SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #58

“For the Throne of Zamboula”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from book “Conan & the Sword of Skelos” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema & Tony DeZuniga

Conan has been betrayed by Aktar Khan. Now he seeks vengeance. He allies with Boland the rebel that seeks the throne. He also gets the Shanti tribesmen to join in by luring out his loyal troops. Than Conan attempts to sneak into the palace to free Isparana. Only they were waiting for him and soon he is captured. He is tortured for a while before being brought before Zafra. Zafra attempts to kill Conan with his magic sword. Only Conan manages to evade the sword and leave the room. The sword needs to kill once activated and turns of Zafra. Conan than takes the sword and a uniform from a guard he kills to find Isparana. He finds her in the dungeon being tortured and dispatches the guards and torturer.

With Isparana they go to the throne room to take Aktar Khan captive. Only he is surrounded by guards and the two are forced to surrender. The guards are sent outside because Aktar Khan wants to use his magic sword to dispatch the two. Only with Zafra dead it doesn’t work. Boland and the rebels arrive and Boland dispatches Aktar with a well placed arrow. Conan is disgusted by the cowardly way Boland killed him. Before Boland and do anything Zafra crawls in still alive. He commands the sword to kill Boland which it does. Conan cuts off Zafra’s head before he can turn it on him. The people proclaim Junghir Khan the young son of Aktar the rightful Khan.

“REH: Bard from the Shadows”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the poems of Howard. A somewhat dry article.

“Mirror of the Manticore”
Writers: Roy Thomas and Fred Blosser
Artist: Kerry Gammill

Olgerd Vladislov crawls off into the desert to die after his encounter with the creature at the oasis. While in the desert he witnesses a father and his daughter escaping bandits. The leader Khemal Bey kills the father and takes the daughter. They leave a mirror with a manticore figure in the frame behind. Olgerd than finds from the dying father that the mirror can heal him. He tells Olgerd how if he will rescue his daughter. Olgerd agrees and uses the mirror to regenerate himself. He goes off and confronts Khemal to a duel for control of his brigands. Olgerd wins and becomes known as the Tiger.

The final ending to Offutt’s novel. It was an enjoyable ending that had many twists and turns that were unexpected. Conan negotiates different factions to rescue Isparana and defeat the Khan. What I found unexpected was how Boland showed himself to be just as equally an unjust ruler. Zafra the wizard shows up unexpectedly and kills Boland which was another surprise. An enjoyable story that I will have to someday read the books.

A fun bonus was the story of how Olgerd Vladislov came back from his encounter with the creature from a Thomas story. This was before they got the rights to DeCamp. So after adapted the Flame Knife there was some discrepancies unanswered as how he came to escape the creature. So Thomas had Blosser come up with a story outline and I have to say it did a good job. We now know how Olgerd escaped to once again confront Conan. A good solid issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #57

“The Eye of Erlik”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan and the Sword of Skelos” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

Conan with Isparana are headed toward Zamboula where Conan hopes to sell it’s ruler the Eye of Erlik. Along the way they are confronted by Yoggites a cult that wants Isparana. So a fight ensues which looks grim for Conan. Luckily the Shanti a tribe that are enemies of the Yoggites comes to their rescue. They take Conan and Isparana back to their camp and agree to help them reach Zamboula.

The Khan of Zamboula through his wizard Zafra knows of their coming. So horsemen are their to escort them to the Khan. Aktar Khan is very happy to get back the Eye of Erlik and agrees to reward Conan and Isparana. Later at night Conan gets a mysterious invitation to meet with someone. So he goes and meets with Balad who is leading a plot to overthrow the despotic Khan. At this time Aktar Khan who has been convinced by Zafra to betray Conan and Isparana sends his soldiers to arrest them. They get Isparana but Conan remains free and vows to get his revenge.

“Surgeons and Sears Life, Death and Medicine in the Hyborian Age”
By Jim Neal

An article on the medicine and doctors of Conan’s time. It goes over the various times a doctor or medicine was used in the literature. Another fascinating and well researched article by Jim Neal.

