CONAN THE BARBARIAN #50

“The Dweller in the Pool!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema & Dick Giordano

Conan is confronted by Pthassiass a giant creature that lived under the pool in the garden of Torkah Moh. Pthassiass knocks Conan into the carnivorous plants. While chopping them as they try to eat him, Conan notices that Pthassiass is scared of the plants. After the creature eats the serving wench that guided Conan, he manages to stab it in the neck and it collapses in the plants which make short work of the creature.

So Conan rescues Stefanya and takes her to Lupalina the wolf-woman. Lupalina recognizes Stefanya as the daughter of Chrysala the wife of the regent of Phalkor. So she tells the story of how in her youth she helped the wizards kill Stefanya’s parents so that general Themas Herklar could assume power. Lupalina took the baby Stefanya and gave the wizard Zoqqanor to raise. She then uses magic to see what is happening in Phalkor. The wizards have overthrown Themas and placed Unos on the throne. Unos can shoot lasers from his eyes.

Lupalina uses her magic to transport Conan to the dungeon to rescue Themas but is too late for he dies. Then Conan has to fight the demons that guard the dungeon. He is transported back to Lupalina’s hut. There the three decide to overthrow Unos and the two wizards.

The big 50 issue. A milestone for a series to reach that number. They didn’t have any special issue but continued with the story. And what a story. As you can read there was a lot going on. From lake monsters, carnivorous plants, to a guy that shoots lasers from his eyes. Seems a bit over the top but it flows smoothly. So we get some background for both Lupalina and Stefanya. Roy really does a good job of adapting this book into a Conan story. It feels like something that Howard would have written and is filled with many exciting twists and turns. Looking forward to the next fifty which gets even better.

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DEJAH THORIS #6

“Untitled”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Pasquale Qualano

In the city of Hastor the Xataxian the largest ship ever build is being launched. It is going on a scientific expedition to chart the atmosphere. We are introduced to the captain Keel Kors, prince of Hastor. The ceremony is interrupted by a Zodangan assassin that throws a bomb. He is then killed by Dekana the administrator of the Royal Academy.

Later Dejah is given a tour of the ship on its maiden voyage. She finds it loaded with weapons as Keel explains there are many dangers they may encounter. While sleeping Dejah is awakened by a sorak and meets Keel who is still up. Just then another Zodangian assassin strikes but the sorak attacks and drives him away. The blood trail leads to Dekana’s chamber. Dejah finds her in bed with his grandfather. Her grandfather take Dejah for a walk and shows her giant radium cannons that are going to destroy the Zodangian fleet.

So we are introduced to the second story line. Two characters that seem central. Dekana who is sleeping around with the Jeddak and someone Dejah doesn’t seem to like. The other is Captain Keel who is obviously infatuated with Dejah. The Zodangians are clearly out to kill the royal family and the scientific mission has an ulterior motive. Lots of intrigue and mystery so far.

SWORDQUEST #1

“Realworld”
Writers: Chad Bowers and Chris Sims
Artist: Ghostwriter X

The World Video Museum gets a call from a mysterious man with a man-bun about the Ultimate Sword of Sorcery that is on display. He finds out that it will be on display in Las Vegas at the gaming Expo. He then throws away his phone and takes off on his motorcycle. Peter Chase has come to a book signing by his old childhood friend Amy Perez. She wrote a book on video games. He also meets his other friend Alvin. In a flashback we see how the two broke up over Peter’s attempt to hold his hand during a movie.

Peter came to Amy to get help in stealing the sword. With her connections she could get him into the Expo. Naturally his friends think he’s nuts. Just then the mysterious man shows up saying that the sword wants Peter.

So this first issue is establishing the main characters. We get a glimpse of how Peter got out of touch with them. That Peter is kind of nuts in needing to steal this sword before he dies in six months. Then there is this mysterious man with the man-bun. Didn’t know there was a World Video game museum. I wonder if its real and where it is. Anyway the first issue has got my interest.

THE WARLORD #10

“The Final Quest?”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Phil Winslade

The Warlord is taking a ride and exploring the unknown regions of Skartaris. One night he meets a fleeing couple from warriors on horseback. They kill the man but Morgan manages to save the girl and kill her pursuers. Only one warrior a woman survives and the young woman Fhalla is kind to minister to her wounds. Later Morgan gets the story behind the incident. She comes from a village called Hurstwood. A woman had a bastard child that grew up to be a demon. The demon was killed but the vengeful mother’s spirit took all the newborns from the village. She left a message that a virgin must be burned on the site each year or no child is safe.

