CONAN CLASSIC #11

“Web of the Spider-God”
Writers: Roy Thomas and John Jakes
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is riding in Ophir at the Zamorian border when he is ambushed by brigands. They knock him out and take his horse. Conan now stuck in the desert wanders with hallucinations of water and fights off vultures. A peasant named Thanx finds him and gives him food and water. Thanx is going to Yezud to rescue his daughter Lea who was captured for sacrifice to the spider-god Omm. Conan goes along to repay his hospitality. They reach Yezud and Conan boldly goes up to the gate and demands entrance so he can kill their high priest. Naturally he and Thanx are taken prisoner.

In the dungeon they meed Tork an engineer in the employ of the king of Zamora. He was scouting under the city and finds that a few loosened boulders will collapse Yezud. When the priests come Conan starts a fight so Tork can escape to bring down the city. Conan, Thanx and Lea are brought to the arena and face Omm a huge spider. Conan manages to throw the high priest into the arena where Omm eats him. Then Conan is pushed in but he manages to kill Omm. A vengeful mob kills Thanx and will start on Lea and Conan when the city collapses. Conan and Lea manage to escape and meet Tork. Tork offers to take Lea to Shadizar as Conan rides off.

“Conan the Marvelous A Tangled Web…”
By Roy Thomas

An article that announces that this is the last issue of Conan Classic. Since issue 11 & 12 of Conan the Barbarian were not full length it was decided to adopt 13 as the last issue. This issue is adopted from a brief synopsis written by John Jakes. The synopsis is included with the article.

So the final Conan Classic. Sad that it couldn’t continue since I loved the quality of the reprints and informative articles. Thankfully it lasted long enough to get the rare eleven first issues. I was able to fill out my Conan the Barbarian collection. This story was awesome. Jakes is a very imaginative writer known for his Brak as well as historical novels. This was a fun story and Conan is his barbaric self. He is a badass who just plows his way through adversity and comes out on top.

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CONAN CLASSIC #10

“Beware the Wrath of Anu!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan and Jenna are trying to get admittance into a Corinthian city as the gates are about to be closed. The guards don’t think Conan is desirable but get called away when two thieves are approaching. Conan decides to intervene and save their lives by knocking the aim of one guardsman’s bow. So Conan joins the two thieves and finds out one is his old Gunderman friend Burgun. They make it to the temple of Anu where the high priest is the main fence for stolen goods. Unfortuanetely the young thief Igon dropped the gold chest so they have nothing to fence. They meet up with Jenna and she hits it off with Igon. Conan and Burgun partner up and become successful thieves. One night they steal from the Red Priest who is the real power in the city.

So the captain of the guard makes a deal with the priest of Anu. They ambush Conan and Burgun with Burgun being captured. Later he is hung and Conan goes to the temple to get revenge. The high priest calls forth Anu and a giant red bull appears but Conan steals the amulet that controls it. So Anu decides to take his revenge on the priest and crushes him. Then Anu becomes like a spirit and floats up into the sky. Conan later takes the body of his friend and burns the gallows. He gives Burgun a proper burial.

So this was a fun story. Conan is reunited with his friend and the two have a successful crime spree. Jenna and Igon become an item. I can tell you I hated Igon for the beginning. He is a whiner and general dipshit. Someone you could not trust and the next issue will show his treachery. I have no respect for Jenna for hooking up with such a dipshit. Anyway a good story that showcases Conan’s barbarian sense of honor. That he never abandons a friend and will always seek revenge.

CONAN CLASSIC #9

“The Garden of Fear”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from story by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan and Jenna are riding away from the pursuing Corinthians when they are ambushed by primitive hillmen. They chase off their horse but the chief Hialmar calls off his men. He is actually quite friendly with Conan and takes them back to his village. There the two are fed barely cooked meat which Conan has no problem wolfing down. As Conan and Jenna leave a winged creature swoops down and abducts Jenna. Conan finds out that the creature resides in the far end of a valley. So he descends and finds a herd of mastodons.

The mastodons are friendly and Conan passes unmolested. He crosses a river and finds a green tower surrounded by flowers. A black winged man comes and drops a captive hillman into the flowers. The flowers suck its blood. So Conan goes and starts a fire to stampede the mastodons. They crush the carnivorous flowers so Conan can climb up to the top and rescue Jenna. He also kills the black winged man in a fight and the two find the exit and head on out of the valley.

“Conan the Marvelous A Cimmerian’s Garden of Curses”
By Roy Thomas

An article on the origins of this story. It was a Howard story of James Allison. Allison was a modern man who recited his past incarnations that occurred in the pseudo-history of Howard’s. Always a barbarian tribe this one took place by an Aesir. By now sales were rising and would continue to rise.