So the second in the Offutt adaptation was an enjoyable read. It had some action in the beginning. Most of it was the various intrigue among the various characters. Zafra and the Khan’s mistress are conspiring to take over. The Shanti are concerned when they hear the rumors that the chief’s daughter may have been killed by the Khan which she was. There is also the scheming of Balad who seems to be a good guy out to overthrow an evil Khan. A bit convoluted but I was able to follow the story and interested to see where it goes. Plus the artwork is beautiful as always.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #56

“The Sword of Skelos”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan and the Sword of Skelos” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

In Zamboula the khan of that city attends a demonstration by his wizard Zafra. He performs a spell over a sword that can move by itself. It kills two Iranistani spies and Zafra pledges to turn the Khan’s sword into a magical weapon. Meanwhile in Shadizar Conan is ambushed by two men that try to kidnap him. The two are incompetent and Conan easily kills one and takes the other captive. From the captive he finds out the man who hired them. So he is lead to the Iranistani and boldly goes up to him in the tavern. The man Khassek is in the service of the Shah of Iranistan. He wants the Eye of Erlik that Conan possesses. Just than some members of the local watch enter to arrest Conan. Khassek takes the leader captive and locks the men in the tavern cellar.

So the two leave Shadizar and head out into the desert. Conan has the Eye but decides to pretend it is buried in the desert to evaluate if he can trust Khassek. They come on Isparana who is with a deserter from the Turanian army. The deserter kills Khassek before Conan kills him. Isparana tries to kill Conan for his theft of the Eye. In the end she is turned on by the Cimmerian and they end up making love. Also as this happens the Khan of Zamboula kills a native girl from a nearby tribe to get his magic sword.

“To Kush and Beyond: The Black Kingdoms of the Hyborian Age”
Writer: Charles R. Saunders
Artists: Gene Day and John Buscema

An article on the Africa of the Hyborian age. He gives a good explanation of the various countries and tribes. Along with their history and appearances in the Conan literature. Plus beautiful illustrations. A very informative article.

“The DeZuniga Conan”
Artist: Tony DeZuniga

A portfolio of four Conan and one Red Sonja illustration.

So we get the next book that Offutt wrote. Apparently Conan has managed to get back his soul in the third book that came out. So now the story continue with the Eye of Erlik. Not really sure what Conan’s plan is so far. Is he going to try and sell it to Iranistan or Zamboula. Anyway we end up meeting Isparana and it ends in what could be almost a rape scene. Yet Roy manages to turn it into a somewhat more goofy consent act. So far the story does have my interest if not necessarily the greatest Conan story.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #55

“Black Lotus and Yellow Death”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan and the Sorcerer” by Andrew J. Offutt

Conan is deposited at an oasis by the Sand-lich. From an old man and his family traveling he learns that Isparana has not come through yet so sets in and waits. He doesn’t have long for her to show up. After she baths in the oasis and falls asleep he sneaks up and substitutes the real Eye of Erlik for a phony one. Then while trying to steal her camels she wakes up and attacks. Conan manages to disarm her. Only later a slavery caravan comes and after a fight takes them prisoner. The Turanian captain that Conan helps arrives and forces the slavers to release Conan and Isparana.

Conan than heads off for Shadizar and the wizard Hissar Zul. There he give him the Eye of Erlik and expects the wizard to give him back his soul. Only the wizard tries to kill Conan by blowing Yellow Lotus dust on him. Conan is quicker and manages to blow the powder through the rolled up parchment back at Hissar Zul. With the wizard dead he takes the mirror with his soul and the Eye of Erlik. Setting fire to the wizards house he heads out to trade the Eye for a person of royal blood to break the mirror and free his soul.

“Havoc in Hyboria A study of Warfare in Conan’s World”
By Jim Neal

An article that tells story of Conan’s life as they relate to the various wars and battles he has fought. An interesting article.

“The New Kids in Town A Portfolio”

A collection of five artists renditions of Conan. The artists are Joe Jusko, Will Meugniot, Peter Ledger, Steve Swenson and Rich Larson.

“Wizard and Warriors”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard and Lin Carter
Artist: Alfredo Alcala

Kull and Brule are playing chess with Ronaro looking on. The discussion turns to a time in Brule’s life where he battled a wizard. While fighting the Sungara tribe he manages to defeat their wizard. His feet can’t move because of his spell but the sword he carries turns away the full force of the sorcery. So he cuts the magic staff in two and then stabs the wizard.

So we get the end of another adaptation. This was an interesting story and sees Conan defeat the evil sorcerer. Isparana was a fascinating character and would appear in many later stories. This was the first of a trilogy so it ends somewhat unfinished with Conan still having his soul trapped in a mirror. Which the next issue will continue.

