SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #151

“Fury of the Near-Men”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is riding across the grass plains of Darfur when he is attacked by a pack of wild dogs. They kill his horse, but Conan manages to drive them off. He later comes on a caravan run by a Corinthian and his son and daughter. Conan saves the daughter from a sabretooth and gets welcomed by the father. They recognize Conan from his gladiator days and the daughter has an infatuation with Conan. Later the caravan is attacked by monkey-men and a storm floods the area and washes Conan away. He is saved by another race of beast-men. After killing the leader, Conan is the new leader. He teaches them how to build spears and bow and arrows. Then leads them to the monkey-men to rescue his friends. He is too later for the father and son but manages to rescue the daughter. After burning down the monkey-men village he and the daughter continue on to civilization. The beast-men start to worship Conan as a god.

“A Bond of Blood”

Writer: John Arcudi

Artist: Mark Pacella

The guy who summoned the demon to kill Kull last issue is at it again. He summons the father of the demon who is pissed to hear that Kull killed his son. This demon though starts to boss around the guy who summoned him. Kull finds this guy and convinces him to help send the demon back. Kull uses the skin from the demon he killed to cover his arm. This is effective in beating up the demon and the guy can complete the spell to open the portal. Only Kull is not in a forgiving mood and tosses the guy into the portal after the demon.

This was an offbeat issue. What with two non-human types. There are the evil monkey guys and the peaceful kinda lion type guys. An original story that was interesting. Of course, once again we get the wonderful Kwapisz/Chan artwork. The Kull story was also an enjoyable one. Kull defeats another demon and gets rid of the troublemaker as only Kull could. Definitely enjoying this run of Savage Sword.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #182

“Testament”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan has been made the warlord of the Kothian city-state of El Shah Maddoc. Yet the king had to give him this title for saving his father. He gives Conan as assignment to take his troops and destroy roving bands of M’Gal, a Kushite nomadic tribe. Only the troops given him are not real soldiers, but dregs taken from the dungeon. Maddoc wants Conan to die and his former warlord Shapur, his daughter Anneka and grandson Jahli. A messenger arrives from the M’Gal with an offer to allow Conan to go free. Conan refuses and this inspires his men. They ambush the attacking M’Gal but are almost wiped out when the M’Gal see something and suddenly flee. Imhotep has arrived. Meanwhile Tetra makes an alliance with the mad king Maddoc.

This was an excellent issue. Conan has to fight a savage horde with substandard men. Yet he manages and we find out some more stuff. That his page is the grandson of the man he deposed. This boy is also the king’s illegitimate son. Shapur is originally arrogant with losing his job but rallies behind Conan to save himself and his daughter. Tetra is making an alliance with the bat shit crazy king who thinks he is a god. Ends with the cliffhanger of Imhotep arriving and a hint at a big battle between him and Conan. An excellent issue with one minor thing. It was originally established that the city was in Shem but now it is in Koth. A minor continuity issue but still something that bugs me.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #150

“Call to the Slain”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is still in Kush and with his crew have finished building their boat. Then a man comes down the river and claims that a shaman is raising an army of the dead. The village now has to prepare while the village shaman resurrects the spirit of their warrior god to save them. Conan’s crew abandons him but are ambushed by the dead army and join them. With the ship this army arrives earlier. A big fight ensues with the dead about to overrun the village. The shaman finally completes the ritual, and the mummified body of their god arises. Then falls apart into dust. Only his spirit goes and occupies Conan. The occupied spirit manages to defeat the army. Later Conan sneaks into the evil shaman’s camp and sprinkles salt on the surviving zombies. This unlocks their memories of life, and the zombies take revenge on the evil shaman.

“Trial by Fear”

Writer: John Arcudi

Artist: Mark Pacella

An evil cult resurrects a demon to kill Kull. Later a baby with a mark on its forehead is found at the gates of the palace. Kull takes it in. Later at night it transforms into a demon that instills fear in its victims. It almost kills Kull but Brule wounds it. It flees and they find the baby only without an arm and not showing any emotion. Kull realizes it is a demon in disguise and cuts it’s head off.

150 issues are a big milestone in comics. They didn’t really do anything special for this event. Still the story was up to its excellent quality that this run has been having under Dixon. A fairly simple story of zombies which back in the day were not that common. Also has a good solid Kull backup.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #181

“Maddoc’s Reign”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan arrives in El Shah Maddoc a small city state in Shem. It was renamed after the mercenary that captured it and usurped the crown. Now his son Maddoc II is the king. He is an arrogant man who kills guys in the arena with his bare hands to show how powerful he is. He is also a nut job who thinks he rules the world. Conan with Kiev offers to save his city from Imhotep. Swain the king’s slave who also can see the future convinces him to hire Conan. Maddoc agrees if Conan will go to the tower his father build and retrieve the signet ring. His father was rumored to be stolen by witches and taken to this tall tower that was built to commemorate his rule. Conan agrees and finds a demon that he slays. He finds the old king still alive and takes him back to his son. The king makes Conan the warlord of the city which pisses off the guy had the job. Tetra is revealed to be behind some plot to bring down Conan at the end.