So basically Fhalla was to be this years virgin sacrifice. Just then a horde of flying demons attack and Morgan manages to drive them off. They were from the Hurstwood witch. Fhalla suggests that Morgan take her virginity to save her. Naturally he agrees. After their night together he is wakened by the warrior woman who was injured. Morgan finds out that Fhalla is the witch and was looking for a mate to breed with. She gives birth to a new demon and other demons come. Fortunately the warrior woman cuts off the head of Fhalla and that kills all her offspring. At the end the warrior woman gets the hots for Morgan who has to be the luckiest guy on the planet.

So the final issue of the reboot was an untold story. The ongoing one was such a piece of shit the writer didn’t even bother to finish it. So for the end we get a standalone story set in the future. Now this was the most coherent story so far which isn’t too difficult since the bar was not set high. My main reaction is so what? This series was clearly ending and why bother with this? A big shrug of indifference to reading it. My only complement is this new artist was real good.

So basically this reboot was a heaping pile of shit. Now shit though does have its uses. It fertilizes the soil so strong and health plants can spring from it. This pile of shit fertilized the soil for the next series. This time it would bring back Mike Grell and the classic Warlord that I and many others had come to love. It showed that there was an interest in Warlord and we would finally get the return that we had been waiting for.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #9

“The Curse of the Cat-Goddess”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Pablo Marcos

Conan is head of the Zuagir and comes back to find them raiding a religious caravan. Conan is angry at Fazal his second in command and give him a good thrashing. The caravan has nothing of value except a small idol shaped as a woman with the head of a cat. Conan starts to throw it away but the idol has some strange hold over him and he keeps it. Soon his men start to notice the change. Conan starts to give no quarter.

One night Fazal sneaks into his tent while he is sleeping and deposes Conan as leader. He grabs the idol and soon finds himself under it’s spell. To solidify his leadership he ties up Conan and has the Zuagir attack a city. It ends in disaster and Fazal flees. Conan manages to free himself and kill the treacherous Fazal. Then he throws away the idol which gets buried in the wind blown sands.

“Part IV of ‘The Gods of the Hyborian Age” Demi-Gods and Demons”
By Robert L. Yaple

The final entry in the gods of Conan’s time. This one goes into the savage gods of the Picts like Jhebbal Sag. It also explores the other various cults and demons that Conan encountered.

“The Hyborian Age: A Map”
Artist: Tim Conrad

A huge two page map of the Hyborian world with updates from the stories of De Camp and Lin Carter.

“A Fabian Portfolio of Conan”
Artist: Steve Fabian

A portfolio of six illustrations of Conan and Kull from their adventures.

“When a Tiger Returns to Atlantis”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Sonny Trinidad

Kull has been deposed by the evil Thulsa Doom and comes to Atlantis with Ridondo. He seeks a prophecy that says he will be able to find an army to reclaim his throne. To his surprise he finds a civilized city in his savage homeland. Some ape-men attack and take them prisoner. They give them to the city who promptly lock the two in the dungeon. The Lemurian pirate prisoner says that sorcery build the city.

Later Kull is taken to the king who turns out to be his old childhood friend Om-ra. The two reminisce and have a feast. Here Kull finds out that a sorcerer Sarna from Grondar came to Atlantis looking for asylum. He used the ape-men called Lorkars to build the city and make Om-ra the king. Later Kull meets another friend Khor-nah who is the general and a rivalry develops.

Kull then meets the wizard Sarna and his companion the beautiful Kareesha. Later Kull is ambushed by some Lorkars and manages to defeat them. He finds out from Kareesha that Sarna was behind it and will now use magic to kill Kull. Later the wizard orders a parade and uses his magic to animate the stone dragon to try and kill Kull. Kull manages to defeat it with the help of Kareesha who throw him the gem that animates the dragon. For his service in defeating the dragon Kull is made second in command of the armies of Atlantis.

“The Conjurer from Cross Plains”
By Fred Blosser

A review of Sprague De Camps’s “The Miscast Barbarian”. A biography of Robert E. Howard. Blosser found it informative and recommends it as a acurate biography of the creator of Conan.

So this issue was another mixed bag of stories and articles. Seems a death in the family forced Thomas to shelve the epic length adaptation for another time. So we get a short but good Conan story telling his ending with the desert raiding Zuagirs. Some article and art portfolios which were interesting and informative.

