King Kull leads his Red Slayers to an isolated farmer’s hut. He is searching for an evil cult that has sacrificed five women. The sixth has been impregnated by a demon to give birth to a wizard that will rule the world. Kull finds this cult in a cave under the hut. The woman has just given birth to twins, a daughter and son. This angers the cult for only a son should have been born. Kull can’t save her but gets vengeance. He then has his councilor Tu go to drown the babies in the river. Only Tu can’t and instead gives them to a farmer who recently lost his son.
We then jump to the Hyborian age and and city of Tarsus in the Border Kingdom. The queen Castrica is about to be crowned but upset that Narcia is more loved. Known as the White Queen she helps the people with her white magic. She has a brother named Alexus who is Castrica’s lover. Conan is also there and hired to lead the cities army. One day Alexus finally masters his sorcery and with Castrica flees to a castle in the country.
Narcia has Conan lead the army to this castle. There they fight bat-men which Narcia uses her powers to destroy. The army refuses to go on and Conan and Narcia must enter the castle alone. Conan has to fight Alexus who has turned into a wolf-man. Conan can’t kill him and Alexus wants Narcia to kill him. Because Conan is in danger she does. This is what Alexus wanted for it has made him extremely powerful. Narcia has Conan kill her so she can battle Alexus on his own plane. Conan reluctantly does this and the spirit of Narcia battles her evil brother. Conan decides to gather up the remnants of the mercenary army and loot the city of Tarsus.
Time for another annual, that cool tradition of old where each year a series would publish a double-size issue to commemorate another successful year. This was a really good issue. It starts out with Kull and introduces the origin of the twins. We never get a story of how they ended up ten thousand years in the future but it is obvious that they are the twins. A sad one for Conan and Narcia loved each other yet Conan had to sacrifice her. I do love the ending where Conan does what any mercenary in his position would do. An enjoyable tribute to another successful year.
Bowen Tyler and Lys La Rouge have just thrown the thermos with their message into the ocean. Now they wander Caspak looking for their friends. They run into a pack of hyenas and run into a giant spider. They survive this but are later attacked by the Alus while crossing a river. Lys gets separated from Bowen. She does run into a woman being attacked by the Alus. Lys helps her defeat her attackers and finds out she is a Galu named Co-tan. Co-tan agrees to help Lys track down the Alus that took Bowen. The trail leads through a swamp and the two are confronted by See-ta the cursed riding a brontosaurus.
Another entry in the Land That Time Forgot. This one is the story of how Bowen and Lys met See-ta. It also brings in another Burroughs character in Co-tan from the third book in the series. Like all of Wolfer’s stories this is a tightly written and fast paced adventure. Told with a minimum of dialogue or exposition we get an entertaining story. This fells like a Burroughs story and I am enjoying this origin of a popular character from the comic series.
The big final battle between Jack Burton and Lo Pan. Jack’s luck still holds out and he escapes Lo Pan and grabs the god killing gun. Only the kick hurls him on the back of a toad demon. As the hordes start to overrun Heaven, Esmerelda the pufferfish points out to Wang that she would have to honor any request made by Lo Pan. Lo Pan hears this and requests a mechanism to control all existence. She grants him a throne.
Lo Pan then kills Esmerelda and goes to the throne. Only Jack also gets there and they both are sitting on the throne. Jack takes Lo Pan on a trip down memory lane and shows him their past. Jack shows that even though he screws up he still wins because he has friends. He asks Lo Pan to remember when was the last time he was happy. Lo Pan can’t and comes to the realization his life has been meaningless. So the two become friends and return to the fighting. Lo Pan halts it and apologizes. Thunder is still around and throws the god killing knife which plunges into Jack’s chest. The only way to save Jack is to sit on the throne and have him think of his most happiest moment in life. This will freeze him in the moment. Jack thinks back to the time he left Gracie. Only instead of leaving he comes back and kisses her.
The end of this awesome series was very satisfying. If you know Carpenter his endings usually, if not necessarily unhappy, they are somewhat ambiguous in being a happy ending. He must be getting sentimental in his old age. This was a very happy ending. The happy ending that you were expecting at the end of his movie but didn’t get. I could see this being made into a movie. Kurt Russell and most the cast are still around. This would be a kick ass sequel in a time where we get all this woke bullshit sequels to beloved franchises. If your a fan of the movie are just good writing then I highly recommend this series.
