THE PEACEMAKER #1

“The Killer on the Reef!”

Writer: Joe Gill

Artist: Pat Boyette

Someone is causing trouble for fishermen in the Pacific. Nets are being destroyed and ships sunk. Christopher Smith is the preeminent peace diplomat for America and is on a trawler to investigate. The trawler is attacked by a frogman who destroys the ships nets and attaches an explosive charge to the hull. Now Smith must change into his other persona of The Peacemaker. He jumps in the water and takes off the explosive to use against the frogman’s sharks. Then he follows him to a nuclear sub and knocks the frogman out. The Peacemaker instead enters the sub and confronts the Commodore. The Commodore is a madman who claims all the waters of the world for himself. The Peacemaker uses his laser in his helmet to set off the nuclear reactor. The sub has to surface and the crew abandon it before it explodes. The Commodore raves that he was going to Antarctica to meet someone who would help him conquer the world.

“The Hidden Power”

Writer: Joe Gill

Artist: Pay Boyette

Christopher Smith is slapped by a diplomat from a small Balkan country. This diplomat threatens America. So Smith investigates as The Peacemaker. He finds some supersonic cargo planes going to Antarctica. Following he finds that this nation has a secret uranium mine and is building powerful nukes. Using his pistol that fires nerve gas(non-lethal) he knocks out the guards and goes into the airshaft. They detect him and use the fans to pull the Peacemaker into the fiery reactor. Only the Peacemaker can uses his jets to go supersonic and punch through the wall. He destroys the place and stops this little country from threatening world peace.

“Ruler of Darkness”

Writer: Joe Gill

Artist: Montes Bache

Leontid Jrozia is a dictator of a small Balkan nation. (One of those again.) He wants to nuke the world and emerge from his bunker to rebuild as he sees fit. Hank Hennessey has been captured by his henchwoman Sonya a beautiful blonde in a tight spandex suit. Sonya kills Hank and takes him to be buried. It is later revealed that she just used a paper wade to knock him out. She joins forces with the Fightin’ 5 and go to stop the mad dictators plan. First they down a MIG with a rocket pistol. Then at the missile base Irv the Nerve manages to cut power wires but is electrocuted. Sonya goes to the hidden self-destruct button and pushes it. This blows up the secret bunker and ends the mad plan to destroy the world.

The Peacemaker is sort of like Batman. A rich guy but a peace diplomat instead of a playboy. A man who loves peace so much he is willing to fight for it. Instead of supervillains he battles Communist dictators from the Balkans. He has all sorts of gadgets like a laser helmet and nerve gas pistols and a fighter jet. The stories are just off the wall nuts. The villains are cardboard cutouts. The science is very questionable and in some instances downright impossible. Yet I love this series. It comes from a very simpler time when comics were just interested in a fun story and not logic.

We also get a backup to the Fightin’ 5. Another Gill creation that has the equally kooky plots and gadgets. Another fun story that continued on after being cancelled in it’s own series. Two great characters making the world save from Communism. Thanks to Modern Comics a company that reprinted old Charlton comics from the sixties I was introduced to this lost gem in my childhood.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #103

“The White Tiger of Vendhya!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artist: Pablo Marcos

Conan is causing grief to the Turanians with his raids on their taxmen. So King Yezdigerd hires a Khitain Jong Tsak. Jong comes up with a plan to ambush Conan by using a crown going to the satrap of Zamboula as bait. Only one of the servant girls is in the employ of Conan and warns him. So when Jong and the crown come he is ready and easily springs an ambush that sees him get away with the crown. Jong is shamed and sentenced to death by Yezdigerd but manages to escape. He vows to hunt down Conan and his compatriots.