The big story was a continuation of Kull from the recently cancelled Kull and the Barbarians. It does fill in a gap to the story that was later carried on in the Kull color series. An enjoyable story that had a somewhat convoluted history between the magazines and color comics. Not disappointed with this issue but looking forward to issues that give Conan more time in his own magazine.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #49

“Wolf-Woman!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema and Dick Giordano

Conan has been left staked out by Thorkal Moh in the wastes of the Border Kingdom. The rats now approach and it looks grim for Conan. Luckily one rat knocks over the jug of water the evil warlord left just out of reach of Conan’s hand. He manages to grab it an break it. Then use it to cut out of his bonds. So he starts off to Ravengard to rescue Stefanya. Along the way he is set on by a pack of wolves but the pack is controlled by a beautiful woman named Lupalina the Wolf Mistress. She helps Conan recover and agrees to help him with his quest.

So the first thing Conan,Lupalina and her wolf pack do is ambush some of Thorkal’s men coming back after putting down a peasant revolt. They kill his men and with the newly freed peasants disguise themselves as the returning troops. Then in the castle they attack the guards. Conan finds Thorkal Moh and cripples him in the legs. Leaving him to die he finds a serving wench and forces her to lead him to the captive Stefanya. Conan frees her then has the servant lead him to the amulet he has to deliver. She takes him to the Gifting Tree which is where all of Thorkal’s treasure is kept. It is next to a pool that contains his god the creature Pthassiass.

Good to get back to reading Conan. So a lot happens in this issue. Conan frees himself and finds Lupalina. She helps him break into Ravengard for her own reasons. Conan gets his revenge on Thorkal Moh and rescues his companion Stefanya. At the end he is confronted with a giant Lovecraftian creature. Gardner Fox seems to be an interesting writer. I will have to check out his stuff sometime in the future.

DEJAH THORIS #5

“Untitled”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Pasquale Qualano

Dejah and her companions Sajad and Kajas are trapped in an underground cavern filling with water. It looks like they will drown but the Jeddak of Thurd Nars Jartas comes to the rescue. He didn’t abandon them and is on a Malagor a flying reptile thought extinct. He manages to pull them out. He did it for more practical terms. The water machine they activated is causing the city of Thurd to be swallowed. He needs Dejah and her companions to find a way to stop the water or his people are doomed. Dejah decides that the machine must be destroyed and Nars makes the ultimate sacrifice. He jumps in with explosives that blow up the machine and stop the water. Later the fleet from Helium arrives to rescue Dejah. She lost the water machine but knows the technology exists. At the end she is offered the chance to lead a scientific expedition to study the atmosphere.

So we come to the end of a story arc and the beginning of another. Dejah sadly lost the technology but her friend Kajas salvaged a piece of the machine. The green Jeddak Nars proved to be a man of honor and rescued Dejah and sacrificed himself for his people. Dejah is learning the meaning of being a leader. It now gets us into the atmospheric expedition that will eventually lead her to the fateful meeting with John Carter.

SWORDQUEST #0

“Game Over.”
Writers: Chad Bowers and Chris Sims
Artist: Ghostwriter X

Peter Case is a 45 year old office worker with a bad cough. One night going home he finds his apartment on fire. After rescuing the neighbor’s dog he is taken to the hospital and finds out he has serious lung disease. He only has six months to live. So with no where else to go he goes back to his mother who puts him up in his old room. A room that she was renting out as a B&B and now a very floral one. But it does have his stuff in the closet including his old Atari 2600 console and games. He reminisces about his childhood friends the Perez twins and how they tried to win the Swordquest contest and the ultimate prize The Sword of Ultimate Sorcery. Over breakfast he talks with his mother and she makes a comment that she was so upset that she wanted to steal the sword for Peter. This gets Peter to thinking.

“Swordquest Realworld”
By Kevin Ketner

An article on the real world background to the Swordquest video series and the real prizes involved. Includes a sketch gallery of the major characters for the series.

The introductory issue of the first Atari based property that Dynamite would do. An interesting choice to set in the real world instead of the fantasy one the game created. I remember the first game and didn’t get into it. Still I never really knew about the kooky prizes until now. Apparently they gave away real gold and gem prizes worth tens of thousands of dollars. Prizes that you had to sell so you could pay off the taxes.

So they started off this series with a character I can relate to. I loved the Atari games when I was a kid and now work inside a cubicle and am getting older. I am interested in seeing where this goes.

THE WARLORD #9

“Who Will Rule Shamballah?”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears

Travis is pissed off when he finds that Regine was killed by Tara. So he forces Tara to kiss the dead Regine which brings Regine back to life. As further punishment he makes Regine the new princess and Tara must serve her. Then he magically cleans up the city and takes off on his white horse. Later Terry, Alexa and Brovis drop in with their jet. Brovis has gone blonde with a new hairdoo which does nothing to hide his past appearance. They talk with the new princess Regine who has some jealousy over Alexa who she recognizes as Travis’s fiancee.

