“The Hell-Spawn of Kara-Shehr”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story “The Fire of Asshurbanipal” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan and Bourtai are traveling by camel through the desert to Aghraphur. They come on a man being attacked by four brigands. Conan drives off the brigands but soon more come and Conan takes the injured man and flees. Later the man is dying and tries to warn Conan about the dangers of the Eye of Azure in Kara-Shehr. A sand storm losses the water the two have but they find the lost city of Kara-Shehr. Exploring they find a throne room with a skeleton clutching the huge gem. Only the brigands come and capture Conan and Bourtai. The brigands are lead by Kai Shaan a man that Conan had a run in with some issues back. Kai wants to torture Conan but first takes the gem against the advice of his men. No sooner than than he claims the gem a sandstorm appears in the throne room and a winged demon comes. The demon kills Kai Shaan and Bourtai who also tries to take the gem. The demon leaves and Conan finds the skeleton clutching the gem with the skeletons of Kai Shaan and Bourtai next to it. Conan decides to leave while he is ahead.

Another adaptation of a non-Conan Howard story. This guy was a brilliant writer. I have to start looking for more of his work to read. This story fit nicely with the current storyline. I loved the big two page spread of the reveal of the city. It had brigands and monsters and lost cities. We also say good-bye to Bourtai or monkey-face as Conan liked to call him. Obviously Roy didn’t see much point of keeping him around as a companion. I think that was a wise idea. He would start to wear quickly.



“The Temptress in the Tower of Flame!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on novel “Flame Winds” by Norvell W. Page
Artist: John Buscema

Conan rips off the veil of the woman he has won and finds a skull. She claims to be Death and Conan knows that those who have the courage to grasp Death can have their questions answered. So he grabs her hand and asks how can one man rule in Wan Tengri. Conan starts to grow old but stubbornly holds on. So he wins and Death whispers the answer to him then disappears. Now the seven wizards that rule want the answer. They start fighting among themselves and Conan slips out. Monkey face finds him and they go to the flame tower. There Conan must defeat a giant lion with a human face. He frees the captive princess then destroys the machine that powers the flame tower. With the flames gone the people rise up and kill the wizards. Conan is offered the chance to rule as the princess’s consort but will not be second fiddle. For Death’s answer was the man must control the princess to rule and he feels this princess can be controlled by nobody. So a ship is loaded with gold and Conan and Monkey face sail off. Then the flame tower is reactivated for the princess will be a worse tyrant than the wizards. He also gets a surprise when his gold turns to rocks and the ship starts to sink.

The final entry in the adaptation of Page’s book was an enjoyable conclusion. We have Conan manage to defeat the wizards and seem to come out. But of course the princess cheats him which was a fun ending. So Conan must go back to being in the employ of Turan and now has a companion in Bourtai the little monkey faced guy. Norvell Page wrote a good story and I might have to check out his work sometime.


“Death and 7 Wizards!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Flame Winds” by Norvell W. Page
Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chua

Conan has crawled out of a pool after his fight with an octopus creature. A thief is looking to rob Conan but Conan is still not dead. The arrival of the city guard interrupts Conan giving the thief a thrashing. The thief named Bourtai or Monkey-Face as Conan calls him leads him to the underground hiding place for the guild of thieves. The thieves have come on hard times since the coming of the 7 wizards. While there he hears that the sheepherder that smuggled him into the city has been arrested. So Conan goes off to the Flame Tower to rescue him. Bourtai guides him but in the catacombs the two are separated and Conan finds himself in an arena. The sheepherder has been killed and now Conan must fight for his life.

First a tiger is let loose and his sword turns into a serpent. Conan throws the serpent at the tiger and finds his sword impaled in the tiger. Next he has to battle seven champions of the wizards. The tongueless men are defeated by Conan. He then goes to claim his prize a veiled woman. When he pulls the veil he is confronted by a skull face and the woman claims to be death.

Well this story is coming along nicely. Once again we have Conan at his barbaric finest. A man who risks his life for another. A man who shows no fear and plows into the action. Wang Tengri is a weird city with these mysterious wizards each dressed in bright colored costumes. Conan has plans of possibly overthrowing the wizards and becoming king himself. A good story.


