Conan and Jorma battle the Hyperboreans when they suddenly just disappear. Conan doesn’t make much of this and finds out his mother as well as father is dead. So, he and Jorrma decide to become mercenaries. Conan comes up with the idea to take down the Aquilonian settlement of Venarium. He has Jorrma join the Aquilonian army. Conan will be a scout for the Cimmerians. Jorrma is to open the gates but gets caught and tossed in the dungeon. Fortunately, he has powers to hypnotize the girl that brings him his meals. She knocks out the guard and goes and unbars the gate. She gets killed and this sets off Jorrma who explodes magic and destroys the settlement. Conan is happy that Jorrma survived, and they go to get a drink.
Wow is this an issue that just goes off the edge. There are all sorts of weird magic happening, and Conan seems to be oblivious to it. He also has no emotion when he hears his mother died. The story also has relegated Conan to a secondary role in the story. Plus, it gives us a seminal moment in the history of Conan. i.e., the siege of Venarium which seems nothing like what it should be. Fortunately, Roy Thomas would retcon this in a later issue and we get the proper story of this event. Jorrma has all these weird powers which aren’t really explained, and Conan is oblivious to it. A very, very weird issue that I didn’t really care for.
Conan confronts his friend Jorrma after he goes through fire unscathed. Jorrma doesn’t fight Conan but will submit to his judgement. Conan can’t kill his friend and they reconcile. They go to a bar and Conan hooks up with a woman. Jorrma finds out that Hyberboreans are going to raid Conan’s village. They go to fight them, but the Hyberboreans are captured and sacrificed by the evil sorceress. She uses their blood on her monster men to turn them into the Hyberboreans. Conan arrives in time to join the battle with the fake Hyberboreans. His father is killed by the evil sorceress that takes over one of the Hyperboreans. She then turns into a werewolf and leads an attack with other wolves on the village. She kills Conan’s mother. She plans to kill Conan but a magical amulet that Jorrma gave him prevents it.
The story has a bit of a convolution to it. Jorrma retrieved the box from his dead parents burning hut only to find it filled with jewels. Including an amulet with magical powers he gives to Conan. How did he know? Don’t know but maybe will be revealed in future issues. Not really sure why the evil sorceress needed to turn her beast men into Hyperboreans instead of just using beast men. Yet Conan loses both his parents in this issue so we get an origin on what happened to them. It was always hinted at even by Howard that his parents were dead when he left Cimmeria. I suppose this is as good an origin as any. A decent story that keeps you interested in finding out why this sorceress is out to get Conan.
It is time for the ritual that all babies of the tribe must endure. Baby Conan is to be left out in the cold for the night. If he survives then he is worthy of life. The men leave him in the woods and have to kill a wolf prowling around. Baby Conan gets this wolf’s blood on him and slides down a hill to the wolf’s cubs. The blood lets the cubs accept Conan and he survives the cold. He grows to a boy and meets an Aesir boy his age while hunting. The Aesir named Jormma and Conan become blood brothers. They go to a city and steal from a tower. They overhear that a group is raiding the Aesir and to protect Jomma’s family the two join the group. Conan manages to spread a rumor that Hyperboreans are raiding and gets the party to abandon attacking Jormma’s family. Only when the two get to Jormma’s hut, the evil sorceress sets the hut on fire. Jormma runs in and rescues a box. Conan thinks that Jormma is a monster for surviving the flames.
I like the idea of exploring Conan’s childhood. We get to see his parents and his life growing up. Cimmerians have a brutal ritual to go through. Amazing that they manage to survive. Conan gets his first friend and the evil sorceress out to get Conan intrigues me. Higgins has done a good job of reinvigorating the series.
A Cimmerian fights his enemy Baelin. A mysterious sorceress sends winged demons to destroy them. The two have to join forces to defeat the demons. A truce is called but the sorceress tries to mesmerize the Cimmerian. The Cimmerian is attacked by a wolf, and this breaks the spell. The sorceress has to send a demon disguised as the Cimmerian to kill Baelin’s wife and children. Baelin vows revenge.
The Cimmerian travels and comes on a fellow Cimmerian being attacked by Vanir. He helps defeat the Vanir and they become friends. The Cimmerian is introduced to a woman who is living with the guy he rescued and they fall in love. They have a son and he grows up and takes a wife. The Cimmerian then has to fight a vengeful Baelin, and both are killed. The son has a son of his own that he names Conan.
The new series has finally arrived. We get a new logo or actually the return of the original one for the first ten issues. The story starts with a King Conan telling a story to his son. I love the idea of at first the reader thinks this is about Conan. Only at the end do we find out it is about his grandfather. Introduces some sorceress that is threatened by Conan’s birth so she tries to kill the grandfather. Of course, she fails but a really cool idea to frame a story about this mysterious sorceress and Conan’s origin. I like the new direction and this series did need a new direction.
