“Baron Rat and the Haunted House on Rottenwood Avenue”
Writer: Troy Vevasis
Artist: Aleksandar Jovic
Baron Rat is home and bored, so he decides to visit Mr. Crypt at his job at the library. Only he gets lost in the fog and ends up on Rottenwood Avenue. The only thing there is a creepy haunted house. He checks out the place despite the warning sign and runs into a ghost. He runs away but hears the ghost crying. He goes back and she is a friendly ghost. She is also lonely and wants the place cleaned up, so it doesn’t look so creepy. Baron Rat gets started and fixed up the place. He finds a picture and the ghost says it was her husband and son. The son’s face is damaged, but the description sounds like Mr. Crypt. He runs out and finds Mr. Crypt coming home and brings him to the house. He gets reunited with his mother.
This issue of Baron Rat was a lovable story as all the stories usually are. Baron this time finds Mr. Crypt’s mother which is a really heartwarming story. Now we don’t know how Mr. Crypt looks when he was alive or his name. Seems stuff like that is forgotten when you come back as a ghost or living skeleton. Go figure. A simple story but enjoyable and hints at a father that dies out of town and a future family reunion.
Barbarella is reliving her past adventures. She figures out she is in some type of virtual reality program. So, to get out she pulls her pistol and shoots herself. She then finds herself in an amusement park named Barbarellaland. Robots of her past opponents try to kill her. She manages to defeat them and finds out she is on an old spaceship. Kettlesmith the robot from her first adventure has kidnapped her. He wants revenge and has parked the ship next to a black hole. He will kill Barbarella just as the ship enters and stretch out her agony for an eternity. Only Barbarella manages to contact Vix on her ship and beam out in time.
The final issue in this first series was actually pretty good. I loved the mystery behind her predicament. We get to revisit all her past adventures. Even the art was good for Fornes manages to improve on the art. A nice way to end the series.
My basic take on this series as a whole is kind of eeehh. It had some good moments and some real bad. Mostly thought it was really bland and mediocre. I didn’t care for Yarar’s art. He just really draws women ugly which is something I don’t care for. I love the character and look forward to how the second series was handled.
Jordy now operates the new Tiger-X the rebels have managed to capture. Just in time to fight off a column of Soviet tri-tanks that are approaching the rebel base. Jordy attacks and takes out some tanks but is forced to retreat. The Soviets are short on fuel and break off. All but one tank that wants all the glory disobeys orders. It is determined to take out the American robot. This renegade tank is instead taken out by the rebels. Jordy finds a young boy from the resistance and takes him into the suit. This bratty boy manages to disable Tiger-X just as the Soviets are approaching.
This series picks up with a new writer. It picks up just where the last series left off. Jordy now has the Tiger-X working but is still trying to figure out everything about the robot. A humorous bit is having Jordy wonder how you take a leak in this robot. He hears running water in the background on a radio call and this gets him squirming. Also, the Soviets are now starting to run out of fuel and spare parts as an American offensive is launched from the east. This also is against the brother/sister feud going on between the commander and Tanya. A good start to the continuing series.
Conan is with Red Sonja and Valeria in Nordheim. They are making their way south to more civilized lands when they link up with a tribe of Nain. The Nain give them food and escort them to a trading post. They also have a fertility statue made of solid gold. Valeria during the night manages to recruit a barge to steal it and take it south. Conan and Red Sonja go after her. Valeria manages to reach the next town and recruits the Iron Damsels who happen to be there. When they hear Conan is coming, they decide to get payback for some past transgressions.
The groups meet at the abandoned barge but have to join forces. A Vanir chieftain has come to steal the gold statue. A big fight ensues with the Vanir defeated and the statue going over a waterfall. Conan leaves and manages to recover the statue for himself.
“What Dwells Below”
Writer: Eric Fein
Artist: Ernie Chan
Conan is in a Khitain border village and gets in a fight with the local braggard. He wounds the guy, and this is a problem for the leader. The guy was supposed to rescue his daughter being held captive. For a sack of gold Conan agrees to take his place. Conan goes to the castle and attacks the evil Sarris. He has to also rescue the captive from a pit with a creature. Conan does this and gets his sack of gold.
This issue had the return of the Dixon/Kwapisz team. I feel they are the best since Thomas/Buscema from old. It also brings back the Iron Damsels. This all-female mercenary group. Plus, it threw in both Red Sonja and Valeria. So, you get a whole bunch of popular beautiful women in one story. It picks up from the last adventure of Conan with Sonja and Valeria. A fun story of greed and betrayal over a gold statue. Add in some beautiful artwork and you get a real gem.
The backup story was also an amusing Conan adventure. He has to fight an evil warlord and some nasty creature in a pit. This Fein fellow is new to me but show great promise in his writing. Add to it the beautiful art of Chan and you get another enjoyable story.
Writers: James Owsley, Val Semeiks and Adam Blaustein
Artists: Val Semeiks and Geof Isherwood
Kobe contemplates his time with Conan. He also starts to show a romantic interest in Anneka. A feeling that is returned after she sees Sevante kiss an unconscious Conan. The next morning, Conan and Kobe are tied together and told they have been poisoned. The antidote is in the ruins of the throne room of El Shah Maddoc. They go and have to fight the scavengers that inhabit the city. They find the Khitains that were sent were ambushed and killed by these scavengers. Kobe seems to succumb to the poison and Conan finds the antidote. Later Conan comes back and finds that Heku faked his death. He wanted to test Kobe. Now with his magic he disappears and so does his horde. Conan, Kobe who is still alive, Anneka and Sevante are left with the combined armies of the west coming.
