CONAN THE BARBARIAN #200

“The Fall of Acheron”

Writers: James C. Owsley and Mark Bright

Artists: Val Semeiks and Geof Isherwood

Conan and his friends face a giant Devourer of Souls. He causes a small atomic explosion to destroy them. Only the elder god’s sword shields them. In a fit of rage, the Devourer sends out flaming fireballs. One destroys El Shah Maddoc. The Devourer goes off in a huff. Thulsa Doom makes a deal with Xuthl to find out the location of the Devourer.

Meanwhile Xuthl then goes to the Devourer to collect on a debt. Xuthl wants the Devourer to make the most beautiful, unblemished woman fall in love with him. The Devourer finds her in Poitain. He creates a beautiful mortal body and masquerades as Acheron a noble from Brythunia. He courts the daughter of Count Trocero the beautiful Seraph. Over time he actually falls in love with her. When he does, Xuthl comes and kills her. Conan and friends arrive and battle their way through an army of skeletons to get to the body of the Devourer in the crypt. Conan kills Acheron which brings the soul back into the Devourer’s body. The Devourer is really angry, and an epic battle occurs. Conan wins and it looks as though the Devourer is destroyed. Solaise and Sedrick come back to life. Only at the end Acheron is brought back by Xuthl on a far island.

The big 200th issue. A very rare occurrence and shows that this series was quite popular. This is something that can’t happen nowadays. Series never last that long. This was a decent issue. We get a conclusion to the Devourer of Souls saga. Sets up some new stuff like Thulsa Doom now hanging around. Acheron is still around and probably angry at Conan. El Shah Maddoc is destroyed.

If there was a complaint it was that Conan was more of a guest, then the main star. The story was mostly focused on The Devourer/Acheron. For such a momentous event I would have liked Conan to take center stage. Otherwise, a great conclusion to 200 issues.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #170

Emerald Lust”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Gary Kwapisz

Conan gets in trouble by sleeping with a chieftain’s daughter in Vanaheim. This chieftain assembles a group to go after him. Red Sonja who happens to be in the area offers her services. Meanwhile a Vanir ship finds a guy on a raft. Before he dies, he tells of a great emerald mountain far to the north. Valeria, who is on the ship, was able to translate and convinces the captain to go after this treasure. Conan comes to the port and meets his old friend Valeria who invites him on the quest.

Conan agrees since the chieftain is after him. The chieftain is not swayed by Conan leaving and hires a ship to pursue. Conan and the crew do find an emerald mountain. Only it is soon discovered that the mountain is made of green ice and not emerald. The chieftain’s ship arrives and attacks. During the fight the ice mountain collapses and destroyed both ships. Only Conan, Sonja and Valeria survive. They head south and battle the cold and huge walruses.

“The King Kull Portfolio”

Artists: Steve Carr and Al Williamson

A portfolio of full-page drawings from some of Kull’s greatest stories.

Dixon and Kwapisz are back to the series, and we get another fun story. This one has both Red Sonja and Valeria. I didn’t think that the super jealous Valeria was really in character for her. Otherwise, it was an interesting story. Now there was a story taking place in the far north about two issues ago. So, it seemed a bit repetitive. Yet I have no complains about the art. It was beautiful especially Sonja and Valeria. The Kull portfolio was also enjoyable to look at.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN ANNUAL #12

“Legion of the Dead”

Writers: James Owsley and Val Semeiks

Artists: Vince Giarrano and Ernie Chan

The Devourer of Souls now has Solaise and Sedrick. He goes to Arallu to talk to Thulsa Doom about Sedrick. Doom tells that in his time a young shepherd saved a knight of Valusia. For a reward this knight made him his squire. Only the other squires constantly bullied him because of his peasant origins. Sedrick decided to join with Thulsa Doom in a plot to assassinate Kull. He got an audience with Kull and used an enchanted staff to summon beast men. Kull managed to defeat them, and Doom turned Sedrick into an immortal cat. The Elder Gods used Sedrick to hold their power.

The Devourer thanks Doom and frees him from his chains. He then goes to the footslave of the Elder Gods and takes him for a ritual to get the power from Solaise and Sedrick. Conan after defeating some scavengers also goes to look for the footslave and finds the portal to Arallu. There Doom tells Conan of the Devourer’s plan and the two fight their way back to the world. Only he finds that the Devourer has now the power to destroy the world.

The final annual of the Conan series. I loved this quaint little custom of celebrating a series yearly anniversary with a special double size issue. Unfortunately, by the nineties this was phased out. This issue though ushered in the big 200th issue. We get some more background on things like the origin of Sedrick. There was a backstory of Red Sonja losing her fighting ability after being raped and getting it back when a comrade dies protecting her.