Conan and the leader of a resistance against the Lotus dealers attempt to sneak into the compound of Karmanthes. They fail but later Conan manages to sneak into the compound and confront Karmanthes. Karmanthes is a drugged out Lotus addict and Conan just beats him around a little. Karmanthe’s brother assaults the tower to confront his brother. The two brothers argue that each was stealing from them. A fire starts and burns the tower down as Conan escapes. He confronts the man helping him as the instigator of the feud between the two brothers. Conan decides to not partner with him in the Lotus trade and heads off.
The final issue of Conway’s Conan was a very mediocre one. I like Conway but he really wasn’t a good fit for Conan. He seemed to be phoning it in as a placeholder until the new Conan could start. I have to admit that a radical change of pace was needed for this title. I look forward to seeing what the new team did.
Conan is hired by a merchant to deliver a scorpion figurine to his brother. Seems an easy job so Conan accepts. On his ride he is ambushed by some lotus addicts. He finds out that the village the brother controls is in very bad shape. The villagers are forced to grow lotus for the brother. Conan delivers the figurine and it becomes a giant that tries to kill Conan and the brother. Conan manages to kill it and vows vengeance on the brother that sent him.
This was an interesting story. Conan getting involved with two brothers in the drug trade. A very topical story for the nineties. A fairly simple story. I do get the feeling that this is just a placeholder story until the new writer takes over in the much-ballyhooed new Conan coming.
Conan and Rasu continue to escape from the little cannibal people. They wander into an underground room that has a phosphorescence. It also has an old man. This man tells his story. Once he was a trusted advisor to the Tarim. One day a giant snake came up and caused devastation. The old man was ordered by the Tarim to lead an expedition underground to kill it. The giant snake instead finds this expedition and kills them. The Tarim decides to fill in the pit and trap the old man. The old man now serves the giant snake. It comes and Rasu tries to sacrifice Conan to save himself. Conan kills Rasu then kills the giant snake. He goes back to this girlfriend and finds out she also betrayed him. Rasu wasn’t her brother but another lover. Conan takes it in stride and asks her to dance for him before he leaves.
This was an OK issue. There are some stuff that show Conway doesn’t really understand the world of Conan. He has the Tarim as a sort of emperor when in fact it was the god of Hyrkanians. Otherwise, the story was interesting if not really exciting. I like Conway’s writing, but he just doesn’t seem a fit for Conan. Which the letter page seems to know as they trumpet the beginning of a new Conan just two issues away.
Conan is in a tavern watching his woman Lyanda dance. He decides that he doesn’t want her dancing anymore and takes her back to their place. They find her brother Rasu hiding there. Rasu has run afoul of his commanding general Mustafa. Mustafa is a very ambitious guy who demands total loyalty from his men. Rasu was part of a group that was plotting his assassination. His friend has disappeared and Rasu thinks he is next.
This proves true as they are attacked at night by a horde of red-eyed small men. Conan and Rasu track Mustapha down and find him in the underground tunnels. He has made a deal with the cannibalistic dwellers there. He provides them something to eat and Mustapha gets rid of rivals. Conan throws his sword and kills Mustapha. He guessed correctly that the cannibals have no loyalty toward Mustapha as they go to feed on him. Conan and Rasu then run to escape from the underground tunnels.
The cover was a bit misleading. Conan is never captured and trussed up like a pig on a dinner plate. He just fights some cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers. Gee where have I heard that before. The story was an OK one. It just doesn’t seem to feel like a Conan story. I don’t see Conan settling down with just a dancing girl and being so possessive. It also was a bit kooky with the brother thinking he could become and general and king so soon. As I said this was a decent story but just never felt like a Conan story.
Conan and Artiste manage to escape from the Bastets who are now turning into panthers. They cross a river which the panthers hate. Later in Shadizar Conan gets some more ot Artiste’s story. He was born a prince but hated the life. So he stole some money and took off to live a hedonistic lifestyle. The panthers track them to the inn they are staying in and kill Artiste. They also take back the amulet they need. Conan goes after them and steals the amulet back because he was hired by Artiste and always keeps his word. He set the city of Bastet on fire.
The conclusion to this two-parter was a bit of a disappointment. I would say it was bland and mediocre. They sort of rehashed the story of Artiste. I found it a bit odd that Conan had such a need to take back the gem. The people of Bastet really needed it and to be honest, Artiste wasn’t much of good guy. As I say a very bland and mediocre issue.
Conan has teamed up with an old thief. This thief betrays him and drugs his wine. When Conan wakes up a young man offers him a job. He also pays off Conan’s bar debt. The man named Aristis is a prince of a small city-state carved into a cliff. He wants Conan to steal a gem. Conan manages to climb into the room where the gem is but the gem is attached to a trap. Lotus powder knocks Conan out. When he wakes he is prisoner to Aristis’s sister. A giant panther comes in and attacks. The panther can talk and claims it is Aristis. They manage to escape with the gem. Conan finds out that everyone in the city is a shapechanger and only the gem can keep them human. Now a city of panthers will be after Conan and Aristis for the gem.
This Conway story is a continuation which has been lacking in this series. What with all the standalone stories. It was an interesting story with a cool city carved into a cliff. Conway uses the Nemedian chronicles to narrate the story very effectively. Sets up an interesting ending which I am sure will have an exciting conclusion next issue.