SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #23

“Torrent of Doom”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story “The Pool of the Black One” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Alfredo Alcala

Conan and Sancha watch as the black giants bring back the unconscious crew. They throw them down on the ground outside the gates as they go to do their weird rituals. Conan goes to the crew and finds them drugged with the fruit they ate but they are waking up. He has Sancha wake and arm them as he distracts the giants. He goes and leads the giants into the strange city. He gets trapped but luckily the crew of the Wastrel comes to his rescue. They attack the giants and manage to kill them. The leader sees that its over and jumps into the green pool after reciting some spell. The pool erupts and the green water comes after Conan and his men. They manage to make it to their ship and flee the island. Conan plans to continue his live of piracy and rebuild the ship’s crew.

“Stygia Serpent of the South”
By Robert Yaple
Art by Rick Hoberg

An article on Stygia. Its origins of a strange race that after the cataclysm made its way to lands controlled by serpent-men. After killing the serpent-men they adapted a serpent cult. Goes into the politics, army and economy of the nation during and after Conan’s time.

“The Striking of the Gong”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Rick Hoberg and Bill Wray

King Kull finds himself in a place of darkness. He searches and comes on stars in the sky. A mysterious figure tells him he is between dimensions and sees the many wonders of the universe. He then wakes up and finds out he was almost assassinated but Brule saved him.

“A New Song of Sonja”
By Wendy Pini

A poem of Red Sonja and a picture by talented cosplayer who can write and draw.

Red Sonja at the Mall”
By Chris Padovano
Photos by Chris Padovano and Bob Pinaha

Photos from a recent Red Sonja convention in a mall in New Jersey. Has Frank Thorne an artist on Red Sonja dressed as a wizard with Red Sonja cosplayers Wendy Pini and Linda Behrle.

“Wizards of the Black Sun”
Writers: Roy Thomas & Clara Noto
Artist: Frank Thorne

Reprinted in The Red Sonja Holiday Special.

The ending of the Howard adaptation was another excellent story. The only complaint was I think this adaptation should have not been split up. But I suppose there were deadlines not met so I am happy with the end result.

The article by Yaple was another fine one of scholarly research into the world of Conan. The guy does his homework and has notes to prove it. The photo essay was a good filler. As I’ve said I always love looking at beautiful women dressed as Red Sonja.

The Kull story was a weird one. A deep one about life after death. Howard had some interesting takes on that.

Finally the Red Sonja story you can read my take in another review in the link. Because of the shortened main story we did get a grab bag of articles and backup stories. Not a strong issue but still enjoyable.

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SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #22

“The Pool of the Black One”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Sonny Trinidad

Sancha is the daughter of a powerful noble in Zingara. She was captured by the freebooter Zaporavo and is now his captive woman. While lounging on the deck she is surprised that a big barbarian crawls on the ship from nowhere. Conan had to flee Tortuga in a leaky rowboat and managed to make it to the deck of the Wastrel. Zaporavo decides that Conan can join the crew and after a fight with one of the crew that breaks the crewman’s neck, Conan is accepted as one of them.

The ship makes it to a deserted island far out in uncharted waters. Sancha is ordered to stay on the ship as the crew goes ashore. There the crew pick and eat the fruit as Zaporavo goes off into the jungle alone. Conan later follows after him. Sancha decides to check this out and swims to shore. There she follows the two into the jungle and comes on the dead body of Zaporavo. She is then confronted by something that causes her to scream.

Conan has followed the captain to kill him and take over the ship. So he does confront Zaporavo and his superior skill does take out the captain. Conan then explores the island and comes on a strange city. Inside he observes these giant black demons at a pool of green water. They have one of the crew captive and throw him in the pool. Conan ducks and later sees the creatures leave with one putting a figure on a ledge before he leaves. Exploring the pool he finds the ledge filled with little figure including the crewman that he saw thrown into the pool. Just then one comes back with Sancha captive. Conan manages to kill it and rescue the girl. Only now the others are coming back carrying the captive crew.

“Sea Hawks Maritime Trade and Piracy in the High Hyborian Age”
By Robert Yaple
Art by Rick Hoberg

An article on sea trade in the Hyborian age. It includes the major maritime powers and what was traded. Also includes the major pirate factions.

“The Chaykin Barbarians”
Art by Howard Chaykin

A portfolio of Howard Chaykin’s drawings of Conan, Red Sonja and Solomon Kane.

