There is a battle at sea between two ships. One is the pirate vessel of Takma the Merciless. The other is an Argossean ship lead by the princess Xualza. Conan is on the Argossean ship and him along with the carpenter Oleg are the only survivors after both ships catch fire. On a small boat they find the princess Xualza on a piece of debris and take her to ransom. They later land on an island but find it filled with cannibals. They also find Takma who survived, and he promises to lead them to a treasure. For he found an old boat that him and two others used to steal it. He was washed overboard and never knew what happened to it until now.
They go into a forbidden land the natives avoid because of a swamp creature. In this land they find a native woman tied up and free her. This upsets the natives for they left her out as a sacrifice. The natives take her back but will not let them out of the forbidden land. Along the way Oleg falls into a punji pit. They find treasure and Conan has to battle a huge creature. He kills it and has to kill Takma who tries to kill him. Conan also leaves the princess on a cliff with word he will tell her father where she is after he gets paid a ransom.
Writer: Charles Dixon
Artist: Fraja Bator
Kull is leading his army back and comes to a bridge. An old man demands payment which Kull ignores. So, the old man blows a horn, and a blind dragon comes out of the river. Brule goes back and runs the old guy through with two spears. Then takes the body and throws it down the dragon’s throat. Kind of like a giant fishing lure that gets caught in its throat. It leaves and they continue on.
This was a fun issue. Conan has this adventure on an island with cannibals which is always fun. There were some improbable elements like how did Oleg have this small boat hidden away. Or the convenience of finding a boat that was carrying treasure the pirate captain stole years ago. Yet the story was fast paced and interesting enough you don’t notice stuff like this. Andy sure does draw like his father and that is a good thing. Yakata and Kubert make a great team.
The Kull back up was fun. A cool way of getting back at the old guy and saving their lives at the same time. Always count on Dixon to come up with a cool story.
Conan is at a fire at night. He has searched all over for his friend Fafnir who fell off a mountain and can’t find any trace of him. His thoughts are interrupted by horsemen chasing a woman with wings. Conan recognizes her as Alhambra from past adventures. The men use bolos to bring her down. Conan attempts to stop them, but a bolo trips up his horse and lets them get away with Alhambra. Conan goes after them and the trail leads to a village. A side show is going on that has all sorts of freaks. Alhambra is one of the attractions. The villagers throw rotten fruit at the freaks. Conan tries to rescue Alhambra and has to fight a pair of siamese giants. A torch is tipped over which starts a fire. The proprietor of the freakshow gets all the freaks out and takes off. Conan eventually works his way out of the burning tent and goes after them.
On the trail he is attacked by the winged batmen from the rival city that Alhambra is from. We find out that Alhambra was pledged to marriage to the rival city to cement the new peace. Alhambra wanted nothing to do with the ugly king. They try to capture Conan but fail. Conan finds the freakshow and rescues Alhambra but more of the batmen come. A fight ensues with Conan and Alhambra defeating the batmen. At the end Alhambra leaves, much to Conan’s dismay, to be with the beast man from the show.
This was basically a beauty and the beast story. The beautiful Alhambra falling in love with the hairy but sensitive beast man. A nice callback to bring back Alhambra. I liked that character and am sorry that she won’t stick around. Also, it looks like Fafnir is gone for a while. I think it was time for Conan to be on his own for a while. I am sure Fafnir will return.
Buck Rogers has been captured by Black Barney and smuggled off Mars. On Barney’s ship Rogers challenges him and shoots him in the head with his .45. It doesn’t kill Barney because of his suit but the rules of the Rogue’s Guild make Rogers the captain. Buck takes the ship to Earth and finds out that it is a bombed-out mess. Back in the RAM wars of 2110-2222 the RAM corporation of Mars provoked wars between the nations of Earth. Then when it was destroyed, moved in and gutted the planet for resources.
