“The Trail of the Bloodstained God”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by L. Sprague deCamp and Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Ton Dezuniga
Conan is Arenjun the City of Thieves in Zamora. Some guys stole a map from him leading to treasure. While walking the streets he hears someone being tortured and investigates. A Kezankian tribesman is having hot coals put on his chest. Conan decides to rescue him for he may need a friend among the Kezankians. Conan manages to free him and kill most of the guys in the room. Then while jumping over a wall he is hit by a thrown chair. He wakes up to an Iranistani named Sassan who has been following him. He too is after the treasure in the Temple of the Bloodstained God. Conan agrees to join forces and head out to the Kezankian mountains.
They are ambushed by Keznakians and forced to flee. They then run into the guys who stole Conan’s map and were torturing the man. They join forces and fight off the Kezankian horde. Only three are left Conan, Sasson and Zyras. They agree to share the treasure and make their way to the temple. First Sasson gets crushed by the giant door. Then he go in and find a golden statue of a troll festooned with rubies. Now Zyras attacks Conan for the treasure and gets killed. Then the Kezankian chief with a lone survivor get the drop on Conan. Only the survivor is the one who Conan rescued and turns against his chief. The chief kills him and then the golden statue comes alive. It kills the chief and Conan fights it off with a brazier and pushes it into the cleft in the floor. Conan survives but without any treasure.
“Uncle Crom Wants You An Essay on the Hyborian Legion.”
By Don and Maggie Thompson
The Hyborian Legion is a fan club devoted to filling in the gaps and inconsistencies in the Conan story.
“A Chronology of the Conan Comics”
By Jim Neal
A chronological history of the Marvel Conan comics up to the time of this issue.
“Day of the Red Judgment”
Writers: Roy Thomas and Christy Marx
Artist: Howard Chaykin
Red Sonja has decides to come back to Hyrkania and visit her home. She then is drawn to a cave and finds a race of golden skinned and red haired people. They take her prisoner. She finds out from a woman named Zora that the people are called The Favored and have been fighting ape like men called the Drommach. They believe Sonja to be a white skinned destroyer that was left out to die as a baby. Before they can execute her the Drommach attack. Sonja finds out their goddess is the goddess that gave her powers. The goddess has also been manipulating the Drommach as their god and Sonja curses the goddess out. Then she rescues Zora and the two are the sole survivors. They leave the mountain before it collapses.
So another special color issue. In the letter column Roy says they wanted to make Savage Sword a color series but the cost was too prohibitive. So we get the last color special of Savage Sword. I love the color but admit the black and white art has a power all its own. The stories were excellent. The Conan story was another deCamp rewrite of a non-Howard story. As expected it was filled with plenty of action and intrigue among a varied cast of characters. The articles were good interesting fillers.
Finally the Red Sonja piece was also quite good. Not a big fan of Chaykins art but the story was top notch. It hinted at a new origin for Sonja. Later her and Zora would continue on in the new color Red Sonja series which will hopefully appear here sometime in the future.
“Revenge of the Barbarian”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Black Vulmea’s Vengeance” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala
Conan is a pirate captain and wakes up after the ship had a successful haul. A Stygian galley filled with wine that the crew proceeded to drink. They drank so much that in the morning the whole crew is passed out. Conan who comes on deck then sees a Zingarian buccaneer approaching. Only Conan is still sober and puts up a fight but is soon overwhelmed. Later the Zingarians sink the pirate ship and Conan is taken to it’s captain Dom Castillius. Conan knows that the captain is the infamous Basqus the Butcher. A very unpopular man who put down a revolt and had to have a new identity forged for him.
So Conan to save his life concocts a story of buried treasure on the Black Coast. This has Dom and his men take Conan into the jungle to a ruined city. Only the city has a savage tribe guarding it. Conan escapes as the savages massacre the crew. Only Dom manages to escape into the ruined city. Seems the tribe won’t go enter because of the demon that lives there. Now Dom has to fight Conan which they proceed to do. Conan wins but spares Dom’s life after he finds out the captain has a wife and daughter.
The two men have to leave because another tribe that doesn’t have the superstitious fear of the city is coming. The two had to fight the demon which is a giant snake. They wound it and follow the blood to a passage out of the city. They find a jewel necklace which Conan splits in two and shares with Dom. Then they fight the chief and his men. At the last minute the two are saved by the wounded snake coming back and attacking the savages. The two men make it to safety.
“Meet the People Behind Conan”
By David A. Kraft
A biography of the people responsible for Savage Sword. They include Robert E. Howard, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala and Marie Severin.
“Conan of the Silver Screen A Special Report”
By James Delson
An article on the development of a Conan movie. To star Arnold Schwartzenegger.
