CONAN THE BARBARIAN #161

“House of Skulls!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artist: John Buscema

Conan is in a small Border Kingdom town when he gets attacked by thieves. They get him when he is a bit drunk and it looks like Conan is through. A large man in a hood and cape comes to the rescue. He dispatches four of the thieves and the other two run away. Conan soon finds out that his rescuer is Fafnir. Fafnir was a friend from the Siege of Makkalet back in issue #20. He was thought dead when Yezdigerd had him thrown overboard. Yet he survived and was nursed back by a kind peasant girl. Now he is in the Border Kingdom to visit an old hag. This hag who lives in a House of Skulls can give Fafnir back an arm. He lost his left one at Makkalet.

They find the hut and are attacked by trees that guard it. The old hag stops the tree attack and gives Fafnir a hairy demon arm. It looks horrible but Fafnir is thrilled to have a working arm again. He pays the hag and the two leave. Only the thieves that attacked them are working with the hag. The hag uses her magic to take over Fafnir. Fafnir and Conan come on slavers trying to capture two beautiful women. They stop them but Fafnir loses control and his demon arm kills one. Only it is revealed the man he grasped was about to stab him. Later at night the hag takes control again and Fafnir kills one of the women they rescued. Then he attacks Conan and the hag and two thieves’ transport to the spot. Conan manages to throw a rock that shatters the glass pendant the hag is using. This causes her to disappear in a puff of smoke and Fafnir’s demon arm to also disappear. The two thieves are killed by Conan and the surviving girl.

Fleisher decided to bring back an old character I loved from the Thomas years. Fafnir was a cool character. A giant Vanirman that seemed to have a tragic ending. Yet in the world of comics nobody needs stay dead. His survival was a plausible story. This also gives Conan a companion to have adventures with. This story was an enjoyable one with a possessed demonic arm. A strong idea to give Conan a companion and maybe some more direction in his future stories.

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