SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #151

“Fury of the Near-Men”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is riding across the grass plains of Darfur when he is attacked by a pack of wild dogs. They kill his horse, but Conan manages to drive them off. He later comes on a caravan run by a Corinthian and his son and daughter. Conan saves the daughter from a sabretooth and gets welcomed by the father. They recognize Conan from his gladiator days and the daughter has an infatuation with Conan. Later the caravan is attacked by monkey-men and a storm floods the area and washes Conan away. He is saved by another race of beast-men. After killing the leader, Conan is the new leader. He teaches them how to build spears and bow and arrows. Then leads them to the monkey-men to rescue his friends. He is too later for the father and son but manages to rescue the daughter. After burning down the monkey-men village he and the daughter continue on to civilization. The beast-men start to worship Conan as a god.

“A Bond of Blood”

Writer: John Arcudi

Artist: Mark Pacella

The guy who summoned the demon to kill Kull last issue is at it again. He summons the father of the demon who is pissed to hear that Kull killed his son. This demon though starts to boss around the guy who summoned him. Kull finds this guy and convinces him to help send the demon back. Kull uses the skin from the demon he killed to cover his arm. This is effective in beating up the demon and the guy can complete the spell to open the portal. Only Kull is not in a forgiving mood and tosses the guy into the portal after the demon.

This was an offbeat issue. What with two non-human types. There are the evil monkey guys and the peaceful kinda lion type guys. An original story that was interesting. Of course, once again we get the wonderful Kwapisz/Chan artwork. The Kull story was also an enjoyable one. Kull defeats another demon and gets rid of the troublemaker as only Kull could. Definitely enjoying this run of Savage Sword.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #150

“Call to the Slain”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is still in Kush and with his crew have finished building their boat. Then a man comes down the river and claims that a shaman is raising an army of the dead. The village now has to prepare while the village shaman resurrects the spirit of their warrior god to save them. Conan’s crew abandons him but are ambushed by the dead army and join them. With the ship this army arrives earlier. A big fight ensues with the dead about to overrun the village. The shaman finally completes the ritual, and the mummified body of their god arises. Then falls apart into dust. Only his spirit goes and occupies Conan. The occupied spirit manages to defeat the army. Later Conan sneaks into the evil shaman’s camp and sprinkles salt on the surviving zombies. This unlocks their memories of life, and the zombies take revenge on the evil shaman.

“Trial by Fear”

Writer: John Arcudi

Artist: Mark Pacella

An evil cult resurrects a demon to kill Kull. Later a baby with a mark on its forehead is found at the gates of the palace. Kull takes it in. Later at night it transforms into a demon that instills fear in its victims. It almost kills Kull but Brule wounds it. It flees and they find the baby only without an arm and not showing any emotion. Kull realizes it is a demon in disguise and cuts it’s head off.

150 issues are a big milestone in comics. They didn’t really do anything special for this event. Still the story was up to its excellent quality that this run has been having under Dixon. A fairly simple story of zombies which back in the day were not that common. Also has a good solid Kull backup.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #149

“Slaves of the Circle”

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artists: Tom Grindberg and Bob McLeod

Conan and the crew of his captured Nemedian ship have escaped the Nemedians and find themselves in Kush. They come on a bridge blocking the way and are about to fight their way through when the Kushite with them calls to the men in their language. He revels himself not to be a mute and tells Conan that they thought they were slavers. Now they are welcomed and stay at the village. There Conan is told a story from the shaman of being rescued by werepeople and that these werepeople protect the village.

The next day Conan goes hunting with them and they get ambushed by slavers. Conan is captured and taken to a place called the Circle. Founded by a ruthless Shemite, Conan is forced to be a slave. Only the concubine of the ruler takes a liking to Conan, and they start to have an affair. This is discovered and the evil warlord kills his cheating concubine and plans to kill Conan. Only the men from his crew and the village arrive and rescue him. They free the slaves and go back to the village. The evil warlord is found by the werepeople and presumably ends in a very grisly death.

“Traitors’ Gold”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

Kull finds a noble hording food during the siege by the serpent men. This noble flees and goes to the serpent men. He sells them information that the west wall is lightly defended. They attack and find Kull waiting for them. He concluded that this noble would tell them and set an ambush. The serpent commander has the noble skinned and he uses the skin as his banner.

A continuation from the last issue this was a pretty good story. I did wonder on how they made such a journey from Nemedia to Kush, but I guess it is possible. Maybe they went down some small rivers to end up there. A bit weird to travel that far to escape their pursuers. A new artist who while not as good as Buscema still was good. I was a bit disappointed with the werepeople angle. They were set up an important part of the story. Instead, they just were thrown in at the end and didn’t really have any use. Still a fun and enjoyable issue.

The Kull backup was excellent as usual. Short and to the point.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #148

“Besieger of Cities”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan now in command of Nemedia’s legions continues to war against Brythunia. He manages to take a city by starting a fire that burnt up the food stores. He later comes to the main city and comes up with a plan. He fakes his death, and has it known that he had a deathbed conversion to Mitra. He wants to be buried in the city since it has the largest temple to Mitra. As an incentive there is a large tribute, he will leave them. So they allow Conan’s funeral procession to enter and surprise, Conan isn’t dead. They attack and manage to conquer the city.

He returns to the capital as a hero. Only the empress is jealous of Conan’s newfound popularity. So, she has Conan arrested. Conan with his loyal followers manage to escape and take the empress hostage. They take a boat and successfully sail down the river. Conan dumps the traitorous empress into the river to swim home.

“Host of the Serpent Cult”

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artists: Vince Giarrano and Vince Colletta

Kull knows that the serpent cult is actively plotting to take him down. He has the whole population assemble in the square and says the incantation that would expose the true form of any serpent man. Only none appear and everyone thinks Kull is nuts. He later finds out a huge army of serpent men is marching on him. Kull prepares for a long siege.