So this special issue has a very special place in my heart. It is my very first introduction to Conan. Back around Christmas 1977 an eight year old boy found this magazine in a discount supermarket after church in Price, Utah. He was immediately captivated by this character Conan. The world he lived in and his adventures among pirates and savages. With lost cities, treasure and giant snakes. The bright colors definitely helped this mag but the art and story won me over. Soon after I would grab up any issue of Savage Sword with glee. My copy shows some serious love for you can tell it was reread many times over.
So the story is an adaptation of a non-Conan Howard story. Roy manages as usual to turn it into a top notch story. This one a special color issue which added to the experience. Add to it the interesting bibliographies of the various people involved in the issue. Didn’t know that Alcala in his youth worked for the resistance in Japanese occupied Philippines. The movie article was of interest to me historically as I got to find out the directors that were being considered for the movie. A very special issue for me at least. One that takes me back to my childhood.
“Tarzan of the Apes”
Writers: Sharman Divono and Mark Evanier based on novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Artist: Dan Spiegle
In 1888 a young English lord John Clayton and his newlywed wife Alice set sail for an African colony. They never reach their destination for there is a mutiny that kills all the ships officers. Clayton and his wife are spared by the leader Black Michael because Clayton intervened when the captain was about to shoot the head mutineer. So instead they are put ashore with supplies on the African coast with a promise from Black Michael to inform the government about their whereabouts.
So the two build a small cabin and settle in. Alice gives birth to a baby boy. Only she dies and the father is killed by a wandering tribe of apes. A young she-ape Kala who just lost her baby adopts the young boy. He grows up to be Tarzan. Soon Tarzan finds the cabin and uses the books to teach himself how to read and write. He finds a knife which allows him to fight and kill a gorilla. Later he has to take out his step-father Tublat.
One day a black warrior Kulonga is lost and kills Tarzan’s foster mother Kala. In grief the young Tarzan tracks him down and delivers his vengeance. Afterward he manages to take the warrior’s bow and arrows. He uses them to kill a lioness. This is a threat to the tribes leader and Kerchak picks a fight that he loses. Tarzan comes into the kingship of his tribe.
So this is a very faithful adaptation of the first Tarzan book Tarzan of the Apes. It is the first part of the book and a very enjoyable adaptation. The bright colored art is excellent and the story is told very closely as Burroughs wrote it. For some reason I remember expecting a continuation since it was only the first half of the book. For reasons unknown to me they never bothered to finish their adaptation. That’s a shame since this is a very good adaptation. I think this was about the time that the Christopher Lambert movie came out so that is why they did this. Oh well this stands as a good solid comic.
“Star Trek The Motion Picture”
Writer: Marv Wolfman based on screenplay by Harold Livingston. Story by Alan Dean Foster & Gene Roddenberry.
Artists: Dave Cockrum & Klaus Janson
A mysterious alien craft appears in the Klingon sector and destroys three cruisers. It is headed toward Earth and Starfleet assigns the Enterprise to investigate. Admiral James T. Kirk manages to get command of the ship which causes some resentment from its current captain Decker who is reduced to executive officer. The ship meets up with the alien ship which is called V’ger. It is from an alien civilization of sentient machines. V’ger is going to Earth to meet up with its creator. It views carbon based life as some sort of infestation and plans to destroy it. Now Kirk and the crew must stop V’ger.
“Star Trek the Phenomenon”
By Tom Rogers
An article of the popularity of the series. An interesting fact is that the series was to be cancelled after the second but a massive write in campaign forced the network to renew for a third season to stop having to deal with all the mail. Of course the executives put it at a time that guaranteed its failure. Luckily syndication kept the series alive. Interesting to read this article since it was before all the spin-off series and movies.
“Touching Base with Reality An Interview with Jesco Von Puttkamer”
Puttkamer was the science adviser to the movie and a scientist from NASA. He talks about the future of NASA and its new shuttle program. Sad because of the tragic fate of two of the four shuttles. Also sad that America has no active space program these days.
“Star Trek The Motion Picture Glossary”
By Tom Rogers
A glossary of the people and terms from the new movie. A useful glossary.
So this adaptation was a good faithful adaptation to the movie. Now I haven’t seen this movie since it first came out 38 years ago. I remember I was impressed with the visuals but the story seemed lacking. It was basically recycling a mediocre episode from the old series. Of course its main appeal was the nostalgia for this series which I loved and still do. Reading this I have a new appreciation for the movie and will have to seek it out and watch again. After all while the movie itself was so-so it did set the stage for The Wrath of Khan which is probably one of the finest movies of all time. Not to mention all the spin-offs and other cool movies.