Thulsa Doom from Kull is brought into the story. Not necessarily as a good guy but someone who is acting on his self-interest. A fun and enjoyable story that gets us all set up for the big 200th issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #169

“Brothers of the Skull”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Mike Docherty and Ernie Chan

Conan finally makes it back from his adventures in the New World. He finds that the capital Tarantia is in pretty bad shape. Crime is rampant as he finds out when some thugs try to collect a toll from him. He finds his general Pallantides drinking in a tavern. From him he finds out that while he was away many suitors came to marry his queen. They were sent away but one an Akhmet Ta a noble from Turan. He had a sinister retinue called The Brothers of the Skull. He gives Zenobia a skull gem which mesmerizes her. Just then a sailor claims to have seen Conan die in a shipwreck off the coast of Kush. Zenobia sends the Black Dragons off to find the body. She then has Trocero take the army and city militia to the border. This is why the city has fallen into such lawlessness.

Conan has Pallantides go and fetch the army. He sends his companions lead by Gobo to infiltrate the palace using the sewers. Conan goes to enter through the front door and confronts The Brothers of the Skull. He finds out they are zombies and is captured. Akhmet Ta has used his magic to control Zenobia and orders her to kill Conan. Only her love is too strong and breaks the spell. Just then Gobo comes into the throne room being chased by rats. The rats eat Akhmet Ta and his zombies. Trocero comes back and Conan is once again King and reunited with his family.

“The Endless Stair”

Writer: Peter B. Gillis

Artists: Steve Carr and Armando Gil

Red Sonja is in a village in northern Aquilonia. She is waiting for an event known as the Endless Stairs. A bright light that shoots up into the sky. Rumor has it that it leads to treasure. Sonja goes to it and finds a beautiful man. This man tries to win Sonja in fair combat and does defeat her. Only Sonja still resists him. Because of that, he is taken back by the light.

“Death and Taxes”

Writer & Artist: Dave Simons

Kull has decided that some rich people have not been paying taxes. So, he sends out his tax collector. Bollag Zajak runs the local gambling house and hasn’t paid taxes in 28 years. He has no intention of paying and hires a wizard. This wizard lifts the gambling house into the air and thus Bollag Zajak is no longer residing on Valusian soil. Only the wizard gets drunk, and the place comes crashing down. Kull is there to collect the taxes with interest.

In spite of the lackluster cover this was a really good issue. Like Homer’s Odyssey, Conan comes home to find his wife besieged by unwanted suitors. Only all the suitors were turned into zombies by a wizard who managed to mesmerize Zenobia. Needless to say, Conan as Ulysses did, takes out the unwanted suitors and reclaims his manor. Conway did an interesting story with Conan going to the Hyborian New World.

As for the two backups well, the Red Sonja was a bit of a letdown. I didn’t care for the art. It makes Sonja just too ugly, and the story didn’t have much to it. Now the Kull one was excellent. Kull makes some deadbeat pay his taxes and it had a humorous ending.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #199

“Revelation in the Mists”

Writer: James C. Owsley

Artists: Val Semeiks and Geof Isherwood

The elder gods awake because of Solaise and Sedrick now being united. Conan and Kaleb continue to fight as the Devourer decides to bring both of them to the river in the Forest of Eternal Verities. He creates a portal and lures Solaise and Sedrick. Conan and Kaleb follow. There the river reveals the truth about Kaleb. How he was so angry at his holy order that he made a deal with the Council of Seven. He would steal the Eye of Namut which allowed them to capture the child of an elder god. Kaleb got a bottomless bag of gold. Yet he was too guilty about what he did and destroyed the eye. For punishment the elder child was imprisoned in the body of Solaise. The girl would never age and Kaleb was granted powers and immortality to watch over her.

The Devourer reveals himself and Kaleb knocks out Conan. The Devourer now has control over both Solaise and Sedrick. He takes away the power from Kaleb who reverts to an old man. The elder gods turn the staff of the elder gods into a sword. The Devourer with Solaise and Sedrick goes off to get power over creation.

The final issue before the big 200th does a great job of setting up the final big confrontation. We finally get why Solaise has these powers. Conan is mostly a spectator in this issue. I’m sure that will change. They also will continue in the annual before the 200th issue. So, we are getting two big double size issue in a row.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #168

“The God Below”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Mike Docherty and Ernie Chan

Conan continues his adventures in the Hyborian New World. This time he takes his ship north to look for a passage back home. Instead, he finds a frozen land. A giant blue whale traps his ship. After a fight with a giant walrus, he runs into an Eskimo tribe. They take him and his crew back to their igloo village and give them food. Conan notices that they are starving and finds out that the whale has driven all the fish away. They believe the whale is a god and is punishing them for some reason.

Conan wants to live and devises a plan to kill this god. He builds a giant crossbow to mount on his ship. The Eskimos try to stop him because they don’t want to anger their god. They fail and Conan manages to kill the whale. The Eskimos and Conan’s crew feast on its carcass and Conan sets sail westward, abandoning the search for a northwest passage.

The third installment to a Hyborian Odyssey brings up to that world’s version of Alaska. A fairly simple story of battling a giant whale. What makes it so beautiful is the stunning artwork. Most of the story is told with little or no dialogue. The pictures convey the story. Some beautiful feel of an Artic waste and a giant whale. A good enjoyable issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #198

“The River”

Writer: James C. Owsley

Artists: Val Semeiks and Geof Isherwood

Conan and his friends find the unconscious Red Sonja. She was raped and left for dead by Bahkt. Naturally this pisses Conan off and he goes alone to seek his revenge. After Conan leave, General Freja decides now is the time to arrest his friends. He does this by kidnapping Solaise and threatening her life. Conan tracks Bahkt and cuts off his hand in a fight. Bahkt runs off and Conan talks to a magical river. It reveals that the Devourer of Souls is behind his problems and also shows that Solaise is in his arms. Bahkt attacks and Conan gets his revenge.

