SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #7

“The Citadel at the Center of Time”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Conan is chieftain of the Zuagirs and is raiding caravans around the city of Akbitania. One caravan only has a captive saber tooth which gets loose and Conan has to kill. On questioning the woman in charge Conan learns that the cat came from a mysterious Ziggurat that suddenly materialized in the city. Occasionally the wizard inside trades jewels or exotic animals that are sold north for arenas. Conan decides to check out this Ziggurat and see if he can’t liberate some wealth from the wizard.

So he goes into the city and at a local tavern is drugged by a dancing girl. He finds himself captive of the wizard Shamash Shum-Ukin. Shamash was a king of Babylon until the armies of Assyrians were about to conquer his city. He used the Well of Time to escape back into the past. Now he gives sacrifices to the well and it gives back stuff like man-apes, cave bears, neanderthals and a T-Rex. Conan manages to escape and in the ensuing fight the T-Rex escapes and destroys the temple. Luckily Conan manages to use the giant crossbow the wizard had conveniently hanging around.

“Crom and Mitra: Gods to Swear By part II of The Gods of the Hyborian Age.”
By Robert L. Yaple

This article deals with the gods that Conan swore most by. Ymir of the north. Crom from his native Cimmeria and Mitra from the Hyborian kingdoms. Tells a brief history and worship of these gods.

“The King is Dead part IV of Chronicles of the Sword”
By Lin Carter

An article that deals with the huge success of Conan after the failure of the Kull stories. A high point in Howard’s work that was tragically cut short by his suicide.

“Lines Written in the Realization That I Die”
By Robert E. Howard
Illustrations by Barry Smith

A poem by Howard that was dark and beautifully written.

“The Hyborian Age chapter I: The Pre-Cataclysmic Age Circa 10,000 B.C.”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist Walt Simonson

A history of the Hyborian age that fictional age created by Howard. It starts with the Pre-Cataclysmic Age. The age of the Thurian civilization and Kull. Ends with a great upheaval that sinks continents.

So this was the longest non-Howard adaptation of a Conan story to date. I found it a very original story. I loved the idea of this Babylonian who travels back to Conan’s era and uses this mysterious well to bring prehistoric creatures to Conan’s world. I know that this was later used as a What If? issue that brought Conan to the the present circa 1977. My favorite What If? that will appear on this blog someday.

The articles were informative and an enjoyable read. Most of the articles in this magazine were of high quality.

The poem was a smart idea after reading about Howard’s suicide. Gives a feel that the man had some serious inner demons.

Finally the history of the Hyborian world is an excellent idea to present in illustrative form. Amazing to the detail that Howard went into for his fictional world.

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SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #6

“The Sleeper Beneath the Sands”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sonny Trinidad

Olgerd Vladislav the deposed chieftain of the Zuagirs is riding in the desert. He collapses and is about to be buzzard food when a caravan passes by and rescues him. The kindly leader and his daughter nurse Olgerd back to health. This caravan is part of a religious order that is making a pilgrimage to ruins in the desert. Every century they must recite some words or the sleeper beneath the sands will wake. Olgerd also hears that Conan the man who deposed him is going to these ruins to meet his lieutenant. When the lieutenant comes Olgerd kills him and then kills the leader. He takes his daughter hostage and forces his men to capture Conan when he arrives. This they do and Olgerd is going to torture him when the Turanians arrive. At this time the sleeper wakes. It drives off the Turanians and drags Olgerd down with it. The daughter sacrifices herself to drive the sleeper back to hell.

“Gods of the Hyborian Age Part One: The Homes of the Gods”
By Robert L. Yaple

An article on the various gods that are worshipped in the Hyborian age of Conan.

“Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Cimmeria?”
By Lin Carter

An article on how after Howard’s rejection of Kull stories he altered them with the Conan stories we now came to love.

