SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #3

“At the Mountain of the Moon-God”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Pablo Marcos

Conan is enjoying the celebrations after his defeat of Nahotek. He goes with princess Yasmela to her room when a dying man bursts in. It was a spy sent by Yasmela to find the whereabouts of her brother held captive by Ophir. He dies but delivers a map showing a secret passage to the Mountain of the Moon-God. Her handmaid Vateesa is jealous of Yasmela because she loves Conan. So Vateesa goes and sells the map to the king of Koth. Strabonis the king of Koth sends his man Sergius and his men to rescue the king so he can claim Khoraja for his kingdom.

Conan has taken off to rescue King Khossus with two men. While climbing the cliff Sergius starts an avalanche that kills the two men with Conan but Conan manages to escape and find a cleft that leads inside. Sergius and his men are ambushed and captured. Conan though manages to free the king and capture the traitor Vateesa. They flee down the cleft as the Ophir commander pours the cauldron of hot oil down. The oil manages to hatch a pterodactyl egg. The pterodactyl kills Vateesa but Conan breaks off it’s beak with his bare hands and manages to kill it. He returns the king to Khoraja but Yasmela has decided to marry the Stygian prince in exile that once served Natohk. Conan being Conan just shrugs and takes some serving wenches to celebrate.

“The First Barbarian Chronicles of the Sword Part II”
By Lin Carter
Illustrations by John Severin

The second part of the article on the birth of sword & sorcery. This one deals with Robert E. Howard and his first ever story of sword & sorcery “The Shadow Kingdom”. He wrote nine Kull stories in total but only was able to sell two.

“The Testing of Blackmark”
Writer and Artist: Gil Kane

Blackmark has now grown to adulthood. He apparently escaped slavery and became a successful bandit chief. Only King Kargon has captured him and is pissed that Blackmark is still not cowed. So he has him fight in the gladiatorial arena. Blackmark is paired with Balzamo the man who served king Amarix. He was there when Amarix transferred his knowledge into Blackmark’s mother. The two fight a giant fire-breathing lizard. Blackmark manages to kill it by climbing a statue in the arena and jumping down and driving his sword into the lizard’s brain.

“Kull of Atlantis”
Writer: Roy Thomas with quotations from “Exile of Atlantis” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A brief retelling on Kull’s origin. This was originally planned as a Kull paperback that was to be done by Thomas and Smith but never came to fruition.

“Demons of the Summit”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Bjorn Nyberg
Artist: Tony daZuniga

Conan is in the Turanian army and escapes the Khozgari after they ambush and massacre the men he was with. Only one man survived with him. The come on a woman named Shanya the daughter of the chief of the Khozgari. They take her as hostage and plan to go through the Misty Mountains. Shanya warns them that demons inhabit the mountains but Conan is not superstitious. When they get there his companion is crushed by a boulder and the girl is kidnapped. Conan follows to a fortress inhabited by some weird guys in masks. Conan kills them all and has to fight a spider like demon.

So this has an excellent sequel to “Black Colossus” from last issue. Thomas knew how to write just like Howard. The story is an enjoyable telling of the loose threads that Howard never explained.

The article is an interesting telling of Howard’s early Kull stories and why they didn’t become the success with “Weird Tales”.

Blackmark continues to be an interesting read. We are introduced to King Kargon and his scheming wife. There is also a rocket in the arena that foretells that the one who makes it fly will rule the kingdom. Blackmark also sees the warlord that killed his parents as a guest of Kargon. Sets up all the big plot points to this epic.

Finally the Kull story was an interesting look at a possible project that was never done. The Nyberg story was also an interesting look at Conan’s days in the Turanian army. Another excellent issue.

