old hideout and finds her goons cleaning out the place. He easily kicks their asses but does get his leg damaged by a sonic rifle. Unknown to him Madame Menace has watched by a hidden camera and knows of his vulnerability to sonic weapons. So she sets a trap for him by placing an ad in the Daily Bugle. Meanwhile Senator Brickman’s campaign for the Presidency is falling apart because of his obsession with destroying Machine Man. He decides to frame Machine Man by sending an anonymous message to the Canadian government that MM was responsible for sending the Hulk to Canada. So Department M code named Alpha Flight sends North Star, Aurora and Sasquatch to bring MM back.
MM meanwhile has to deal with his two best friends Gears Garvin and Peter Spaulding always fighting each other. He also has problems at work. Anyway he is off to the obvious trap set by Madame Menace when Sasquatch attacks him. After a fight he manages to evade him and go to the trap. It is sprung and the mercenaries hired are completely inept. So the sonic weapon manages to disable MM. At this time the three members of Alpha Flight come to the rescue. MM manages to destroy the sonic weapon by detaching his head. Only it is damaged and this causes MM to lose it. He beats senseless Sasquatch before coming to his senses. He takes off and Alpha Flight finds out that Senator Brickman was using them. The senator’s plot is exposed and his political career is finished.
I have to say that DeFalco knows how to pack in a story. There is a whole lot of things going on. We get another Marvel crossover in three members of Alpha Flight. They get involved because of Senator Brickman who gets exposed and completely sees his chances for the White House disappear. Then there is Madame Menace who is shaping up to be a regular villain for MM. Ad to this MM going all postal after having his face damaged. This was a really fun issue loaded with many different story points and I loved it.
“Eye of the Sorcerer”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Ernie Chan & Alfredo Alcala
Conan signs on as a guard for a caravan in Shem. He loses out on the captaincy of the caravan to a Kothian named Udelas. Udelas has a chip on his shoulder and is desperate to impress his young teenage son who is accompanying them. A rainstorm forces the caravan to take shelter in a cave. There Udelas and his son are captured by strange bat-men. Conan goes to the rescue and goes through a mysterious portal. He finds himself on an alien world captive of the bat-men. They kidnap people from other worlds as slaves. Conan and Udelas lead a revolt of the slaves and manage to flee back to their world.
The caravan continues and soon has to fight off a giant bear. They reach the mountain palace of the sorcerer Giyune of the Three Eyes. A guy who has a cone shaped head with a third eye in the forehead. A palanquin that they have carried in contains someone. He negotiates for a spell to be undone but the gold and jeweled statues he brings as payment is not enough. He has to give him Valiana the woman who is his servant. Giyune than turns her into a tiger. The voice in the palanquin jumps out revealing himself to be a pig. Giyune turns him back human and Valiana as a tiger kills him. Giyune than turns his attention on Conan and turns him into a lion. The lion fights and kills the tiger. Udelas’s son manages to get a rope around Giyune’s throat and threaten him to turn Conan back. He does but frees himself and freezes Conan and Udelas. He gives the boy the choice of which one should live. Conan tells him to choose his father and Udelas cowardly begs from his live. This amuses Giyune who frees Udelas. Only it was a ploy for Udelas shoots an arrow into his third eye. This breaks the spell and Conan decapitates the evil sorcerer. They flee in time as the mountain disappears. They go their separate ways each with a gold statue.
“A Roma Kukalis Portfolio”
Three full page pictures of Conan by the artist.
“The Lost Race Part II”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Gene Day & Danny Bulandi
Cororuc the Celt is captured by a group of small dwarf people. He is taken to their underground lair and meets their leader an old bearded man. He claims they are Picts. True Picts not the one that have not kept their blood pure as Cororuc is familiar with. He tells their story of how they conquered Britain but in turn were driven underground by invading Celts. Cororuc is to be burned at the stake for crimes his race did to them. Only at the last minute the wolf he rescued comes and is revealed to be the chief Pict in a wolf suit. He tells of how Cororuc saved him and in gratitude he is set free.
This is pretty much the leftover Conan stories that Roy left behind. It was a really interesting one. It starts off as being about this alien world with bat-men. Only it was just one little obstacle on the journey. It ends up instead about a trip to this kooky sorcerer and the whole reveal of the leader of this caravan being a pig is just really unexpected. I love that this story was filled with all sorts of twists and turns you don’t see coming. Makes for a fun read.
The backup story is also another enjoyable one. A Howard story about Celts and Picts which was something he had an obsession about. This was also another one that I didn’t know where it was going so the outcome was a complete surprise. A well done issue and I would miss Roy Thomas writing.
“Chaos in the Land Called Kush!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story “The Snout in the Dark” by L. Sprague DeCamp & Lin Carter
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan
Conan rides on to Meroe the capital of Kush. At Meroe Amboola wakes up in the dungeon. Queen Tananda has arrested him for a plot he was never in. Soon a mysterious mist forms in his cell and forms into a Man-Boar. Later someone comes to Lord Tuthmes and tells of the death of Amboola. Lord Tuthmes is revealed to be the one responsible for that death. He has a foreign wizard that controls the Man-Boar. He was the one who manipulated Amboola’s arrest and death. He is putting the blame of the popular captain’s death on the tyrannical queen so he can eventually overthrow her.
Next morning Queen Tananda goes out hunting and rides through the black part of the city. The local witch doctor stirs up a riot and soon Tananda is dragged off her horse and about to get her brains bashed in. Fortunately for her Conan was around and rides to the rescue. Conan’s reward is to be made captain of the guard at 100 gold pieces a month.
Lord Tuthmes continues his schemes. He has a slave from Nemedia named Diana given to Tananda to spy on her. He uses the threat of the Man-Boar to instill terror in Diana so she will not betray her. When she is presented to Tananda the paranoid queen is immediately suspicious. So she has Diana strung up and is about to whip the information on why she was given to her. Only Conan intervenes to stop her.
Another adaptation of DeCamp and Carter. This was a fascinating story. It has this detailed intrigue involving a scheming lord against a paranoid tyrannical queen. Add to this a country seething with rebellion between the dominant Stygian descended rulers and common blacks. Throw in a Man-Boar creature and a beautiful helpless slave. You have a very enjoyable installment in the saga of Conan.