“People of the Dark”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Alex Nino

Jim O’Brian is going to some old caves to kill his rival Richard Brent. They both love the woman Eleanor Rand. He slips and falls then wakes up as Conan. Conan after the destruction of Venarium. Conan comes on a woman Tamera and her lover a Gunderman named Gaeric. He chases them into a cavern and finds them tied to an alter of lizard-men. Conan frees them and they make their escape. Only Tamera and Gaeric are killed. Jim O’Brian wakes up in modern times and sees Brent with the woman he loves. They are about to be attacked by a giant snake creature. O’Brian fires at it with his pistol and kills it but the dead body falls on him and knocks him over a cliff killing him.

So Roy did a sequel to “A Witch Shall be Born” from last issue. It tells the fate of Olgerd the deposed Zuagir chieftain. Very influenced by Lovecraft with its giant monster.

The two articles were interesting. I enjoy good scholarly work on Conan’s fictional age and origins.

Finally the Howard adaptation was excellent. I believe this was non-Conan story that just happened to use the name Conan. Howard loved to recycle names. Roy just changed it slightly from ancient Ireland to Cimmeria. Still an excellent moody story of reincarnation and finding redemption in a future life.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #5

“A Witch Shall Be Born”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and the Tribe

Taramis the queen of Khauran wakes up to find her twin sister she never knew about has taken over her kingdom. Salome was born with the mark of the witch. Every century the royal family has a girl born that is a witch because of a curse. This girl is always named Salome and either put to death are left out in the desert to die. Salome was left out but a wizard from Khitai sensed her and took her. He raised her and taught her powers but expelled her because she wasn’t living up to his expectations. So Salome left and came back to Khauran. Posing as the queen she lets in the mercenary army of Shemites under Constatius. Constatius was chosen because he lacked any good characteristics. He rapes Taramis as Salome goes to impersonate her.

Later Salome as Taramis has the army disbanded and announces she will marry Constatius. Conan who is captain of the guard sees that she is not the real queen and fights back. Only the army was already disarmed and no match for the mercenaries. Conan is captured and nailed to a cross out in the desert to die. Only he survives and is rescued by Olgerd and the nomadic raiders the Zuagir.

The rule under Salome grows more oppressive. The young men are sold into slavery. People are taxed to death and no woman is safe. Salome has also started to worship dark gods that demand human sacrifice. During this time many flee to Conan who forms his own army. He deposes Olgerd and takes over the Zuagir. Using deception with phony siege machines he gets the mercenaries to come out and he ambushes them. Then he sneaks in and rescues Taramis. Salome is killed but not before she unleashed a demon named Thaug. It is killed by the timely arrival of the Zuagirs. The kingdom is restored to its rightful ruler as Conan gets his revenge by nailing up Constatius.

“Kingdoms and Caravans: A Look at Trade Routes in the Hyborian Age”
By Robert L. Yaple

An article on the trade routes that existed during the time of Conan.

“The Kline Conan”
By Robert Kline

Five artistic drawing of Conan from famous scenes by artist Robert Kline.

So this issue was devoted to one of Howard’s most famous story. This is the one that established him as the most badass character in fiction. It was chosen by John Milnius for his movie and has Conan nailed to a cross in the desert. Not an uncommon method of execution back in the old days. Only Conan spits in Constatius face instead of begs. Kills a vulture by biting it and frees his feet himself after his hands are free. Surprisingly Conan beside this didn’t have much to do with the story. Roy gave him more by replacing the scenes of rescue with Conan instead of the young rebel Marcios. This was another one that I had the full color treasury edition and also remember quite fondly.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #4

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

Shah Amurath is chasing the young woman Olivia through a field of reeds. She trips and the evil Shah plans to take his escaped slave back. Only he instead finds himself confronting a wild barbarian. Conan is all that is left of the Kozaki a band of brigands that were recently slaughtered by the Shah’s forces. He quickly takes his revenge against the cowardly Shah. The escaped slave girl Olivia begs for Conan to take her with him. He agrees and together in a boat he stole row out into the Vilayet sea.

They land on an island and decide to rest there and get some fresh fruit. Only they are attacked by a flying block of granite that was thrown at them. A block that no human could throw at such great distances. They come on an abandoned temple filled with iron statues of demonic looking men. While staying the night Olivia as a dream of a young man in the temple being sacrificed by the demons. A god appears and turns the demons to statues as he takes the young man away. She wakes up screaming and runs from the temple. Conan follows and they decide to leave. Only the boat has been smashed by the mysterious being that stalks them.