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CONAN THE BARBARIAN #44

“Of Flame and the Fiend!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story “The Tower of Blood” by David A. English
Artists: John Buscema & The Crusty Bunkers

Conan wakes up in the dungeon with Sonja. The two discuss what has happened to them when Morophla comes. He forces Conan to accompany him to his holding pen for the degraded human captives. He has plans to have Conan mate with his captives for fresh new stock for blood. He uses some powder to stimulate Conan and it descends into a psychedelic distortion as Conan is forced to perform. Later he is brought back to the dungeon. Uathacht the sister comes along and shows a desire for Conan. Conan agrees to be with her if she can set Sonja free. She later comes back with news that she has bound her brother’s soul. Only her jealousy drives her to try and kill Sonja. Sonja manages to win the knife fight and kills Uathacht. Then they are free and find their swords. Morophla while bound can still conjure images from Conan’s mind. So Conan fights a golden ape, an octopus and medusa headed giant snake. Sonja manages to spread oil and set it on fire. The fire reaches Morophla and kills him. The two escape with the help of the bat-men that are now free. Sonja at the end knocks Conan out with a rock since she does not want a man looking after her and rides off leaving an unconscious Conan.

Well this was a strange story. A bit risque for the seventies with its none to subtle rape of Conan. It was still an interesting story. It was nice to see Sonja and her interaction with Conan. An interesting experiment but good that we end it and move on to Conan and his adventuring in the Hyborean world.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #2

“Black Colossus”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Alfredo Alcala

A thief comes to the ruins of Kuthchemes an old civilization that was sacked by Hyborians centuries ago. He comes to the tomb of the wizard Thugra Khotan. The thief manages to find a way into the old tomb and after battling a cobra finds a room filled with treasure. Only there is a sinister figure there too. Later the Princess Yasmela gets another dream from the mad priest Natohk who has managed to unite the various nomad tribes. He taunts her that he will take her for his queen. The princess asks her handmaiden for advice and she suggests preying to Mitra. As she preys in his temple a voice tells her to go and give command of her army to the first man she finds. So she does and it is Conan who is a mercenary in her army.

So she appoints Conan general to the dismay of her nobles. For the small state of Khoraja is in a bad situation. Her brother the king has been taken prisoner by a neighboring kingdom. Another larger one wants to annex the state and Natohk has raised a sizable force to conquer her small kingdom. Conan takes charge and marches the army to battle. The find Natohk’s army and the knights ignore Conan and charge. Only it is a trap and Natohk uses sorcery to defeat the knights. But Conan pulls things together and defeats the army. Natohk kidnaps Yasmela and takes her back to Kuthchemes and his tomb to perform a ritual for power. Conan follows and manages to throw his sword and kill Natohk who turns out to be the ancient wizard Thugra Khotan. Yasmela shows her gratitude by giving herself to Conan.

“Chronicles of the Sword an Informal of Sword-and Sorcery Fiction.”
Writer: Lin Carter
With illustrations by Al Milgrom, Alan Weiss and Joe Stanton

An article of the birth of the genre. He starts with Lord Dunsany an Irish poet who wrote in the early part of the twentieth century. He was an influence of Lovecraft who influenced Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard.

“Blackmark Chapter II”
Writer & Artist Gil Kane

On the post-apocalypse New Earth the young Blackmark shows signs of intelligence and strength at an early age. One day a warlord comes to conquer the land. Blackmark’s father refuses to submit and is killed. Blackmark’s mother is raped and killed. The young Blackmark is left and vows to get his revenge by conquering the New Earth. Only slavers find him at the end.

“The Beast from the Abyss”
Writer: Steve Englehart adapted from “Black Abyss” by Robert E. Howard & Lin Carter
Artists: Howard Chaykin & The Crusty Bunkers

Kull is visiting the city of Kamala. The city is known for its decadent pleasure and Kull finds the Baron Ergon a gracious host. As Kull leaves the festivities Brule comes with news that his fellow Picts have been kidnapped. Kull and Brule follow the trail to an underground chamber. There the decadent Baron Ergon is using the captive Pict as a sacrifice to a worm creature. Kull kills the pagan worshipers and flings a burning torch at the worm and sets it aflame.

So this issue had a Howard story which is a classic. It has Conan thrust into a role of leadership which he is obviously suited for. A dead wizard come back to life. He rides a chariot pulled by a demon winged camel and driven by an ape creature. And of course Conan gets the girl at the end. A wonderful story.

The article was interesting and the first installment of a series. The articles for this magazine were usually interesting.

The Blackmark story continues to establish the character. It now gives him his motivation. A fun story combining Conan type action with a futuristic post-apocalypse world.

