SAVAGE TALES ONE-SHOT VAMPIRELLA

“Savage Tales Vampirella”
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artists: Anthony Marques, J. Bone, Fernando Ruiz, and Daniel Hor

Vampirella wakes up in a strange world. Four men are trying to kill her and are controlled by some powerful being. She kills the first three then mind controls the fourth. She finds out that their ruler Ankimu sensed a dangerous presence and ordered them to kill anyone they found at this location. So Vampirella goes to the city of Gharad. She finds a nice place where everyone is happy. Suddenly the people are under the mind control of Ankimu and take Vampirella to his throne room. There a snake-man wants to marry Vampirella. When she refuses he sics the guards on her but they are easy to defeat. So Ankimu turns into a giant snake but Vampirella still manages to tear his head off. She decides to remain as queen to help the people of this city.

“Valaka”
Writer: Doug Murray
Artist: Lui Antonio

A warrior comes back to find his village destroyed. He meets a mysterious hooded woman named Valaka. She tells how she is hunting the wizard who did this. So they join forces to rescue the women and children taken. They come to a castle and battle the zombies that guard it. Inside they find the wizard has sacrificed some of the women and is going to sacrifice the warrior’s betrothed. They have to fight a demon but their combined strength manages to kill it. Then Valaka snaps the neck of the wizard. Valaka then reveals she is a vampire and drains the warrior of his blood. Then feeds on the bound betrothed. Seems she was protecting her source of food.

So every once in a while you get these off the wall single titles released. Having Vampirella on a barbaric world fighting barbarians and sorcery is a pretty cool concept. I love that the cover replicates the original Conan cover from the first cover.. It left the possibility of future stories and hopefully maybe a new Savage Tales series starring Vampirella. I would buy that.

The second story is a reprint from the first Dynamite Savage Tales series. That was a good series and this story was a bit dark. It ending in a very surprising way with the woman being an evil vampire. You were expecting the warrior to be reunited with his betrothed and not killed. A good story and I do remember that old series had a strong lineup of mainly Robert Howard characters. Once again I support the revival of Savage Tales and hope this leads to it.

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RED SONJA #17

“Hell or Hyrkania”
Writer: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Daniel Hdr

Sonja is winding down from her adventures with a friendly sparing workout with a troll. Adin the Unkillable was cursed to wake up each morning healed of his wounds. So he makes a great sparing partner for adventurers. During the fight Adin notices that Sonja’s blade is out of balance and recommends a local blacksmith. So Sonja goes to the blacksmith and fixes the blade. While there the blacksmith recognizes the sword as belonging to Skath. He was a great warrior who one day got into a fight with a visitor from Shem. Skath had a sacred skin of a Candle leopard on the wall. So the two have their followers battle and Skath is victorious. The Shemite reveals that he brought a fire-breathing dragon. Skath kills it by plunging his sword into it’s chest. The dragon mortally wounded flies off with his sword. At the end the blacksmith mentions a huge reward for the sword which gets Sonja thinking of visiting this Skath in Cimmeria.

A new storyline and artist for this series. It seems like its going into a good direction. The story of Skath was interesting and to the point. We now are getting back to the classic Red Sonja stories of her as a wanderer in the Hyborian age which I think is a good idea. Sort of getting back to the basics that made this character so popular. The time travel was interesting but starting to fizzle so looking forward to the new adventure.

RED SONJA #16

“Hell or Hyrkania”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham

So the gang is all together and confronting Kulan Gath. Gath incinerates professor Wallace. Then in his megalomaniacal way is about to kill all the inhabitants of Meru. Thus he will absorb incredible power. Only Wallace was not killed but a clone. He rallies the citizens of Meru and they fight Gath’s followers. Then the beast of Khuran and his mate comes and with their fire-breathing breath join the resistance. Gath is incinerated and the people of Meru are free. Sonja, Max and Wallace hitch a ride on the beast and go to the spot where Max entered Hyrkania. The old Wonder Wheel is there and Max uses his magic to open a portal that him and Wallace can return to the future. Sonja decides to stay. At the end a mysterious figure steals the cursed amulet of Gath.

