PLANET OF THE APES #17

“Graveyard of Lost Cities”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Tom Sutton

Alaric and the Freedom Reaver are going to a Federation of twelve city-ships. There he hopes its leader Grimstark can help him to peacefully free enslaved humans. They find this Federation and Alaric with Starkor and Greymalkyn go on board. They are ambushed by thieves but fight them off. Greymalkyn finds an old friend who tells them about the city. Starkor was seriously wounded and Grimstark is the only one who can help. So they go to the tower in the center ship and find Grimstark. He originally founded the Federation as a peaceful place for all species but it has since degraded to one of superstition.

Meanwhile two disgruntled humans on board the Freedom Reaver decide to take matters into their own hands by rowing over and drilling a hole in the center ship. As the ship sinks the superstitious mob storms the tower. Grimstark escapes in his flying wings but is shot down by arrows. The other three jump overboard and manage to make it back to the Freedom Reaver.

“Glossary of the Planet of the Apes Part I”
By Jim Whitmore

A glossary of people, places and events from all five movies, the TV series and Marvel comics. Contains the A-G.

“Slaves”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Alfredo Alcala

North America 1991. Armando takes a grown up Milo to the city. There he witnesses the enslavement and mistreatment of apes. We get the explanation of the 1982 plague that killed the cats and dogs. How a search for new pets lead to the enslavement of apes. At the end an ape is being beaten and Milo shouts out. Armando takes the blame and is arrested since criticizing government officials is illegal.

So another Future Chronicles story. This one was an interesting idea to have all these city-ships tied together. Graymalkyn the gorilla has started to find common ground with the humans and both groups are set up to continue the exploration of other parts of the Planet of the Apes.

The glossary is a cool idea. Was very good and had many obscure trivia such as the corridor that lead to the mutant city in Battle. The names of minor characters and so on.

The first of the Conquest adaptation starts off strong. Doug lets the pictures tell the story with little need for narration. Also shows that human society in this dystopian 1991 is as much oppressive to humans as apes.

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CONAN THE BARBARIAN #27

“The Blood of Bel-Hissar!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on “The Blood of Belshazzar” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan has ridden south of doomed Makkalet. He comes on a huge Khaitain beating on a woman so he intervenes. The man is Turghol a mute. The two start to fight but the arrival of Turanians force the three to flee. They find shelter in a castle that is inhabited by brigands. Their leader is Skol Abdur the Butcher. He is in charge because he holds the Blood of Bel-Hissar. A giant ruby that was found by a pearl diver back in ancient Acheron. The jewel is supposed to be cursed and Skol Abdur plays off the brigands against each other to stay in power. Later at night the girl he rescues drugs his drink and he wakes up on the floor. He goes searching and finds Skol murdered. The brigands think he did it and the arrival of the girl accusing Conan seals their suspicion. So a fight ensues and Conan is rescued by Turghol. They flee the castle and Turghol shows Conan that he has the jewel. The woman he was beating was his wife and she treacherously tried to steal the jewel but Turghol managed to take it. Conan decides the jewel is bad luck and rides off leaving Turghol.

So another story that was a Crusader non-Conan story written by Howard. It fit perfectly in Conan. Once again we see the brilliance of Howard with his unique story of treachery and various hostile factions. The woman was not innocent. Turghol was a character that I believe shows up again in the future. He had potential. A good story to kick off Conan’s return to wandering the world.

PLANET OF THE APES #16

“When the Calliope Cries Death”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Rico Rival

The Presidential commission has decided that Zira and Cornelius’s baby will be aborted and they will further be sterilized. They don’t know this but Cornelius is furious at how his pregnant wife was treated. So angry that he knocks out the attendant who was bringing food to them. So they escape the compound. Later they manage to get in contact with their only friends Stevie Branton and Lewis Dixon. They take them to Armando who runs a circus and is more than happy to take them in. At the circus little baby Milo is born.