Finally the Kull story was an enjoyable read. I believe based on a fragment of a Howard story finished by Carter. A wonderful tale of a decadent civilization and Kull’s barbaric justice.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #43

“Tower of Blood”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by David A. English
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chua

Conan and Sonja are being chased by bounty hunters. The heirs to the king Sonja killed put a big bounty on her head. They manage to shoot an arrow into Sonja’s horse. So Conan finds a cleft in a hill to hide in. Once their they manage to start an avalanche and kill all but one of the bounty hunters. So without horses the two explore what’s through the cleft and find a fog enshrouded valley. A bat creature attacks them which Conan kills. Then they make it to a mysterious tower and a figure knocks them out with a thrown vile that releases a smoke.

Conan wakes and finds that they are prisoners to an immortal brother and sister named Morophla and Uathacht. The two were driven from Stygia by Thoth Amon and cursed to need blood to remain alive. They ruled over a city of humans but the mist in the valley killed and devolved them over time. They plan to use Conan and Sonja to repopulate their human herd. The jealous Uathacht pushes Sonja into a pit that has a cannibalistic monster named Dromek. Conan jumps in and defeats the creature with a bone. Morophla uses his mesmerism to force Conan to take Sonja into a cell where they await their fate.

So here is another interesting story. I never heard of this David English but from this I would like to read some of his work. Continuing on from the debut of Savage Sword we have Sonja and Conan together. Its obvious that Sonja is a likable character and destined for great things including her own series. So how will Conan and Sonja escape from these creepy wizards. Looking forward to the next issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #1

“Curse of the Undead-Man”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Mistress of Death” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Pablo Marcos

Conan is in the City of Thieves when some priests run from an alley. They are chased by thieves who bump into Conan. The thieves decide to kill Conan because they think he saw their crime. Conan slices up the thieves except the last one because he trips on something. Fortunately Red Sonja is there to save him. Conan picks up a severed finger that he slipped on. They go into the alley and find a man in some circle. Sonja recognizes him as the wizard Costranno. She witnessed his execution earlier. A local madame Berthilda cut off his ring finger and betrayed him. It looks as if his followers were trying to resurrect the wizard. Conan contemptuously throws the finger down and leaves never seeing it reattach itself to the wizard.

So later at a tavern he notices the ring finger on a hooded man. Before he can act the city guard comes to arrest both him and Sonja. A pissed off harlot named them as suspects. So they fight their way out and go to the home of Berthilda. Conan likes to clean up his own messes. They find the wizard summoning a demon. Conan cuts off his hand and throws the body into the pit the demon is rising them. Then they seal the pit and take Berthilda out. Only Berthilda is not grateful and goes back. Conan threw the hand with the ring with the body so the wizard is once again alive to take his revenge. Conan decides once is enough and him and Sonja go off.

“A Hyperborean Oath”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on the new magazine. Basically it will have adaptation of Howard’s Conan stories and other characters. The only exception is the Blackmark feature which was inspired by Howard.

“Red Sonja”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Esteban Maroto, Neal Adams and Ernie Chua

Red Sonja comes back from her mission to Makkalet with the serpent tiara. Only the king of Pah-Dishah decides to interpret as giving his most precious gift as being himself. So Sonja is taken to be cleaned up for his harem. Only Sonja instead manages to use the king’s own dagger and kill him. Then she has to fight the king’s bodyguard who is pissed that he will not have an old age pension. Sonja helps out by making sure he will never need one.

“Conan’s Women Warriors”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the four warrior women that Conan met. They are Belit, Yasmala, Valeria and Red Sonja.

“Blackmark”
Writer & Artist: Gil Kane

In a post-apocalypse future a couple are going to a new place to start over. In the wastes they meed King Amarix and his servant. They are fleeing his people because the king believes in restoring science and that is blamed for the destruction of the Earth. Amarix manages to use his technology to make the young woman fertile and she will give birth to a son that has the memories of the lost science from the old days.

“An Atlantean in Aquilonia”
By Glen Lord

An article on how the failed story “By This Ax I Rule” was cannibalized and rewritten as the first Conan story “The Phoenix on the Sword”.

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint from Savage Tales #1.