As for the other stuff. The article was well written and gives the reader a brief but concise history of Conan’s life as a warrior. The portfolio had some beautiful art. The Brule story was also enjoyable and gives us a chance to let the Pict that was Kull’s loyal friend have his moment in the sun. A good solid issue although the cover has nothing to do with the story inside.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #54

“The Stalker Amid the Sands”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan and the Sorcerer” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema & Ricardo Villamonte

Conan is on the trail of Isparana who stole the Eye of Erlik. He needs to retrieve the eye to get back his soul from Hissar Zul. At an oasis he is ambushed by two nomads who he has to kill. Later he comes on a Turanian patrol that was after them. From the patrol he finds a short cut he can take but is warned of a Sand lich that ambushes men. Conan decides to ignore that advice and take the short cut. He finds out there is a Sand lich, a creature made of sand. It starts to suffocate Conan but stops when it finds out that he has no soul.

The Sand lich finds out the soul was stolen by Hissar Zul. The Sand lich was once Tosya Zul the brother of Hissar. Back in their youth they tried to overthrow the Khan of Zamboula and had to flee when it was found out. Along the way Tosya finds out that Hissar actually hates him and uses magic to kill Tosya. Only Tosya survived and turned into a Sand lich. He kills everyone who comes to him because he hopes one is his brother. He agrees to help Conan if he kills his brother. So he uses his magic to transport him to an oasis.

“Satan’s Swordbearers”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the mercenaries of Conan’s time. Also has comparisons with history in the Middle Ages to explain the origin and tactics of these bands. An interesting article.

“The Chan Barbarians”

A two page spread by Ernie Chan of Conan battling Thoth-Amon.

“Wings in the Night Part Two”
Writer: Don Glut adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: David Wenzel

After his battle with two bat-creatures Solomon Kane gets knocked out. He wakes in a hut. The Bogonda tribe is nursing him back to health. From them he finds out the history of their tribe and the creatures they call the Akaana. The tribe was driven out of their homeland and after fighting through the local cannibal tribe came to this land. Only they found out it was inhabited by the Akaana. Now trapped by the cannibal tribe they are forced to make their home in this land. The tribe started leaving sacrifices but the lower Bogonda rebelled and were slaughtered. Now the upper Bogonda have not been bothered by the Akaana since Kane killed two of them. They think that the Akaana are scared of Kane and will not bother them as long as Kane stays with them. Kane agrees to stay to protect them.

Only a few days later the Akaana attack and slaughter the people. Kane tries with fails to protect them. So he sets a trap by fortifying a hut. Then leaves a cow carcass inside to lure the Akaana in. When they enter he locks the door and sets fire to the hut. Thus getting revenge for the Bogonda tribe.

So apparently Ernie Chan couldn’t do his inking for this story and Villamonte filled in. They could only do half the story instead of finishing it. Which is why it seems so short for the main Conan story. It was a good story filled with an interesting premise. The Sand lich was a new monster for Conan that had some originality.

Because of the abbreviated Conan story we get the Solomon Kane story in two parts instead of three. This was one of Howard’s best Kane story. A fascinating backstory of the tribe and their tormenters the Akaana. A race of bat creatures that Kane feels were the Harpies of old mythology. A well done adaptation.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #53

“The Sorcerer and the Soul”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Conan and the Sorcerer” by Andrew J. Offutt
Artists: John Buscema & Rudy D. Nebres

In Arenjun the City of Thieves Conan has continued his life of a thief after the Tower of the Elephant. He is enjoying himself in a tavern with a beautiful young woman. The woman’s man comes who happens to be a captain in the city watch. This guy doesn’t like Conan being with his woman so a fight ensues. Conan manages to kill the captain and some of his men with the help of a mysterious stranger.

So Conan flees and while on the roof of a building overhears the plot of two people. A man named Karamek and a woman named Isparana. In two days they are going to steal the Eye of Erlik from the wizard Hisarr Zul. Conan decides he’ll steal it tomorrow. As he leaves he doesn’t overhear that they plan to move up the day to tomorrow. So the next day Conan sneaks into the wizard’s house. There he finds the mysterious man who helped him fighting the guards. Conan helps him out. The man in the service of Iranistan’s king than turns on Conan when he hears his plan to steal the amulet. A fight results in the man opening a secret compartment that frees deadly asps and kills him.