Meanwhile at his camp General Freja decides to have Solaise’s cat Sedrick put to death. This unleashes the power of Solaise and a blinding white light kills General Freja and all his men. Conan arrives and first visits Red Sonja. He shows her the severed head of Bahkt which does make Sonja happy. Then he goes to confront Solaise but this awakens her father Kaleb the Destroyer who threatens Conan if he continues to bother Solaise.

We are getting to the big 100th and it is setting us up for a big showdown. A showdown with the Devourer and apparently one with the mysterious Solaise and her father. There was a very touching moment when Conan visits Sonja. He clearly has feelings of friendship for her. A strange story with its talking river. Conan’s battle with Bahkt was fairly quick and decisive. Have one more filler issue until we get to the big final.

KING CONAN #6

“Conan’s Last Stand at the Edge of the World Part Six: The Boy in the Tree”

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Mahmud Asrar

A sailor approaches the throne of Conan II with grim news. His ship found a reef surrounded by corpses. In the reef was the broken sword of Conan. It is assumed that Conan is dead. Back to the past and Conan and Thoth Amon fight the zombie hordes and red apes of Princess Prima. Conan manages to set the massive cache of lava tar on fire. This blows up the entire island. Thoth Amon decides to claim the princess’s power but instead ends up a prisoner to that power. Conan later sits on the surviving reef drinking wine. He sees the sharks and something in the water and dives in. Back to the present and Conan II sails to the Western Sea. He throws in a good sword to carry to his father. At the end Conan has found the fingernail boat that Princess Prima was going to entrap Conan. But the islands power is gone, and he continues on to new lands to the west.

This was an excellent ending to an excellent story. They really outdid themselves with their final Conan story for Marvel. It had the perfect touch and ended as it should, Conan going off into new lands to explore. He is timeless and should never die. So now Conan and other REH properties will go to Titan next year. Probably a good idea as Marvel is circling the drain. They did a great job with Conan. Thankfully the owners of Conan insisted on quality and not wokeness. Otherwise, I have a feeling that we would have got a nonbinary pink haired Conan. I commend everyone involved with Conan for Marvel on an excellent job and look forward to what Titan will do next year.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #167

“Spirit of the Beast A Hyborian Odyssey, Part Two”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Michael Docherty and Ernie Chan

Conan and Gobo with their small crew of Inka continue north to look for a northern passage home. They land for supplies and get attacked by natives. Later birds carrying flaming embers manage to set fire to the mast. The natives at night swim out and capture Conan and the crew. The shaman of the tribe has Conan and a beautiful girl taken to be sacrificed to a large bear. Conan manages to escape with the girl and they go back to her tribe.

He finds out that the two tribes were friendly until this shaman came and took over the neighboring tribe. After a bit of peyote, Conan gets a vision that his inner beast is the lion. The next day Conan leads the tribe in an attack on the village. Conan has to fight the bear which is united with the shaman. Even after burying his ax in the bear’s head, it doesn’t die. The girl stabs the shaman which kills both him and the bear. For his reward the mast is fixed, and Conan continues on his way home.

The second in the Hyborian Odyssey brings us to a Hyborian North America. Conan has some adventures among the Hyborian Native Americas. Like all the other places in the Hyborian age they also have their share of sorcery and magic. A fun and original story that gives us some great beautiful artwork and takes Conan someplace completely different.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #197

“Stand”

Writer: James C. Owsley

Artists: Val Semeiks and Geof Isherwood

Conan has to stop an enraged dinosaur that was provoked by General Freja. Conan manages to lead the dinosaur out of the village and into an old cave where it can die. Meanwhile at his camp, Bahkt has come looking for Conan. He is now changed into a demon by the Devourer of Souls. He kills the soldiers and then has to fight Kaleb, Kobe and Anneka. Anneka uses the Staff of the Elder Gods to drive off Bahkt. They then link up with Red Sonja and go to Conan. Bahkt manages to capture Red Sonja unnoticed as they ride.

At the cave Conan guards the old dinosaur to make sure nobody bothers it. General Freja comes with a mob to kill the dinosaur and threatens Conan. His friends stand with him and Freja backs down. Solaise was put in a tree by her father to be safe. She lost Sedrick her cat and sees him. When she goes to him, she meets the Devourer of Souls. He bows to her and calls her master.

Lot of stuff is happening as we come to the 200th issue. Bahkt is some superpowered demon and still after Conan. He managed to kidnap Red Sonja to get at Conan. Conan has to put a general in his place. I love how this badass handful of men and woman manage to face down a whole angry mob. The big surprise is the Devourer of Souls bowing to young Solaise. We already know Solaise has some special powers but now the Devourer is pledging his loyalty to her. Sets up some interesting stuff to be resolved.