Abel is wandering around the jungle after Rima left him for Rio Lama. He stumbles on the Malagar a hostile headhunter tribe. They take him prisoner and tie him up to a cross. The next day they take him to see if his story of Rima being gone are true. Along the way they are attacked by crocodiles and Abel uses the distraction to escape. He goes back to Nuflo’s hut and finds him and his dogs dead. The giant tree that Rima loved is burned. Abel has a vision that the Malagar caught Rima and chased her to the tree then set it on fire which burns her alive. Abel goes nuts and gets his friendly tribe to go with him to destroy the Malagar. After a battle the Malagar are wiped out but Abel is too depressed over the loss of Rima. After burying Nuflo he finds Rima. She survived the fire and together to two enter the jungle.
Writer & Artist: Unknown
A one page comic of two explorers. The short one tries to reassure the tall explorer that he knows the native. The natives do recognize the short one for they attack.
“The Four Faces of Death!”
Writer: Bob Kanigher
Artist: Alex Nino
The Space Explorers land on a planet and find four statues in their likeness. They are attacked by people that look just like them. Unable to fire on their own likenesses the explorers are soon caught in a steel net. Their captors explain that centuries ago the explorers visited them and were honored with the giant statues. Only a sneak attack on their planet by nuclear weapons from outer space destroyed their planet. The explorers were safe underground and promised to find a safe planet to transport them to.
So after all these centuries the survivors adapted the explorer’s likeness to never forget them. Seeing that they mean to kill them the explorers use their guns to shoot out of the net. Only they also hit the aliens and they turn to skeletons. Seems the radiation made them living skeletons and they shaped their likeness in the explorer’s images. The explorers leave and speculate that some alternate versions of themselves visited the planet.
The conclusion of the origin. Unfortunately this story didn’t really give any answers about Rima’s origin. In fact the main character was hardly in this story. It was the story of Abel and his battle with a local headhunter tribe. A bit disappointing to not get any further answers about Rima and her mother. Still this was a fun and interesting story. Some beautiful artwork and Abel and Rima reunite with the promise of further adventures.
There was a corny one page throwaway filler then the continuation of the Space Explorers. This series just gets weirder and weirder. A planet filled with skeletons that were destroyed in a nuclear war and blame the explorers. Only they must have been some alternate versions that we learn at the end. OK that explains everything. Strange but I have to say it was interesting.
Conan comes to the coastal province of Libnum in Shem. There is a war being fought with King Aragu on one side and the rebel Dachivu the other. Dachivu has formed a cult promising salvation but he secretly ships off his followers to be sold at the slave markets. Both sides want Conan to fight for him and make generous offers. Conan though has heard of the Fountain of Umir which ones a year spews forth liquid gold. So he takes an offer from the king to kill a rebel leader at the monastery but actually uses the excuse to steal the gold. As he rides away he is caught between the final battle between King Aragu and Dachivu. Conan has to fight a powerful nomad who wants to kill him for the challenge. At the end Dachivu is defeated and captured. He begs a departing Conan to save him as the vengeful soldiers torture him to death.
“Pieces of Horror”
Writer: Charles Dixon
Artist: Geof Isherwood
The evil wizard Ohris Dehjhal is executed by the order of King Kull in Valusia. The wizard vows to come back so his body is cut into pieces and sent all over the kingdom under guard. The followers of Dehjhal manage to liberate all the parts and start a ceremony to bring the evil wizard back. Kull and his forces manage to stop this in time. The severed head is put in a box and thrown into the deepest part of the ocean.
This was an interesting story. It had a Yojimbo type vibe to it. Conan as the lone mercenary comes riding in and is courted by both sides. He just plays it cool and doesn’t commit. Both sides are evil and selling their own people into slavery. Conan’s main interest is stealing gold from some temple where once a year they get liquid gold for some reason. A bit weird in the ending has this unknown guy fight Conan. Never really introduced in the story or why it was so important for him to defeat Conan. Still a fun story.
Kull by Dixon and Isherwood seems to be a permanent backup feature to this title and a very welcome one. Dixon is an excellent writer and doesn’t fail to delivery an enjoyable story. Here we get this wizard that can’t be killed. Don’t know why they just didn’t cremate him. A fun and enjoyable story.