Later Conan comes on Karamek and Isparana taking a small sword amulet. Conan fights and kills Karamek as Isparana escapes. Than Conan gets his feet stuck in a trap the wizard set. Hisar Zul uses a mirror to steal Conan’s soul so he will retrieve the amulet.

“The Hyborian Reporter”
By Roy Thomas

An article on how Roy and his girlfriend attended a costume party at a Hollywood producers house on Halloween. He meets a number of people in the industry.

“Wings in the Night”
Writer: Don Glut adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: David Wenzel

Solomon Kane is in Africa and comes on a village that was destroyed. It seems the village was destroyed by something not human. He comes on a poor man that was mutilated as he was tied to a tree and vows vengeance against this foul opponent. Later he is attacked by a cannibal but some mysterious flying creature takes the man while he was fighting him. Later he finds out the creature was a bat-man and fights and kills two of them.

So this is an adaptation of an Andrew Offutt novel. The first in a trilogy. Offutt was mostly known for writing porn in the seventies and this is probably he only non-porn endeavor. I found it an interesting story so far. Filled with several interesting characters and takes place when Conan is only seventeen. The main importance of this story is to introduce the character of Isparana who plays an important character in later storylines.

The article was OK. The Solomon Kane backup was an excellent story. This was probably one of Howard’s finest Solomon Kane story. Filled with the mystery of Africa and a supernatural type of bat-men that Kane has to defeat. All around a solid issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #52

“Conan the Liberator”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from book by L. Sprague de Camp & Lin Carter
Artists: John Buscema & Tony Dezuniga

Conan’s army of liberation continues it’s march to Tarantia. Conan’s army has taken a bit of a hit with a mysterious plague and desertions. At the village of Almira he is ambushed and barely escapes with his life. The loyalists have a larger army. Yet there are some positive signs. The king’s own guard the Black Guard has deserted to Conan. They tell how King Numedides has gone completely mad and thinks he is a god. Conan hearing the palace is no longer guarded takes the Black Guard to Tarantia.

In the capital Numedides attempts to rape Alcina but is stopped by Thulandra Thuu. Thuu now openly brags that he is the real ruler of Aquilonia. Soon though Conan arrives. With the help of Dexitheus a Mitra priest who has some knowledge of sorcery in his youth Conan successfully confronts Thuu. The wizard decides that ruling Aquilonia isn’t worth it and takes off. King Numedides at first begs for his life but when Conan turns his back he tries to knife him. Conan chokes him to death and crowns himself king. He banishes Alcina and makes Dexitheus his chancellor. Later a newly crowned Conan finds out he has to deal with the mundane bureaucracy of ruling.

“The Chan Barbarians”
Artist: Ernie Chan

Six portfolios of artwork. They include Conan in some classic scenes from “Tower of the Elephant” and being nailed to a cross. One has the women in Conan’s life and one of Solomon Kane and Kull.

The ending of the story that tells of how Conan becomes king. I found it an enjoyable story. Conan of course will crown himself. The tyrant Numedides proves himself to be a total coward and completely crazy. The evil wizard when confronted goes off in a huff that Aquilonia isn’t worth his time. I wonder if De Camp and Carter ever brought Thulandra Thuu back. He was a good enemy. The traitorous Alcina gets spared since Conan won’t kill a woman. Yet she tries to worm her way back with pleading that she was under the control of Thuu.

Finally the ending was the best. Conan is ready to choose his harem but has to go over the budget for the kingdom. Being king has it’s less than glamourous times. A fun adaptation that gives us how Conan became king with beautiful artwork.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #51

“Satyrs’s Blood”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Conan the Liberator” by L. Sprague de Camp & Lin Carter
Artists: John Buscema & Tony Dezuniga

Conan and his army of liberation are a big success. He has no problem reaching the Poitainian city of Curalo. There he picks up thousands of new recruits. Thulandra Thuu the wizard behind the throne uses his wizardry to conjure up a storm that stops his advance. Long enough to move an army to the Imirian Escarpment. He also starts to round up satyrs from the nearby forest to sacrifice and power up his magic. Conan manages to rescue one of these satyrs. From him he learns a secret path up the escarpment after Thuu causes a rockslide to block the main passage. He also gets help from the satyrs. They use their pipes to drive the opposing army insane. Now Conan’s way to Tarantia is open.

