CONAN THE BARBARIAN #158

“Night of the Wolf”

Writer: John Buscema & Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Rudy Nebres

Conan is riding in the desert when he comes on two men dragging a women in a box. Conan decides to free her and so kills the two horsemen. Soon after the girl’s father comes looking for her. He is grateful and invites Conan back to his camp. During the night a werewolf attacks Conan but the sheik’s men manage to pull it off Conan and drive it into the desert. The next morning the daughter has once again been kidnapped by a rival sheik. So Conan joins the chase and they come on the daughter tied to a rock. The other sheik threatens to kill her. A big fight ensues between the two groups when the full moon comes out. The daughter turns into a werewolf and starts to kill people. The father is the one that ends her life. We find out that her mother was a demon and her father was keeping the secret. Unfortunately he had to end her. Conan goes riding off for other adventures.

Another Buscema plotted story. This one was a fairly simple one. A girl turns into a werewolf and gets killed by her father. We are at first led to believe the other sheik was kidnapping her to be his wife. We find out that it was for revenge in that she killed his son. Conan in this one was more of a spectator then the main character. For most of the story he just goes along for the ride. As I said a fairly simple story. Nothing special but still mildly entertaining.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #157

“The Wizard”

Writers: John Buscema & Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan arrives in the Brythunian city-state of Berthalia. He finds that the queen has been kidnapped by a wizard and taken to the top of a mountain. There is a big reward so Conan decides to get it. He easily beats the braggard that was trying to get permission from the king and heads out. He decides to climb the mountain instead of using the path. Still he has to deal with avalanches, flaming cauldrons and hot oil dumped at him. He makes it to the top and finds that there is on wizard. Instead the young childhood lover of the queen is behind the charade of the evil wizard. Conan decides we will forgo the reward to help the two young lovers. So he goes back with a story that he was spared to give a message to the king. That if he continues to send men than a great curse will befall him. The cowardly king decides to get another queen and gives Conan a small reward for his troubles.

Another Buscema plotted story. This one was a fun story. We have some fun times of Conan showing how badass he is. He climbs the mountain as any Cimmerian would. Avoids the obstacles thrown at him. Finds out there is no wizard just two young lovers. Conan being a good sport helps them instead of getting a big reward. The foppish king is such a coward he gets scarred of air molecules. A light hearted story with a happy ending. A nice break from the more serious ones.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #156

“The Curse!”

Writers: John Buscema & Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan is caught in a thunderstorm in the Border Kingdom. He stops at a castle seeking shelter. At first it looks like the inhabitants are unfriendly. A dagger is thrown with a note saying ‘Leave’. Yet the lord does answer the door and is very friendly. He introduces Conan to his wife and gives Conan a meal. The wife is the one that threw the dagger but we don’t get why since she is too intimidated by her husband. During the night the bed Conan is sleeping in opens to a trap door. Conan finds himself in the catacombs. There is some creature and he arms himself with a stalactite. He comes on a hideous creature and a fight ensues. This creature is strong and almost kills Conan. Yet he gets the upper hand and strangles it with it’s own chain.

Later the lord of the castle comes to the catacombs and finds the creature dead. He tries to kill Conan but gets his own knife plunged into his chest. The wife then tells the story to Conan. That her husband and his brother went adventuring to a jungle and prospected for gems. The brother got sick and while under a fever kills the daughter of a shaman. This shaman puts a curse on the brother that turns him into a cannibalistic creature. The husband would feed unwary travelers to his brother.

Buscema once again plots out the story and shows he has some good ideas. I like this story. It had a creepy vibe with a stormy castle at night. Kind of a Scooby Doo vibe only with a real monster. The fight with the monster was one that Conan didn’t easily defeat. He stabbed it with a stalactite, then beat him over the head with a rock. This didn’t stop him and he was almost defeated. Yet he wins and puts an end to the brother’s feeding innocent to his monster sibling. A fun and enjoyable story.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN ANNUAL #8

“Dark Night of the White Queen”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artist: Val Mayerik

King Kull leads his Red Slayers to an isolated farmer’s hut. He is searching for an evil cult that has sacrificed five women. The sixth has been impregnated by a demon to give birth to a wizard that will rule the world. Kull finds this cult in a cave under the hut. The woman has just given birth to twins, a daughter and son. This angers the cult for only a son should have been born. Kull can’t save her but gets vengeance. He then has his councilor Tu go to drown the babies in the river. Only Tu can’t and instead gives them to a farmer who recently lost his son.

We then jump to the Hyborian age and and city of Tarsus in the Border Kingdom. The queen Castrica is about to be crowned but upset that Narcia is more loved. Known as the White Queen she helps the people with her white magic. She has a brother named Alexus who is Castrica’s lover. Conan is also there and hired to lead the cities army. One day Alexus finally masters his sorcery and with Castrica flees to a castle in the country.

