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.

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.

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.

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.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #178

“Death Hunt”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

In a Cimmerian village a young Conan dreams of being a warrior. He is visited by a woman who talks to him. He can’t understand her, but she tells him a story. We go back to the current story and Tetra has fallen down the well and absorbed its power. She is in pain and tearing apart the whole island. A giant wolf appears. Kiev tells everyone that it is here for Tetra. Its function is to eat the innocence from her. Delmurio tries to give Tetra to the wolf but gets killed by the wolf for his trouble. Conan fights the wolf and actually defeats it. Only it comes back, and Kiev convinces the wolf to take Tetra and leave them alone. Which is what the wolf does. Back in the past Tetra says that it would be better if she died in Pictland and is there to kill the young Conan. Only she decides not to and leaves.

This was a very interesting development to the story. Tetra has now absorbed the power and Conan fights off the giant wolf that is after her. Delmurio died a very cowardly way which I didn’t think he was capable of such actions. Kiev shows himself an honorable man and helps save Conan. I loved the way this story was told. Having Tetra show up to a young Conan and narrate it was a good framing device. Looking forward to seeing how this ends for Tetra.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #177

“Well of Souls!”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Pablo Marcos

Conan, Delmurio and Tetra are on a ship heading to the island on the map. There is a storm and Conan has a disagreement with the ship’s captain about turning back. The fight is interrupted by the arrival of Kiev. He climbs aboard as the muck monster he was turned into by Nostume. He claims to want to help but Nostume comes with a sea serpent. The serpent wrecks the ship and Conan gets into a fight with a shark. Delmurio, Kiev and Tetra make it to shore of the island and are captured by an army of zombies.

The three are taken to a palace that has the Well of Souls. This is the source of power for Nostume who can travel the time stream. He tosses the three into the well, but Kiev manages to wedge himself against the sides and save his companions. They climb up in time to see Conan arrive and seriously wound Nostume. Tetra confesses her love to Conan who just brushes her off. She goes to the well depressed. Nostume comes back all healed from his wounds after traveling the time stream. Only he loses his power and Conan runs his sword through him. They then notice that Tetra has absorbed the power from the well and can’t control it.

This was a fun issue. A lot happens with Kiev coming back only he now seems to be an ally. We find out that Nostume can travel the time stream which is why he keeps changing his age. Tetra gets her heart broken by Conan and somehow got Nostume’s power. A fast paced and exciting issue. A lot of character development in one issue. Really looking forward to how this turns out.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN ANNUAL #10

“Scorched Earth”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artist: Ernie Chan

Baron Shamir of Turan is enjoying his young wife’s birthday party. The baroness is a bit cruel and dumps her wine on the dwarf of a court jester. In anger he insults her and for his punishment he is taken to the dungeon and his tongue cut out. Only he finds a treasure and some tablet buried under it. Two years later the king of Turan has sent an army because the baron is in open rebellion. Conan is a captain in the mercenary army. The general has a plan to take the castle. Twenty men will scale the walls and open the gates. This plan sees only Conan and a companion named Redondo make it to the top.

Redondo goes after the dwarf who gave their position away. He ambushes a captain of the guard and takes his uniform. Later he finds that the baron is under some sort of spell. Conan makes his way to the dungeon to free the prisoners in helping him. He finds that the baroness has been down here. The dwarf locks the door and imprisons Conan. Redondo comes and rescues him. The baroness goes chasing after the dwarf who hypnotized the baron. A tentacle breaks through the floor and takes Redondo. Conan eventually finds the treasure chamber but falls through a trap. He is then with Redondo where there is a pool with a huge eye. Redondo suggests stabbing it which Conan does.

This aggravates a giant octopus that comes up and destroys the castle. The baroness and dwarf are killed and Conan and Redondo escape with treasure. Later at an inn Redondo has to face some tribesmen who he stole a horse from. Conan reluctantly comes to his rescue.