“Flame Winds of Lost Khitai!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Flame Winds” by Norvell Page
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chua

Conan has been sent on a mission by the Turanians to scout the Khitain city of Wan Tengri. He is to see if its ripe for conquest. So he hires a sheepherder to smuggle him into the city in a wool cart. Then at night a curtain of flame covers the city. Conan steals from a merchant and immediately the flame winds yell at him to surrender. Conan manages to evade the guards and find a fence for the stolen loot. Only the gems disappear and in the pouch is a viper. Conan stole from one of the wizards that rule the city.

Not long later the city guard comes to arrest him. He manages to beat them and flee. He finds the seraglio of the fence and is lured by a beautiful blonde woman into a pool. He follows her down a tunnel hoping it leads to freedom. Only the woman turns into an octopus monster. He cuts the tentacles off but they immediately grow back. The woman/octopus also has hypnotic powers. So Conan closes his eyes and chops off the head. He manages to crawl out of the water and pass out. A mysterious hunchback figure climbs down from a building and approaches.

So Roy is adapting a non-Howard book for this storyline. I never heard of the author but I like the story. It fits well into Conan’s world. A mysterious city ruled by wizards. A supernatural monster and ends with a cliffhanger. A good start to an adventure in the mysterious east.


“The Shadow in the Tomb!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema & Ernie Chua

Conan continues his service in the Turanian army. He is with a force that has gone to subdue rebellious hill-men. These hill-men are huge and savage brutes. They attack and drive the survivors into a cul-de-sac. The hill-man chief proposes that the best Turanian fights their champion. If they win then they can go free. The captain remarks that he would need a magic sword to defeat the giant. This brings back a memory that Conan had.

Back in the winter that he left his village to see the world. He was being pursued by Vanir. Along the way he is ambushed by a huge bear. In the fight they break through the ground into an underground cave. The bear is killed and Conan finds himself in some tomb. He needs a sword and takes the one sticking out of the tomb grasped by a skeleton hand. Then his shadow comes alive and he defeats it by throwing a curtain on the fire. After he leaves the cave he discards the sword.

So back in the present he knocks out the Turanian captain and takes his place. He manages to cause a rock slide and crush the giant. So the survivors go free. At the end we see that the crushed giant was wielding the sword that Conan found in the tomb.

This was an enjoyable story. It starts with Conan battling savage hill-men. Then a story from his early youth. His first encounter with the supernatural and how he manages to triumph. We get to see his distrust of the supernatural when he discards the sword. The story nicely ties his past adventure with the current one. A good stand alone story and next issue will go back to a multi-issue storyline.


“Lair of the Beast-Men!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint of Conan #2.

“The Tower of the Elephant!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint of Conan #4.

So the first annual is just two reprints. Good reprints but reprints. The theme is academy award winning for the two stories were nominated in 1971 and 1972. This is actually originally released as a special giant size. It would be a few years before they starting releasing original annuals regularly for this title.


“The Hand of Nergal!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Lin Carter & Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chua

Conan is battling the rebel forces of satrap Munthassem Khan. He is single-handedly kicking butt. Then mysterious translucent bats attack the Turanian forces. The soldiers flee and Conan is almost killed but a mysterious amulet he just recently found protects him. He wakes up to find himself the sole survivor. At the river he finds a beautiful girl who was almost trampled by retreating soldiers. She has come from Atalis in the city and seeks Conan. The offer of gold decides the matter and Conan goes to see Atalis.

He arrives and finds out that the wise man and a rebel prince need Conan because he has the Heart of Tammuz. Seems the Khan was a wise and gently ruler until he came into possession of the Hand of Nergal. This hand made him a cruel tyrant. So the three go and sneak into the palace while the Khan is sleeping. Only he knew they were coming and sets a trap with his supernatural powers. As the three are brought down the slave girl comes in and seizes the amulet and throws it at the Khan. It hits him between the eyes and he drops the hand. Then the two objects produce the godlike figures that battle. The heart wins and the Khan is turned to dust. Later Conan rides out with a new horse, a bag of gold and the slave girl as payment.

So this is the beginning of when they could start using the stories from Carter and De Camp. This one was an excellent story. Its once again Conan at his best. A savage who is a one man army. A guy who would rather have adventure than a comfy post in the new satrap’s guard. A guy who likes his women. Definitely another quality entry in the Conan saga.


