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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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.

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.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN ANNUAL #1

“Beware the Wrath of Anu!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Barry Smith and Sal Buscema

A reprint from Conan Classic #10.

“The Forbidden Swamp”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Marie and John Severin

A reprint from Monsters on the Prowl #16.

“The Death Dance of Thulsa Doom!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Marie and John Severin

A reprint from Kull the Conqueror #3.

“Web of the Spider-God”
Writer: Roy Thomas and John Jakes
Artists: Barry Smith and Sal Buscema

A reprint from Conan Classic #11

So this is the first and only annual for the Savage Sword of Conan. As you can see it was reprints from Conan the Barbarian and Kull color comics. These were excellent stories but already done. So if you missed them or want to see them in large black and white these were great. Otherwise nothing new.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #48

“The Rats Dance at Ravengard!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from novel “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox.
Artist: John Buscema

While riding to Phalkar, Stefyana gets Conan to talk about his youth in Cimmeria. He tells how on his fifteenth birthday he was send out in winter to survive with nothing but his sword and a fur coat. Conan manages to kill some wolves and find shelter on his first day. He decides to explore the nearby mountains that are forbidden. There he meets a beautiful woman with two polar bears for companions. The woman named Ursla takes him in and turns the young Conan into a man. As they continue on they come on Torkal Moh, the Baron of Ravengard. He demands tribute from Conan. Conan naturally refuses but is overwhelmed by numbers. He is knocked out and wakes staked out on the ground. The baron likes Conan’s defiance and puts a gourd of water in his hand. As he leaves the rats come out.

“Episode!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Dick Giordano

Red Sonja rides through the forest of Darkwood in Nemedia. She turns a corner and gets caught up in a giant spider web. A giant spider then tries to eat her. Fortunately some Kushites come and save her. They take her to their master’s castle. The master Vincentius is overjoyed at Sonja’s presence and offers her ale. The ale turns out to be drugged and she finds herself tied to an alter. Vincentius also has a blonde warrior named Hunwolf tied up. He plans to sacrifice them to his dark gods. Sonja manages to grab him with her legs and take his knife. Vincentius refuses to surrender and gets killed for his efforts. She frees Hunwolf who then starts a fight with the Kushite slaves. Later Sonja finds out Hunwolf killed a friend and takes revenge.

So we get the second half of the story that was supposed to be in last issue. A great story about Conan’s youth and his first experience with a woman. Nice to get some glimpses of his youth in Cimmeria. Also he continues to be a badass by taunting Torkal Moh and knowing Conan I’m sure he’ll get his revenge.

To fill the second half of the issue they give us a quality Red Sonja story and not some hokey reprint from the fifties. This was also an excellent story. I love how Sonja was going to spare Vincientius since she had no quarrel with him, other than him trying to kill her. Sonja sure is forgiving and Vincentius should have taken advantage of it. But he was too dumb and got what he deserved. An enjoyable issue with two great stories.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #7

“The Citadel at the Center of Time”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan is chieftain of the Zuagirs and is raiding caravans around the city of Akbitania. One caravan only has a captive saber tooth which gets loose and Conan has to kill. On questioning the woman in charge Conan learns that the cat came from a mysterious Ziggurat that suddenly materialized in the city. Occasionally the wizard inside trades jewels or exotic animals that are sold north for arenas. Conan decides to check out this Ziggurat and see if he can’t liberate some wealth from the wizard.

So he goes into the city and at a local tavern is drugged by a dancing girl. He finds himself captive of the wizard Shamash Shum-Ukin. Shamash was a king of Babylon until the armies of Assyrians were about to conquer his city. He used the Well of Time to escape back into the past. Now he gives sacrifices to the well and it gives back stuff like man-apes, cave bears, neanderthals and a T-Rex. Conan manages to escape and in the ensuing fight the T-Rex escapes and destroys the temple. Luckily Conan manages to use the giant crossbow the wizard had conveniently hanging around.