After the successful theft Conan and his partners in crime split up the jewels and head their own way. Conan goes to Vendhya. He comes on a tiger trapped in a pit and is attacked by a white tiger with a star on it’s forehead. He manages to escape and falls into a river. A peasant rescues him but later reports him to the Maharajah of Conan surviving with the white tiger. The Maharajah lost his arm to the tiger’s attack and has his men capture Conan. The Maharajah has Conan help him track down the tiger which Conan does. Yet when the tiger bravely faces the Maharajah’s men Conan turns on the Maharajah and saves the tiger before getting knocked out. He wakes to find himself prisoner of Bengala a beautiful blonde woman who is the guardian of the tigers. He agrees to help her free the tigers that the Maharajah has captive and also to be her lover.

So they attack the palace where the Maharajah is about to throw the tigers in a pool of burning oil. Bengala revels herself to be the white tiger. Instead the Maharajah is knocked into the burning pit and the tigers are saved. At the end Conan has to fight Jong who has tracked him to Vendhya after hunting down his companions. Only he is no match for Conan.

“Men of the Shadows Part II”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard.

Artist: Gene Day

The Roman Norseman is saved from the Picts by Bran Mak Morn. This causes the shaman to confront Bran. The shaman wants to return to blood sacrifice and to sacrifice the Norseman. Bran fights with him and it ends with a giant dragon fighting the wolf.

This was an enjoyable issue. Fleisher has this cool story of Conan going to Vendhya and getting involved with a girl who can turn into a tiger. He also adds this subplot like he does sometime with the Khitain who goes after him for revenge. It ends with him somehow tracking him to the wilderness cave of Bengala and confronting Conan. It bit goofy but fun. I love Pablo’s artwork. His women are especially beautiful.

The Howard adaptation is also another treat from Thomas. It is one filled with mysticism and Bran Mak Morn. I loved how it ends with a two page spread of a giant wolf battling a dragon. Interesting to see how this ends.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #138

“Isle of the Dead”

Writer: Bruce Jones

Artist: Val Mayerik

Conan is riding along when he comes on someone being attacked by a giant crab. He saves the person and finds out it is Pelija the woman he saved a few issues back from being killed as a witch. Before Conan can discuss what happened, they are attacked by a giant octopus and find themselves underwater. Conan kills the octopus and finds out they are in a giant glass fish bowl. He smashes the glass and the two are in the presence of the wizard Revelle. Revelle is Pelija’s uncle and also a wizard. He wants Conan to get a pendant from his brother Eshe Lon. Eshe is now a prisoner in another dimension on an island. Conan wants nothing to do with this but Revelle transports him to the island anyway.

Conan and Pelija have to retrieve the pendant to be brought back to their world. So the two go to the temple and Conan defeats some snakemen guards. They fall into a pit filled with vipers but Revelle’s magic protects them. Pelija gets captured by more snakemen and Conan defeats them. They find Eshe and take the pendant from him. Only this turns him into a giant snakeman.

Bruce Jones does a lot of stories heavy on mystical wizards, creatures and surreal worlds. This one is another big concept story. I enjoyed it and like that he brings back characters that I thought were just around for one issue. Conan is in character with is distrust of wizards and magic but plows on bravely to achieve the objective. This was a story that the reader has not idea what will happen or where it leads which are stories I love. Looking forward to see how Conan gets out of this.

VAMPIRELLA RED SONJA #10

“Drakulon.”

Writer: Jordie Bellaire

Artist: Drew Moss

Sonja and Vampirella are fighting each other and Sonja wins. She makes Vampirella admit that Sonja is the bestest evar. After the fun little tussle there is a feast in Sonja’s honor. She is given a gold ring that she puts on her wrist. This transports her back to Earth and she is with her former followers. Then Vampirella comes and the monsters that they fought attack. Sonja reveals herself to be a vampire and this scares her old followers. Sonja gets upset and wishes she never meet Vampirella. They have another fight with lots of talking about their feelings. They turn into bats and chase each other before hugging exhausted.

So any coherency that was established last issue is thrown out the window. What the Hell is going on. This had to be the most dumbest issue I ever read. Not just in this series but comics in general. The level of incompetency is truly a stunning sight to behold. Be warned that I think you will lose brain cells after reading this.