“Voice of the Bloodstained God”
By Fred Blosser

A review of an LP released with L. Sprague DeCamp reading two of his Conan stories. One “The Bloodstained God” and the other “The Curse of the Monolith”. Gave it a very positive review.

“The Dragon at Castle Frankenstein”
Writer: Don Glut
Artist: Sonny Trinidad

Solomon Kane comes on three knights dragging a young woman somewhere. Naturally he intervenes and kills two of the knights. From the survivor he finds out that the knights are working for Baron Frankenstein. So Kane with the young girl named Cathryn goes to the castle to confront the baron. There he finds that the baron was taking the girl for sacrifice to a dragon. Seems years ago his brother slayed a dragon but also died in the attempt. Now another dragon has come and the baron is a coward and chooses to sacrifice young women than slay the dragon. Kane lives to fight evil and forces the baron to show him the lair. He fights the dragon and Cathryn sacrifices herself to distract the dragon so Kane can kill it.

Well another excellent issue. This one has another adaptation of a Howard story. Another creepy one with a lost city on a desert island filled with creepy demons. Howard did like these kind of stories but always kept them fresh with new creatures and magic. The only real complaint is I would have liked this to be all in one story but I guess deadlines.

They did fill it with some good backup articles. I find these pseudo-historical articles by Robert Yaple quite informative.

Finally the Solomon Kane story was another excellent one. This Frankenstein must be an ancestor of the famous one. Kane is drawn just as I would envision him and the writer captures the guy’s Puritan fanaticism very well.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #21

“The Horror from the Red Tower”
Writer: Roy Thomas and Fred Blosser adapted from partial story and outline by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Sonny Trinidad

Almuric is a survivor of a mercenary army that was landed in Stygia in the employ of Argos. Unfortunately Argo’s ally Koth cut a separate peace with Stygia and the mercenary army was destroyed. Almuric with Conan escape into the desert. They are later attacked by a group of men and Conan has his horse killed and he falls. Thinking him dead Almuric continues on. He hooks up with three brigands and he survives by petty robbery with the three. One day the leader brings back a beautiful blonde girl. Almuric being a chivalrous sort attacks his fellow brigands to rescue the girl. He finds out her name is Lissa and she comes from the city of Gazal. Her knowledge of the world is nine hundred years old and she has a childlike attitude to the world.

So Almuric and Lissa go to Gazal and he finds that the city is in ruins. The people are in a dazed state and seem to be out of it. Almuric finds out that these were refugees from Koth. Scholars and artists they founded the city nine hundred years ago. Now over the centuries they have become indolent and will soon be extinct. The only building in the city not in ruins is a red tower. Lissa fears it and Almuric decides to get the horses ready to leave. He hears a scream and finds Lissa missing. The trail leads to the red tower and he battles a tall white figure. He has heard tales of a god named Ollam-Onga. Almuric uses a phrase from a witch doctor that makes the creature vulnerable so he can kill it with his sword. He finds Lissa and the two ride out of the city. They are then chased by seven horsemen in black. As the horsemen come on them a group of warriors intervene. Just then the moon comes out and the horsemen vanish.

Almuric finds the men are lead by Conan. He takes them back to the city of Tombalku which is run by two kings. A brown one and a black one. The black one was a comrade of Conan during his days with the black corsairs so that is how Conan was freed and became his commander. The city has many different conspiracies going on. The witch doctor makes a deal with the brown king and a coup is launched against the black king. In the fighting the black king is killed but Conan manages to kill the witch doctor and the creature that he sends at them. With his friend dead Conan decides to leave the city and takes his two friends with him.

“What the She-Devil?”
By Mario A. Cavollini

An article on Sonjacon that was held in a Motorlodge in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey in 1976. There was a contest of cosplay Red Sonjas that was judged by such notables as Roy Thomas and Frank Thorne. More beautiful women dressed as Red Sonja. Still never gets old.