Another Howard story adapted to Conan. Roy did this so expertly. I loved how he managed in his entire time on the series to piece Howard’s writing like a jigsaw puzzle and fill in with original stories. He really had a passion for Howard’s creation and it shows in his writing. Also Barry Smith as usual was up to his beautiful standards.

CONAN CLASSIC #8

“The Keepers of the Crypt”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on synopsis by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is in Corinthia being pursued by Corinthian soldiers. They have a treaty with Numalia and they want Conan for the death of the governor’s niece and theft of antiquities. Conan causes a landslide that kills the troops except the leader. Bruin is a Gunderman mercenary that recognizes Conan from the Battle of Venarium. A brief fight ensues that Conan wins. He then wanders off and finds a ruined city. It is inhabited by a giant Gila monster that Conan kills by throwing rocks down its throat then stabbing its exposed belly.

So he comes on a temple and meets Bruin who was not killed. They make a truce to explore for gold. Inside they find the lost treasure of Lanjau. Conan and Bruin play dice for a jade serpent with gems that Conan wins and bags it. The giant mummies come alive and the two have to fight their way out. The sun disintegrates the mummies than an earthquake brings the city down and separates Conan from Bruin. Entering a village he finds Jenna who now owns a tavern from the gold she stole. Conan finds the gems have turned to dust and something is alive in the bag that has the jade serpent. The magistrate with soldiers enters to arrest Conan. When he reaches into the bag a snake bites him. The distraction allows Conan and Jenna to flee the village.

“Conan the Marvelous A Tale From the Crypt”
By Roy Thomas

An article on the background to the story. It was a synopsis of a Howard story found by De Camp in the sixties. It was rewritten by him as “The Hall of the Dead.” Since he didn’t have the rights to the pastiches he rewrote the story. He changes the blob monster to a dragon which Barry drew as a giant Gila monster. Changed the location from Zamora to Corinthia to fit the current story arch. He also uses the tavern girl to reintroduce Jenna. He includes the original synopsis for the reader.

Another excellent Thomas/Smith early Conan. Once again a Howard story idea is adapted and I loved it. A very fun story with giant monsters and mummies. We get some glimpses of Conan’s early life with the famous Battle of Venarium. Bruin is a good companion for Conan on this adventure and Jenna is back in his life. I love these early young Conan adventures.

CONAN CLASSIC #7

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

Conan is approaching the city of Numalia when he comes on a woman in a chariot being attacked by a pack of wolves. Conan jumps into action and rescues the women. Lady Aztrias is a haughty woman and starts to boss Conan around instead of thanking him. She lost her driver in the attack and commands Conan to take her home. Conan complies because he wants access to the city. In the city he scrapes the wheel of another noble and gets into a fight with Kallian. Only Aztria’s presence stops Conan from being arrested.

So he finds out why Aztrias wants him. A group of Stygians traveling north stopped at Kallian’s palace of antiquities to store a gift for Karanthes the priest of Ibis. She wants Conan to steal the gift. So at night Conan breaks into the palace and finds the bowl empty and Kallian dead. The nightwatch finds him and summons the guard who thinks that Conan murdered Kallian. Aztrias comes to cover her ass and accuse Conan. Suddenly there is a scream and the nightwatchman comes crawling back talking of a “god with a long neck.” The god is a giant snake with the head of a man that has snakes coming out of his head like Medusa. The god kills everyone except Conan who manages to kill it. At the end he looks into the empty bowl and sees the image of Thoth-Amon.

“Conan the Marvelous The God in the Bowler”
By Roy Thomas

An article about this issue. He flew to London and met with Barry to plan this issue. It was an unpublished work of Howard’s that was found in the fifties and released. Interesting Stan Lee wanted to cancel this series since the sales were steadily declining and he wanted to use Barry on a superhero title. Roy convinced him to wait and sales started rising until this was one of Marvel best selling title.

Another excellent early Conan story. An adaptation from a Howard story and you can see that the man was a brilliant writer. This is the first time Conan has any dealing with Thoth-Amon the Stygian wizard who is destined to become his greatest nemesis. Barry was the one who came up with the ram horns the wizard has. The only alteration to the original story is changing the person who hired Conan from a man to a woman. This was good idea since it works so well to have this bitchy woman who Conan’s barbarian code of honor won’t let him kill. Interesting to learn this was the final issue that was experiencing a sales slump and how it almost ended. That would have been a real loss.