It’s that time for another annual. A celebration of another year of this series. This one was a very enjoyable issue. There was a mysterious castle with a dwarf using magic. A charming rogue that gave us some comic relief. Sad to see what happened to Redondo in the regular series. He didn’t seem to be one to fall for a cult. A good standalone story to celebrate another successful year.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #176

“Argos Rain”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Bob Camp

Conan, Tetra and Delmurio are in Messantia the capital of Argos. They are looking for passage on a black ship that was supposed to arrive. Only heavy rains may have sunk it. So, Conan goes looking for another ship and approaches the galley owned by Feducio. Feducio is the leader of a cult and many of his followers are happy galley slaves. Conan notices an old friend is one of these happy galley slaves. Conan decides to take him and deprogram him from the cult. Naturally Feducio objects and spreads the word that Conan is a demon that brought the heavy rains. Conan’s friend Redondo manages to escape and runs to where Feducio is giving a speech. Feducio thinks that Conan broke his hold of Redondo and has him shot down by a crossbolt. This angers Conan who runs his sword through Feducio. Feducio’s followers go after Conan and his friends and trap them in an alley. Only at the last moment the rain stops and the ship bringing the statue of Mitra arrives. This placates the crowd. Ends with Kiev interrogating some poor sap about the whereabouts of Conan.

This was a good little filler issue in the quest for the treasure. They have this adventure with a cult leader. Tetra is shown to be one badass of a woman as at the beginning she is beating the hell out of a group of men in the tavern. I loved how Conan tried to help his old friend from the cult, but his friend was just too far gone. Really cool in seeing an angry Conan just impale the cult leader on his sword. Also shows us that Kiev is not forgotten and still after them. A good issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #175

“The Scarlet Personage!”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan, Delmurio and Tetra continue their quest through civil war ravaged Zingara. They have to fight off some unemployed fishermen turned brigands. At a village they hire a boat to take them down the Thunder River. Only a blind hooded man will take them. On his raft they come to a fog bank and Conan sees them enter through the mouth of a demonic stone carving. Immediately Conan finds himself in Cimmeria. Men are running to hide in a nearby village from the Scarlet Personage. Conan refuses to run and faces this hooded man. He starts to get the upper hand, but the Personage grabs his sword and breaks it. Conan is then choaked and pulls off the Personage’s hood. He sees a red skull with worms. Most men are driven mad but not Conan. His resolve weakens the Personage, and he runs to hide in the village. Conan follows and chops him to pieces. He then wakes and finds himself on the raft. For some reason he knows that the guy taking them is the Scarlet Personage. Conan tears off his hood to see a red skull filled with worms. He pushes the Personage off the boat and then has to steer it in rough waters.

This was a strange story. It was interesting with the beginning in fighting the Zingarans and the idea of taking the boat down the river. Conan then gets transported to Cimmeria and fights this personification of death and wins. Only to wake up and find this personification driving them on the raft. A strange story that just gets me to ask, What’s the point? Maybe the next issue will answer that.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #174

“Children of the Night”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artists: John Buscema and Bob Camp

Conan, Tetra and Delmurio arrive in western Zingara. They are attacked by children and drive them off. They then meet a Field Marshal Barabbas. He is an Aquilonian on the side of eastern Zingara in their civil war. They recently captured a city and put all the men to the sword. The children escaped into the woods. Conan notices that the children captured Tetra and goes off after them. Barabbas sends someone to follow.

Tetra is taken to the children’s leader a young teen her age named Santiar. They develop a crush but Conan comes and takes Tetra away although Barabba’s man now knows where the rebel kids are. Conan and Tetra arrive at the ruined city and find that Barabbas has killed the governor because he wouldn’t sign execution orders. Conan and Delmurio fight the Aquilonians. Tetra goes outside and finds Santiar hanging with other kids. Barabbas tries to escape but is captured by the angry kids and hung. The three then continue on their way to the treasure.

This was an interesting story. This group of children escaping being massacred in this civil war. The main villain a fop of a man was easy to hate. He gets his just deserts. I like this story with Conan having companions and being on a quest. They have adventures in different places. Should make for an interesting story that mixes one issue adventures with an overall bigger picture.