“But Who Shall Inherit the Meek?”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Rico Rival

Dr. Hasslein is determined to find the apes. So he orders every zoo and circus searched. This forces Cornelius and Zira to flee. They are dropped off with directions to hide in a derelict ship at the wharf. They are given a map, food and a pistol. Zira decides to abandon her bag which is found. This leads Hasslein to find the apes in the abandoned ship. A shoot out occurs with Zira, Cornelius and the baby killed along with Dr. Hasslein. At the end it is revealed that Zira substituted her child with the newly born chimp at Armando’s circus.

So this issue they ran the final two adaptations of Escape from the Planet of the Apes. They also didn’t include an article so they were probably under the deadline pressure. The adaptation was an accurate recreation of the movie. Nothing really radically different. A sad story with a tragic ending. Sort of a reverse to the first movie only now it is the apes trapped in a human world. It also sets up the next movie which is considered to be the finest.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #26

“The Hour of the Griffin!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan has defeated Karim-Akkad. Now he has other worries for the Turanians have breached the walls. A traitor has told of the secret passage into the city. So a group of Turanians have opened the gates. Conan finds the guard that helped him still alive and binds his wounds. They run into a group of Turanians with the queen their captive. Conan frees the queen and leads the Turanians away from her. He finds the Living Tarim who is in reality a congenital idiot from centuries of inbreeding. The Living Tarim is killed by arrow firing Turanians. Conan has to fight a giant rat in the secret passage. At the end the queen must leave instead of take up Conan’s offer to accompany him since she is pregnant. Yezdigerd has won and props up the dead body of the Living Tarim so nobody knows that he has been killed.

So the end of the Makkalet siege story. And what an ending. Here is a Conan that is a more visceral one. He is a savage one man army who cuts down soldiers by the dozen. Kills a giant rat with his bare hands. Has a good laugh that the Living Tarim that everyone is fighting over is an inbred idiot. He finds out that the queen was not responsible for the past treachery that almost killed him. Roy did a good job of wrapping up this story. So now Conan once again is a wanderer with further adventures in exotic lands.

PLANET OF THE APES #15

“Future History Chronicles II Dreamer in Emerald Silence”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Tom Sutton

Alaric has led the survivors of Hydromeda to a deserted island. There are also some gorillas shipwrecked on the island. The two groups come to a truce and build a great ship. The gorillas have the knowledge and the humans the numbers to pull it off. Then the gorillas will be dropped off on land and the humans will use the giant ram on the prow to sink city-ships and free the captive humans. There is tension between the two groups which comes out in a fight between the gorilla Greymalkyn and the human second in command Starkor. When Alaric tries to break it up the three get knocked overboard and them swallowed by a sea-monster.

The sea-monster turns out to be a bio-mechanical submarine captained by an orangutan named Ambrosia. The ships name is the Dwelleron. Ambrosia plans to sink all the city-ships because they bring war and pollution to the seas. So the group has some adventures with a giant octopus and savages on an island. Finally as he plans to sink a gathering of city-ships Alaric and friends manage to take over the ship and convince Ambrosia to abandon his ways. They return to their ship but Ambrosia was shamed by the nobility of Alaric and decides to blow up the Dwelleron.

“In the Cradle of the Father’s Sins”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Rico Rival

The Presidential commission decides to give Zira and Cornelius into the hands of Dr. Otto Hasslein. He then has Zira put under with sodium pentothal. Here Zira reveals the future and how she did experiments on humans. We also learn how the plague killed the cats and dogs and thus replaced them with apes. The apes became slaves and eventually rebelled. At the end it is decided to terminate Zira’s pregnancy.