Soon after the island is visited by pirates. Conan goes down to join them and finds the captain is Sergius a man he left behind during last issues adventure. He wants revenge and the two fight with Conan winning. Only a rat-faced member of the crew hurls a rock that knocks Conan unconscious. They take him and tie Conan up in the temple while they get to some heavy drinking. During the night Olivia sneaks in and frees Conan. Outside they run into the creature that has been stalking them a giant man-eating ape. Conan manages to kill it. Just then the moon animates the iron statues and they start to kill the crew. The survivors make it to the ship and find Conan there and threatening to kill anyone who tries to board unless they acknowledge him the captain. The crew is only so glad to pledge their loyalty to escape this cursed island.

“The Corbin Conan”
Artist: Richard V. Corbin

A portfolio of scenes from Conan’s famous moments by underground cartoonist Corbin.

“Blackmark Triumphant!”
Writer & Artist: Gil Kane

Blackmark has defeated the flame lizard in the arena and the people demand his freedom. King Kargon decides to have Blackmark executed but his men hold off because of the mood of the people. Blackmark’s friend Balzamo tells that Blackmark has the knowledge in him of King Amarix and should take advantage by making the rocket fly. Blackmark demands to have the chance knowing the punishment for failure is death. He does manage to get the rocket in the air and bring it back fulfilling a prophecy that the man who makes the ship fly will be king of New Earth. A revolt ensues where the king is killed and Blackmark is make the ruler.

This full length adaptation of Howard is probably one of my favorites. I have the giant color treasury edition when I was a kid and this just mesmerized me. I loved the mysterious story of an island with pirates, creepy iron statues that come alive and a giant ape. This is definitely one of Howard’s best Conan stories.

Corbin’s artwork is good and a nice filler.

The Blackmark story continues along nicely with Blackmark basically becoming the king. A nice blend of post-apocalyptic and Conan type story.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #3

“At the Mountain of the Moon-God”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Pablo Marcos

Conan is enjoying the celebrations after his defeat of Nahotek. He goes with princess Yasmela to her room when a dying man bursts in. It was a spy sent by Yasmela to find the whereabouts of her brother held captive by Ophir. He dies but delivers a map showing a secret passage to the Mountain of the Moon-God. Her handmaid Vateesa is jealous of Yasmela because she loves Conan. So Vateesa goes and sells the map to the king of Koth. Strabonis the king of Koth sends his man Sergius and his men to rescue the king so he can claim Khoraja for his kingdom.

Conan has taken off to rescue King Khossus with two men. While climbing the cliff Sergius starts an avalanche that kills the two men with Conan but Conan manages to escape and find a cleft that leads inside. Sergius and his men are ambushed and captured. Conan though manages to free the king and capture the traitor Vateesa. They flee down the cleft as the Ophir commander pours the cauldron of hot oil down. The oil manages to hatch a pterodactyl egg. The pterodactyl kills Vateesa but Conan breaks off it’s beak with his bare hands and manages to kill it. He returns the king to Khoraja but Yasmela has decided to marry the Stygian prince in exile that once served Natohk. Conan being Conan just shrugs and takes some serving wenches to celebrate.

“The First Barbarian Chronicles of the Sword Part II”
By Lin Carter
Illustrations by John Severin

The second part of the article on the birth of sword & sorcery. This one deals with Robert E. Howard and his first ever story of sword & sorcery “The Shadow Kingdom”. He wrote nine Kull stories in total but only was able to sell two.

“The Testing of Blackmark”
Writer and Artist: Gil Kane

Blackmark has now grown to adulthood. He apparently escaped slavery and became a successful bandit chief. Only King Kargon has captured him and is pissed that Blackmark is still not cowed. So he has him fight in the gladiatorial arena. Blackmark is paired with Balzamo the man who served king Amarix. He was there when Amarix transferred his knowledge into Blackmark’s mother. The two fight a giant fire-breathing lizard. Blackmark manages to kill it by climbing a statue in the arena and jumping down and driving his sword into the lizard’s brain.