“Crom and Mitra: Gods to Swear By part II of The Gods of the Hyborian Age.”
By Robert L. Yaple

This article deals with the gods that Conan swore most by. Ymir of the north. Crom from his native Cimmeria and Mitra from the Hyborian kingdoms. Tells a brief history and worship of these gods.

“The King is Dead part IV of Chronicles of the Sword”
By Lin Carter

An article that deals with the huge success of Conan after the failure of the Kull stories. A high point in Howard’s work that was tragically cut short by his suicide.

“Lines Written in the Realization That I Die”
By Robert E. Howard
Illustrations by Barry Smith

A poem by Howard that was dark and beautifully written.

“The Hyborian Age chapter I: The Pre-Cataclysmic Age Circa 10,000 B.C.”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist Walt Simonson

A history of the Hyborian age that fictional age created by Howard. It starts with the Pre-Cataclysmic Age. The age of the Thurian civilization and Kull. Ends with a great upheaval that sinks continents.

So this was the longest non-Howard adaptation of a Conan story to date. I found it a very original story. I loved the idea of this Babylonian who travels back to Conan’s era and uses this mysterious well to bring prehistoric creatures to Conan’s world. I know that this was later used as a What If? issue that brought Conan to the the present circa 1977. My favorite What If? that will appear on this blog someday.

The articles were informative and an enjoyable read. Most of the articles in this magazine were of high quality.

The poem was a smart idea after reading about Howard’s suicide. Gives a feel that the man had some serious inner demons.

Finally the history of the Hyborian world is an excellent idea to present in illustrative form. Amazing to the detail that Howard went into for his fictional world.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #47

“Goblins in the Moonlight!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema & Dan Adkins

So Conan has found what appears to be the corpse of the wizard Zoqquanor. Stefyana insists he is alive and they must take the body with them. Conan reluctantly agrees and makes a travois to drag it along. The two make their way to some ruins and settle in for the night. They are wakened by a horde of goblins that are trying to take the wizard’s body. Conan manages to kill all the goblins.

“Conan’s Parents”
By Fred Blosser

An article that speculates that Conan’s mother was an Aesir.

“Sanctuary!”
Writer & artist: Wally Wood

King Hamand hears that to be truly king he must wear the crown of the ancient kings. The crown is in the tombs at Dragonhenge. So he goes there and takes the crown but angers the druids. A druid keeps giving Hamand dreams of his death. Riders on flying pterodactyls are attacking so he builds a metal roof on his tower. Demons coming up from the ground lead to a paved floor. Eventually he builds a completely enclosed tower with one door that can only be opened from the inside. Hamand kills his workers to keep the secret. Then he tries to kill his wizard Abarac. Only Abarac is the druid and now Hamand is trapped in his tower.

So we get only half a story for this issue. Seems artwork was lost in the mail. Even the half we get was excellent and shows that the story is going to some fascinating places. I love the interaction between Stefyana and Conan. She manages without words to get our barbarian to agree to drag around a dead corpse.

Otherwise the article was interesting. Some good arguments for Conan’s mother being an Aesir. Still mainly speculation and not what I think Howard envisioned. The backup story was an old hokey one that was slow and turgid but they do have a certain charm to them. Next week hopefully a full Conan issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #6

“The Sleeper Beneath the Sands”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sonny Trinidad

Olgerd Vladislav the deposed chieftain of the Zuagirs is riding in the desert. He collapses and is about to be buzzard food when a caravan passes by and rescues him. The kindly leader and his daughter nurse Olgerd back to health. This caravan is part of a religious order that is making a pilgrimage to ruins in the desert. Every century they must recite some words or the sleeper beneath the sands will wake. Olgerd also hears that Conan the man who deposed him is going to these ruins to meet his lieutenant. When the lieutenant comes Olgerd kills him and then kills the leader. He takes his daughter hostage and forces his men to capture Conan when he arrives. This they do and Olgerd is going to torture him when the Turanians arrive. At this time the sleeper wakes. It drives off the Turanians and drags Olgerd down with it. The daughter sacrifices herself to drive the sleeper back to hell.