The final issue in the Kulan Gath saga. It felt rushed as if the writers just wanted to get it over with and move on. In some ways that was probably a good idea. The story was dragging on and putting it out of its misery was a wise move. So now Sonja is back to being a wandering adventurer in the Hyborian age. Complete with her trademark chainmail bikini which I have to admit I was missing.

RED SONJA #15

“Hell or Hyrkania”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Erik Burnham

Sonja and her companions are finding the going to Meru difficult. The followers of Gath are many and constantly attacking. So she gets the idea to find a wyvern and fly there. Later in the main city of Shamballah Sonja and Wallace come up with a plan. Wallace casts an illusion spell to look like one of Gath’s followers who has captured Sonja. Sonja breaks free and has to fight her doppelganger. The clone that Wallace created is still around and now infused with Gath’s magic. Sonja is the real deal and easily dispatches the clone. So Gath is going to destroy all of Meru and starts with Wallace who he immolates with fire.

So we are getting to the conclusion of the whole Gath storyline and its about time. An interesting issue. The writers keep it going quickly. They even just skip showing the find and fly a wyvern. Its just left to the readers imagination. Max is apparently serving Gath to minimize the deaths of his fellow Meruvians. He seems to be fully whipped and now has given so much power to Gath. Gath is not interested in keeping his end of the bargain. Sonja fights her clone and we end on a cliffhanger as Wallace seems to be toast. Interesting to see how its all resolved.

RED SONJA #14

“Hell or Hyrkania”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Sonja and Wallace get a ride on Charon’s boat across the river Styx. It actually goes to the Hyborian Styx and the two find themselves in Shem. After trading for some horses the two make their way to Meru. They stop for the night and are attacked by followers of Kulan Gath. They have magic which makes them hard to kill. Luckily two woman come riding in and shoot the followers with arrows right through their forehead tattoos. It is Taya and Lera the two women that were helping Max. They tell Sonja of how Gath has taken over Meru and is harnessing the magic to rule the world. Gath also has Max a prisoner and forcing him to help. Sonja is more determined than ever to get to Meru and confront Gath.

Well they finally bring Sonja back to her time. Not a lot really happens except Sonja and Wallace wonder about what has happened since they left and traveling on horseback which Wallace can’t handle well. At the end we find out that Max is helping because Gath has threatened the people of Meru and so he helps Gath to save lives. At the end Sonja arrives so there is a big confrontation in store for next issue. So good artwork but in general a weak story with little happening. Hopefully that changes in next issue.

RED SONJA #13

“Hell or Hyrkania”
Writers: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Artist: Carlos Gomez

So Sonja and Wallace are trapped in Hell. The hordes of the undead are closing in on the temple. While investigating if their is a way out Sonja discovers the true nature of the priests. They worship Set and have been sacrificing people. Now the sacrifices have returned for this is Hell and people are already dead. Sonja is disgusted and leaves the priests to their just fate. Only when she and Wallace try to escape they run into all the people Sonja sent to Hell and there are a lot of them. Fortunately the citizens of Meru are also there. Kulan Gath is still sending Meruvians to Hell and they help Sonja and Wallace escape. They want Sonja to kill Gath and she is more than happy to oblige them. They are led to the river Styx and the ferryman Charon.

So it looks like the adventure in Hell is winding down. Sonja mentions that she has been to Hell several times. I don’t remember those stories or never read them. She does get around. This was an OK issue. Not a lot happened except fighting some skeletons. There was a sad moment when Wallace thought he saw his family. Seems Gath has a lot of power if he can send innocent people to Hell. I have to say that I loved this cover. Had nothing to do with the story but it looks cool.

YARS’ REVENGE

“The Quotile Ultimatum!”
Writer: Hope Shafer
Artists: Frank Cirocco, Ray Garst, & Hiro Kimura

A new Yars recruit comes for his meeting with the leader. The leader tells this young recruit the secret history of the Yars. They were common houseflies from Earth. They were on the first interstellar ship that later crashed. The flies were the only survivors and the environment of the new alien world transformed them. They became intelligent and able to fly in space. They also could eat anything and convert it to bursts of energy that could dissolve anything.