“Kull of Atlantis”
Writer: Roy Thomas with quotations from “Exile of Atlantis” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A brief retelling on Kull’s origin. This was originally planned as a Kull paperback that was to be done by Thomas and Smith but never came to fruition.

“Demons of the Summit”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Bjorn Nyberg
Artist: Tony daZuniga

Conan is in the Turanian army and escapes the Khozgari after they ambush and massacre the men he was with. Only one man survived with him. The come on a woman named Shanya the daughter of the chief of the Khozgari. They take her as hostage and plan to go through the Misty Mountains. Shanya warns them that demons inhabit the mountains but Conan is not superstitious. When they get there his companion is crushed by a boulder and the girl is kidnapped. Conan follows to a fortress inhabited by some weird guys in masks. Conan kills them all and has to fight a spider like demon.

So this has an excellent sequel to “Black Colossus” from last issue. Thomas knew how to write just like Howard. The story is an enjoyable telling of the loose threads that Howard never explained.

The article is an interesting telling of Howard’s early Kull stories and why they didn’t become the success with “Weird Tales”.

Blackmark continues to be an interesting read. We are introduced to King Kargon and his scheming wife. There is also a rocket in the arena that foretells that the one who makes it fly will rule the kingdom. Blackmark also sees the warlord that killed his parents as a guest of Kargon. Sets up all the big plot points to this epic.

Finally the Kull story was an interesting look at a possible project that was never done. The Nyberg story was also an interesting look at Conan’s days in the Turanian army. Another excellent issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #2

“Black Colossus”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema & Alfredo Alcala

A thief comes to the ruins of Kuthchemes an old civilization that was sacked by Hyborians centuries ago. He comes to the tomb of the wizard Thugra Khotan. The thief manages to find a way into the old tomb and after battling a cobra finds a room filled with treasure. Only there is a sinister figure there too. Later the Princess Yasmela gets another dream from the mad priest Natohk who has managed to unite the various nomad tribes. He taunts her that he will take her for his queen. The princess asks her handmaiden for advice and she suggests preying to Mitra. As she preys in his temple a voice tells her to go and give command of her army to the first man she finds. So she does and it is Conan who is a mercenary in her army.

So she appoints Conan general to the dismay of her nobles. For the small state of Khoraja is in a bad situation. Her brother the king has been taken prisoner by a neighboring kingdom. Another larger one wants to annex the state and Natohk has raised a sizable force to conquer her small kingdom. Conan takes charge and marches the army to battle. The find Natohk’s army and the knights ignore Conan and charge. Only it is a trap and Natohk uses sorcery to defeat the knights. But Conan pulls things together and defeats the army. Natohk kidnaps Yasmela and takes her back to Kuthchemes and his tomb to perform a ritual for power. Conan follows and manages to throw his sword and kill Natohk who turns out to be the ancient wizard Thugra Khotan. Yasmela shows her gratitude by giving herself to Conan.

“Chronicles of the Sword an Informal of Sword-and Sorcery Fiction.”
Writer: Lin Carter
With illustrations by Al Milgrom, Alan Weiss and Joe Stanton

An article of the birth of the genre. He starts with Lord Dunsany an Irish poet who wrote in the early part of the twentieth century. He was an influence of Lovecraft who influenced Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard.

“Blackmark Chapter II”
Writer & Artist Gil Kane

On the post-apocalypse New Earth the young Blackmark shows signs of intelligence and strength at an early age. One day a warlord comes to conquer the land. Blackmark’s father refuses to submit and is killed. Blackmark’s mother is raped and killed. The young Blackmark is left and vows to get his revenge by conquering the New Earth. Only slavers find him at the end.