This was a really good story. The king of this city is a total egotistical nutjob that loves himself. Conan comes in with a ton of confidence and manages to rescue the old king from this tall tower. He gets made the warlord which sets up a rivalry with the old kiss ass warlord that Maddoc had. Tetra is still around plotting something nefarious. Imhotep is still out there after the amulet. This starts up a long story arc that involves Conan’s adventures in this city-state.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #149

“Slaves of the Circle”

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artists: Tom Grindberg and Bob McLeod

Conan and the crew of his captured Nemedian ship have escaped the Nemedians and find themselves in Kush. They come on a bridge blocking the way and are about to fight their way through when the Kushite with them calls to the men in their language. He revels himself not to be a mute and tells Conan that they thought they were slavers. Now they are welcomed and stay at the village. There Conan is told a story from the shaman of being rescued by werepeople and that these werepeople protect the village.

The next day Conan goes hunting with them and they get ambushed by slavers. Conan is captured and taken to a place called the Circle. Founded by a ruthless Shemite, Conan is forced to be a slave. Only the concubine of the ruler takes a liking to Conan, and they start to have an affair. This is discovered and the evil warlord kills his cheating concubine and plans to kill Conan. Only the men from his crew and the village arrive and rescue him. They free the slaves and go back to the village. The evil warlord is found by the werepeople and presumably ends in a very grisly death.

“Traitors’ Gold”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

Kull finds a noble hording food during the siege by the serpent men. This noble flees and goes to the serpent men. He sells them information that the west wall is lightly defended. They attack and find Kull waiting for them. He concluded that this noble would tell them and set an ambush. The serpent commander has the noble skinned and he uses the skin as his banner.

A continuation from the last issue this was a pretty good story. I did wonder on how they made such a journey from Nemedia to Kush, but I guess it is possible. Maybe they went down some small rivers to end up there. A bit weird to travel that far to escape their pursuers. A new artist who while not as good as Buscema still was good. I was a bit disappointed with the werepeople angle. They were set up an important part of the story. Instead, they just were thrown in at the end and didn’t really have any use. Still a fun and enjoyable issue.

The Kull backup was excellent as usual. Short and to the point.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #180

“Witches’ Keep”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Bob Camp

Conan and Kiev are in a forest on their way to El Shah Maddoc a city-state in Koth. While in a tree looking to get his bearings, Conan finds his companion suddenly gone. Also, some soldiers attack him. They take Conan to General Soto who is from El Shah Maddoc and looking for a witch named Ren. Conan warns him about the coming of Imhotep and goes off to find Ren. He finds her and she did kidnap Kiev. She will give him back if Conan brings her the head of General Soto. His death will disorient his men and make it easier for Imhotep to kill them. This will distract Imhotep so she and her daughters can escape.

Conan agrees but kills a lizard and bloodies the bag to fool Ren. She takes him to Kiev but discovers his deceit. Conan manages to cut off the head of Ren. Just then General Soto and his men arrive but so does Imhotep. Imhotep and his demons kill them and flatten the jungle. Only he loses power because of the amulet Conan possesses. Conan and Kiev continue on. Tetra comes and takes the witches’ head and control of her daughters.

Another interesting story. Conan has an amulet that Imhotep needs. Tetra is somehow behind all this but not yet sure of her endgame. Conan has this destination of El Shah Maddoc. Not sure why unless I missed something from last issue. A good story with the usual excellent artwork.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #148

“Besieger of Cities”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan now in command of Nemedia’s legions continues to war against Brythunia. He manages to take a city by starting a fire that burnt up the food stores. He later comes to the main city and comes up with a plan. He fakes his death, and has it known that he had a deathbed conversion to Mitra. He wants to be buried in the city since it has the largest temple to Mitra. As an incentive there is a large tribute, he will leave them. So they allow Conan’s funeral procession to enter and surprise, Conan isn’t dead. They attack and manage to conquer the city.

He returns to the capital as a hero. Only the empress is jealous of Conan’s newfound popularity. So, she has Conan arrested. Conan with his loyal followers manage to escape and take the empress hostage. They take a boat and successfully sail down the river. Conan dumps the traitorous empress into the river to swim home.

“Host of the Serpent Cult”

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artists: Vince Giarrano and Vince Colletta

Kull knows that the serpent cult is actively plotting to take him down. He has the whole population assemble in the square and says the incantation that would expose the true form of any serpent man. Only none appear and everyone thinks Kull is nuts. He later finds out a huge army of serpent men is marching on him. Kull prepares for a long siege.