So only two stories and no articles in this issue. The first story continues the Future Chronicles and was basically a Captain Nemo on the Planet of the Apes. I actually found this to be an excellent story. Very original and interesting to see what was happening on other parts of the planet. The Escape adaptation was once again an accurate adaptation. Interesting to find that the ape revolt was supposed to happen two centuries from now which actually makes more sense than the 1991 date in the next movie.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #25

“The Mirrors of Kharam Akkad”
Writers: Roy Thomas and Barry Smith inspired by “The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Kharam Akkad is upset. He has the mirrors of Tuzun Thune and one shows a barbarian standing over his dead body. Above are an eagle, snake and lion. He finds out the barbarian is close by and has him arrested. So Conan after a good fight is knocked out and taken to Kharam. There he is put in front of a mirror that shoots out tentacles that try to strangle him. A guard is sympathetic and tries to help but Kharam kills him. The guard’s sword gets within reach of Conan who uses it to free himself. Then he fights Kharam. The wizard puts up a good fight but hesitates when he notices the pommel of Conan’s sword is an eagle. Conan cuts the straps on his shield which he sees are made of snake skin. Then he tries to use his magic mirror but Conan runs him through thus fulfilling the prophecy.

So we find out what happened to the mirrors from one of Kull’s greatest stories. Kharam puts up a good sword fight for a wizard. Usually they aren’t that proficient. So Barry has left the art chores for the series although he does co-plot this issue. The big news is John Buscema coming on as artist. He would stay on for another 100 issues along with Roy. These two are where I started reading Conan so their style set the image of Conan for me. I think the two did some of their finest work with this series and look forward to their stories.

So the story was a fun one. It used an event from Kull’s time to good effect. With Buscema drawing this just feels like the Conan I remember from my youth. So Makkalet is on the verge of doom. Yezdigerd has decided to mount a final assault now that Pah-Dishah has deserted their allies. So next issue will be the ending of the siege of Makkalet story.

BIZARRE ADVENTURES #34

“Son of Santa!”
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Artist: Alan Kupperberg

A young homeless man in New York is approached by a midget with an offer. He claims to be a talent scout for a Japanese action movie and gives the man a plane ticket to Japan and a thousand dollar bill. So on the plane the little man hijacks it and forces the man to parachute out over the north pole. They come on the ruins of a building with dead reindeer and elfs. Santa is also encased in a block of ice. Seems the boy is Santa’s son who was abandoned with a family to raise. Only the family was not very good. So the man now has to battle the anti-Claus. He eventually traps him in the magic bag. So the son with Donner and Blitzen the only surviving reindeer assumes the mantle of Santa Claus. Only he decides to relocate operations to the Bahamas.

“Howard the Duck’s Christmas”
Writer: Steve Grant
Artist: Paul Smith

Howard the Duck is going to jump off the Golden Gate bridge on Christmas Eve. An angel comes to show him his life if he never lived. So first is Paul Same who he stopped from killing an art critic. Only in this life Paul is famous for the act and about to be pardoned. Then it is Arthur Winslow an author who Howard saved from being a slave to aliens. Only now he is a successful screenwriter. Then Bev his girlfriend who is about to marry a heir to a billion dollar fortune. Howard decides not to kill himself and the angel gets his wings.

“Dr Deth not to Mention Kip and Muffy”
Writer and Artist: Larry Hama

In a post-apocalyptic world Dr. Deth and his companions Kip and Muffy stop some mutants and rescue a little baby.

“Slaybells!”
Writer and Artist: Michael Carlin

A young boy goes around killing Santas at Christmas. Seems years ago his father was looking out a window and Santa fell on him and squashed him to death. So one Christmas the boy ambushes Santa. Years later he is released from prison but as he gets home his mother is squashed by a giant Easter egg. Promises another story if there is an Easter special.

“Santa Bites the Big Apple!”
Writer and Artist: Alan Milgrom

Santa comes to New York and has no luck. He is mistaken for a Hare Khrishna and attacked by guard dogs. He almost gets killed by a jealous boyfriend with a shotgun. The police throw him in jail for vagrancy but he manages to escape through the air vent. Later he finds his sleigh stripped and reindeer gone. He also got a parking ticket. So he comes up with the only way to give presents in New York a discount store. Everyone steals from the place but good is relative. At least nobody has tried to shoot him.