“Gods of the Hyborian Age Part One: The Homes of the Gods”
By Robert L. Yaple

An article on the various gods that are worshipped in the Hyborian age of Conan.

“Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Cimmeria?”
By Lin Carter

An article on how after Howard’s rejection of Kull stories he altered them with the Conan stories we now came to love.

“People of the Dark”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Alex Nino

Jim O’Brian is going to some old caves to kill his rival Richard Brent. They both love the woman Eleanor Rand. He slips and falls then wakes up as Conan. Conan after the destruction of Venarium. Conan comes on a woman Tamera and her lover a Gunderman named Gaeric. He chases them into a cavern and finds them tied to an alter of lizard-men. Conan frees them and they make their escape. Only Tamera and Gaeric are killed. Jim O’Brian wakes up in modern times and sees Brent with the woman he loves. They are about to be attacked by a giant snake creature. O’Brian fires at it with his pistol and kills it but the dead body falls on him and knocks him over a cliff killing him.

So Roy did a sequel to “A Witch Shall be Born” from last issue. It tells the fate of Olgerd the deposed Zuagir chieftain. Very influenced by Lovecraft with its giant monster.

The two articles were interesting. I enjoy good scholarly work on Conan’s fictional age and origins.

Finally the Howard adaptation was excellent. I believe this was non-Conan story that just happened to use the name Conan. Howard loved to recycle names. Roy just changed it slightly from ancient Ireland to Cimmeria. Still an excellent moody story of reincarnation and finding redemption in a future life.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #5

“A Witch Shall Be Born”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and the Tribe

Taramis the queen of Khauran wakes up to find her twin sister she never knew about has taken over her kingdom. Salome was born with the mark of the witch. Every century the royal family has a girl born that is a witch because of a curse. This girl is always named Salome and either put to death are left out in the desert to die. Salome was left out but a wizard from Khitai sensed her and took her. He raised her and taught her powers but expelled her because she wasn’t living up to his expectations. So Salome left and came back to Khauran. Posing as the queen she lets in the mercenary army of Shemites under Constatius. Constatius was chosen because he lacked any good characteristics. He rapes Taramis as Salome goes to impersonate her.

Later Salome as Taramis has the army disbanded and announces she will marry Constatius. Conan who is captain of the guard sees that she is not the real queen and fights back. Only the army was already disarmed and no match for the mercenaries. Conan is captured and nailed to a cross out in the desert to die. Only he survives and is rescued by Olgerd and the nomadic raiders the Zuagir.

The rule under Salome grows more oppressive. The young men are sold into slavery. People are taxed to death and no woman is safe. Salome has also started to worship dark gods that demand human sacrifice. During this time many flee to Conan who forms his own army. He deposes Olgerd and takes over the Zuagir. Using deception with phony siege machines he gets the mercenaries to come out and he ambushes them. Then he sneaks in and rescues Taramis. Salome is killed but not before she unleashed a demon named Thaug. It is killed by the timely arrival of the Zuagirs. The kingdom is restored to its rightful ruler as Conan gets his revenge by nailing up Constatius.

“Kingdoms and Caravans: A Look at Trade Routes in the Hyborian Age”
By Robert L. Yaple

An article on the trade routes that existed during the time of Conan.

“The Kline Conan”
By Robert Kline

Five artistic drawing of Conan from famous scenes by artist Robert Kline.

So this issue was devoted to one of Howard’s most famous story. This is the one that established him as the most badass character in fiction. It was chosen by John Milnius for his movie and has Conan nailed to a cross in the desert. Not an uncommon method of execution back in the old days. Only Conan spits in Constatius face instead of begs. Kills a vulture by biting it and frees his feet himself after his hands are free. Surprisingly Conan beside this didn’t have much to do with the story. Roy gave him more by replacing the scenes of rescue with Conan instead of the young rebel Marcios. This was another one that I had the full color treasury edition and also remember quite fondly.