The continuing saga of Conan’s rise from gladiator to general comes to a conclusion. Naturally it ends in treachery for Conan. What can I say but another excellent issue. The writing is excellent as usual and the artwork also stunning. I like the continuing storyline and wonder if it will continue with Conan as a river pirate or go somewhere else. Either way I’m sure the next issue will also be excellent.

Kull is back as a backup feature and Dixon sets up a big fight with the serpent men. I love Kull and welcome his return.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #179

“The End of All There Is.”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Bob Camp

Conan and Kiev wash ashore unconscious in Shem. A young man named Jamal finds them but has other things to attend to. He later is in the king’s treasure room robbing it. He was helped in by a servant girl who loves him. Only Jamal refuses to take her and she tries to stab him. He accidentally knocks her out the window. This gets the attention of the guard and Jamal escapes to a waiting wagon. Only this wagon is too slow, and he abandons it. He manages to save a crazy prophet from a mob. This prophet gives him an amulet. He leaves the city and comes on Conan and Kiev just as the guard catch up to him. He points out that Conan is the prophesized one that is supposed to save the city.

Conan wakes up in the palace. He finds out Jamal’s ploy to save himself and is not amused. He goes and finds Kiev stuck with arrows, but they didn’t harm him, and he wakes up. Conan decides to just enjoy the perks of the palace while Jamal goes off to steal some maps. He overhears the guard captain plotting a coup. The captain shots a crossbow bolt into him and he dies at Conan’s door. This captain then decides to get rid of the crazy prophet by stirring up the mob. The mob hangs him and soon the demon Imhotep and his horde comes. They destroy the city, but Conan and Kiev are alive because of the amulet. Only the old prophet and the tree he was hanged from are still left. The two continue on to new adventures.

This was a very interesting story. A lot happens in it. Starts with a long prologue before Conan enters the story conscious. A weird story with this prophet that seems to be despised by the populace but at the same time taken seriously. Jamal was an interesting character. He had some moments of good as when he saved the prophet and tried to warn Conan. Yet he seemed to be a self-serving dickhead. I though he was going to be part of the story longer but approve of getting rid of him. Seems that Kiev is going to be Conan’s companion. One of the strangest companions he ever had but also one of the most interesting. I didn’t like the character at first, but he has grown on me. This whole Imhotep threat makes for a good long-term storyline. This series has really gotten fresh and exciting with the addition of Owsley as the writer.

KA-ZAR LORD OF THE SAVAGE LAND #5

“Untitled”

Writer: Zac Thompson

Artists: German Garcia & Alvaro Lopez

Domovoy is on some giant Dreadnoughtus which is a giant dinosaur. It is also a highly toxic dinosaur with plans to poison the Savage Land’s drinking water. Shanna is with Ka-zar’s corpse on a branch sticking out of a cliff. She implores the Savage Land to resurrect her husband which it does. Ka-zar grows pterodactyl wings and carries Shanna off the cliff. He goes to the Dreadnoughtus as Shanna rallies the tribes against Domovoy. Ka-zar enters the dinosaur and finds his son and Zabu battling Domovoy. He spouts some fortune cookie wisdom and gets the polyscon to turn against Domovoy. They do and everybody lives happily ever after.

This series ends as it begins, as a heaping pile of shit. God was this bad. I still have no idea what the whole series was about in the first place. I guess it was about the evil white patriarchy and evils of not being an environmentalist. The creative team at the end has this pretentious letter that pats themselves on the back for a job well done. Obviously, they were high on sniffing their own farts. They actually think they made some difference on the environment and saved Ka-zar by updating it from the modern age. This was just pure crap and thankfully it’s over.

Oh, and happy anniversary to me. I got a notification that today is my 8-year anniversary with WordPress. How time flies. Hope to be around for another eight years.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #147

“Vulture’s Shadow”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan continues his life as a gladiator in Numedia. The empress offers him a generalship in the army which he accepts. Only she just plans to keep him as her lover and not give him an actual command. Naturally this pisses Conan off. A rival general manages to get him assigned a legion. It is the worst disciplined legion in Nemedia. Conan gets them into shape really quick. He manages to defeat a band of brigands that were raiding the supply convoys. This angers the general that got Conan his assignment. Now this barbarian is starting to threaten how he looks. So, he sends assassins. They fail and Conan goes to demand personal combat with this general. He defeats him and gains command of the entire army.

“Rites of Passage”

Writer and Artist: William Johnson

The current leader of the Black Legion challenges Kull to his crown. He uses the fact that Kull as commander of the Legion challenged the former king. Now he thinks it is time for him. Kull obliges the upstart and as expected makes short work of the challenger.

Dixon has decided to continue the adventures of Conan as a gladiator. Now he gets a generalship and has to deal with the intrigue that entails. Of course, he still gets to bang the empress. Another brilliant issue. A great story with the usual excellent artwork.

The Kull backup is from a new writer, and he has potential. A short but enjoyable story. Savage Sword is really kicking it at this time.