CONAN THE BARBARIAN #50

“The Dweller in the Pool!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema & Dick Giordano

Conan is confronted by Pthassiass a giant creature that lived under the pool in the garden of Torkah Moh. Pthassiass knocks Conan into the carnivorous plants. While chopping them as they try to eat him, Conan notices that Pthassiass is scared of the plants. After the creature eats the serving wench that guided Conan, he manages to stab it in the neck and it collapses in the plants which make short work of the creature.

So Conan rescues Stefanya and takes her to Lupalina the wolf-woman. Lupalina recognizes Stefanya as the daughter of Chrysala the wife of the regent of Phalkor. So she tells the story of how in her youth she helped the wizards kill Stefanya’s parents so that general Themas Herklar could assume power. Lupalina took the baby Stefanya and gave the wizard Zoqqanor to raise. She then uses magic to see what is happening in Phalkor. The wizards have overthrown Themas and placed Unos on the throne. Unos can shoot lasers from his eyes.

Lupalina uses her magic to transport Conan to the dungeon to rescue Themas but is too late for he dies. Then Conan has to fight the demons that guard the dungeon. He is transported back to Lupalina’s hut. There the three decide to overthrow Unos and the two wizards.

The big 50 issue. A milestone for a series to reach that number. They didn’t have any special issue but continued with the story. And what a story. As you can read there was a lot going on. From lake monsters, carnivorous plants, to a guy that shoots lasers from his eyes. Seems a bit over the top but it flows smoothly. So we get some background for both Lupalina and Stefanya. Roy really does a good job of adapting this book into a Conan story. It feels like something that Howard would have written and is filled with many exciting twists and turns. Looking forward to the next fifty which gets even better.

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CONAN THE BARBARIAN #49

“Wolf-Woman!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema and Dick Giordano

Conan has been left staked out by Thorkal Moh in the wastes of the Border Kingdom. The rats now approach and it looks grim for Conan. Luckily one rat knocks over the jug of water the evil warlord left just out of reach of Conan’s hand. He manages to grab it an break it. Then use it to cut out of his bonds. So he starts off to Ravengard to rescue Stefanya. Along the way he is set on by a pack of wolves but the pack is controlled by a beautiful woman named Lupalina the Wolf Mistress. She helps Conan recover and agrees to help him with his quest.

So the first thing Conan,Lupalina and her wolf pack do is ambush some of Thorkal’s men coming back after putting down a peasant revolt. They kill his men and with the newly freed peasants disguise themselves as the returning troops. Then in the castle they attack the guards. Conan finds Thorkal Moh and cripples him in the legs. Leaving him to die he finds a serving wench and forces her to lead him to the captive Stefanya. Conan frees her then has the servant lead him to the amulet he has to deliver. She takes him to the Gifting Tree which is where all of Thorkal’s treasure is kept. It is next to a pool that contains his god the creature Pthassiass.

Good to get back to reading Conan. So a lot happens in this issue. Conan frees himself and finds Lupalina. She helps him break into Ravengard for her own reasons. Conan gets his revenge on Thorkal Moh and rescues his companion Stefanya. At the end he is confronted with a giant Lovecraftian creature. Gardner Fox seems to be an interesting writer. I will have to check out his stuff sometime in the future.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #48

“The Rats Dance at Ravengard!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from novel “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox.
Artist: John Buscema

While riding to Phalkar, Stefyana gets Conan to talk about his youth in Cimmeria. He tells how on his fifteenth birthday he was send out in winter to survive with nothing but his sword and a fur coat. Conan manages to kill some wolves and find shelter on his first day. He decides to explore the nearby mountains that are forbidden. There he meets a beautiful woman with two polar bears for companions. The woman named Ursla takes him in and turns the young Conan into a man. As they continue on they come on Torkal Moh, the Baron of Ravengard. He demands tribute from Conan. Conan naturally refuses but is overwhelmed by numbers. He is knocked out and wakes staked out on the ground. The baron likes Conan’s defiance and puts a gourd of water in his hand. As he leaves the rats come out.

“Episode!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Dick Giordano

Red Sonja rides through the forest of Darkwood in Nemedia. She turns a corner and gets caught up in a giant spider web. A giant spider then tries to eat her. Fortunately some Kushites come and save her. They take her to their master’s castle. The master Vincentius is overjoyed at Sonja’s presence and offers her ale. The ale turns out to be drugged and she finds herself tied to an alter. Vincentius also has a blonde warrior named Hunwolf tied up. He plans to sacrifice them to his dark gods. Sonja manages to grab him with her legs and take his knife. Vincentius refuses to surrender and gets killed for his efforts. She frees Hunwolf who then starts a fight with the Kushite slaves. Later Sonja finds out Hunwolf killed a friend and takes revenge.

So we get the second half of the story that was supposed to be in last issue. A great story about Conan’s youth and his first experience with a woman. Nice to get some glimpses of his youth in Cimmeria. Also he continues to be a badass by taunting Torkal Moh and knowing Conan I’m sure he’ll get his revenge.