So for this issue we get a story that was only partially finished by Howard. It did have an outline on how it was to end so we get a full Howard story. This was actually two stories. The first one didn’t even have Conan in it. It was all Almuric and his adventures with Lissa in the city of Gazal. Then the second part introduces Conan and Almuric is just a spectator to events. They were both enjoyable stories. This time we get two lost cities that each were different but exciting. The themes of a people degrading through centuries of decadence is a common one for Howard. The second city with it’s two peoples one brown the other black was a definite change from the first city and I liked the variety. Thomas and Blosser did a good job of presenting this story and as always the artwork was beautiful.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #20

“The Slithering Shadow”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan is lost in the desert. This only companion a former slave girl that he rescued named Natala. Conan was a mercenary employed by the rebel prince Almuric in his rebellion against the King of Koth. The defeated army moved south through Shem and Stygia. At the border of Kush the army was destroyed by the combined armies of Stygia and Kush. Conan taking the girl rode into the desert on a camel. The camel died and it looks like the two don’t have long.

Miraculously they see a city in the distance. Going to it they find the gates not locked and what looks like a dead man lying on the ground. Only the man isn’t dead and attacks the two. Conan kills him and then throws the body down the well in frustration at not being able to retrieve the water. They wander the city and explore one of the buildings. Inside they find a table set with a meal and help themselves. They later find sleeping figures and a mysterious shadow that goes around eating up the figures.

They finally meet a woman named Thalis. She tells them they are in Xutotl. The inhabitants are always drugged up with Black Lotus. Also their god Thog goes around and eats up people. Thalis has fallen in love with Conan and kidanps Natala. She ties her up and starts whipping her but doesn’t notice that Thog comes up and eats her. Conan searching for the women meets up with the inhabitants and has to fight them. Fleeing he runs into a room where a girl pulls a cord and he finds himself falling through a trap door. He lands in the chamber Natala is captive and battles Thog. He blinds the creature and it falls back into the pit it came from. Later severely wounded it looks like Conan has had it. Only Natala finds the healing elixir the people use which heals Conan. The two take food and water and head for the nearest oasis.

“Sing a Song of Sonjas”
By Roy Thomas
Photos by Al Satian

A photo essay of two Red Sonja cos-players at Comicon in San Diego.

“Solomon Kane’s Homecoming”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapting poem by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Virgilio Redondo and Rudy Nebres

Solomon Kane comes back to his home village of Devon. He tells about his time fighting the Spaniards. His battles with vampires and other undead creatures before leaving to continue to wander the Earth.

So we get another excellent adaptation from Howard. He seems to excel at spooky lost cities filled with strange people and even stranger creatures. This stuff never gets old with me. I love this setting of a city filled with drugged out users and a blob like creature. Conan is at his finest. Also once again it the duo of Buscema and Alcala producing some beautiful artwork.

We get an article of beautiful women dressed as Red Sonja. That never gets old with me either.

Finally Roy gives us the poem written by Howard but with illustrations to go with it. Howard was an accomplished poet and it was an added bonus to get an illustrated story with it. Another outstanding issue in the series.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #19

“Vengeance in Vendhya”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan and Kerim Shah have defeated the acolytes and now assault the main castle. They break in and are confronted by four of the mystics. They have hypnotic powers and manage to freeze in place the attackers. Then they have the Irakzai henchmen come forward and give their sword to the wizards. They then use it to decapitate the henchmen. Conan manages to grasp the Stygian belt that Khemsa gave him. It gives him the power to go and break the glass globe that gives the wizards their power. This kills the four wizards and Conan and Kerim continue on. Then they confront the master who uses his power to split open Kerim and take his beating heart. Only Conan manages to almost kill the master. The master turns into a giant snake and tries to kill Yasmina. Conan seriously wounds the snake. Then takes Yasmina out where he plans to take her with him since he loves her.

They come on his hill-men being slaughtered by the Turanian army and Conan can’t abandon his former men. They see in the distance the approach of the Vendhyian troops. Yasmina goes to them and with Conan rallying his men defeat the Turanians. At the end a giant vulture that was the master attacks but Conan kills it. Conan then must watch Yasmina go back to her duty of being Devi of Vendhya as he continues to lead the hill-men.

“The Buscema Barbarians”
Art by John Buscema

A portfolio of four full page drawing of Howard characters. They are Conan, Red Sonja, Solomon Kane and Kull.

“The Man Who was Conan”
By Fred Blosser

A review of “The Last Celt” by Glenn Lord. Blosser fells that it is a definitive biography of Robert E. Howard with an extensive Bibliography.