Conan is in the trading town of Ramuda in the Border Kingdom. While trying to pick up some harlots a man runs into him. This man named Yadlo tried to cheat Baron Vjervak with phony jewelry. The baron is going to cut him to pieces and starts with the nose. Conan intervenes and beats up the thugs and the baron. Naturally the Baron wants revenge.
So Conan takes Yadlo to the tavern and finds out his story. That the Baron rules this town and extorts the merchants. He also kidnaps the beautiful woman for his depraved pleasure. The Baron is also a novice sorcerer as we see him summon a demon to kill his thugs that failed him. He sends other thugs to bring back Conan. They track him to the tavern and kill Yadlo. Conan gets real angry and kills them then goes off to see the Baron. The whole town hears of this and follows. At the Baron’s castle Conan confronts the demon and kills it quite easily. Then the cowardly Baron flees through the window and has to face the wrath of the townsfolk he has terrorized.
After the kooky floating cities and bird/bat-men this story was more down to Earth. Plotted by Buscema it tells a straight forward story. Conan shows he has a sense of justice in saving Yadlo. Yadlo tried to be his friend and died guarding him. If there is a complaint it is that Conan just had it way too easy. Everyone he fought including a demon got cut up just like that. Still it was an entertaining story with beautiful art and a fitting ending for the loathsome Baron.
Zorro and Fausto manage to defeat the Spanish soldiers they confronted. One surrenders and tells them that the plan was to murder all the crew. This guy then gets plucked by a pterodactyl. So Zorro and Fausto split up with Fausto looking for his sister Marina while Zorro goes to the crashed Sky Cutter. Marina with her new Galu friend Koh-Ra are attacked by some Kro-lu. Luckily a T-Rex chases the Kro-lu away but then starts to chase after Marina and Koh-Ra. Zorro attacks captain Quintada and his remaining soldiers. Zorro manages to defeat them except almost gets killed by Quintada. Fausto who found his sister and Koh-Ra arrive in time to save Zorro. Zorro and the Capronis manage to salvage a workable balloon to get back to the ship. They decide to keep Caprona a mystery to protect it from the outside world.
This was an excellent ending to an excellent series. Zorro saves the Capronis and they manage to escape the land. A fun story with plenty of action that was told in pictures and minimum of dialogue. The sign of a good writer. Wolfer did a great job of integrating Zorro into the world of Caspak. It was believable and stayed true to both worlds. Never was a big Zorro fan but I can see checking out some of the Zorro titles which Wolfer also writer.
Jack is in Heaven and meets Gracie and also finds his truck. The truck is what really gets him excited. So his reunion with Gracie turns a bit awkward when he finds out she is married. To a guy who won the Noble Prize for making a serum that prevents puppies from being sad. Jack also meets some old friends from the movie. They don’t have much time as Lo Pan and his demons are attacking the gates of Heaven. The angels won’t do anything since they are forbidden to interfere in man’s affairs and technically Lo Pan is still a man. Nor will the warriors in Heaven help because they have become complacent over the years.
Jack has his friends gather the old street gang the Chang Sing who fought Lo Pan back on Earth. Jack also makes a deal with the pufferfish Esmerelda. He gives up his soul so he can get weapons for his truck. So he drives out with guns blazing. Yet Lo Pan destroys his truck and is about to kill Jack when his friends come to the rescue. The Chang Sing come through the gates while behind come the Army of the Beast from Earth.
Jack in Heaven. What a cool concept. So this issue we get Gracie back. She is wonderful and not surprising she found someone. There is some sadness that he lost her but Jack manages to fake it. We get other characters from the movie and a big fight. Jack gave up his soul to delay Lo Pan enough for the army to arrive. A really big final for the final next issue. This has been some excellent writing.