Buck takes a shuttle and lands at his old base of Iron Mountain. It is here he meets up with Wilma Deering and NEO rebels. They have to fight off RAM terrines and we find out Killer Kane is a traitor to Earth. Luckily Black Barney comes in at the end to save the day.
“Craters of Tharsis”
By Mike Pondsmith & Paul A. Lidberg
Artwork by Philippe Grabowski
A board game for two players. Simulates a NEO attack on a RAM base on the Martian Tharsian Plateau to steal a squadron of Krait stealth fighters. Has game pieces and board that you cut out of the comic.
“His Search for the Meaning of Life and Happiness Chapter Two”
Writer: Buzz Dixon
Artists: Kevin Altieri and Tom Mandrake
Black Barney has gone to Luna to find a Barney named Yorder. At a bar after a fight, he finds someone that leads him to Yorder’s place. At this place is a recorded message that explains what is happening. The Wydlin Corporation in revenge for a hostile takeover created genetically enhanced cyborgs to cause trouble for RAM. Only after twenty years the Barneys were designed to have every cell turn cancerous. There is a cure, but the arrival of RAM agents interrupts the message.
This issue had a lot of important stuff happening. Buck finally gets back to Earth and finds it a mess. We find out how Earth came under the control of RAM. Nice touch having Buck look at a statue erected in his honor. He hooks up with the good guys and manages to get control of Black Barney’s ship.
Also continues the story of Black Barney. We find out his origin and an interesting backup this makes. Plus an interesting board game. Sounds fun but once again have no interest in cutting up my book. A funny little message from TSR at the end brags their comics are meant to be cut up and returned to compost.
Turok and his two friends Marak and Nettle are riding an underground train to Ak-Tha. They arrive and Turok infiltrates the city. He manages to plow his way into the palace after killing numerous guards. Meanwhile his friends left behind find out that the resistance planted nuclear bombs on the train that are about to go off. They talk about it and not much else. Turok gets to the throne room, and we find out he can’t remember his name or his daughter’s. He gets run through the back by Vex’s bodyguard. Turok then remembers that his daughter didn’t survive the trip to the lost land. He has this vision of his daughter and dies. The nuclear bomb goes off and destroys the city.
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Johnny Desjardins
1984 San Fransisco and Magnus, Samson, Turok and Dr. Spektor are there fighting these giant eye creatures. They talk a bunch and meet up with Solaris.
What a disappointment. This was a very dumb series with an incredibly dumb ending. While dumb my real problem is that it never felt like a Turok story. They race swapped a Native American for a black guy which is a very strange race swap. The Lost Valley reminded me more of Newark then the Lost Valley. The evil dinosaurs were a very heavy-handed attempt to portray Nazis. I heard that Chuck Wendig was not a good writer and I find out those accusations have merit.
Also they threw in a Sovereign story with the original characters and a big cliff-hanger. Yawn! Have absolutely no interest and apparently no one else did either. They pretty much abandoned this woke version universe. Thankfully Dynamite would go back to Turok’s roots with their next series.
Restin Dane and his suit Slough are going to another reality. This one is 1845 Texas where a mysterious alien fell from the sky. The locals are under its control and led by a creepy preacher. This is part of the Chaos being and it has established itself. Meanwhile a former bounty hunter named Caleb Storm works a ranch with his wife and son. Four riders come and turn out to be men that Caleb killed. They have been brought back and seek vengeance. They kill his son with bullets that have an alien organism inside it.
Dane comes on this scene and starts to shoot the zombies. One zombie manages to pierce his armor with a chaos blade. Dane kills the zombies but is in danger of dying himself. At the temple that was built for Chaos he has his preacher servant send four of his minions to finish off Dane.
This was an enjoyable first issue in the new Rook series. We find out that this is the classic Warren character but his old time machine opened up tears in the fabric of space and let in Chaos. Now he has to hunt down the fragments of Chaos that is entering the various realities. The story starts in the old west which was a favorite of the classic character. Introduces interesting supporting characters and villains. The series is off to a good start.