So here it is. The very first Savage Sword of Conan. Probably the most successful of the black and white magazines from the seventies. It is the only series to last until the nineties. Needless to say this was an excellent start. The stories were brilliant. The articles interesting. They packed a lot into those 84 pages for a buck. You just don’t get this now days. Out of all the Conan series ever done this had to be the best.

Also the main story takes place after the Conan the Barbarian issue #42. The one I just read last Thursday. I swear I didn’t plan that at all. Just wonderful how it worked out like that.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #42

“Night of the Gargoyle!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from “The Purple Heart of Erlik” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan has made it to the City of Thieves in Zamora. While sitting around a beautiful woman attracts his attention. The woman Arlinna is being blackmailed by Baron Takkim. He saw her leaving the scene of the murder of the ambassador from Khitai. It was the servant who murdered him but Takkim will frame Arlinna. So she is forced to impersonate an Aquilonian noblewoman to steal the Dragon-Head of Koblar-Zann from the Khitain merchant Lun-Farr. As she leaves for the merchant she is accosted by three brothers who mean to rob her. Luckily Conan intervenes and makes short work of the thieves. Arlinna who gives the name Merriam then accompanies Conan around the city. Conan wins some gold in a wrestling match and they go back to his rented room.

Here Arlinna knocks out Conan and continues on her mission. Unfortunately she fails to take the Dragon-head and his beaten up by Lun-Farr. Lun-Farr then uses his magic to animate the gargoyle statue of Tavashtri to go kill the man responsible for the attempted robbery. Conan who has recovered from the vase to the head sees Arlinna about to jump off the roof. He saves her and after hearing the story has her lead him to the Baron Takkim. When they arrive the gargoyle Tavashtri also arrives and kills Takkim. Then it fights Conan who fights back. Conan manages to last so long that Lun-Farr loses his mental control over the gargoyle. It abandons the fight and goes to kill Lun-Farr.

This was another adaptation of a non-Conan story by Howard. Once again an excellent tale with plenty of action, beautiful women and sorcery and monsters. I have said it before and will say again that Robert E. Howard was a genius. This story also marks Conan’s return to the Hyborian lands.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #41

“The Garden of Death and Life!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan comes to a small desert village looking for a place to rest. Instead he runs into a young woman fleeing a mob. Naturally Conan being a noble barbarian rescues her and they flee to the desert. The woman is named Zhadorr and she is a bit off. She tells that there is an oasis close by called Shar-Al-Tjinn. They meet four brigands and flee to the the oasis. When Conan arrives he jumps in the pool for a swim and finds skeletons underneath. He remembers the name of the oasis translates to The Bones of Fools. Coming up he is captured by the brigands who plan to sell him and Zhadorr as slaves.

At night the leader decides to take Zhadorr away to rape her. Conan manages to free himself from his bonds. He goes to rescue Zhadorr but finds nothing but bones of the leader. Zhadorr dies and he buries her. Later he hears screams and finds the other brigands and horses being attacked by the huge tree in the oasis. It picks them up and eats them. It then grabs Conan who manages to throw a torch at the tree and sets it aflame. In the morning the only thing left is a pod that gives birth to Zhadorr. Conan hacks the pod woman to pieces and rides out of the oasis.

So this story was an interesting one. Sort of an invasion of the body snatcher type story. Its obvious from the beginning that Zhadorr is weird. She craves sunlight and never wants to eat. This was a different opponent than Conan has been encountering so that was a nice change of pace. A solid single story for this journey back to the Hyborian lands.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #40

“The Fiend from the Forgotten City”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from plot by Michael Resnick
Artists: Rich Buckler and Ernie Chua

Conan is riding to Shadizar when he comes on a man dying in the desert. He saves the man and Libro tells of a lost city he was searching for. He offers Conan treasure if he helps him find this city. Naturally Conan likes that idea and they find the lost city of Ababenzzar. At the city Conan finds that some brigands are already fighting over the treasure. He stumbles on a silver-haired woman who he rescues from the brigands. The old man Libro manages to call forth a giant demon to slay the brigands. Then he turns the demon on Conan who manages to throw his knife and kill Libro. The silver-haired woman wants the big diamond which Conan gives her. This transforms the woman into the goddess Ishtar. She was held captive by her former priest Libro but the gem managed to restore her. She then warns Conan not to take any of the gems and Conan leaves once again empty handed.