Rima has decided to visit the home of her late mother. So she sets out with Nuflo and Abel following along. Nuflo tells the story of how he came to be Rima’s grandfather. Seventeen years ago he was a revolutionary. The rebels had degenerated to looting and pillaging the local villages. One day in the Riolama mountains they came on a beautiful woman. The others chased after her with Nuflo staying in the cave. He later went out and found his compatriots all dead. He also found the woman with her foot caught between some rocks. He rescued her and cared for her. Later she gave birth to a daughter. When the daughter was four her mother passed away. Nuflo took young Rima and eventually found a place in the jungle to settle down. Rima showed an ability to communicate with the animals as her mother did. She also scarred away the natives by being able to pluck their poisoned darts from the air and throw them back. They make it to the Riolama mountains and Rima tells them to stay for she must go to her mother’s village alone.
“The Hot Spot”
Writer: Robert Kanigher
Artist: Alex Nino
On an asteroid some young explorers are taken before the elders for trespassing where their spaceship is located. We find out that the community are refugees from a polluted Earth. When they find out the young are not happy on the asteroid but want to explore they allow this. For each generation has to choose it’s own path. So the Space Explorers get a distress call from a planet. Some green cloud is causing a rise in temperature on the planet’s polar cap and they destroy it. The Arctusians are grateful but the space explorers must leave quickly as the Arctusians cold temperature is deadly to humans.
This issue we get some more reveal of Rima’s origin. How Nuflo found her mother who also happened to have these strange powers over animals. Like the other issues this story answers some questions but raises others. We are promised to meet Rima’s people so this should give us more answers to the mystery of Rima and her powers.
The backup is also an origin of the Space Explorers. We find out they are descended from Earth humans. A very seventies theme of Earth being destroyed by pollution. An uplifting story of them saving some aliens from being destroyed by a green cap. A good backup for this issue.
Conan takes work in an iron mine in Koth. While there some of the guys think it is funny to steal a pendant from the hunchback and blame Conan. Ghamu the hunchback attacks Conan but Conan decides to beat up the pranksters. This gets him fired from the mine so he moves on to the city of Kadath. There he wins some money betting on a pit fight but gets attacked in his inn room by a follower of Manu-Kaleem. Oh and old Ghamu was also fired and decided to follow Conan. Conan decides to leave the inn and comes on a blonde woman being pursued by followers of Manu-Kaleem. He rescues her and finds out she is a dancing girl named Sheetaya. Sheetaya hires Conan to go after Manu-Kaleem for making her lover insane. Conan has to find her lover and subdue him. After a romp in the sack as downpayment they depart with Ghamu in tow for the castle.
Conan gets separated and has to fight an ogre creature with powers of creating hallucinations. Conan overcomes this and snaps the creature’s neck. He comes on the throne room where Manu-Kaleem has Sheetaya captive. Manu-Kaleem is a snake-man and we find out in the conversation that this is all about Sheetaya stealing the Star of Thamazhu. It was her that gave the potion to her lover so she could steal it. Manu-Kaleem promises to torture her with unbearable pleasure. Before he can Ghamu comes to the rescue. He is no match and is killed. Yet Conan manages to drive his sword through Manu-Kaleem’s throat. They retrieve the cure and later at night Conan finds out Sheetaya is a princess and her lover the ruler of the city. She promises to get Conan a job as captain of the guard. Later Conan rides off with the Star of Thamazhu that he found on her bound lover.
“Night of the Monkey!”
Writer: Charles Dixon
Artist: Geof Isherwood
It is the festival of the Monkey God in Valusia. Kull doesn’t care for the celebration and with his guards goes for a stroll. They come on a woman being bled to death by hooded figures. They pursue the figures into the sewers and find that he Monkey Cult is bringing to live the Monkey God. Kull kills the giant monkey and cuts it’s head off. At the celebration at the palace he tosses the severed head for the revelers to see.
This was an enjoyable story. Conan wanders about after taking a job which seems like he really must be down on his luck to resort to manual labor. He comes to a city and rescues a beautiful girl who gets him involved with an evil snake-man wizard. The woman isn’t who she claimed to be which is a very Howard type story. Also very Howard like is Conan really knowing what is going on and managing to come out on top. Poor Ghamu. He was a tragic figure. Started out as comic relief but ended up dying bravely. A figure who you have sympathy for being bullied and wanting to be just like his hero Conan. An enjoyable story with plenty of action and the beautiful art of Marcos. He really knows how to draw beautiful women.
As for the backup story I thought it was great. Dixon knows his stuff and gives us a quick but enjoyable story of Monkey cults and gods. A good solid backup for a solid issue.