“The Blossoms of the Black Lotus”

Writer: Don Kraar

Artist: Ernie Chan

Conan is a pirate with the Crimson Brotherhood and is shipwrecked in Stygia with five of his crew. They are captured by the priest of Set. Conan is forced to help the priesthood in getting rid of two factions that are in control of the Lotus drug trade. Otherwise his men will be fed to a dragon. Conan agrees and starts out by killing one of the leaders to the Shemite faction. He takes the head to Malas who is headquartered in a tower. Conan gets fifty pieces of gold for the head. He promises to get the rest of the gang. Malas has plans to kill Conan after he succeeds and has three men follow.

Naturally Conan kill these three then uses their heads to gain access to the Shemite gang. He comes up with a plan to let them into the tower so they can kill Malas and take over the drug trade. Then Conan goes to the priesthood with the plan so they can kill off whoever survives and take over the drug trade. Conan doesn’t know that the priests have already fed his men to the dragon and that they are serpent-men. They plan to also kill Conan after this.

Conan manages to open the tower door and let in the Shemite gang. The two fight and both leaders get thrown into the pool of sharks. The priesthood comes and reveals themselves as serpent-men. Conan starts a fire with the Black Lotus which is highly flammable. The serpent-men are burned alive and the tower of drugs burns down. Conan manages to swim through shark infested waters to the ship he hired to get him out of Stygia.

“One Against All”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Valdis Semeiks

Kull is on a ship with diplomats and is bored out of his skull. He tells his friend Brule that he would rather be a gladiator then this boredom. He then tells his story of a time during his gladiator days. That he gambled with a governor and beat him. So the governor was determined that Kull die in the arena. All the gladiators were paid to kill Kull. Kull manages to kill all the gladiators and the giant bear that was sent into the arena. As the governor decides to kill Kull with arrows the king intervenes. He was there incognito and recognizes a great fighter. He makes Kull commander of his Black Legion. From there Kull eventually became king. At the end we find out this governor is now a galley slave.

This was an enjoyable issue. We have Conan having to play off three different factions in the Black Lotus drug trade. Everyone in the factions has plans to use Conan then kill him but he skillfully manipulates them all. The various factions are in the loathsome drug trade and devoid of any positive attributes. Indeed all his opponents are give as ugly looks as possible to reinforce there evil. Conan is portrayed as this savage opponent that just plows through everything like a tank. Just as Howard envisioned the character. Definitely an enjoyable story.

The Kull backup was also very exceptional in this issue. Dixon is really getting the hang of the character. We get a very interesting origin of how Kull went from gladiator to commander of the elite Black Legion. Kull is also a very savage opponent that plows his way through his opponents. Ends with a humorous look at what happened to the asshat governor. This was all around a satisfying read.

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