“The Castle of the Devil”
Writer: Don Glut adopted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Alan Kupperberg and Sonny Trinidad

Solomon is in the Black Forrest and comes on a naked woman strung up. He frees her and finds that she was placed there by Baron Von Staler who she claims is the devil himself. Kane being a devout Puritan can’t tolerate such an evil man and vows to put an end to his reign. Along the way he meets a fellow countryman named John Silent. He convinces him to join his quest and the two set out to the castle. They try to gain employ as mercenaries and after a brief fight are allowed to meet the Baron.

Baron Von Staler they find out has been born with the legs of a goat. So he does look a lot like the devil incarnate. They find he does worship Satan and are hired on. Later at night the two sneak to his secret chamber and find that he has to sacrifice a virgin every year for five years and bath his legs in the blood. Then with his pact with Satan he will gain human legs. Only Kane and Silent break in and set fire to the Satan Carving. This turns the Baron into a full image of Satan. His own guards are convinced the creature killed their employer and destroy the Satan Baron.

So we end the epic adaptation of “The People of the Black Circle.” The second longest story Howard ever wrote and probably one of his finest. It had a climactic confrontation with the seers and the master. A spectacular fight that sees Kerim have his beating heart torn out and Conan fighting the master as a giant snake. This was a story that had Conan have real feeling for Yasmina which hasn’t happened since Belit. Alas the two were not meant to be and must go their separate ways. Yasmina was one of the strong female characters that Howard created and one of the few that won the affections of Conan. An excellent story well written and adopted by Thomas with the usual beautiful artwork by Buscema and Alcala.

The portfolio was of course beautiful. The article was an interesting review of a book.

Finally the Howard adaptation of another fine tale. This one a Solomon Kane story. In it he gets to battle a worshiper of Satan which Kane lives to battle. He’s captured here nicely as an avenging Puritan and this villain is just perfect for him. Solomon Kane is probably the most underrated of Howard’s creations and is nice that Marvel did him justice.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #18

“The Battle of the Towers”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan has lost Yasmina to the Black Circle. Conan rides down and encounters his Afghuli tribesmen. Only they blame him for the execution of the seven sub-chiefs and now want his head. So he is forced to flee. He comes on Khemsa who is barely alive. Khemsa gives Conan a magical belt to protect him and tells where he must go before he dies. Then Conan runs into Kerim Shah and whats left of his men. They agree to an alliance to rescue Yasmina from the Black Circle.

Meanwhile Yasmina wakes up a prisoner of Master of Yimsha. The guy is a real tool and very condescending to her. He uses his magic to show Yasmina’s past lives to break her will. Conan and Kerim assault the tower that guards the entrance to the mountain fortress. They are attacked by a mad dog and a hawk. They successfully storm the tower and manage to kill the acolytes that manned it.

“A Handbook Shall Be Born”
By Fred Blosser

A review of The Annotated Guide to Robert E. Howard’s Sword’s and Sorcery by Robert Weinberg. Fred had positive things to say of the work and thought it a very comprehensive guide to the works of REH.

“Crimson Blades of Dark Vendhya”
By Fred Blosser

A review of The Swords of Shahrazar a collection of works by REH. They have stories of Francis X. Gordon and Kirby O’Donell. Two Irish-American adventurers in contempory India and the Middle East. Talks about the origins of the characters and has a positive review of the book.

“Rattle of Bones”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Howard Chaykin

Solomon Kane and a French traveler stop at The Cleft Skull an inn in the Black Forrest. Solomon doesn’t trust the innkeeper and wants to find a bar for the door. The search has them find a skeleton chained to the wall in a room. As Solomon goes to confront the innkeeper the Frenchman pulls a pistol on Kane. He reveals himself to be Gaston the Butcher a murderer Kane was tracking. Before Gaston can kill Kane the innkeeper comes and cleves his skull. The innkeeper was driven mad from a stay in prison and now kills all his guests. He tells that the skeleton was a magician from Russia that he had to keep chained or the skeleton would come to kill him. Only Gaston freed the skeleton and he gets pulled into the room. When Kane enters he finds the skeleton has strangled the innkeeper.

So we get two classic Howard stories in this issue. A continuation of the excellent “The People of the Black Circle.” Conan has everybody after him in this Hyborian version of India. He has to ally himself with the Turanian spy Kerim Shah and they manage to make headway on the Black Seers. The master of this group of wizards is a really unlikable guy who you just can’t wait to get killed. One of Howard’s finest and expertly adapted by Thomas.

The two reviews were OK. Nothing special since these books are probably long out of print.