CONAN CLASSIC #6

“Devil Wings Over Shadizar”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is in Shadizar the Wicked and runs across two thieves Fafnir and Blackrat arguing over their stolen loot. Conan decides to take their stolen gold and then go to the local tavern. There he meets Jenna who introduces him to her uncle that will melt the stolen gold down into a heart. Later as they walk alone outside the city at night they are ambushed by cultists of the Night-God. Conan finds out about them from Jenna’s uncle who is not really her uncle. He goes to the tower and knocks out a cultist and disguises himself. Soon we find out the Night God is a giant bat. It takes Jenna and Conan jumps on the bat with the captive high priestess. Conan manages to kill the bat and it crashes into an oasis. Jenna saves Conan from a vengeful high priestess and they have a romantic night. In the morning Conan wakes without his heart of gold. Jenna took it so Conan leaves a little wiser but poorer.

“Conan the Marvelous Devil Wings and Angel Eyes”
By Roy Thomas

An informative article on this issue. We find out it was nominated for best writing in 1971. That there are the inside jokes of Fafnir and Blackrat as tribute to Fritz Leiber the Gray Mouser. A bit of a nod to Maltese Falcon. The Jenna character was based on the Brigid O’Shaunessey character. The uncle was named Maltiz and once makes a comment about a falcon he made.

Thomas is really at his best with this series. This story felt like something Howard would have written. Conan is still inexperienced with civilization but is learning. Also a bit inexperienced with women but also learning. There was some great humor with the two thieves. We also see the end of the horned helmet. I liked that unique helmet but I guess it was time for a change. Jenna was a fascinating character and we would see more of her later. A very excellent entry in the series.

CONAN CLASSIC #5

“Zukala’s Daughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas inspired by poem “Zukala’s Hour” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is passing through a small village in Zamora on his way to Shadizar the Wicked. The sky starts to turn dark and the villagers flee. The daughter of Zukala is coming to collect the wizard’s tax. A tiger materializes and Conan fights it to save a woman and her son. The tiger pins Conan but doesn’t harm him. Instead he hears a voice saying that she will never harm him. Then the tiger leaves.

The villagers tell that the tiger is Zukala’s daughter Zephra who can turn into a tiger. She is eternally young like her father and can see the future. The villagers offer Conan the gold they are supposed to pay Zukala if he kills him. Conan agrees and goes to the castle. There he finds a masked man conjuring but a demon named Jaggta-Noga to collect his taxes. After it leaves Zephra finds Conan and tells him that she saw they were meant to be lovers. Zukala finds them and a fight starts with Conan damaging Zukala’s mask. Zukala flees but Jaggta-Noga returns and attempts to kill Conan but Zephra turns into a tiger and stops him. She is seriously injured and Zukala banishes the demon. Then he takes his daughter and the two vanish. Conan takes the gold and continues on to Shadizar.

“Conan the Marvelous Zukala and Daughter”
By Roy Thomas

Roy tells the story about how this issue came about. Based on a poem by REH. Also has some sketches for alternate scenes of Zephra dying at the end and Conan knocking out the demon. Ends with a beautiful color map of the Hyborian Age.

Another excellent story by Thomas and Smith. This one has all sorts of sorcery and demons. Roy really got a lot out of that short poem. Here we see Conan’s barbarian code of honor in defending helpless women and children. His mercenary side in taking the villagers offer. Good thing he just took the money he found at the castle because the good citizens planned to have an accident befall Conan if he won. Zukala would return in later issues and we would find out more about him.

CONAN CLASSIC #4

“The Tower of the Elephant!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith

Arenjun the city of thieves in Zamora. At the local tavern a woman stealer from Koth is bragging about the girl he stole. He mentions the Tower of the Elephant and a young Conan taps him on the shoulder to find out more about this mysterious tower. The Kothian tells of the priest Yara who keeps the jewel the Heart of the Elephant. That the tower has many supernatural defenses. Conan thinks that someone with courage can steal the jewel. The braggart Kothian thinks that Conan is alluding that he is a coward and a fight breaks out which Conan easily wins.

So at the tower Conan climbs the wall and discovers the gate guard dead. He runs into Taurus the Nemedian who is known as the Prince of Thieves. Taurus is impressed that Conan has the courage to attempt breaking in and they join forces. Taurus uses his black lotus powder to knock out the lions. Conan has to kill the one that escaped. Then they climb the tower and reach the top. Taurus goes in as Conan checks that the guards aren’t alerted. He finds Taurus dead at the door. Killed by two punctures to the throat. He finds the cause in a giant spider that killed Taurus and proceeds to kill the spider. Further exploration leads Conan to the figure of Yag-Kosha. A green man with the head of an elephant. Yag is a prisoner of Yara and tells his story.

Long ago from a far planet he and his companions flew to Earth on wings. When they reached Earth the wings fell off and they were trapped. Through the centuries they witnessed the birth of man. Yag was the last and being worshiped as a god in the far east. Yara captured him and forced him to build the tower and teach his secrets. He implores Conan to kill him which he does out of pity. Then he takes the jewel which now turned red and brings it to Yara. Conan recited the phrase given him by Yag. It shrinks Yara who then gets sucked into the gem to get punishment from a revived Yag. Conan flees the tower before it collapses.