To fill the second half of the issue they give us a quality Red Sonja story and not some hokey reprint from the fifties. This was also an excellent story. I love how Sonja was going to spare Vincientius since she had no quarrel with him, other than him trying to kill her. Sonja sure is forgiving and Vincentius should have taken advantage of it. But he was too dumb and got what he deserved. An enjoyable issue with two great stories.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #47

“Goblins in the Moonlight!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema & Dan Adkins

So Conan has found what appears to be the corpse of the wizard Zoqquanor. Stefyana insists he is alive and they must take the body with them. Conan reluctantly agrees and makes a travois to drag it along. The two make their way to some ruins and settle in for the night. They are wakened by a horde of goblins that are trying to take the wizard’s body. Conan manages to kill all the goblins.

“Conan’s Parents”
By Fred Blosser

An article that speculates that Conan’s mother was an Aesir.

“Sanctuary!”
Writer & artist: Wally Wood

King Hamand hears that to be truly king he must wear the crown of the ancient kings. The crown is in the tombs at Dragonhenge. So he goes there and takes the crown but angers the druids. A druid keeps giving Hamand dreams of his death. Riders on flying pterodactyls are attacking so he builds a metal roof on his tower. Demons coming up from the ground lead to a paved floor. Eventually he builds a completely enclosed tower with one door that can only be opened from the inside. Hamand kills his workers to keep the secret. Then he tries to kill his wizard Abarac. Only Abarac is the druid and now Hamand is trapped in his tower.

So we get only half a story for this issue. Seems artwork was lost in the mail. Even the half we get was excellent and shows that the story is going to some fascinating places. I love the interaction between Stefyana and Conan. She manages without words to get our barbarian to agree to drag around a dead corpse.

Otherwise the article was interesting. Some good arguments for Conan’s mother being an Aesir. Still mainly speculation and not what I think Howard envisioned. The backup story was an old hokey one that was slow and turgid but they do have a certain charm to them. Next week hopefully a full Conan issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #46

“The Curse of the Conjurer!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema and Joe Sinnott

Conan is riding through the wastelands of the Border Kingdom. He is stalked by the Yemli a crimson-eyed race of demons. As they close in he is confronted by a wizard sitting on a carpet full of food. The wizard used the Yemli to herd Conan to him. He has a job. To deliver a magical cube to the regent of Phalkar. The cube will protect the regent from two wizards. Conan not having much other prospects takes it for the gold it pays.

So on the way he passes through the village of Sfanol and rescues a beautiful blonde from being burned at the stake. Stefanya needs Conan to bring her back to the sorcerer Zoqquanor who she served. Apparently the sorcerer put a curse on her that it he died then she would die. So Conan takes her to the ruins of the sorcerer castle. The peasants abandoned breaking into the tower. When they enter Conan has to fight the sorcerer’s guardian Shokkoth. A big monster man made of stone. Conan’s sword doesn’t affect it but the various potions the wizard has manage to dissolve Shokkoth. They then find the body of Zoqquanor lying on a slab of stone.

Roy once again shows how he can take a non-Conan story and adapt it perfectly to Conan. I believe Fox was a pulp writer from Howard’s time so his story fits well for Conan. I am very interested in this tale of wizards and monsters. Its a quest through some strange lands. Stefanya is a girl I already like. She has a feisty spirit and one who you wouldn’t want to turn your back on. This is shaping up to be a wild adventure.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #45

“The Last Ballad of Laza-Lanti”
Writer: Roy Thomas with songs by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan is in a tavern in Shadizar the Wicked. He is melancholy after the way Red Sonja left him. A bard singing lightens his mood. So much that he intervenes when a bully is accosting the bard. Naturally Conan kicks his ass and his friends too. Only him and the bard get thrown into the dungeon by the city guard. The bard who is Laza-Lanti has a knife in his lyre and manages to threaten the jailer to release them.

Later the two ride to Laza’s home of Dark Valley. They come on a sacrifice of cattle by the locals for the dark lord. So they decide to wait and see who comes for the cattle. It is a beautiful woman who leads the cattle to a cave. Inside is the dark lord who is a giant blob that starts shoving the cattle down it’s throat. Laza thinks the woman is in danger and both him and Conan attack. Laza manages to cut off the thing’s antenna which kills it. Only the young woman is not happy. She tells the story of being a dancing girl who was traveling with a carnival troupe. When the group stopped near the cave the creature captured her. They had twin sons which Laza-Lanti was one. The woman turns old and kills herself to be with her lover. Laza-Lanti goes insane and orders Conan to leave. As Conan leaves he hears the sound of Laza-Lanti killing himself.

So this was a very dark and offbeat issue. Based on a poem by Howard it captures the mood. I feel that this could be a story written by Howard. Conan is a spectator in this story which was an effective way to tell this story. It starts off as a very light action adventure and Laza seems to be a well adjusted young man. It does go a complete 180 and into a very dark place. You can feel Laza-Lanti go insane as he tries to come to terms of his parentage. It also hints at the end that Conan is destined to meet his twin brother some time in the future. An excellent story.

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.

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.

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.