“The Beast from the Abyss”
Writer: Steve Englehart adapted from “Black Abyss” by Robert E. Howard & Lin Carter
Artists: Howard Chaykin & The Crusty Bunkers

Kull is visiting the city of Kamala. The city is known for its decadent pleasure and Kull finds the Baron Ergon a gracious host. As Kull leaves the festivities Brule comes with news that his fellow Picts have been kidnapped. Kull and Brule follow the trail to an underground chamber. There the decadent Baron Ergon is using the captive Pict as a sacrifice to a worm creature. Kull kills the pagan worshipers and flings a burning torch at the worm and sets it aflame.

So this issue had a Howard story which is a classic. It has Conan thrust into a role of leadership which he is obviously suited for. A dead wizard come back to life. He rides a chariot pulled by a demon winged camel and driven by an ape creature. And of course Conan gets the girl at the end. A wonderful story.

The article was interesting and the first installment of a series. The articles for this magazine were usually interesting.

The Blackmark story continues to establish the character. It now gives him his motivation. A fun story combining Conan type action with a futuristic post-apocalypse world.

Finally the Kull story was an enjoyable read. I believe based on a fragment of a Howard story finished by Carter. A wonderful tale of a decadent civilization and Kull’s barbaric justice.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #1

“Curse of the Undead-Man”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Mistress of Death” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: John Buscema and Pablo Marcos

Conan is in the City of Thieves when some priests run from an alley. They are chased by thieves who bump into Conan. The thieves decide to kill Conan because they think he saw their crime. Conan slices up the thieves except the last one because he trips on something. Fortunately Red Sonja is there to save him. Conan picks up a severed finger that he slipped on. They go into the alley and find a man in some circle. Sonja recognizes him as the wizard Costranno. She witnessed his execution earlier. A local madame Berthilda cut off his ring finger and betrayed him. It looks as if his followers were trying to resurrect the wizard. Conan contemptuously throws the finger down and leaves never seeing it reattach itself to the wizard.

So later at a tavern he notices the ring finger on a hooded man. Before he can act the city guard comes to arrest both him and Sonja. A pissed off harlot named them as suspects. So they fight their way out and go to the home of Berthilda. Conan likes to clean up his own messes. They find the wizard summoning a demon. Conan cuts off his hand and throws the body into the pit the demon is rising them. Then they seal the pit and take Berthilda out. Only Berthilda is not grateful and goes back. Conan threw the hand with the ring with the body so the wizard is once again alive to take his revenge. Conan decides once is enough and him and Sonja go off.

“A Hyperborean Oath”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on the new magazine. Basically it will have adaptation of Howard’s Conan stories and other characters. The only exception is the Blackmark feature which was inspired by Howard.

“Red Sonja”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Esteban Maroto, Neal Adams and Ernie Chua

Red Sonja comes back from her mission to Makkalet with the serpent tiara. Only the king of Pah-Dishah decides to interpret as giving his most precious gift as being himself. So Sonja is taken to be cleaned up for his harem. Only Sonja instead manages to use the king’s own dagger and kill him. Then she has to fight the king’s bodyguard who is pissed that he will not have an old age pension. Sonja helps out by making sure he will never need one.

“Conan’s Women Warriors”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the four warrior women that Conan met. They are Belit, Yasmala, Valeria and Red Sonja.

“Blackmark”
Writer & Artist: Gil Kane

In a post-apocalypse future a couple are going to a new place to start over. In the wastes they meed King Amarix and his servant. They are fleeing his people because the king believes in restoring science and that is blamed for the destruction of the Earth. Amarix manages to use his technology to make the young woman fertile and she will give birth to a son that has the memories of the lost science from the old days.

“An Atlantean in Aquilonia”
By Glen Lord

An article on how the failed story “By This Ax I Rule” was cannibalized and rewritten as the first Conan story “The Phoenix on the Sword”.

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A reprint from Savage Tales #1.

So here it is. The very first Savage Sword of Conan. Probably the most successful of the black and white magazines from the seventies. It is the only series to last until the nineties. Needless to say this was an excellent start. The stories were brilliant. The articles interesting. They packed a lot into those 84 pages for a buck. You just don’t get this now days. Out of all the Conan series ever done this had to be the best.

Also the main story takes place after the Conan the Barbarian issue #42. The one I just read last Thursday. I swear I didn’t plan that at all. Just wonderful how it worked out like that.