Narcia has Conan lead the army to this castle. There they fight bat-men which Narcia uses her powers to destroy. The army refuses to go on and Conan and Narcia must enter the castle alone. Conan has to fight Alexus who has turned into a wolf-man. Conan can’t kill him and Alexus wants Narcia to kill him. Because Conan is in danger she does. This is what Alexus wanted for it has made him extremely powerful. Narcia has Conan kill her so she can battle Alexus on his own plane. Conan reluctantly does this and the spirit of Narcia battles her evil brother. Conan decides to gather up the remnants of the mercenary army and loot the city of Tarsus.

Time for another annual, that cool tradition of old where each year a series would publish a double-size issue to commemorate another successful year. This was a really good issue. It starts out with Kull and introduces the origin of the twins. We never get a story of how they ended up ten thousand years in the future but it is obvious that they are the twins. A sad one for Conan and Narcia loved each other yet Conan had to sacrifice her. I do love the ending where Conan does what any mercenary in his position would do. An enjoyable tribute to another successful year.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #155

“The Anger of Conan”

Writers: John Buscema & Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Steve Leialoha

Conan is in the trading town of Ramuda in the Border Kingdom. While trying to pick up some harlots a man runs into him. This man named Yadlo tried to cheat Baron Vjervak with phony jewelry. The baron is going to cut him to pieces and starts with the nose. Conan intervenes and beats up the thugs and the baron. Naturally the Baron wants revenge.

So Conan takes Yadlo to the tavern and finds out his story. That the Baron rules this town and extorts the merchants. He also kidnaps the beautiful woman for his depraved pleasure. The Baron is also a novice sorcerer as we see him summon a demon to kill his thugs that failed him. He sends other thugs to bring back Conan. They track him to the tavern and kill Yadlo. Conan gets real angry and kills them then goes off to see the Baron. The whole town hears of this and follows. At the Baron’s castle Conan confronts the demon and kills it quite easily. Then the cowardly Baron flees through the window and has to face the wrath of the townsfolk he has terrorized.

After the kooky floating cities and bird/bat-men this story was more down to Earth. Plotted by Buscema it tells a straight forward story. Conan shows he has a sense of justice in saving Yadlo. Yadlo tried to be his friend and died guarding him. If there is a complaint it is that Conan just had it way too easy. Everyone he fought including a demon got cut up just like that. Still it was an entertaining story with beautiful art and a fitting ending for the loathsome Baron.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #154

“The Man-Bats of Ur-Xanarrh!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: Gary Kwapisz & Bob Camp

Conan goes after the fleeing wizard after he defeats the three-headed dragon. He jumps on a giant dragonfly and goes after the wizard. Only the winged warriors of Akah Ma’at ambush and capture Conan. They take him to their city where Conan convinces the king he is on their side. He gets a giant hawk and takes off for Ur-Xanarrah where the evil wizard has gone to sell the power cylinder. The wizard gets an audience with the king of Ur-Xanarrah but gets killed instead of the payment he wanted. Conan gets captured by Ur-Xanarrah bat-men and tortured. He manages to break free and somehow find the power cylinder. He steals another giant dragonfly and take off for Akah Ma’at. He arrives but the forces of Ur-Xanarrah are just behind him and it is too late to power up the barrier. So Conan leads them in a big fight that defeats the bat-men. Conan kills the king but not before getting wounded. Alhambra the woman warrior arrives in time to save Conan. She takes him back to Earth and leaves him in front of a peasant’s hut.

OK well this was a wild issue. Conan just goes jumping on all these giant flying creatures without any trouble. He easily convinces the easygoing king of Akah Ma’at to help him. Gets captured again and undergoes torture. Breaks his bonds and conveniently finds the cylinder and another giant dragonfly. Rallies the bird-men and kills the king. Oh and the hot bird-woman wasn’t dead and brings him back to Earth.

Yes this was as absurd as it sounded. A never ending string of convenient plot points that seem contrived. I feel that Fleisher was in a bit of a hurry to finish this. What is it with the awkward names with this guy. This issue was chalk full of them. Still it had a charm to it. I found it interesting and you can’t fault it for being slow. This was assistant editors mouth which means that there is something funny in the issue. Instead of the letter column we get a treatise on Julius Cesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars that morphs into a hilarious review of the new Jaws 3-D movie. Never seen this movie and feel that I am not missing anything.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #153

“The Bird Men of Akah Ma’at!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan is riding his horse over a rope bridge when it breaks. He manages to grab on and climb to safety but his horse is gone. So he ends up at the nearest city. The local lord has decided to claim a beautiful woman to spend the night with. She refuses and a fight begins with his guards. The guards push Conan which gets him mad and he joins in. Only the city guard comes and arrests the two. Luckily the woman has a power ring that blasts a hole in the wall. The two steal some horses and their weapons and ride off.

Later around a campfire Conan finds out the woman has big wings. She is Alhambra and from a race of bird people. They live in a floating city called Akah Ma’at. She explains that they have lived in peace from the evil bat people called the Ur-Xamarrah becauses of a power cylinder. This cylinder powers these batons that float around the city. Only one day an evil man tried to steal the cylinder. He was shot down but the cylinder fell to Earth. Alhambra is there to find it.