Finally the Solomon Kane was another excellent Howard adaptation. A very spooky tale with elements of the supernatural and evil men getting their just deserts.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #17

“On To Yimsha”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “The People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan has the Devi Yasmina his prisoner in the village of his friend Yar Afzal. Khemsa the mystic hypnotizes one of Afzal’s men to deliver a black pearl to him. The pearl turns into a spider that kills Yar Afzal instantly. A mysterious voice then urges the tribesmen to kill the outlander. Now Conan has to fight his way out of the village with Yasmina. Fortunately Khemsa conjures a dragon to stop any pursuit.

Conan and Yasmina continue on to Afgulistan and pass the sinister mount Yimsa the home of the Black Seers. Here Conan is confronted by Khemsa and his lover Gitana. Khemsa uses his magic to subdue Conan. Before he can do anything a whirlwind comes from the mountain and four of the Black Seers are there. They use their hypnotism to make Gitana jump off a cliff then create a fissure that has Khemsa join her. They then fly away in the whirling wind with Yasmina captive.

“Of Buccaneers and Barachan Pirates”
By Fred Blosser

A review of “Black Vulmea’s Vengeance”. Three stories about a pirate in the seventeenth century. The first story was originally a Conan called “The Black Stranger” that was rejected so Howard wrote it as a pirate story.

“The Hyborian Age Chapter 6 The Darkness…and the Dawn”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from essay by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Walt Simonson

As the Picts conquer Aquilonia they basically slaughter everyone. The Hyrkanians and Turanians join forces and start to conquer from the east. Nemedia hires Aesir mercenaries to save them. Soon glaciers drive the northern Vanir and Aesir south. This also drives the Cimmerians and they eventually settle around Turan. Another cataclysm strikes the world and forms in into what we know today.

“Curse of the Black Stone”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Worms of the Earth” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Tim Conrad

Bran Mak Morn goes to the werewoman witch Atla. He seeks the location of the Black Stone of the ancient race that lives underground. He gets it and goes and steals the stone then throws it in a lake. He then has Atla take him to the sub-human race and demand that they bring him the Roman Governor Titus Sulla who is in the Tower of Trajan. They agree and so Brak goes and retrieves the stone after a brush with what might be the Lock Ness Monster. On the way to the meeting he comes on the ruins of the Tower of Trajan. A Roman survivor tells how it collapsed. Later he delivers the stone and is given Titus. Only the Roman governor has been driven insane and Bran puts him out of his misery. He leaves wishing he listened to his shaman not to make a deal with the Worms of the Earth.

Well this was another excellent issue. We first get another installment of “The People of the Black Circle.” This novella has a lot of eastern mysticism and hypnotism. Conan seems immune and it is stated because his culture has no tradition of hypnotism so he was never conditioned to accept it like the Vendyans. This adventure in the India of Conan’s time is well done with its fierce tribesman and mysterious wizards.

The book review was OK. The final installment of the Hyborian age was excellent. Howard gave a very detailed history of the rise and fall of his pseudo-history. A very plausible yarn.

Finally we get the conclusion to “Worms of the Earth”. This was a story about the Picts which Howard had an obsession with. A very dark and creepy tale of this mysterious race that was once human but degenerated into an underground dwelling serpent people. A very poignant ending with Bran not getting the justice he wanted against Titus Sulla. A lesson in dealing with forces that he didn’t understand.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN 16

“The People of the Black Circle”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

In Vendhya the king Bhunda Chan is dying. He is being killed by sorcery and his sister the Devi Yasmela must put him out of his misery. He is the victim of an agent of Turanian king Yezdigerd and a servant of the Seers of Yimsha. Yasmela decides to go north and have her governor use the capture of seven sub-chiefs of the Afguli to get their chieftain the barbarian Conan to get revenge. She wants him to kill the seven wizards that make up the Seers of Yimsha. Only she is discovered by Conan and kidnapped and taken to the hills.

Meanwhile her servant is working with the conspiracy and her lover is the servant of the seers. She gets him to betray his masters and they plan to use this to carve out an empire for themselves. So Khemsa uses his magic to infiltrate the prison and kill the captive sub-chieftains so they can’t be ransomed.

“A Probably Outline of Conan’s Career”
By P. Schuyler Miller and John D. Clark, Ph. D.

Reprinted from Savage Tales 2. Also has some new classic art from the old Weird Tales issues.

