“The Ring of Rhax”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Gil Kane and Ernie Chan
Conan has decided to turn to robbery and stops a rich wine merchant on the road. This merchant is unarmed and has to submit. He also offers his jeweled ring which Conan takes. This ring then slips on his finger and he can’t take it off. The merchant laughs for this ring is cursed and can only be removed by someone unwittingly. As the merchant rides off, Conan curses him as a baboon to be struck dead. A bolt of lightning hits and kills him. The merchant is also turned into a baboon. Conan rides on and later in this wasteland wishes for water. It suddenly appears. While drinking he is ambushed by another bandit and hits his head on a rock in the pool. He wakes up with the oasis gone and his ring along with all his stuff taken by the bandit.
Conan goes after him and finds the bandit killed by Picts. The Picts attack and Conan manages to fight them off. Only his hand touches the ring hand of the dead bandit and the ring goes back on his hand. Conan comes on an old gypsy woman who tells him of the ring. A king Jukas had his wizard Rhax conjure a magical ring to give to his young wife. This ring would conjure a demon to slay any lover she took while he was at war. He comes back and finds the ring worked too well. It killed his wife with the lover. The ring then slips on his hand and the next day he is found dead. The wizard Rhax was forced to flee an angry mob and the ring has been passed from hand to hand since.
Conan continues on to find someone dumb enough to take the ring. With no luck he picks up a girl for the night. When he wakes he finds that she took the ring and put it on her finger to look at. So Conan takes the girl and goes back to the gypsy to force her to tell him a way to break the curse. Seems that at a full moon the demon comes to kill the wearer. The gypsy tells that Rhax still lives and where his castle is. Conan takes the girl there and finds the wizard who made a deal for immortality. He can be killed only by his hand. Conan then has to fight the returning demon as the wizard opens a flaming hole in the ground. The girl manages to knock the wizard into the hole. Conan has the ring transferred to the wizard. He falls in and the demon goes after him.
Bruce Jones takes over the writing starting this issue. He is a good writer and I enjoyed this offbeat tale. Conan gets stuck with a magical ring and has all sorts of goofy adventures. Jones like Fleisher takes the reader for a fun ride where you never know how it will end. Also Ernie Chan did the finishes for Gil Kane. The art looks so different and I love it. He really improves on Kane’s style. Kane is someone I have mixed feeling about but combine him with Chan and it looks awesome.