So the Yars build a civilization on the third, fourth and fifth planets in the Razak system. Then the Quotile came and destroyed the fourth planet. Now the Yars must destroy their base on planet Epp. The Zorlon cannon is not complete and needs a Yar to use themselves as a target to hit the base. They also must first destroy the shield by eating or shooting a hole in it. They can hide in the neutral zone, the destroyed remains of the fourth planet. This protects them from the missiles but not the deadly swirls. So the brave recruit goes off to save the Yars and apparently we can help him.

Does this bring back some memories. This was included with the Atari video game Yars’ Revenge. It was a game where you played a giant space fly that would eat or blast a shield to get at the Quotile. Then guide in the shot from the Zorlon cannon. Avoid the missiles and swirl. Fun game and the comic does a good job of giving a creative backstory about what is going on and the basic rules. I know Dynamite is doing Atari games as new comics and I think there are plans to do a series for Yars’ Revenge. It has so much potential for an exciting series.

RED SONJA #12

“Backroads”
Writers: Amy Chu and Erik Burnham
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Sonja wakes up in a desolate wasteland. She finds Wallace and he believes they are back in time but has no idea where. So the two hike out and find a road. This road leads to a sinister village. At the inn Sonja orders some barely drinkable ale. A priest comes in looking for men to provide safe passage for him. He has plenty of gold and Sonja manages to make herself the leader of the volunteers. So while hiking across the desert they are attacked by skeletons that come from the ground. The survivors make their way to the priest’s ziggurat. It is there that Wallace figures out that they are in Hell. Meanwhile in Meru Kulan Gath is recreating his empire and has enslaved Max.

So it looks like a new writer is starting to transition into this series. Don’t know if it’s permanent but I like the way this story is going. So the fish out of water in our time seems to be coming to an end for now. Hell seems like a very depressing place so it should be interesting to see how they get out of this.

RED SONJA #11

“Backroads”
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Carlos Gomez

Professor Wallace takes Sonja, Spike and Holly on his private jet to Palo Alto. On the trip he explains that he was a magician in Meru. When Gath was destroying it he saw young Max casting an escape spell so he added the needed power to it. Thus he ended up in the future just like everybody else. So the plan is to infiltrate Livermore Labs and use the magnetic fusion generator with a magic spell. The four infiltrate the complex and open a portal to the past.

Meanwhile Gath and his followers are trying to get Max to send them to the future. The portal opens and Gath and his followers go through. Wallace splits himself and Sonja into two. Their doppelgangers manage to push Gath back.

This story just keeps getting more interesting. So Wallace seems to be an interesting character. A sort of middle aged overweight friendly looking guy who can split himself into several bodies at once. Max is still in the past and now confronted by Kulan Gath who has a new army of followers. It ends with what looks like Sonja being split in two. One going back to the past and the other stuck in our time. Sounds like an interesting story ahead for this title.

GRUMPY CAT GARFIELD #3

“Untitled”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Steve Uy

So Grumpy Cat and Garfield are back home and definitely changed. Grumpy Cat is happy and wants to play games and enjoy the beautiful day. In fact she wants to change her name to Happy Cat. Garfield is no longer lazy. He helps around the house with the chores. Instead of eating lasagna he gives it to a cat named Nermal. Nermal is a cat he loved to torment. He just lately mailed him to Abu Dhabi.

So Ichabod Gross the CEO of Mogul Pet is elated that his new process works. Unfortunately for him he intimidates his scientist too much so he doesn’t tell him that the process is only temporary. The scientist goes to work out the bugs in secret as Gross has his spies Snoop and Slink kidnap the cats back from their homes. They do this and are put in front of the cameras to show how happy and agreeable the two are. This is when the process wears off and they throw the chemical goob that they are being fed into Gross’s face.

Well Gross says out loud on TV that he hates cats which alienates his customer base. Grumpy and Garfield meet up with Odie and find out that Pokey is also prisoner and about to get the treatment. They free him and Gross falls into the beam which turns him into a happy nice guy. The group leaves the building and find Nermal who is happy with his new found friends. His new found friends decide to mail him to Antarctica.

The final issue in the Grumpy Cat Garfield team-up comes to a satisfying conclusion. Both cats manage to escape their mind control and turn the tables on the evil Ichabod Gross. A fitting ending for the villain. A fun irrelevant comic series. Its fun for both children and adults.