“A Portfolio of Robert E. Howard”

A portfolio of artists and their drawing of Conan, Red Sonja and Kull. The artists are Frank Giacoia, Gene Day, John Buscema, Tim Conrad, John Allison, Virgil Finlax, Rich Corbin, and Roy G. Krenkel.

“The Hyborian Age Chapter 5 Fire and Slaughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on writing from Robert E. Howard
Artist: Walt Simonson

Grom the Pict sends his men to learn from the west. They serve as mercenaries and bring back fighting tactics. They also learn to mine iron and make weapons and armor. As Aquilonia continues its wars of conquest the Picts invade. The Gundermen hold them off but many of the Gunderman units desert to do so causing Aquilonia to lose its war to conquer Nemedia. As punishment they brutally ravish the Gundermen. This allows the Picts to invade and destroy Aquilonia as their subject nations openly revolt.

“Worms of the Earth”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Barry Smith and Tim Conrad

The Roman governor Titus Sulla is having a Pict crucified for objecting to being cheated by a Roman merchant. He has the Pict envoy their to watch. The Pict manages to goad the Roman centurion to kill him by spiting in his face. Later we find out the envoy is the king of the Picts Bran Mak Morn. He vows revenge and plans to call on the Worms of the Earth to get his revenge. He leaves the Roman settlement but not before killing the Roman that killed the Pict.

Well this was an excellent issue. It was filled with not one but two classic REH stories. The first is his second longest story and involves Conan in the Hyborean equivalent of India. It has many different plots and schemes going on that involve Turan, a mysterious wizard sect and Conan trying to free his captive lieutenants. He captures the beautiful Yasmela who is one of Howard’s stronger women characters that he created for his Conan stories.

The second is probably considered one of Howard’s best. A creepy tale set in Britain in the time of the Romans and involves revenge and supernatural forces. Bran Mak Morn is an enjoyable character and one of his classic stories.

The articles were good especially the reprint of Conan’s career. I like that Conan had a career just us normal folk. The next entry into the fate of Conan’s world showed that Howard put a lot of thought into his fictional universe. This was an excellent issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #15

“The Devil in Iron”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

In the Vilayet Sea a Yuetshi tribesman is washed ashore during a storm on the island of Xapur. In the ruins of a temple he finds a figure eight feet tall lying on an alter. He goes and picks up a knife next to the figure. This wakes the giant and he breaks the tribeman’s neck.

Later the Lord of Khawarizm Jehungir Agha is discussing the problem of the Kozaki. Lead by Conan they are causing unending raids on Turan. Jehungir is in danger of losing his position if they aren’t stopped. His councilor has a plan. He has noticed in meeting to exchange hostages that Conan has taken a fancy to a beautiful slave girl named Octavia. He plans to let it be known through spies that the slave girl has escaped to the island of Xapur. He feels that Conan will come alone to get the girl. So they have Octavia escape and go to the island. Once their she finds that a city has just recently been build and she is captured.

Conan comes to the island and also finds the city. Exploring it he comes on a beautiful woman who talks about the past and falls asleep. Many inhabitants are also asleep. A voice later tells Conan how the ancient city of Dagonia was build by a godlike being made of iron. Khosatral Khel then ruled over the city until a Yuetshi shaman made a knife from a meteor that could defeat Khosatral. He has laid in the temple until inadvertently freed. Then using his sorcery he raises the city and brings back the dead. He fall asleep when daylight comes.

Conan eventually finds Octavia but so has Khosatral Khel. They manage to escape him and Conan goes to the temple to retrieve the knife. He has to fight a giant green snake. Later out of the city he meets Jehungir who had just escaped from Khostral after he slaughtered his men. Conan fights Jehungir and kills him. Then with the knife also defeats Khosatral. He than takes that slave girl with him.

“Arms and the Manner”
By Samual James Maronie
Photography by John L. Focht

An article on the Creative Society for Anachronism and the armor that they use. They interview Brian Flax who makes the armor and he demonstrates how it is used.

“A Portfolio of Robert E. Howard”

A portfolio from six artists of six characters from Robert E. Howard. The artists are John Buscema, Howard Chaykin, Tim Conrad and John Severin. The characters are Conan, Solomon Kane, Red Sonja, Bran Mak Morn, Kull and Thugra from Amulric.