Well Travis continues on to Mt. Olyn home of the gods. He has to fight some water nymphs who turn from beautiful women to reptilian monsters. He has no problem killing them. He then gets some directions from the goddess Lorelei to the doorway to the Titans.

So this incredibly stupid series is coming to a close. The story basically ends and we never find out what happens to any of the characters or Travis meeting with the Titans. But for some reason they didn’t mercifully put this series out of its misery. They had to have one final issue. A story that takes place later and just features Travis. Why they did this I have no idea. So we will discuss next week and my final thoughts on this pathetic reboot.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #8

“The Forever Phial”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Tim Conrad

Conan is traveling through Brythunia when he is attacked by a white wolf. Later at a tavern he finds out the wolf belongs to a local wizard named Ranephi. He decides to leave rather than face the wizard but soon finds himself at his castle. First he fights off a fire elemental than a water elemental. He uses the water elemental to destroy each other. Then he finds the wizard and fulfills a prophecy by killing him with an ax. We find out at the end the wizard wanted to end is immortal life and manipulated events to Conan would kill him.

“The Elder Gods Part III The Gods of the Hyborian Age”
By Robert Yaple

The article about the gods of the Hyborian age continues. This time talks about Set and his worship in Stygia. The Earth-Mother gods of the Shemites. How Ishtar was adopted by the Kothians. The ape-god Hanuman in Zamboula and the cult of Asura.

“Death Song of Conan the Cimmerian”
Writer: Lin Carter adopted by Roy Thomas
Artist: Jess Jodloman

A poem about the life of Conan. His beginning and love of life to his final battle with the grim reaper.

“Sorcerer’s Summit”
Writer and Artist: Bruce Jones

A young man named Dars-Khras in Brythunia goes to a forbidden mountain Demon’s Tooth on a dare. He finds a young woman tied to a cross. The woman is named Luhra. Dars frees her but expects a reward in exchange. So he starts to kiss her but a giant bird comes and he has to kill it. Later every time he makes a move on her some creature like giant spiders or an octopus attack him. Finally they reach the castle of the wizard who imprisoned her. Arms come out of the wall and grasp Dars as Luhra grabs up his sword and kills the wizard. Only the wizard was projecting an illusion. Dars finds out that Luhra was an old ugly witch using him to get at the wizard. Dars walks away angry and sexually frustrated.

“The Hyborian Age Chapter 2 The Rise of the Hyborians”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from essay by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Walt Simonson

Circe 17,000-15,000 B.C. After the Great Cataclysm the Thurian continent descends into barbarism. The surviving Atlanteans and Picts have great clashes that drive both races to devolve. In the East the Lemurians make it to the east coast and are enslaved by the race living there. They manage to revolt and drive their enslavers west. The ancient race eventually comes to the land that will be known as Stygia and destroy the pre-human inhabitants. From the north the Hybori are growing and drifting south.

“Corsairs Against Stygia”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The Hour of the Dragon” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Gil Kane and Yong Montano

Conan finds himself sold as a galley slave to an Argossean trader. Conan not liking being a slave throws the captain to the black galley slaves. He recognizes many of them as former comrades when he sailed with Belit as a pirate. They recognize Amra and revolt killing the crew. Then Conan takes the ship to Khemi the major port in Stygia. From a captured fisherman he learns the wizard that has The Heart of Ahriman named Thutohmes plans to use it to overthrow the wizard Thoth-Amon. So Conan disguises himself as a Stygian fisherman and enters the city.

Well this was an interesting issue. Instead of one big story we get several stories and articles. Part of the reason was to continue the adaptation of “The Hour of the Dragon” that was started in the cancelled Giant-Size Conan series. The only full length novel written by Howard was nice to see they didn’t forget it. This was my favorite of the issue.

The shorter story “The Forever Phial” was an interesting story with the wizard actually wanting to be released from his mortality. The wizard was a tragic figure that you felt sympathy with at the end.

The Death Song poem was helped with the illustrations to go with it. And the non-Conan story had a tongue in cheek humor to it. The hero was definitely not Conan but a hapless bumpkin who got what he deserved.

The article was another informative entry on the gods of Conan’s time and the history of the Hyborean age was also informative and augmented with the visual illustrations.

So an issue with lots going on to welcome me back from my vacation. Hopefully will get back to my normal schedule going forward.