Conan has teamed up with an old thief. This thief betrays him and drugs his wine. When Conan wakes up a young man offers him a job. He also pays off Conan’s bar debt. The man named Aristis is a prince of a small city-state carved into a cliff. He wants Conan to steal a gem. Conan manages to climb into the room where the gem is but the gem is attached to a trap. Lotus powder knocks Conan out. When he wakes he is prisoner to Aristis’s sister. A giant panther comes in and attacks. The panther can talk and claims it is Aristis. They manage to escape with the gem. Conan finds out that everyone in the city is a shapechanger and only the gem can keep them human. Now a city of panthers will be after Conan and Aristis for the gem.
This Conway story is a continuation which has been lacking in this series. What with all the standalone stories. It was an interesting story with a cool city carved into a cliff. Conway uses the Nemedian chronicles to narrate the story very effectively. Sets up an interesting ending which I am sure will have an exciting conclusion next issue.
Red Sonja has come to the tower of Merlyn. She first has to fight some mountain ogres. When she gets to the tower she has to then fight a giant. Fortunately, another giant comes along and the two start fighting each other. They make it to the tower and find it deserted. Everything though was removed which suggests that Merlyn is still alive. Sonja and the cursed chainmail leave to continue their quest. They run into some more mountain ogres that Sonja has to fight.
This issue was mainly to establish the relationship between Sonja and the cursed chainmail. The chainmail is a talkative annoying presence. It goes on and on about how the curse can actually be beneficial. It never warns Sonja about the real dangers ahead. The interactions between Sonja and the cursed chainmail it what really drives this story. The writer also keeps your interest in where the story is going.
Vampirella visits a small village dressed in a red cloak. An old woman tells her the village has been terrorized by a werewolf. She gives Vampirella a basket filled with fruit and wine. She takes it into the woods and sets up a picnic. The werewolf attacks and Vampirella tries to hypnotize it. This fails and she fights it. Finally, she bites the werewolf then tears its head off. She brings the head back to the old woman and leaves on a wagon. The driver will not take her past a point. A point where there is a cottage with an old woman who offers her some milk and cookies.
This is the first of a one-shot series featuring popular female characters in fairy tale stories. Obviously Vampirella gets to be Little Red Riding Hood. She fights a werewolf for an old woman who symbolizes the grandmother. At the end she is confronted by the witch from Hansel and Gretel. A strange story as we never find out why Vampirella is doing this. Even her soliloquies have her questioning why she is here. Still, this was a fun issue and I like the idea behind it. She made a good Red Riding Hood.
Scully and Wynn are headed to a wall of containers. Wynn slides the vehicle to a stop and this causes the containers to collapse. This opens a way for the vehicle to escape through the Panama Canal. They decide to head south and learn from a friendly traveler that an airplane was seen there. At a village of La Nina they find a place where there is no snow. Warm air comes from the ocean and they are growing crops. Unfortunately, they get captured by the villagers. Meanwhile a guy with a flamethrower named Skitters is looking for Scully and Wynn. He torches a group of guys in monkey suits.
This was another fun issue. They arrive at Panama and find this village that seems to have warmth and agriculture. There is also a mysterious guy tracking them. Ends with the two captured and probably going to get killed. An exciting cliffhanger and stuff that makes the reader want more.
Conan has arrived back at the Barachan pirate stronghold of Tortage. There is some surprise that he is still alive and after a bar fight, he gets recruited by Strombanni a pirate captain. Strombanni is looking for the Treasure of Tranicos and has a medallion from the Stygian wizard that Tranicos stole the treasure. He wants to find the other half on the wizard’s island. They set sail and find a merchant to plunder. They take a Zingaran noblewoman for ransom and also get a young woman disguised as a man. The woman is Valeria and is accepted into the crew. A Zingaran pirate captain that is a rival to Strombanni, Black Zarano has followed him. The two agree to find the medallion and share the treasure.
On the island of the wizard, they do find the other half. Only it was trap set by the wizard. A giant hybrid creature part crocodile, part lion and part hippopotamus erupts from the Earth. Conan manages to defeat it by destroying the medallion.
“Bride of the Buccaneer”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: E.R. Cruz
Kull and his friends are playing when they find a Lemurian pirate washed ashore. They take him back where the chief will torture him. Only Sareeta has fallen in love with him and frees him. They are escaping when Kull attacks. Only he is convinced by Sareeta to let them go after she tells of her love and desire to leave Atlantis.
Conan is back in more familiar lands after his adventures in the far east. This is a sort of prequel to the Howard story “The Treasure of Tranacos.” It introduces Conan to the two main pirates of the story This also introduces him for the first time to Valeria. I love seeing Valeria as she was meant to be after the atrocious Max Bemis series. This story does a great job of introducing interesting characters and getting Conan back to being a pirate. Plus it show how knowledgeable that Thomas is about Conan and the world he inhabits.
The back up is back to the Kull ongoing series. Once again, we get to see the origins of a well-established story from the Kull comics. This time the origin of his friend Sareeta and how she hooks up with a Lemurian pirate. Of course, we know this ends in tragedy but an enjoyable look at Kull’s early life. A really enjoyable issue that show how wonderful it was to get Thomas back. It even has the map and Nemedian quotation that the old series had. I admit to missing that.