Conan has hired on to the Aquilonians to scout for them along the Pictish Wilderness. He leads a small raiding party that has success in ambushing the Picts. Only they are discovered, and Conan and two surviving comrades are captured. They are taken to the Pict village where the shaman has plans to use them. He is going to call the ancient god N’Garthl and offer them as sacrifices. N’Garthl comes but Conan manages to break his bonds and free his companions. They run away with N’Garthl hot on their trail. The chase soon has his two companions killed with Conan deciding to go back and get revenge by killing the shaman. He captures the shaman and ties him to a post. When N’Garthl comes Conan gives him a choice. Either try and take him and of course Conan will make it difficult. Or he can take the shaman all nice and easy for his needed third sacrifice. The shaman starts ordering N’Garthl around which seems to make up his mind in favor of Conan.
Writer: Charles Dixon
Artists: Val Semeiks and Fraja Bator
It is night in the City of Wonders. Three groups of assassins are infiltrating the palace. They represent three different cults that Kull killed their leaders. These three groups meet up and end up killing each other. The surviving cultist enters Kull’s bedchamber but slips on a woman’s slipper and breaks his neck.
I love the adventures of Conan among the Picts. They seem to be my favorite. This was the setting for the first Conan stories I ever read. I think that the Dixon/Kwapisz/Chan team is the best since the old Thomas/Buscema/Chan team. The story was excellent with some really beautiful artwork. This was a time where Savage Sword was really getting back to its excellent days.
Dixon also with the Semeiks/Bator art had an enjoyable Kull backup feature going. This series was really getting back to its glory days.
Conan and Fafnir are in a Nemedian city and gambling on a game. It involves a rat choosing a hole on a round table. Conan exposes this when he reveals that the man has pork rind concealed in his ring. A brief fight and Conan gets his bet back. This draws the attention of a beautiful woman who offers to hire the two. At her place they find out she wants the yoke of an egg from a creature that only lays an egg every millennium.
The first thing they have to do is get the powder from the yellow lotus. This is grown by Shemite drug dealers. Fafnir volunteers to take out the guard but screws up. A big fight ensues with Conan turning the tide by freeing the slaves. They go back to the city and the woman and Conan go into her palace to celebrate. Conan has to take care of the gambler he exposed and his hired thugs. After this Conan finds out the real secret. The woman has lived for thousands of years and must bath in the yoke of the egg to remain immortal.
The next day they are off to the creature’s nest. They find the nest and this flying bat-creature attacks. Fafnir goes for the yellow lotus but finds out the woman he spent the night with stole it. So, he tries to get the creature’s attention to draw it away from Conan. He succeeds and gets knocked into the egg. Then the creature knocks him over the cliff. The woman breaks her neck but is still alive. She needs the yoke and jumps off the cliff after Fafnir who has it all over him. Conan kills the creature and goes down to find his friend and the woman.
This was a fun issue. It went all over the place with plenty of exciting action. An interesting idea to have this woman be immortal because of an egg. Fafnir has a real chip on his shoulder after Conan saved him from the giant last issue. He insists on doing everything and screws up. Now he has bathed in the yoke, and I assume is now immortal for a thousand years. A good continuing storyline which this title was about due for.
Wilma Deering manages to get Buck Rogers to her ship as the forces of RAM and Black Barney fight it out. She goes to an asteroid base called Star Haven. When she arrives, Black Barney is waiting for her and takes the unconscious body of Buck. He goes to the Pleasure Planetoid run by Ardala. He makes a deal to share the reward from RAM for Buck. Ardala then takes Buck to Mars. He finds himself the prisoner of the leader of RAM Sigmund Holzenhein.dos who is a computerized personality.
Buck is given a device to teach him about the current century is now in. It forms a computerized version of his old scientist colleague back in the twentieth century, Doctor Huer. Buck decides to escape and uses a bed sheet to glide down to the ground. Only Black Barney is waiting for him and knocks him unconscious.
