VENGEANCE SQUAD #1

“Tycoon for the Taking”

Writer: Joe Gill

Artist: Frank Bolle

Eric Redd was a treasury agent who got framed and sent to prison. When he got out six years later he had a hatred for crime. So he formed his own private security firm. His two partners are Candy Orr a former policewoman and Tulsa Coyle. Tulsa a former Vietnam vet loves Candy Orr but also loves violence most. Together they form the Vengeance Squad. We first meet them breaking up a jewelry store robbery. They have to toss a grenade into a safe that the criminals throw. Later they go home to their mansion. The new neighbors are Manfried Von Wolfheim a weapons dealer and his beautiful wife Michele. One night Rubio Rodriguez an international jewel thief and his thugs take the Von Wolfheim’s prisoner. He wants $70,000,000 for their safe release. The squad sees this and sends Candy in to pretend she is a friend. Only Rubio gets suspicious and locks her up. Now the two guys go in and kick butt. They free the Von Wolfheims and get a hefty reward of $100,000.

“A Little Homework”

Writer: Unknown.

A short story about rookie cop Bill Davis. Davis is disgusted by the local thugs that act with impunity. So with his policewoman girlfriend they disguise themselves as old people and draw the thugs out. When they try to mug them, they beat them up and arrest them.

“The Inheritance”

Writer: Nicola Cuti

Artist: Joe Staton

Mike Mauser is a private eye that carries a Mauser pistol. One day a guy claiming to be an attorney is looking for a Jenny Whitcomb. She has inherited $50,000. He offers $200 a day so Mauser accepts. Mauser first goes to a seedy bar and gets someone to beat the information out of the bartender. This leads Mauser to find Whitcomb as a singer in a dive club. Mauser soon finds out that the guy who hired him was a bank robber. Whitcomb is the only witness and he wants to kill her. The guy was following Mauser and traps them in an alley with a submachinegun. Only Mauser gets on a fire escape and ambushes him.

This was a short lived series back in the seventies. Another fun Joe Gill story of this group of former agents now in business for themselves. This was a fun time when men were men and women were women. Candy Orr is just as capable as the men and they have these over the top adventures. Didn’t see much vengeance going on unless I guess you consider that Redd is getting vengeance against crime for ruining his life.

The backup story is a typical noir crime story. Complete with a trench coat and fedora wearing private eye. Carries a Mauser which is just a cool name and pistol. I am not a big fan of the genre but love these stories. In some ways it outshines the main one. Rounds out with a one page prose story. I love these old Charlton comics. Just good clean fun.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #125

“At the Altar of the Goat God”

Writers: Gary Kwapisz & Jim Owsley

Artist: Gary Kwapisz

Conan has been hired my a wealthy merchant in the Zamorian city of Zemizar as a bodyguard. He foils an attack by ninjas from the local cult. Seems that the merchant Slogg has been using goat meat in his slaughterhouses. Goats are sacred to this cult. The merchant and the cult had come to a truce but with tough times Slogg decided to go back to slaughtering goats. His wife is the daughter of the cult priest which was part of the original truce. Conan soon figures out that someone is out to kill him so he quits and goes to an old witch. This witch tells him about the cult’s upcoming sacrifice of 1000 babies and that they fear Conan will interfere with it. He decides to go back and be the guard of Slogg. This is a good thing for his wife has been conspiring to take their infant son to be sacrificed. Conan and Slogg go after them and fight zombies. They come on the ceremony but the wife summons the goat god. He comes as a giant goat-man. Only he decides to eat the wife and Slogg. Conan rescues the infant and finds a good family to raise him.

“Trail of Blades”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Geof Isherwood

King Kull is with his men hunting for bandits that prey on caravans entering Valusia. He sets up an ambush at a likely spot. Sure enough the bandits attack and Kull’s men destroy them. Kull fights the bandit leader who he knew in the old days when Kull was a bandit. He plans to crucify him until the bandit points out what the caravan was transporting. It had weapons to arm rebels. So the bandit leader is freed while the caravan leader is taken prisoner.