“Two Against Turan!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story “Two Against Tyre” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chua

Conan has arrived in Aghrapur the capital of the Turanian Empire. While walking the streets a procession comes of the wooden figure of Tarim. Conan makes a disparaging remark which triggers the crowd. They try to kill Conan for his blasphemy. He manages to hold them off and a door opens. Going inside a man leads him to safety. They go to a bar and Conan finds out the man is Ormraxes. He has a job for Conan but suddenly Turanian soldiers burst in looking for Eithriall and go after Ormraxes. Conan is knocked out in the fight. He wakes to find a hooded man has been watching over his unconscious form. This man wants Conan to rescue Ormraxes. Conan agrees since he owes him. So he breaks into the dungeon and fights the guards killing them. Then takes a weak Ormraxes back to the hooded man. The hooded man reveals himself as a twin of Ormraxes. In truth Ormraxes was a corporal form that was created by Eithriall. When the two merge they will be invincible and conquer Turan. Conan knocks the jewel that was uniting them and the morning sun destroys them. Turanian soldiers come and decide to offer Conan a chance to join the Turanian army. Either that or the dungeon. So he enters Turanian service.

Another non-Conan Howard story adapted to Conan. I just love Howard’s work and it just easily flows as a Conan story since all this characters were basically the same type. This one was full of action. Conan slew hordes of men and single-handedly knocked out a horse. Not to mention save Turan from a wizard. So now he is in the Turanian army which is a dangerous move since he is wanted by prince Yezdigerd. Only someone as badass as Conan would try this.


“Moon of Zembabwei!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan has arrived at a swampy rainforest just south of the Vilayet. While getting a drink he is attacked by a giant snake. Both get knocked into the quicksand when the snake’s head is cut off. Thutmekri a traveling Stygian saved Conan’s life because he hates snakes. Unfortunately he also hates barbarians and refuses to help him out of the bog. Conan gets angry and throws the severed head at Thutmekri. After the Stygian leaves Conan manages to grab a dropped knife and with the snake’s body manage to drag himself out. Then he goes after the Stygian for revenge.

He catches up to him and finds Thutmekri strung up and some of his servants killed. He finds out Dalboor a witch-doctor from far off Zembabwei did this. Thutmekri has a golden statue of their gorilla god Zemba. So Conan goes after the witch dancers and finds one of the porters. He leads him to the captive slave girl Helgi who is to be sacrificed to Zemba. Only the porter is controlled by Dalboor and leads Conan to a hidden pit. But Conan can climb out and must battle a carnivorous giant ape with saber-teeth. He manages to maneuver the ape so it kills Dalboor. Then the serpent venom that Conan coated his knife takes effect and kills Zemba.

Another adaptation of a Howard story that was slightly altered for Conan. This definitely feels like a Howard story. You have the various beasts in this case a giant snake and ape. A supernatural element. An exotic sinister and dangerous jungle. An evil adventurer and his beautiful slave girl that needs rescuing. Plus plenty of kickass action. This was an awesome story.


“The Blood of Bel-Hissar!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on “The Blood of Belshazzar” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema

Conan has ridden south of doomed Makkalet. He comes on a huge Khaitain beating on a woman so he intervenes. The man is Turghol a mute. The two start to fight but the arrival of Turanians force the three to flee. They find shelter in a castle that is inhabited by brigands. Their leader is Skol Abdur the Butcher. He is in charge because he holds the Blood of Bel-Hissar. A giant ruby that was found by a pearl diver back in ancient Acheron. The jewel is supposed to be cursed and Skol Abdur plays off the brigands against each other to stay in power. Later at night the girl he rescues drugs his drink and he wakes up on the floor. He goes searching and finds Skol murdered. The brigands think he did it and the arrival of the girl accusing Conan seals their suspicion. So a fight ensues and Conan is rescued by Turghol. They flee the castle and Turghol shows Conan that he has the jewel. The woman he was beating was his wife and she treacherously tried to steal the jewel but Turghol managed to take it. Conan decides the jewel is bad luck and rides off leaving Turghol.

So another story that was a Crusader non-Conan story written by Howard. It fit perfectly in Conan. Once again we see the brilliance of Howard with his unique story of treachery and various hostile factions. The woman was not innocent. Turghol was a character that I believe shows up again in the future. He had potential. A good story to kick off Conan’s return to wandering the world.