RED SONJA THE PRICE OF BLOOD #2

“The Price of Blood Chapter Two”

Writer: Luke Lieberman

Artist: Walter Giovani

After the assassination of the Inquisitor Sonja has to keep a low profile as the city guard are looking for her. Her employer comes with her next assignment the Chief of the Guard. She takes Sonja to one of the Chief’s lotus dens. There posing as buyers they get to the production room. Once there they kill the drug dealers and torch the place. This brings the Chief himself to investigate. While there he is killed by Sonja.

This was another fun issue. Sonja is a real badass who revels in a fight. She is still young and reckless but clearly having a good time. The villains are appropriately loathsome. I like how the story is told by Sonja narrating how she got into the dungeon. It gives the reader a foreshadowing that not all is going to go well. I also like the subplot with a Mitra priest and young girl. A nice little love story there. Should be interesting to see how this ends next issue.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #36

“A Stretch in Time…”

Writer: Marv Wolfman

Artist: Ernie Chan

The Thing, Skull and his friends now find themselves surrounded by carnivorous Brontosaurus after jumping in the river to escape the T-Rex. Thanks to the Thing and a thrown giant boulder they manage to escape. Later they have to survive a waterfall but make it back to the Thing’s jet with the salvaged parts. They get it going and find the portal to the present. Only the Jaguar priest with his pet pterodactyls follow them through. The Jaguar priest is obsessed with acquiring future tech to rule the past. The group land at Cape Canaveral and the Jaguar Priest grabs Ann. Fortunately Mr. Fantastic is there to help out. Only he has some problems with his stretch abilities but soldiers on. The Jaguar Priest is captured and Skull decides to give himself up to face trial for the death of his brother.

So ends Skull the Slayer. I am glad that Wolfman used this title to give us some closure on the character. He gets Skull and his companions back to the present. We get some fun battles with dinosaurs and a guest appearance with Mr. Fantastic. I also just love the wise cracking of the Thing. That corny stuff just cracks me up. I really do miss the comics of old. Anyway it is unfortunate that Skull lasted for such a little time. I loved this character and the world he inhabited. We never did get any resolution to the plot of Skull’s old army buddy going after him with an army of mercenaries. Nor did we get to explore this rich world of the past inhabited by people from all ages. Sadly this world or character was never revisited. We have to just appreciate the excellent issues that were created.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #102

“The Iron Lions of Kharamun”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is the leader of a Zuagir band that is very successful. So successful that the other bands want to get rid of him. So the chieftain makes a deal with the priestess of the Lion God. Later at night some guys in lion masks abduct Conan and take him to the priestess. She puts a spell on him that makes him a coward and afraid to even touch a sword. This new cowardice gets Conan driven from his band. He later is reduced to being a beggar in the city. A kind woman with a son takes him in. Unfortunately the Lion God guys in masks come to punish her. They kill the woman and her son while leaving Conan a cowering wreck.

Conan takes the remains of the woman and son to her father in the mountains. This guy helps Conan overcome the curse by giving him a bow that is immune to the curse and telling him to retrieve the Crimson Lotus in the mountains. Conan does this and has to battle a giant winged serpent. Conan manages to overcome his fear and kill the creature. Later on his return the lion men come to punish the old man. Conan manages to kill the lion men and the curse is lifted. He goes back to the Zuagirs to get revenge on the man who overthrew him.

“Men of the Shadows”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard

Artist: Gene Day

A Roman legion in Briton is destroyed by the Picts. Five of the legionnaires survive. They attempt to make it back to their base and are picked off one at a time. Finally the only one left is a Norseman and he comes on a horde of them.

This is an issue I remember well from the old days. It was a unique story in that it showed Conan as being a coward which is something I never saw before. It was a real humbling experience for Conan to be a beggar and unable to fight back. The story did a good job of him rediscovering his courage. I loved the ending where he rides back all badass and it’s his rival that shows who the real coward is. Also the first issue that Kwapisz gets a crack at. After Buscema he has to be my favorite Conan artist.