“Bucky Bizarre”
Writer: Steve Skeates
Artist: Steve Smallwood

Bucky travels to the time of Dickens because that Christmas was not commercialized. He meets up with a girl trying to sell matches who is a revolutionary who plans to blow up the home of the matches company.

“From the Warp of Denny O’Neil
By Denny O’Neil

An editorial on all the problems of Christmas.

So this was the final issue ever of Bizarre Adventures. It was in color and not in magazine format. As the cover suggests it is a very anti-Christmas issue. I loved all the stories. They were funny. Even the Bucky Bizarre and I never liked that character. A good tongue in cheek Christmas issue.

GIANT-SIZE CONAN #5

“A Sword Called Stormbringer!”
Writers: Roy Thomas story by Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint of Conan #14.

“The Green Empress of Melnibone”
Writers: Roy Thomas story by Michael Moorcock and J. Cawthorn
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint of Conan #15.

“Tales of the Hyborian Age! The Blood of the Dragon!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Gil Kane

A reprint of Conan #12.

So the final Giant-size was nothing but reprints. The Hour of the Dragon was not finished but will be in the Savage Sword which I will someday hopefully get to soon. So I hope you enjoyed the bonus reviews that I did this week of my Christmas vacation.

GIANT-SIZE CONAN #4

“Swords of the South!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on adaptation of novel “The Hour of the Dragon” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Gil Kane

Conan and Albiona leave Tarantia in an Asuran boat. Disguised as pilgrims they will not be bothered. In Poitain Conan finds his loyal friend Count Trocero in charge. A priest of Asura comes and informs Conan that the Heart of Ahriman was stolen from the thief and taken to a bandit’s castle. So Conan goes there disguised as a mercenary seeking employ. After proving his worth he is assigned to help torture the information on how to open an iron box that the jewel is located in. Zorathus has his last laugh as he gives instructions on how to open the box but it also poisons the opener. A thief Beloso knocks Conan out. So Conan gives chase and his horse trips. When Conan comes to he has to fight a cannibalistic ghoul. Then he makes it to Messantia in Argos and looks up an old contact from his pirate days. He finds the location of the thief but is too late as Stygians have taken the jewel.

“The Lurker Within!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story “The God in the Bowl” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint of Conan #7.

So Conan’s quest takes him further from his kingdom. A lot happens in this story. Conan finds that Poitain is all but declared its independence and wants to make Conan its king. But Conan has to regain all of Aquilonia and must retrieve the Heart of Ahriman. So another disguise and more adventures with a bandit band. Ghouls and old fences from his pirate days. Now he has to go to Stygia and on his trail are the four mysterious Khaitains that Valerius sent after him.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #24

“The Song of Red Sonja”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith

Red Sonja is dancing at a tavern with Conan when a fight breaks out. The two decide to get out before the guard comes. Sonja convinces Conan to help her break into a tower on the palace grounds. Conan uses his climbing skills to break in. There Sonja takes a golden serpent tiara. For her real mission to Makkalet is to recover this gift that the king of Pah-Dishah regrets giving as a wedding present. Only Sonja forgets to utter the magic words that prevent it from turning into a huge golden serpent. Conan manages to kill it and it turns back into a tiara. Sonja then takes off and leaves Conan.

So this is the very first full story that featured Red Sonja. So here she wears a more conservative and practical chain-mail blouse instead of the iconic bikini. It was very obvious that the character would become quite popular and get her own series not to mention numerous guest appearances in Conan. She easily manipulates Conan to help her which won’t be the last time. This was a favorite of Roy in his collaboration with Barry. It also was the last issue Barry Smith would draw. A great milestone in the series and very enjoyable issue.