CONAN THE BARBARIAN #58

“Queen of the Black Coast!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan is in Messantia riding a stolen horse. He has just escaped a court after killing the judge for being unreasonable. He comes to the wharf and jumps on a departing merchant ship. At swordpoint he forces them to take him away. The captain Tito is wise enough to comply and so Conan finds himself going to the Black Coast. The Argos sails down the coast past Shem and Stygia until it reaches the Black Coast. Only they are discovered by the Tigress. The Tigress is the ship of Belit the Queen of the Black Coast and her crew of black corsairs. The pirates overtake the ship and kill the crew although Conan is not that easy. Luckily Belit really wants him. After Conan fights their best warrior and tosses him to the sharks, Belit makes an offer Conan can’t refuse. Join her crew and he her lover.

Finally the Belit sage begins. I started the color Conan during this time and just have real fond memories of the stories. I think that this was the beginning of some of the greatest Conan stories that Roy Thomas did. Howard had Conan spent a few years with Belit in untold adventures which Roy used to really tell some awesome tales. Belit was Conan’s first true love so she was definitely an important part of Conan’s life. This adaptation was a great start to their amazing story.

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CONAN THE BARBARIAN #57

“Incident in Argos!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from episode by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Mike Ploog

Conan and his companions Yusef and Tara have arrived at Messantia the capital of Argos. It is a cosmopolitan city of people from all over the world. The first encounter they have is an arrogant captain of the king’s guard strutting around and pushing people out of the way. He makes the wrong decision to bully Conan. After he gets put in his place the three decide to change their appearance. So Tara is forced to wear a dress and Yusef gets some respectable clothes. Yusef and Tara go to wait in a tavern as Conan goes to get some new armor.

He is knocked on the head by some corrupt guards that sell men to the pirates as oar-men. Only Conan manages to wake and kick some butt. He finds help from an old witch named Momratha. She shows Conan visions of his future and what is happening with his two friends. He watches as the captain they humiliated comes into the tavern and makes improper passes at Tara. Yusef gets angry and knifes the captain. Conan runs to rescue his friends and bursts into the tavern. The guardsmen recognize him and take him prisoner. Next day he is brought before a judge and sentenced to rot in the dungeon until he reveals the location of his friends. Well Conan will have none of that and breaks free and cleaves the judge’s skull in two. He steals a horse and rides off.

So we are finally to the epic “Queen of the Black Coast” adaptation. Roy was really on a roll of creativity with this issue. The classic Howard story starts with Conan escaping after killing his judge in court. Thomas manages to craft a story that shows us that event. He sets in up very believable and it flows nicely with the current story that Roy has been telling. He get to see civilized justice meet barbarian justice and it does not disappoint. We are now in my opinion entering the golden age of the Conan comics.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #56

“The Strange High Tower in the Mist!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema

Conan, Yusef and Tara come on a mysterious city on the road to Messantia. The three have a bad feeling about it and their horses refuse to enter. So they tie them up and go in on foot. The city is filled with warriors that stand around and talk in a low voice. The three come to the tower in the city and see a beautiful woman emerge. Then a bat-creature swoops down and takes her to the top of the tower. The warriors of the city seem to not care so Conan and his friends go in to rescue her.

They come to two stairs and split up with Conan going up one and Yusef and Tara the other. Both come to bars and Conan being Conan just bends them apart. Yusef and Tara try a door to the side and find a hideous little man named Mad Jakk chained to a chair. He asks to be freed. Conan gets to the top and fights the bat-creature. He manages to defeat it and it then dissolves. So does the woman and the city starts to fall apart. Conan comes on Yusef and Tara and they flee the city as it collapses and disappears. Yusef and Tara then tell their story. That the man Mad Jakk was shunned for his looks and decided to study magic. With a spell he created the city. The city had a life of its own and would use the kidnapped woman to lure brave adventurers. Then capture the warrior so it would have inhabitants to keep it company. Only Conan managed to defeat the bat-creature and thus destroyed the city. So the three continue on to Messantia.

Well this was an interesting little filler issue. I always love the strange cities that have to be explored. This one was weird and gave Conan and his two companions a good little adventure. Excitement is building for they are coming to the sea and in my opinion the greatest story arc of the Conan comics.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #55

“A Shadow on the Land!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Conan, Tara and Yusef are riding back to Ronnoco from their visit to the oracle. They come on the shadow creature eating some peasants and make their way around to avoid it. At Ronnoco Conan finally understands what the prophecy means and takes off. Ronnoco meanwhile tries to hold off the shadow creature by feeding it all the livestock in the city. This just makes it stronger. Vanni the prince decides to flee the city and takes Yvonna hostage. Vanni manages to evade the monster. Conan rides to the crystal scorpion and his horse collapses from exhaustion. Conan takes his sword that he used to kill the scorpion and drives it into its head. This awakens the scorpion and it takes off toward the city.

The scorpion goes and manages to defeat the shadow creature by sucking it up through its tail. Conan ambushes Vanni and defeats the cowardly fop in a sword fight. He takes the captive Yvonna back. Just then armies from Peregona and Carnolla are approaching. Yvonna decides she will not be used for politics and will not marry anyone. So the armies leave and Conan also leaves since their is no war. Tara chooses to accompany him and Yusef also decides to go with them.