The backup story is another Howard one done by Thomas. That guy was a very prolific writer for it has been years since he left Marvel at this time and they still find stuff from him. A real excellent tale of ancient Briton and Howard’s obsession with Picts. Ends in a cliffhanger that will be told in a future issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #137

“Titan’s Gambit”

Writer: Bruce Jones

Artist: Alfredo Alcala

King Arvenger of Voldhom has this contest where the villages have to submit a champion against his. If they win then they get all his treasury including the golden Monika. If they lose well they forfeit all their gold. Arvenger’s champion is a dim giant named Bolo. Bolo has a simple childlike mind until a dwarf named Twillo plays a tune on his flute. This brings back the memories of Bolo’s parents being killed and he goes berserk. We see this as be defeats a grizzly bear with his bare hands.

Conan is enjoying a drink at an inn when some rowdy brothers disturb him. This results in the brothers getting beat up. A man named Grendl had hired the brothers to be a village’s champion but decides to recruit Conan instead. So Conan wins tournaments and gets the chance to fight Bolo. During the fight Bolo picks up a marble chair and throws it. This breaks open the treasure vault and Bolo sees the golden Monika. Memories flood back and he remembers that Arvenger was the one who killed his parents and took the Monika. The dwarf was the one playing the flute during this time. So he joins with Conan and manages to get his revenge. The king is overthrown and the people get back their gold.

This issue had an amusing story. The reader has a lot of sympathy for the giant Bolo who is clearly being used by the evil king and his dwarf. The story was not one of Conan’s more interesting story or a story that had a lot of action. It also involves a lot of convoluted plot twists to get to the desired ending. Still it kept my interest and sometimes that is enough for a comic book.

VAMPIRELLA RED SONJA #9

“Way Way Back”

Writer: Jordie Bellaire

Artist: Drew Moss

Sonja wakes up on Drakulon and finds that Vampirella is in a coma. Vampirella also has a daughter named Valeria. Sonja also finds out that Drakulon is suffering some kind of disease. Sonja has Valeria take her to the source of this sickness which is in a forest. There they are attacked by some huge creature with multiple blue eyes. Sonja recognizes it as a god of pestilence. They barely escape with their lives. Later back home Vampirella comes out of her coma and reveals that to save Sonja’s live she turned her into a vampire. Sonja is actually happy and uses her newfound vampiric strength to take on the giant god creature.

So now Sonja finds herself on Drakulon and there is this Lovecraftian type god creature that is destroying Drakulon. Vampirella apparently has a daughter who is a bit timid. Sonja is now a vampire and is able to take on this god. Yes there is all sorts of stuff just being thrown into the plot and hoping it will stick. I will say that this issue was a bit more coherent that the last few but that’s not a high bar.

RED SONJA THE PRICE OF BLOOD #1

“The Price of Blood Chapter One”

Writer: Luke Lieberman

Artist: Walter Geovani

Sonja is in a dungeon waiting for the gallows. She gets in a conversation with her fellow prisoner and tells her story of how she got there. After her last adventures a friend recommends a festival in Aquilonia. The Festival of Fire proves to be wild celebration of drinking and dancing. Sonja finds happiness which is short lived. The holy order of Mitra attacks the festival goers as heretics. Sonja is fighting them but is knocked out by a women. Yfat saved Sonja so she could hire her to take out the grand inquisitor and others driving a war of conquest. Sonja accepts and pretends to be a young girl in need of confessing her sins. The Grand Inquisitor takes her to his private chambers and this is the opportunity to kill him. Now Sonja has a 1000 gold price on her head.

It has been a while since I read a good old school Sonja story. One without time travel or aliens or crossovers with other titles. Just a good old story set in the Hyborian age against Hyborian foes. This mini-series continues from Birth of a She-Devil which Lieberman also wrote. A young Sonja who is still inexperienced with the world. This is a pretty solid story with interesting characters and good artwork. Interested to see how Sonja ends up in the dungeon and the true motives of this mysterious Yfat.