“Conan the Marvelous The Hour of the Elephant”
By Roy Thomas

An article for this issue. Roy tells how this was his favorite REH story. How he wrote it and his disappointment that Stan Lee was not impressed enough with what he thought was his best work. The story was one of two Conan stories nominated for best story in 1971.

So this was the first adaptation of a Conan story by Robert E. Howard. We now have Conan in civilized lands finally. This is his first story in a tavern. Many more would follow. Roy states this was his favorite Conan story and he put a lot into it. I love the story myself. Yag-Kosha is a truly tragic figure. You feel sorry for him and his suffering as does Conan. As Roy points out the second part of the story Conan is a spectator. Still it is Conan’s action that frees the poor alien Yag-Kosha. A beautiful story with a good balance of action, sorcery and imagery.

CONAN CLASSIC #3

“The Twilight of the Grim Grey God!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The Grey God Passes!” by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan has just escaped from the Hyperborean slave pits and still wears the chains. He comes on an imposing grey haired man. He tells of the coming battle between the Brythunians and Hyperboreans. That kings and even more will pass. Then the sky is filled with twelve valkyrie-like Choosers of the Slain. Conan leaves this supernatural sight to find the camp of the Brythunians. He comes on the commander Dunlang who offers to give him a lift. Conan will fight to get revenge on the Hyperboreans and maybe the blond who whipped him.

At the camp the girlfriend of Dunlang implores him not to enter battle. Eevin is from an old race with abilities to foresee the future. Dunlang refuses but accepts her give of armor. Meanwhile the leader of the Brythunian calvary is making a deal to betray his king. Kormlada is the queen of Hyperborea and manages to use her womanly charms to seduce Malachi. He will not come to the aid with his calvary when needed.

So next day the battle is met and Conan using his severed chains fights the hordes of Hyperborea. He manages to kill the blond slavemaster but Dunlang is killed after removing his armor. Conan manages to inspire the troops to fight on. The kings of both sides kill each other in a fight and Conan gets revenge by killing the traitorious Malachi. At the end the Choosers of the Slain come and take those who are worthy. This night Conan witnessed the passing of Borri the war god and two kings.

“Conan the Marvelous On the Wings of a Snow White Horse”
By Roy Thomas

An article on the writing of this issue. Roy decides to do what DeCamp had done and take a non-Conan story and adapt it to Conan. This was a story of a serf named Conn who escapes his masters and takes part in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. This battle drove the Danes out of Ireland.

The third issue was another winner. The adaptation of the REH story was well done. A story filled with pathos and the barbaric savagery that established the character. Here Conan vows to wear his chains until he kills the blonde slavemaster. He uses them as his only weapon to good effect. Filled with a vast cast of characters it is still easy to follow. Combined with the beautiful artwork of Barry and this is another comic classic.

CONAN CLASSIC #2

“Lair of the Beast-men!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan stands over a giant man-ape that he just killed that attacked him. He ponders why it attacked then continues on his way. He sees a beautiful woman and chases after her. The girl leads him into an ambush by man-apes. They need slaves and take Conan to Brutheim. Here in an underground city Conan finds himself prisoner. Kiord the chief Thrall of the Manlings tells Conan of the place. Far in the past Kiord’s ancestors were warriors who went north to fight a race of man-apes that were developing civilization. Instead the man-apes captured the warriors and made slaves of them. They then captured women from nearby villages to mate with them so now Kiord and his people are born slaves to the beast-men.

Conan is not a good slave which becomes very obvious. So the king Gha-Kree sentences Conan to die in the arena. Kiord smuggles a knife to Conan so he can kill himself but Conan has other ideas. He uses it to kill the snow-lion he has to fight. This inspires Kiord who breaks out of his cage and with Conan use a giant ram to destroy the arena and the beast-men. Kiord dies and Conan crowns him the king.

“Conan the Marvelous Of Bears and Beast-men”
By Roy Thomas

An article on the second issue of Conan. Tells how the top editors were thinking of replacing Barry as artist but this work ended such speculation. Also tells how Barry gave a more Burroughs look to the city than Howard look. Also the beginning had a bear that Conan killed and took the fur for his cloak. The editor insisted that it be changed to a giant beast-man. Also he got the inspiration for the story from Howard’s pseudo-history. It tells of a race of beast-men in the north and a group of warriors that went to destroy them but was never heard of again.

The second Conan continues to establish a quality series. I love the young Conan who is still a teenager and new to the world. There is such a vitality to this story and it was nominated as the best story for the comic awards in 1971. The article was once again interesting and informative. The beginning with the dead beast-man does seem awkward and forced. This is truly a comic classic.