Conan has been drugged by a woman. The drug causes blindness and now a group of thugs are planning to rob Conan. Conan has to jump in the river and floats to safety. His sight comes back and in the next village he runs into an old comrade. Captain Guraza taught Conan when he was a gladiator. The old man is now retired and the village guard. He takes Conan home and introduces him to his niece. They go sightseeing at an old, abandoned castle that still has a pit filled with crocodiles. The drug still causes blindness to come and go but a potion he bought should cure him. The thugs that robbed him come and Conan makes sure they meet him at the abandoned castle. He uses the dark place to pick them off. Tragically his friend comes to help and in his blindness Conan accidentally kills him.
Another new writer though one that has experience with Conan. Fleisher gives us an interesting tale of Conan and a gang of thugs out to rob him. The blindness is not permanent or continuous. It comes and goes. The story is a bit slow paced with Conan mostly reminiscing with an old comrade. A bit tragic in him accidentally killing his comrade. I also wonder how those crocodiles stay alive it nobody is around to feed them. Anyway an interesting story with some good Alcala artwork.
Red Sonja has entered the kingdom of Logres. It is a cursed and grim place. Only the cursed chainmail she wears keeps her company. The dead spirit of Arthr is a bit annoying. She has to defeat a centaur which she does but the blood of the centaur destroys her sword. She comes on a lake and a sword held by a lake spirit is offered to her. She has to agree to only use the sword against an evil or cursed opponent. They continue on to Merlyn’s tower and are confronted by an armored knight. Sonja chops his head off but he puts it back on and promises they will meet again. This was the Green Knight who is the guardian of the forest. Because he wasn’t evil or cursed now Sonja is doubly cursed with the sword as well as the chainmail.
This story we find out that Longres sounds a lot like Camelot. Complete with all the imagery. We also get introduced to the personality of the chainmail and he is an annoying character. He talks endlessly until Sonja actually needs some advice. I suppose what can you expect from cursed chainmail. Not sure what the sword curse is but sure we will find out. An enjoyable series so far that keeps me interested in Sonja’s progress.
Belit manages to arrange a marriage with Crom. There is mounds and mounds of profanity laced dialogue that makes no sense whatsoever. It ends with a fight and Valeria being the one to kill Crom. Only Crom at the end possesses another body.
The vandalization of these two great characters finally comes to an end. The concept of Belit and Valeria teaming up was brilliant. In the hand of Roy Thomas, Chuck Dixon or Jim Zub this would have been golden. Hell, even any other bad writer would have given us something better. Usually, you can find something redeemable in a bad writer. I find absolutely nothing in Max Bemis. He is just pure shit on a stick. His writing is vile and loathsome and makes me want to puke my guts out. How this guy gets writing jobs is beyond me. He can’t have any fans. The comics industry is really broken.
Scully and Wynn are riding over the frozen Caribbean when their vehicle breaks down. They are forced to continue on foot. Luckily, they find an old aircraft carrier frozen and abandoned. On it are plenty of supplies and a vehicle they can use with plenty of fuel. They are on their way again and soon make it to the Panama Canal. Only there are a bunch of hostiles there and they pursuit the vehicle. They manage to set the vehicle on fire and Scully and Wynn find their way blocked by a wall of shipping containers.
The first of the new series is off to a good start. It introduces us to the two and their pet badger Rah Rah. We get their personalities and relationships established. Wynn is kind of a little sister to Scully. They were looking for Wynn’s parents but apparently decided to abandon that. A brief visit to the aircraft carrier shows us how the world has changed. Ends with the two being attacked and trapped by a hostile group. A fun escapist story as Dixon explains what he intended for this series to be in a brief letter at the end.
Conan and Kuchum are being tortured by the witch queen Nojinjo. Ly-Zya who was rescued by Nojinjo’s father Tawara Sho finds out the origins of Nojinjo. When she was young her father taught her some of his sorcery. Only Nojinjo started to study further and summon dark demons. She eventually managed to unite the country under her rule. Ly-Zya decides to go and rescue Conan and her father herself. She infiltrates the compound and does free them The Yamatai rebels decide to join since they were shamed by her going alone. The battle goes their way until Nojinjo summons the wind demon. The demon turns the tide and they escape into the caves of a mountain. Tawara Sho summons the turtle that lives under Yamatai and they once again attack. Conan and Ly-Zya manage to free the Khitain emperor, but Kuchum dies. A final confrontation between Nojinjo and Tawara Sho ends in both being obliterated.
Later the survivors set up camp. The emperor will take Ly-Zye as his wife. Conan wanders off and is transported to a dream state where he meets Tawara Sho. He transports Conan back home to Port Tortage the stronghold of the Barachan pirates.
“Swordless in Zamboula”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Tony DeZuniga & Dave Simons
Red Sonja, Zula and the freed slave girl Zabibi arrive in Zamboula. Zabibi gets captured by men of Junghir Khan the satrap of the city. She manages to so entice him with her charms that she becomes the mistress Nefartiti. Sonja and Zula are kidnapped by Totrasmek the high priest of Hanuman. He sensed that Zula had the scrolls of Chton. He tries to kill them both but Zula manages to use the scrolls to escape. Sonja and Zula are then invited by Junghir Khan to leave the city and never return on pain of death.
So ends Conan’s adventures with the Khitain pirates. It was a fun story and great way for Thomas to introduce himself back to the title. We get these new exotic locations and equally exotic wizards and monsters. Ends with Conan conveniently being transported back to the west. Now it sets up a more traditional Conan as pirate storyline.
The backup story with Red Sonja and Zula was good. It is a prequel to the great Howard story “Shadows in Zamboulah.” It is littered with Easter eggs from that story. It shows how Nefartiti came to Zamboulah and hooked up with Junghir Khan. An all around enjoyable issue.