Kwapisz like Buscema before him gets his chance to plot out a story. I found it a very interesting and unique story. Conan is involved with a fight between two factions. The idea of a merchant using goats for his slaughterhouses that are sacred is a unique twist to the idea. Naturally Conan is much more smart then everyone gives him credit for. The disgust he has with the whole crazy civilized people is dead on what Howard would have written. A fun story with many twists, beautiful artwork and plenty of action.

The backup Kull story by Dixon was of course up to the expected standards. A story that starts out as expected but has a twist at the end I didn’t see coming. Dixon was a good choice to write these Kull backups. Also at the end are a series of portfolios by Ernie Chan that are beautiful to look at. A good solid issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #158

“Night of the Wolf”

Writer: John Buscema & Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Rudy Nebres

Conan is riding in the desert when he comes on two men dragging a women in a box. Conan decides to free her and so kills the two horsemen. Soon after the girl’s father comes looking for her. He is grateful and invites Conan back to his camp. During the night a werewolf attacks Conan but the sheik’s men manage to pull it off Conan and drive it into the desert. The next morning the daughter has once again been kidnapped by a rival sheik. So Conan joins the chase and they come on the daughter tied to a rock. The other sheik threatens to kill her. A big fight ensues between the two groups when the full moon comes out. The daughter turns into a werewolf and starts to kill people. The father is the one that ends her life. We find out that her mother was a demon and her father was keeping the secret. Unfortunately he had to end her. Conan goes riding off for other adventures.

Another Buscema plotted story. This one was a fairly simple one. A girl turns into a werewolf and gets killed by her father. We are at first led to believe the other sheik was kidnapping her to be his wife. We find out that it was for revenge in that she killed his son. Conan in this one was more of a spectator then the main character. For most of the story he just goes along for the ride. As I said a fairly simple story. Nothing special but still mildly entertaining.

RED SONJA THE SUPERPOWERS #1

“Untitled”

Writer: Dan Abnett

Artist: Jonathan Lau

Red Sonja is in the wilds of Corinthia when she is ambushed by a group of very dumb thugs. They have been sent by the sorcerer Skarab Nor. Sonja easily handles these morons and we get a flashback to how Sonja started on this mission. The queen of Corinthia hired her to kill this evil sorcerer that was threatening the world. Sonja is a bit nonchalant about it but is convinced to take the job. She has to go through a ceremony and get a witch mark drawn on her forehead. So back to the present and Sonja yells her defiance at Skarab Nor during a thunderstorm. The next morning she comes on a strange group of people. Four members of the superpowers have come to explore this Earth. There is this organization of superheroes from many different dimensions that keep the peace in the multi-verse. Seems that they detected a metahuman on this world. They do find Sonja and a fight ensues as Sonja thinks the superheroes are demons. She surprises them by holding her own and actually cutting them with her sword.

So another Red Sonja crossover. This time with a superhero organization that is multi-dimensional. This series is supposed to have Sonja recruited in the organization and become a superhero. So far the story has got my interest. It does a good job of introducing the superheroes and Sonja. We get the idea that her sorcerer foe may be a metahuman. Sonja is a total badass who exudes confidence and power. Not really familiar with the Project Superpowers but looking forward to where the story is going.

THE MOON MAID #3

“The Three Keys”

Writer: Mike Wolfer

Artist: Mirana Puglia

Loh-ee-nah manages to convince the Va-gas to stay and defend the city of Groethe from the Kalkars. They man cannons that fire poison darts but the Kalkars use gourds filled with explosives and poison gas. The male Va-gas die fighting and it looks like the two girls don’t have long. So Loh-ee-nah goes to a vault and opens it with three keys. This is where she hid when the Kalkars came and killed her family. This vault protects them from the weapon that is activated. As the sunlight comes through the crater it unleashes lighting that destroys the Kalkars. We find out at the end that Loh-ee-nah was preserving a library that had the last books on Va-nah. Now she and her companion are all that is left to preserve the knowledge for future generations.

So ends this series of The Moon Maid with a new character. A fun and enjoyable story with a likable character fighting against the evil Communist Kalkars. I was a bit confused by the ending with the sunlight turned into deadly energy. It wasn’t really explained how that happened. Loh-ee-nah and Voh-nay are interesting and likable characters. I hope to see future stories with then. Also interested in how this is tied in to the Burrough’s books. We learn from the Kalkars that Or-tis is already in charge so this must take place in 2050. I would love to see how this is tied in to the canon universe that American Mythology is creating.