“The Changeling!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditto

A medieval king has the face of a baboon. He is seeking a wizard that will make him the handsomest man in the kingdom. He finds such a wizard and threatens him with death if he doesn’t deliver. So he turns the king into a beautiful swan. He did want to be the most handsome male in the kingdom and got his wish.

So this is another lost city story. Yes there have been several already and Roy has a slight nod to that effect when Conan believes Lipro since he has already been to a few lost cities. Nevertheless this is another enjoyable story. Lost cities are fun and Conan has plenty of adventure in this one .

As for the short back up story. It was OK but nothing special.

MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #29 TARZAN

“Tarzan of the Apes”
Writers: Sharman Divono and Mark Evanier based on novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Artist: Dan Spiegle

In 1888 a young English lord John Clayton and his newlywed wife Alice set sail for an African colony. They never reach their destination for there is a mutiny that kills all the ships officers. Clayton and his wife are spared by the leader Black Michael because Clayton intervened when the captain was about to shoot the head mutineer. So instead they are put ashore with supplies on the African coast with a promise from Black Michael to inform the government about their whereabouts.

So the two build a small cabin and settle in. Alice gives birth to a baby boy. Only she dies and the father is killed by a wandering tribe of apes. A young she-ape Kala who just lost her baby adopts the young boy. He grows up to be Tarzan. Soon Tarzan finds the cabin and uses the books to teach himself how to read and write. He finds a knife which allows him to fight and kill a gorilla. Later he has to take out his step-father Tublat.

One day a black warrior Kulonga is lost and kills Tarzan’s foster mother Kala. In grief the young Tarzan tracks him down and delivers his vengeance. Afterward he manages to take the warrior’s bow and arrows. He uses them to kill a lioness. This is a threat to the tribes leader and Kerchak picks a fight that he loses. Tarzan comes into the kingship of his tribe.

So this is a very faithful adaptation of the first Tarzan book Tarzan of the Apes. It is the first part of the book and a very enjoyable adaptation. The bright colored art is excellent and the story is told very closely as Burroughs wrote it. For some reason I remember expecting a continuation since it was only the first half of the book. For reasons unknown to me they never bothered to finish their adaptation. That’s a shame since this is a very good adaptation. I think this was about the time that the Christopher Lambert movie came out so that is why they did this. Oh well this stands as a good solid comic.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #39

“The Dragon from the Inland Sea!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan is ambushed by three brigands. Naturally the brigands become food for the vultures. Unfortunately Conan’s horse is killed and he is bitten by a snake. He passes out but finds himself being cared for by Ben-Hussal and his niece Rachalla. Ben was the ruler of a city by the Vilayet sea called Keshaan. This city was plagued by a dragon from the sea. His high priest urged leaving a young woman out for sacrifice. This priest Ghul-Azalel soon became the real power and demanded that Rachalla be sacrificed. So Ben and his niece left for Zamora. Only recently they hear that the mad priest died so they are going back.

When they arrive they find out that it was a trick to lure them back. The three are captured and Rachalla is left out to be sacrificed. Conan manages to pull the stake he is tied on out of the ground. He grabs a sword and goes out to free Racalla. Instead he has to battle a giant crocodile. He lures it back to the village where the villagers band together to try to kill it. Conan mortally wounds it with a fence post he pulls out of the ground and throws the mad priest into the netting around the dragon. It goes back into the sea to die thus freeing the people of Keshaan.

So this was a cool story. Conan does just about every bad ass thing a barbarian can do. Kills some bandits. Kills the snake that bites him and sucks out the venom. Pulls the stake he was tied to out of the ground and fight a giant crocodile. I found the twist ending where we find out the mad priest was Ben-Hussal’s brother and the father of Racalla the girl he was trying to kill. Seems Ben-Hussal couldn’t bring himself to kill his brother which is why he fled. Which helps explain how such a brave man would flee this nutjob. Also loved how Conan didn’t necessarily defeat the beast himself but had help from everyone in the village. A very well done story.