Another entry in the story of how Conan became king. It has a lot of various intrigue as Thulandra Thuu maneuvers to stop the threat to his plans to become king. The assassination of the popular general without successfully assassinating Conan has seriously deprived him of a competent leader. He turns to magic but Conan finds allies in these mysterious satyrs. I enjoyed the story and finding it well done. Looking forward to the big conclusion next issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #50

“Swords Across the Alimane”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from novel “Conan the Liberator” by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter
Artists: John Buscema and Tony Dezuniga

Conan has to reorganize his shattered army after his battle at the river crossing. While doing this he is poisoned by his mistress Alcina. She reports to Thulandra Thuu that Conan is dead. Thuu decides to have the Aquilonian Border Legion cross the border of Argos and scatter the rebels. Yet Conan is alive. He didn’t drink enough of the poison and his large body is able to make a recovery. What’s more the Argossean king sends a legion to help drive out the invaders. A third army of a rebel baron arrives and forces General Amulius Procas back to Aquilonia.

Thulandra Thuu thinking Conan dead has decided to get rid of the popular Porcas. He has Alcina go and assassinate him. Then send Baron Ascalante to take over the legion. Conan meanwhile uses guerilla tactics to harass the army. Soon a general uprising occurs in Poitain. The Border Legion is destroyed and Ascalante flees. It ends with Conan in a strong position and continuing on to the capital.

“Conan at Fifty A Retrospective Look by a Nameless Editor”
By Roy Thomas

An article by Thomas reflecting on the history of the series. How it got its start in Savage Tales and thanks to Stan Lee was given a chance in spite of the bean counters wanting to shut it down. He than goes over the highlights of the past issues and what his plans for the future. There were only ten issues that Roy would do before leaving Marvel. So some were done but others never came about.

The big fifty. This was the only black and white Marvel magazine to make it to that number. Which shows how good it is to survive when all the others in this format didn’t last to see the mid-eighties. He truly did create one of the finest magazine comic series ever created. This issue like all the others is just a fun enjoyable read. The story of Conan’s rise to kingship is filled with plenty of double dealings. Assassinations and attempts with a mad king and scheming wizard on one side. Throw in a beautiful women who is an expert assassin. You have an enjoyable story. Looking forward to the next fifty.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #49

“When Madness Wears the Crown”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from book “Conan The Liberator” by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter
Artists: John Buscema & Tony Dezuniga

King Numedides of Aquilonia is truly mad. He spends his nights bathing in the blood of young women to give him immortality. Otherwise he stays in his garden with his gold and jeweled statues of himself talking to the plants. He has left the running of government to a sorcerer named Thulandra Thuu. Thuu has his own agenda which entails him eventually becoming king and ruling the whole world. Meanwhile in Argos Conan with his conspirators arrive in the capital Messantia to fence the jewels from the Treasure of Tranicos. Soon they have recruited an army to go up against King Numedides.

Yet Thulandra Thuu has spies in Conan’s army. He also has managed to have his agent Alcina a beautiful dancing girl become Conan’s mistress. She manages to pass on Conan’s plan. So when Conan’s army tries to cross the Alimane river it is ambushed. Conan manages to pull his shattered army back to regroup. Never realizing that his mistress is the one spying on him.

“Chanins and Fetters A Study of Slavery in the Hyborian Age Part II”
By Jim Neal

A second part of a feature on slavery in Conan’s time. This time Jim explores slavery in the civilized western nations. The enslavement of supernatural creatures. Slave revolts of the time and slaves that were in positions of power.

“The Woman from Khitai”
Writer: Don Glut
Artists: Gary Brodsky & Tony Dezuniga

King Raka is the ruler of a small city-state. He has a harem of beautiful women. He looks forward to the new girl arriving from Khitai. His wives love him but they fear his personal bodyguard Shorg. Shorg likes to take advantage of the women after the king goes to his quarters. Seems the king is afraid of his bodyguard. So the girl from Khitai named Soosha arrives. Later at night in the harem Shorg comes to check out the new arrival. Only Soosha uses her magic to imprison Shorg in the giant diamond that is a gift to her new husband.

So starts the adaptation of the novel that tells the story of how Conan became king. So far I am enjoying it. We have the cruel and insane king. The evil wizard that is the true power behind the throne. Conan now has some focus in his life. For the first time he is at an age where he wants to settle down and not go around adventuring. An interesting look at Conan.

The article was an informative and interesting read. The backup story was also very well done. This foppish king who lets his bodyguard molest his wives. The women were beautiful in this story and I loved the just deserts that were meted out to Shorg. Another excellent issue in this series.