RIMA THE JUNGLE GIRL #7

“The Imp!”

Writer: Robert Kanigher

Artist: Nestor Redondo

Rima and Abel are swimming in a lagoon when they hear the cries of help. They come on a bear attacking a young boy. Abel shoots it which upsets Rima. Rima knows the bear and it wouldn’t attack anything unless provoked. She doesn’t like this safari and leaves. The safari is for Ida Van Cleve and her son Cecil. Ida invites Abel to join them and he agrees. We find out after that Cecil killed the bear’s cub which is why it attacked. Anyway Ida flirts with Abel and Cecil feels ignored. So he finds some jaguar cubs and tosses them in the river. Naturally this upsets the mother but Rima arrives in time to save the brat. Cecil still in a mood then pours gas into a lake and sets it on fire. The fire spreads and forces the brat into the water where he is eaten by crocodiles. The mother seems mildly upset her son is dead and leaves for home. Rima and Abel get back together.

“Space Marshal”

Writer: Robert Kanigher

Artist: Noly Zamora

Lic Wade is prospecting on an asteroid when someone comes up behind him. He thinks the intruder is there to steal his claim and shoots him. Only the guy was unarmed and lost. He just wanted some water. Linc calls the marshals and is put on trial for the murder. Because he admits his guilt he is sentenced to be a space marshal. He goes through the training and for his last test he is given a pistol. Then the guy who gives it to him starts to beat him up. Because he didn’t shoot the guy he passed the final test. He gets a deputy and they go off to preserve peace in the galaxy.

“Jungle White Men: Fact or Fiction?”

By Allan Asherman

Tells about an article sent in by a reader of a white tribe with blonde hair and blue eyes discovered in the Amazon.

The final Rima story gives us this downbeat story. This kid was definitely a grade-A brat. It was a good thing he got it because you just know he would grow into a grade A-Asshole. The mother was also incredibly unlikeable. She didn’t ever really seem to care if her bratty son bought the farm. Sadly this was a very believable story because their are people like this in the world. Also the main character didn’t do much in this issue just like the last one. Maybe that had something to do with it being cancelled.

The backup was also a strange story. So in the future you murder someone you get sentenced to be a marshal and enforce the law. Once again that is nut but this looked like it was being set up to be the new backup. The idea had some promise. Ends out with an interesting article on a white tribe in the Amazon.

So the series was an interesting attempt to introduce a female character. Rima proved to be more then just a female Tarzan. She had a mysterious background and a more spiritual bond with nature. The art of Redondo was beautiful and made her and the jungle a joy to look at. Rima did appear later of all places Saturday mornings. She was part of the affirmative action characters on the Superfriends. She made some guest appearances. They browned her up and made her talk like Charro.

There was also a movie in the fifties with Audrey Hepburn as Rima. Someday I will have to check that out.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #124

“There Will Come a Dark Stranger…”

Writer: Don Kraar

Artist: Gary Kwapisz

Conan arrives in the city-state of Khybal in Afghulistan. He just lost his boot in crossing the river and is looking to get a new one. Unfortunately there is a prophesy that a stranger missing a shoe will help free the Prince Aziz and overthrow the evil Rashad Khan. The khan’s men arrest Conan and toss him into the dungeon for execution. The prophet Ismail helps Conan break out and he frees Aziz. They make it to the hill tribes and Conan has to fight a man on ropes over a pit of cobras. Naturally Conan wins and the hillmen will help overthrow the Khan. Conan has to teach the young pacifist prince how to fight since the prophesy also states he has to kill the Khan. So they go to the city and pretend to be bringing tribute to the new King. The crates of tribute are instead filled with Conan and Aziz. The prince manages to kill Rashid Khan and Conan ends up stealing the diamonds from the crown. Also the prophet Ismail was a spirit that only Conan could see.