“The Soul Shrine”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Buscema
Tyndall, Velanna and Mud-Butt are learning the origin of the Darklens Gems. Darklens the evil dark god who was exiled to Weirdworld after challenging the other dark gods. Darklens was not happy and decided to get back in the good graces of his fellow dark gods. So he came up with a plan to destroy Weirdworld so he could impress them. The light gods sent a comet that crashed into him. His followers the Dark Riders managed to transfer his soul into the crystals. The crystals were somehow lost before the solstice.
So Zarthon transports our heroes to the Tomb of Limbo where the remains of Darklens is located. There they are to use the crystals to burn his bones and thus end the threat he poses. So they get there and get in a fight with some savage elves that are guarding the tomb. They convince the elves they are on the side of good and go to the tomb. There instead of burning the bones they find the body taken over by Zarthon who now is evil. The Dark Riders come and get into a fight with Zarthon who turns into Darklens. Luckily the innkeeper comes who is a mage for the light and turns into the giant white wolf and destroys both Darklens and the Dark Riders.
“Encounter At Half-way Earth-Weird”
By Doug Moench
A fictional interview with the cast of Weirdworld by Moench. He comes on them while walking in Pennsylvania and discusses their adventures. Kind of an interesting way to explain the writing of this series.
“Over the Hills and Far Away”
By Ralph Maccio
An article on the history of fantasy in literature. Kind of a dry boring article.
By Richard Marshall
An article on the early fantasy illustrations in America. He has examples from cartoon strips that appeared in newspapers around the turn of the century. This didn’t hold my interest.
The final issue in the trilogy. Now the story did seem to fall apart for me at the end. I mean Zarthon was good then evil. That wasn’t really explained well. Also the main characters were reduced to spectators. They just watched what was happening. To be fair thought the main draw for this series is the stunning artwork. Buscema claims this was his best work and I would agree. Once again we get spectacular double page full spreads. In one instance another three page pull out with a map on the back. The artwork is truly some of the best I have ever seen. It is a shame that this concept never was given the series it deserved. The Weirdworld was such a well developed world with endless story possibilities. Maybe some time in the future this concept will gets its day in the sun.
“The Darklens Gems”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Buscema
Tyndall, Velanna and Mud-Butt are enjoying a meal in the tavern when the warning goes out that the Dark Riders are in town. They usually come only to hunt someone. A mysterious figure in a cloak decides to get up and leave in a hurry. He bumps into Mud-Butt and knocks his head into his fork as he is lifting it. This causes a fight that tears the cloak off and reveals the person as the savage elf they helped earlier in the last issue. He is obviously the one the Dark Riders are hunting for they take off after him.
Tyndall decides to help him but they are too late to save the elf. They do manage to take his pouch with a plea to get it to Zarthon. The three then run away and are lead by a white wolf to an inn. The innkeeper gives them a safe room and the trio discover the pouch is full of five gems. At night the gems become demon wraiths but the white wolf comes and defeats them. In the morning they find out from the innkeeper where Zarthon is located.
So they go to a house build above a lake in a crater. There Zarthon tells them the gems are the Darklens gems. These gems hold the soul of the evil wizard that created the Weirdworld. His soul can be released by the silver light of the moon and his minions the Dark Riders are searching for these gems to release him.
“How This Book Came to Be”
An article on how the artwork is done from the drawing to the coloring. A dry article.
“The Stuff of Which Dreams are Made”
By Richard Marshall
An article on the history of fantasy illustration in the US. Another dry article.
“A John Buscema Scrapbook”
Some samples of John’s early sketches for this book.
The second issue is another masterpiece. What is most stunning is the artwork. There are several full page drawing and they just look awesome. The full page spread for both Zarkon’s place from both outside and inside is just a thing of beauty. The story of course is also great. The trio are moving to a big confrontation for the fate of the world which is what these type of stories should be about. An abrupt ending but this was originally written to be one issue. I think it was a great idea to break it up. It allows for the stunning full page artwork which makes this such a treat.
“Part The First”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Buscema
The dwarf Mud-butt and two elves Tyndall and Velanna are fishing in the Great Marsh. They are on their way to the City of Seven Dark Delights. They witness an elf with a mohawk come running by and Tyndall saves it from a swamp serpent. The mohawk elf continues on as if chased by something. Later nightfangs come by and follow the trail. So the three make their way across the marsh in a log with spikes to impale attacking swamp serpents. On the trip Mud-butt gets the two elves story. Tyndall found himself in a village of dwarfs with no memory of his previous life. The dwarves decide to send Tyndall to fight a darkness that threatens them. So Tyndall makes in through the shadow realm and finds a skeleton of a giant fish. Inside the skeleton is an egg that hatches Velanna. They have some adventure with an evil wizard but manage to escape.