So this was a satisfactory ending to the Ronnoco storyline. The shadow creature was defeated. The cowardly Vanni got his just deserts. The princess Yvonna stood up for herself. Murilo has plans to maybe marry the princess for he does have some royal blood. There was a budding romance between Tara and Yusef. Those two make a good couple. Finally Conan continues on to Argos for his meeting with Belit which is the highpoint of the Conan series. Just another two more issues until that fateful meeting.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #54

“The Oracle of Ophir!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

The princess Yvonna has been taken to Ronnoco where she finds out that she is being married off to its prince to form an alliance. Just then Yusef the last survivor of the group sent to retrieve the Shadow Ring comes riding in. He tells of the shadow creature that killed everyone else. Conan suggests they need to consult an oracle and luckily one happens to be nearby. So Conan is ordered to consult the oracle and take Tara and Yusef with him. At the oracle’s cave entrance he is confronted by the guardian a giant of a man. The price to see the oracle is having your arm cut off. Naturally Conan finds that too high and instead defeats the guardian.

Later he crawls through a tight passage and consults the oracle. He finds the oracle to be a skeleton that can speak. The oracle gives some cryptic answer that confuses Conan and me. Later as he attempts to leave he finds himself cursed to take the place of the guardian. He uses all his strength to break through the invisible barrier and finds a double of himself. One of the cryptic comments the oracle shared inspires Conan to place the sword of the guardian back into the dead guardian’s hand. The guardian comes alive and destroys the double Conan. Now Conan and his companions are free to return to Ronnoco.

Well this story didn’t really do much for me. In fact it was a dud. I mean it seemed to advance the plot in no way and was a time waster. Like Conan the oracle’s advice made no sense although I suppose in the next issue it might. Still that is not bad to go over fifty issues until to run into a complete dud. So you do have to be forgiving because you are bound to get some and the ratio of excellent to dud is miniscule.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #53

“Brothers of the Blade!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Frank Spriger

Conan and the Crimson Company arrive at their employers the city-state of Ronnoco. They are instead greeted with a hail of arrows. Seems the city was not expecting them so early and thinks they are a hostile force. Fortunately the misunderstanding is sorted out. Conan manages to deck the prince who ordered the attack and earns his enmity. So they find out that they are to kidnap a princess from a rival city of Pergona. She is headed to the city of Carnolla to marry it’s prince and is guarded by three brothers who had a metal part of their body replaced by a wizard.

So Conan and Tara infiltrate the group disguised as beggars. The three brothers prove to be total dicks and try to kill the beggars for sport. This is when Conan reveals himself and takes on two. Tara manages to defeat the third. After a fierce battle Conan kills the other two brothers. The rest of the Crimson company comes in and routes the other guards. An epilogue has another group of the Crimson Company returning to the crypt for the ring. They are attacked and killed by the shadow creature.

So this was a fun issue. Conan gets exposed to the civilized way of how mercenaries conduct themselves. Tara is shown to be a competent fighter and kills her first man at 17. I do like Tara for she has a lot of spirit. The three brothers were opponents that seems more comicbooky than what you would expect to find in the world of Conan. Still they were evil and unlikable enough for you to root for their deaths. And of course Roy still hasn’t forgotten the shadow creature which I am sure will be in the next issue.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #52

“The Alter and the Scorpion!”
Writer: Roy Thomas inspired by story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Tom Palmer

Conan arrives in Belverus the capital of Nemidia. A fair is going on and its sponsored by a troop of mercenaries that are in town to recruit. A rampaging bull in the market introduces Conan to a young girl acrobat before he snaps the neck of the bull. He then meets an old friend from his days in Corinthia. Murilo is the captain of the Crimson Company and he offers Conan second in command. Conan naturally likes the idea of fighting a war and joins up. He also takes the young girl acrobat Tara along as his squire.

The Crimson Company heads out to Ophir and the ruins of a city from the time of Kull. Beneath a crystal scorpion they are to recover the Ring of the Black Shadow. While moving the scorpion it comes to life and Conan manages to kill it. Then in the secret underground chamber they find the ring lying there. Murilo leave two men to guard it as he takes the others to meet with their employers. The two guards decide to take the ring and one turns on the other and knocks him out. Then the one guard puts the ring on and turns into a living shadow. A shadow that absorbs his companion.

A new storyline with Conan joining a mercenary company. So far an interesting story with some new interesting characters. Murilo a flamboyant captain from Conan’s past. Also the tomboy girl Tara has some interesting potential. An evil ring guarded by a crystal scorpion that comes alive and an ending where they will now have to face a living shadow. I’m not familiar with this Howard story but I can see the influences of his. I think we have another winning story in the works.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #51

“Man Born of Demon!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox
Artists: John Buscema & Dick Giordano

Conan comes to the court of Unos with a gift for him. A three-eyed bird that talks and can tell the future. The bird predicts that Stefanya will take her rightful place on the throne. This angers the two wizards but Unos is not concerned. In fact this incident has shown him that he is a puppet to the two wizards. Later he seeks out Conan and finds out the bird was Lupalina the wolf-woman. She helps Unos by summoning his two demon parents. The parents kill the wizards and Unos shows his gratitude by stabbing Lupalina.

Conan has taken Stefanya to the place where the dead wizard was dumped. He has figured out that Unos will want to kill Zoqquanor and thus kill Stefanya. Just then Unos rides up and shoots his lasers from his eyes but that has no effect on Conan. His other magic in levitating rocks and opening fissures in the ground stops Conan. Then he uses his eyes to destroy Zoqquanor. Conan reaches him and crushes him which kills Unos. It was the magic amulet he had around his neck that killed Unos. He uses it to save the live of Stefanya. Then he leaves her to rule Phailkor as he rides off to further adventures.

The final of Fox’s novel adaptation. That was one wild story. Roy really got a lot of mileage out of this adaptation. I have to say it was interesting with many wild characters and situations. Wizards, monsters, demons, treachery, a lost heiress, and a son of demons that could shoot lasers from his eyes. A happy ending yet sad in Stefanya really loved Conan but Conan is still young and has plenty of adventuring to do. Roy managed to adapt this novel well into the Conan universe and this was a worthy addition.

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.

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.