This was a very weird trilogy. Its mystical Japanese symbolism was interesting but felt very out of place in a Conan story. The romance between Anneka and Kobe was also just developed out of left field. I think the writers wanted to get Anneka out of the picture and this was good way. So, Kobe is still alive although never explained. Heku is still alive and conveniently disappears his horde of improbably warriors. The good thing is that this marks the end of Conan’s time with an entourage and mucking around this part of Koth. Going forward he will return to a wandering loner with adventures in various locations. Something that should have happened after the 200th issue.
Asmodeus the first lord of Hell has returned with his followers that died in the airplane. Hell Sonja has to fight him and wins. Asmodeus has some unexpected allies. The Sonjas that died in the airplane were killed by him, so he has control of their souls. The Sonjas especially Red aggressively attack. Only it is no match for the power that Hell Sonja controls. She easily dispatches Asmodeus and that breaks the spell he had on the Sonjas. As a reward she releases the Sonjas to be reborn into a new life. There are still plenty more Sonjas she can use in the multiverse.
The final issue is a bit of a letdown. It was very anticlimactic. Asmodeus was just easily dispatched by a giant mouth in the floor. You think you could write something with some more tension and danger. An opponent with power that is difficult to defeat. Well anyway the ending was nice. All the Sonjas get to relive their lives over. Red Sonja is reunited with Warrick, and they will be reborn to live many more lives. I hope the upcoming Hell Sonja Red Sonja series gives us some worthy threat. I do love Hell Sonja as a character. She has great potential and the whole various Sonjas also.
Jury and Vix are about to be spaced. Luckily, they manage to escape and take over the Earthship. Barbarella finds the oracle and it turns out to be an old human woman living in a spaceship. She was an astro-surveyor that discovered the neutronium in the sun. She also told the Rua that their mining would be detrimental to the Esseverine. Naturally the Rua sabotaged her ship so it would crash into the sun. She managed to survive and kind of became an oracle to the childlike Esseverine. While not much help she does give Barbarella the idea that she needs to stop the Rua. The Earth commander had built a weapon into her suit. Barbarella manages to detonate it and it freezes the Rua. The Esseverine are saved and Jury saves Barbarella from the sun.
Well, this storyline wasn’t that bad. I do have a bit of a problem with her just walking around the sun. I mean she doesn’t have any eye protection. How does this suit protect her? It was also a bit too easy to defeat the Rua. Still, it had a happy ending, and it was a coherent story. Even Yarar’s art wasn’t too bad in this issue.
The rebels come back to camp and find out that a traitor has told the Soviets their location. They have to quickly get out. Unfortunately, two Vostok battlesuits come on their base. Luckily Jordy managed to find a manual and figure out the Tiger-X suit. He engages and destroys both the Soviet suits. Meanwhile at Soviet HQ the infighting between the various commanders continues. At the end a massive offensive is launched from the east by the Americans. The rebels regroup and mourn their losses. Also, Jordy and Marlene have a moment together.
The final issue in this first series ends on a somewhat positive note. There is tragedy as Marlene’s father gets squashed fighting the battlesuits. The rebels though manage to survive and have the powerful Tiger-X suit. The Soviets continue to have their petty internal power struggles. A big offensive is started. All point to the war finally going the Americans way.
On the Nemedian frontier a legion commander is taken prisoner by a raiding party of Hyberboreans. This commander is the son of an influential general. The Nemedians don’t want to start a diplomatic incident over this and decide to recruit some mercenaries. For a helmet full of silver, they need six men. Conan is the first to volunteer. They cross the border and get in a fight with a band of hillmen. One is captured and leads them to where the captive is. A tower that goes to the clouds. The captive is to be sacrificed to the god Bardisattva. Conan and the mercenaries assault the tower and rescue the captive. Only they have tortured him, and he is now dedicated to being sacrificed. The god comes to take his sacrifice and the captive manages to escape and surrenders to the god. Conan and the survivors decide to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
Writer: Sue Flaxman
Artists: Gavin Curtis and Keith Williams
In a small desert town, Red Sonja is hired by a woman to rescue her sister. Her sister was married against her will and now is forced to be chained. Sonja agrees and with the woman break into the compound. They find the sister in chains, but she refuses to leave. A fight with the guards kills the sister that came to rescue her. The captive sister later reveals that she now has children and can’t leave them. Sonja leaves her but does get the reward money.
This was an enjoyable issue. I loved the art and concept for the main story. This tall stone tower with an endless flight of stairs was very visually striking. The cult was a creepy bunch with their sewed mouths and tattooing. The Sonja backup was also very satisfying. A fascinating twist ending that shows some chains aren’t physical.
Emperor Strabonius has gathered the leaders of the western kingdoms to join forces and destroy the Yagyu clan now that Heku is dead. Conan visits an arms merchant to find out why the Yagyu clan was trying to stop him. He finds out that Kobe is now the leader and goes to him. A harem girl becomes infatuated with Conan and tags along. Eventually Conan arrives at the encampment and confronts Kobe. Kobe is still a slave to Conan and can’t assume leadership of his clan until this is changed. The clan attacks Conan and knocks him out. Kobe orders them to kill Conan.
The second entry in the Heku saga is a weird one. I don’t really understand why Conan visits the arms merchant to find out something that seems really obvious. The harem girl is a pointless addition to the story. Conan meanders around and takes the high executioner prisoner to lead him to Kobe. Kobe apparently is still considered a slave and I guess has to kill Conan. The story is really jumbled up. I guess this is what you get when you let an artist plot out a story.