“Song of the Dead”

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artists: Geof Isherwood and Art Nichols

A spirit plays a tune on his flute that lures Kull’s consort Laria from their bed. Kull follows and she leads them to an underground chamber with a body on an alter. Laria cuts her hand under a spell that drips her blood on the body. It comes alive and tries to choke Kull. Fortunately Brule comes in time and his spear ends the evil wizard’s life.

This was an enjoyable story. Conan gets caught up in the politics of a small kingdom. He just wants to move on but ends up helping this foppish prince become a man. An interesting story point in having the prophet be a spirit that only Conan can see. Of course Conan only wants money and manages to take some at the end. The Kull backup was an enjoyable read. A good solid story. The only real flaw was the main character Kull didn’t defeat the evil wizard. This was left to Brule and I think the main character should be the one to defeat the main villain. Otherwise a solid issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #157

“The Wizard”

Writers: John Buscema & Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan arrives in the Brythunian city-state of Berthalia. He finds that the queen has been kidnapped by a wizard and taken to the top of a mountain. There is a big reward so Conan decides to get it. He easily beats the braggard that was trying to get permission from the king and heads out. He decides to climb the mountain instead of using the path. Still he has to deal with avalanches, flaming cauldrons and hot oil dumped at him. He makes it to the top and finds that there is on wizard. Instead the young childhood lover of the queen is behind the charade of the evil wizard. Conan decides we will forgo the reward to help the two young lovers. So he goes back with a story that he was spared to give a message to the king. That if he continues to send men than a great curse will befall him. The cowardly king decides to get another queen and gives Conan a small reward for his troubles.

Another Buscema plotted story. This one was a fun story. We have some fun times of Conan showing how badass he is. He climbs the mountain as any Cimmerian would. Avoids the obstacles thrown at him. Finds out there is no wizard just two young lovers. Conan being a good sport helps them instead of getting a big reward. The foppish king is such a coward he gets scarred of air molecules. A light hearted story with a happy ending. A nice break from the more serious ones.

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT #3

“Fearless”

Writer: Mike Wolfer

Artist: Fritz Casas

Lys has been grabbed by a Weiroo. This Weiroo gets a spear in the back and a bullet through it’s wing but still manages to fly on. Even when Lys stabs it does it still go on. Only it is weak and Lys manages to get out of it’s grasp. She finds herself on the Plain of Fire and the Weiroo is determined to bring her back. While they are fighting, See-ta comes riding on a triceratops. She uses a mushroom that has acid in it to kill the Weiroo. Bowen and Co-tan also come and everybody greets one another. See-ta will continue on to her swamp as Bowen and Lys accompany Co-tan back to the Galus. We then skip to 1950 where Bowen and Lys are telling the story to Jason Gridley. He is about to leave for Pellucidar.

This was a great little story that fills in the time of Bowen and Lys in Caspak before they came to the Galus. It also introduces how they met See-ta. The artist really did an excellent job on the Weiroo. They look so creepy and were some tough suckers. Ends with notes that these adventures continue in new books about Pellucidar and Caspak. I really have to check out these books some day. American Mythology is really accomplishing stuff with Burrough’s creations. Am anxiously waiting for the other series coming out.

THE MOON MAID #2

“The Three Keys”

Writer: Mike Wolfer

Artist: Miriana Puglia

Loh-ee-nah has taken four Va-gas to her dead city to heal one. The leader of the Va-gas decides to go exploring against the objection of Loh-ee-nah. He finds a statue depicting one of the inhabitants holding the head of a Va-gas. This starts a fight that is ended when the female comes and says that her cure worked. They decide to work together and they seem to develop a grudging respect for each other. Only the Kalkars have come back. The Va-gas manage to kill most of the recon party. The survivor makes it back to his people and the Kalkars plan a major incursion into the city. Loh-ee-nah is about to tell the secret of her city.

This was a fascinating issue. Wolfer has decided to give the Va-gas more emotion and intelligence than Burroughs did in his stories. The Va-gas are portrayed as an oppressed group in the past. A little woke maybe but does make for an interesting story and never does Wolfer ever show anything but respect for Burroughs works. A bond is developing between the female Va-gas and Loh-ee-nah and it ends with the prospect of a big battle with the Kalkars and reveal of some secret. A good solid story from the Vah-nah world of Burrough’s Moon series.