So the group makes it to the City of Dark Delights. It is sort of the Vegas of this world. Mud-butt gives them a list of warning including if someone tries to touch you they should be killed. Otherwise have fun. So the group settles at an inn for a dinner. Meanwhile five sinister riders are approaching the city.
“The Knowledge of Elves”
By Doug Moench
A poem on Weirdworld.
“What Lurks Ahead”
A brief look at the upcoming stories with some illustrations.
“A Map of Weirdworld”
A full page map with a key explaining the major locations.
“A John Buscema Scrapbook”
Illustrations of characters from Weirdworld.
“Washed Ashore on Weirdworld”
By Doug Moench
An article on how Doug came up with the concept and the struggle to finally get this published.
“How This Book Came To Be”
Another article on how this issue was put together.
This series has to be one of the finest ever written. I remember as a kid being spellbound by the world. It was illustrated in bright color with several full page spreads. A pull out poster and one fold out three page spread. The world looked so beautiful and exciting. I had no problem imaging myself having adventures in this world. Even today I still have the same wonder as I did almost forty years ago. The cool map with such exciting places as the City of the Unclean or Forbidden Lagoon or Perilous Isles. There was a whole world to explore. It is a shame that very little was done with this concept. Except for this spectacular three issue run there were only a few more isolated stories run in various anthology series. A lot of imagination and thought went into this series. It sounds like shortly after Marvel had a dispute with the creator so that is why noting came of this.
“World In a Bottle”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artists: Gene Colan & Tom Palmer
Starlord is having a nightmare where people that were once adoring him turn to monsters. He is awakened by a strange red beam of energy that sucks him through a black hole. On the other side is a huge ship that stretches beyond his sight. He shoots at the energy beam and the next thing he knows is he is in a jungle being attacked by griffins. He is rescued by a beautiful woman who warns him that everything isn’t what it seems. Later the inhabitants of the space ship arrive. They are an ark that has preserved the population of a planet destroyed by a meteor shower. A ship one light year long holding 2 billion people. They have been searching for over three million year. When Starlord takes a tour he sees Earth animals and finds out that this is the last remnants of Earth. The black hole he went through propelled him into the future.
Yet later he secretly meets with the woman who saved him named Aletha. She tells him the truth. They are aliens who are using a smoke to give the illusion of being human. Their leader Adam is a military dictator who wants to conquer Earth. He brought Starlord to learn about the planet. Aletha is part of a resistance that wants to overthrow the military dictatorship. With Starlord’s help they do that.
“To Sleep, Perchance To….Die!”
Writer: Marc Dacy
Artist: Ernie Colon
Colonel Jeremy Bolld is on a rocket for some mission for NASA. A system malfunction forces the rocket down on a strange desert world. Stripping down to his Fruit of the Looms he sets out to find food and water. At an Oasis he is captured by a hostile tribe known as the Tosk. He escapes and is rescued by the Alarians. They are the enemy of the Tosk and constantly under attack by them and the Vashag sea serpents from the ocean next to the city. Bolld fight for the city and wins the affections of Larissa the daughter of the leader. This earns the enmity of Corax. Corax make a deal with the Tosk. He will open the floodgates and let in the Vashag while the Tosk attack the city. The Tosk take the city and force the Alarians to destroy it with explosives planted in the walls. Bolld confronts Corax who hits him on the head with his sword. He wakes up on his spaceship with a wound to his head. A dream and he fell against the console or was it real?
“Animation and Science Fiction”
By Maurice Horn
An article on science fiction and animation. The earliest attempts was back in 1902 with “A Trip to the Moon.” The famous one where a rocket hits the eye of the moon. It later goes on about other attempts mostly European with animation. There are some familiar ones like Fleicher’s Superman cartoons. Duck Dodgers and the American TV shows like ‘The Jetsons” and Saturday morning attempts. Most are obscure European and Japanese. I found it kind of interesting. He laments the lack of American animation for science fiction which I think has come a long way since this article.
So this special Starlord was in Marvel Color and looked beautiful. There were two full spreads that I still remember from being a kid. One was Starlord looking at the huge ship that stretched forever. The other was when the hordes were attacking the city of the Alarians. Both were beautiful and epic. I actually think that the backup story was better than the Starlord feature. Yet both were very good.
One odd little tidbit was that the ark was one light year long. A light year is 5.8784991 X 10 to the 12. What it means is that is one long ship. How would you maintain communication from one end of the ship to the other?