“Battle for the Sprawls”
By Mike Pondsmith & Paul Lidberg
Artist: Albert Deschesne
A board game for two with one side the NEO and the other RAM. Takes place in the underground sprawl of Chicagorg on Earth. NEO must escape and RAM has to destroy them.
“His Search for the Meaning of Life and Happiness Chapter One”
Writer: Buzz Dixon
Artists: Kevin Altieri and Rick Magyar
On the Martian moon Phobos is the ultra-secure RAM prison. Black Barney and his pirate crew attack to break out the prisoners. They succeed and Barney finds a beautiful girl he decides to have join his crew. A small one-man fighter arrives, and a man jumps out to warn Barney that he will suffer the same fate. This man dissolves and claims he is also a Barney.
The second issue was a fun read. We get introduced to the major characters in one form or another. Buck Rogers decides he doesn’t care for RAM and takes off. Includes a board game with pieces to cut out and you can convert the inside cover to the board. Wouldn’t want to cut up the comic but this game does sound fun.
There is also a backup story featuring the pirate Black Barney. An exciting prison break that shows how volatile Barney is. Ends with this mysterious guy coming to warn Barney. An all-around fun issue.
Chicago one year ago and we find out how Turok and his daughter came to the Lost Valley. They were in their Chicago apartment when a storm came and sucked them up. Now in the present Turok and his companions are prisoners of the Cult of Evernight. They soon find out that the rebels to the Varanid empire have joined forces with this cult. Their leader gets Turok and friends some food and tells them about the city of Ak-Tha. We then switch to the emperor Vex who is a real fop. He has to be constantly told how brilliant he is. He is going to Ak-Tha to drink the blood and eat the human children. This is supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Turok is offered help in getting to Ak-Tha in exchange for killing the emperor. He agrees and is shown a rocket train that the rebels have captured.
“Doctor Spektor Part 10”
Writer: Aubrey Sitterson
Artist: Dylan Burnett
Spektor is on a date with his girlfriend. The guy is just begging her to not break up with him. Naturally she does and his demon companion encourages Spektor to raise some Hell.
We finally get an idea how Turok and his daughter wound up in the Lost Valley. Not really a very inventive plot. In fact, the whole plot just slowly meanders along. Lots of convenient stuff happens to help out Turok. I guess something will happen next issue. I mean it is the last one so something should happen.
As for the Spektor story. God what a pathetic character. You just want to slap the guy around for being such a pathetic character. How could anyone feel that this is something people want to read.
Artists: Version I Caesar Version II John Stinsman & Joe Weems Version III Kirk Van Wormer & Joe Weems
It is September in Boston and the Rook, with his suit Slough are looking for a skull in the sewers. When they find it, they are attacked by a rat-man and other armed humans. They are agents of the Danse Macabre and also after the skull. In the conversation we find out that Rook and the Danse Macabre are enemies with the Rook once working for them. They tried to kill him, and this is how he bonded with the Chaos skin Slough. Rook’s suit destroys the men, and he uses a time jump to beat the rat-man to the skull. Gets in an argument with Slough as one of the men thought dead is still alive and creeping up on the Rook. Never fear for the Rook also has a crow with metal claws that helps him out. Ends with Rook telling the rat-man if he survives to tell the Danse Macabre that he’s coming for them.
“The Evolution of the Rook”
Writer: Tom Sniegoski
Artists: Karl Altstaetter, John Stinsman, John Estes.
A collection of illustrations on how the creative team came up with the new Rook’s look. Also has some cover art from Chains of Chaos.
This introduction issue gives us the same story three different times. Only each is done by a different art team. Was used to determine who the art team would be. The winners are the third of Van Wormer and Weems. Personally, I would have chosen the Stinsman/Weems team but all three were good. A good story that gives us some idea of the Rook and the enemy he fights. Looking forward to seeing this reimaged version of my favorite seventies’ comic time traveler.