“Conan in the City of Blood”
By Fred Blosser
Illustrations by George Barr

A review of Red Nails that just came out in a new hardcover edition.

“The Hyborian Age Chapter 4: The Beginning of the End”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on essay by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Walt Simonson

Five hundred years after Conan Aquilonia has grown to dominate the western Hyborian world. Arus a Nemedian priest of Mitra sets out to convert the heathen Picts. He finds a chief named Gorm who seems tolerant. So tells him about the western world but the chief is inspired to conquer the Hyborians.

“An Interview with Conan Artist John Buscema”
conducted by John Coltier and John Wren

Talks with artist John Buscema on his upbringing in Manhattan. His first job in advertising and what he likes to draw.

Well another Howard story and this was just excellent. Seems the Vilayet sea is filled with living metal and lost civilizations on the islands. This was such a fascinating story as Conan finds this mysterious city. His kickass battle with a giant snake where he splits the head right down the middle. And of course his battles with his enemies and getting the girl at the end. This was Howard at his best.

The articles were well done. I loved the interview with Buscema. A very informative article. Also the history of the Hyborian age is very interesting and shows how Howard devoted such detail to the history of his imaginary world.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #14

“Shadows in Zamboula”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Neal Adams and the Tribe

Conan is in the desert city of Zamboula when he runs into a crazy old man spouting about how guests from Aram Baksh are mysterious disappearing. Conan thinks little of it because he has rented a room from Aram for the night. It has a heavy door barred to keep him safe. Later that night he is awakened by a man with a spiked hairdo entering his room. Conan kills him and finds out he is one of the cannibal slaves from Darfar. So he goes to visit Aram and comes on a woman being abducted by some more of the cannibal slaves. Seems the populace gives them some free reign to kidnap strangers so they don’t revolt.

Conan kills them and rescues the girl who calls herself Zabibi. She tells a story that the local high priest of Hanuman desired her so gave a potion to her lover to drive him mad. They come on the mad lover and Conan subdues him and ties him up. Nabibi convinces Conan to go with her to the temple and assassinate Totrasmek the high priest. In exchange for a night of passion. So at the temple Zabibi is grabbed by mysterious hands. Conan finds the secret passage and is confronted by a huge black man named Baal-Ptoer. He uses his powers of illusion to disarm Conan. Then he plans to strangle Conan. Only Conan is not that easy to strangle and ends up getting strangled himself.

Conan them comes on Totrasmek using his powers of illusion to make Nabibi think she is being attacked by serpents. Conan kills the high priest and the girls finds the potion to cure her lover but not the ring The Star of Khoraja. So they leave and she cures her lover. Nabibi reveals that her lover is the satrap of the city and she is his mistress. She obviously can’t give Conan what she agreed to but does pay him off with a bag of gold.

Before Conan leaves the city he goes to Aram and cuts out his tongue and beard so he can’t say anything. Then he gives him to the Darfar cannibals as he rides off with the Star of Khoraja which will fetch a fortune from the Queen of Ophir.

“The Worms Return”
By David Anthony Kraft

A review of the new book Worms of the Earth which contain a collection of Howard’s stories about Picts and especially Bran Mak Morn.

“A King Kull Glossary”
By Fred Blosser

A glossary of Kull’s world from A to Z.

“The Silver Beast Beyond Tokertown”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Mike Zeck

A man turns into a werewolf and goes out and kills a man on horseback. Solomon Kane finds the body and takes it to the tavern in town. There a hysterical woman tells the gathering that her brother is a werewolf and out to kill her. The werewolf breaks in and Solomon manages to kill it with a silver knife. Later he has it melted down for a ball for his musket. Then he goes to the man’s mansion and finds his manuscript. It tells how a werewolf killed his parents when he was a baby. That he tracked the werewolf down when he grew up to a gypsy camp. The sister discovers him but she is not the sister. She was the werewolf and turns into a wolf. Only Solomon shoots her with the silver bullet.

So the Howard adaptation was excellent and pure Howard. I loved the scene where Conan and Baal-Ptoer were standing there and each grabbing the others neck. How Conan with ease killed the professional strangler. After all he broke the neck of a bull as a youth. Then the bad ass way he got his revenge on Aram. This was just a joy to get this classic story and the artwork was excellent.

The article and glossary were good fillers.

Finally we get another cool Solomon tale. A moody piece set during the night with a surprise twist ending. This was an excellent issue.