They are later attacked by men flying giant flies. Conan and Alhambra manage to fall into a river and fake their death. The search takes them to a castle of a wizard. This wizard Raskos B’quen has overheard their conversation and now knows the power of the cylinder. He orders his men to kill the two. A fight ensues where Alhambra is shot with an arrow. Conan defeats the men and a three headed dragon conjured up by the wizard. The wizard escapes and Alhambra dies in Conan’s arms.

This was a wild story. At first Alhambra seems a normal woman but the reveal of her having wings is a big surprise. The whole floating cities and winged races are one of those wild trademarks of a Fleisher story. Also present are the awkward names. This guy really has a talent for the goofiest names. A fun and enjoyable story with a tragic ending and the promise that Conan will now continue Alhambra’s quest to save her people.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #152

“The Dark Blade of Jergal Zadh!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Jerghal Zadh is a demon in another dimension that has a plan to take over our world. He sends his paramour Cleolanthe a beautiful woman to lure Conan. She pretends to be attacked by a flying reptile so Conan rescues her. He breaks his sword in the fight and Cleolanthe leads him to where he can get a new one. The temple of Jergal Zadh has a sword gripped in the hands of the statue. When Conan takes it, Cleolanthe conjures a horde of priests which Conan has to defeat. This is the plan of Jerghal. When Conan uses his sword three times he will become a soulless man and a slave to Jerghal. Then he will use Conan to take over the world.

So during the night Cleolanthe brings a dragon that has to be defeated. Only Cleolanthe then falls in love with Conan and refuses to create a third opponent for Conan. Jerghal sends this demon horde but Cleolanthe uses her power to destroy them. Only it comes at a price for she grows old and turns to dust.

This was an enjoyable story. We are introduced to this all powerful demon with plans to enslave Conan. He almost succeeds but Conan of course is just to manly for Cleolanthe to resist. So Conan really doesn’t have to do much in this story but be his irresistible self to the ladies. Must be nice to be him. At the end hints that Jerghal Zadh will try again so we may have some future stories with this fascinating demon.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #151

‘Vale of Death!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan is in the hills of Cimmeria during winter hunting for game. He gets attacked by a giant snow hawk that grabs him and takes off. Conan manages to free himself and finds that he is in a valley. This valley has two peoples the Yggdar and Osiiren. The Yggdar have sacked a castle and Conan finds it. He is also attacked by a Yggdar and ends up with a horse. While looking for a way out of the valley he is attacked by a panther. The panther belongs to an Osiiren. Conan convinces him that he isn’t a Yggdar and shows him a locket a dying Osiiren gave him. This locket belonged to the man’s fiancee and so invites Conan to his family’s castle.

There Conan finds out from the father the history of the valley. That the two peoples long ago waged war. The Yggdar were barbaric and the Osiiren had power of shooting beams from their eyes. They made peace and the Osiiren settled into a life devoted to art and literature. Then a death cult developed among the Yggdar and they started attacking. The father offers a gem if Conan will help them defeat this cult. So with the son and his panther they set out to rescue his fiancee. They find her but she is killed in the rescue attempt. They also find out that the Yggdar used this time to sack the castle.

So the two continue to the cave where the cult is at. Conan manages to topple their statue which crushes many of the cult. The son uses his eye beams to bring down the roof killing everyone. Conan gets on his horse and rides off.

Well this issue was OK I guess. The story was not all that original or exciting but did keep my interest. Some stuff was a bit goofy like the hawk carrying off Conan. Also the Osiiren were supposed to have this power to shoot beams out of their eyes but never seemed to use it. Only at the end was it used. Seems like something that would come in handy if being attacked by a death cult. Also that was another goofy thing. A grim story with everyone dying and not much else accomplished.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #150

“Tower of Flame!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan is riding through a city when he sees some thugs accosting a young woman. Being the chivalrous barbarian he saves her and ends up riding out of the city with her. He finds the woman to have a childlike innocence about her. She says that her live was spent in a flaming tower in the middle of an ice lake. That she escaped to see the wonders of the world but all she saw was poverty, hatred and violence. Just then a baron and his men arrive to take the woman. Conan fights and with the help of the woman, who has these mysterious powers, they escape. Conan takes her back to her tower and finds out she was actually some alien blob. Just then the baron arrives to take the alien for his own power. Conan defeats him but the alien is too weak and dies. Conan escapes the collapsing tower.

The big 150. Somewhat of a milestone for comics. This one sees the return of Michael Fleisher who now is scripting the color titles. This was an enjoyable issue. We have this mysterious woman with powers. An evil baron with the goofy name of Turb’Eq. Fleisher does love those Arabized weird awkward names. A supernatural creature that turns out to be an innocent that Conan befriends. There are some thing about Fleisher I don’t care for and his flippant dialogue is one. Conan is a taciturn barbarian and Fleisher has him always cracking jokes and sarcasm. A minor complaint as the story with the excellent Buscema/Chan art keeps the reader interested.