The continuing saga of Conan’s rise from gladiator to general comes to a conclusion. Naturally it ends in treachery for Conan. What can I say but another excellent issue. The writing is excellent as usual and the artwork also stunning. I like the continuing storyline and wonder if it will continue with Conan as a river pirate or go somewhere else. Either way I’m sure the next issue will also be excellent.

Kull is back as a backup feature and Dixon sets up a big fight with the serpent men. I love Kull and welcome his return.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #147

“Vulture’s Shadow”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan continues his life as a gladiator in Numedia. The empress offers him a generalship in the army which he accepts. Only she just plans to keep him as her lover and not give him an actual command. Naturally this pisses Conan off. A rival general manages to get him assigned a legion. It is the worst disciplined legion in Nemedia. Conan gets them into shape really quick. He manages to defeat a band of brigands that were raiding the supply convoys. This angers the general that got Conan his assignment. Now this barbarian is starting to threaten how he looks. So, he sends assassins. They fail and Conan goes to demand personal combat with this general. He defeats him and gains command of the entire army.

“Rites of Passage”

Writer and Artist: William Johnson

The current leader of the Black Legion challenges Kull to his crown. He uses the fact that Kull as commander of the Legion challenged the former king. Now he thinks it is time for him. Kull obliges the upstart and as expected makes short work of the challenger.

Dixon has decided to continue the adventures of Conan as a gladiator. Now he gets a generalship and has to deal with the intrigue that entails. Of course, he still gets to bang the empress. Another brilliant issue. A great story with the usual excellent artwork.

The Kull backup is from a new writer, and he has potential. A short but enjoyable story. Savage Sword is really kicking it at this time.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #146

“Blood Circus”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is drinking at a tavern when the local guard come looking for a thief that stole a noble’s necklace. The real thief planted it on Conan, so he gets the blame. Conan naturally beats up the guard and escapes. A beautiful woman offers to hide him. Only she is part of a group that kidnaps men to sell as gladiators. Conan soon finds himself in Belverus the Nemedian capital as a gladiator. Only the gladiator fights are fake as our modern wrestling. The guy the crowd hates fakes his death with a bladder full of goat blood.

Soon the empress takes an interest in Conan and arranges for him to always win. He becomes the most popular gladiator with the people. Only the emperor doesn’t like that Conan is banging his wife so arranges for him to lose in the arena. When that day comes a friend saves him. Soon other friends join him in an epic fight. The emperor releases the big cats into the arena. Conan climbs up to the emperor’s booth and tosses him to the tigers. The empress points out to the guard that the mob would tear them apart if they harm Conan so he ends with the crowd chanting his name.

“Portfolio”

A portfolio of Armando Gil’s drawing of Conan.

Well, what can I say? Another excellent story written by Dixon with equally excellent art by the Kwapisz/Chan team. This sees Conan as a gladiator and the various Byzantine politics that entails. Obviously, this was inspired by Rome and that is something that Howard himself would have approved of. Another enjoyable issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #145

“Feast of the Stag”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Geoff Isherwood

Conan helps Red Sonja rescue some kids from being slaves to a cruel owner of a mine. They part company with Conan heading to Brythunia to sell his sword. He comes on some crazy farmers burning their farm and killing their livestock. They want to kill their young daughter, but Conan puts a stop to that. He finds out that a cult has arisen to the Stag God. Lead by a guy known as the Stagmaster, he has convinced the local peasants to burn their crops, kill their livestock and children and anyone who doesn’t believe. All to bring back the Stag god Oranah.

Conan hires to a mercenary army that is led by a woman named Alophic. Naturally Alophic falls for Conan and he gets put in charge of the army. They attack the cult and Conan manages to find the Stagmaster and impale him. This brings the Stag god to life. A giant man with a stag head comes out of the ground. Fortunately Conan’s men find some sacks filled with oil to set the god on fire. A dog that Conan saved manages to save his life from the Stag god. With the Stag god dead, his followers come out of their spell. Conan finds a nice family for the girl he rescued and continues on his way to find other wars to join.

“Gift of the Pirate King”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

Kull is entertaining a delegate from Lemuria. This delegate gives Kull a gift of a female leopard to join the male leopard that Kull already has. Seens that Kull is upset with the Lemurians and their pirate trade. Later at night the female leopard turns into a leopard girl and tries to kill Kull. Kull naturally kills it and turns his pet leopard on the Lemurian delegate.

This was a pretty intense story. This crazy cult was nuts and just destroying and killing everything. We get this giant Stag god that has to be killed. This was also a story that shows the more sensitive side of Conan. First when he rescues the children from the cruel slave master. He has some genuine anger when he chokes the guy. Also, he rescues a young girl and big mastiff dog the size of a horse. I love stories that show the loyalty of a dog. Nothing more loyal than a dog. I will say that the new inker really gives us a new art style. Kwapisz art looks completely different then from what Chan does. Not bad just a marked difference. Never know how much an inker can make a difference before.

We also get a Kull backup story. This one was a fun one with the leopard woman. Kull gets some poetic revenge on the Lemurian. I like these Kull backups and am glad to see them back.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #144

“The Waiting Doom”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz & Ernie Chan

Conan is riding through the Graaskal Mountains on the border of Brythunia and Hyberborea. He gets ambushed and loses his horse but makes it to the next village. While in the tavern he witnesses Red Sonja arrive to get revenge on a former associate who stole some kids and sold them into slavery. She makes short work of them while Conan makes sure the local barkeep stays out of the fight. The two get to talking and Conan says that he is on a mission for a mage to get an idol from a lost city. A local tells him about this place. That two adulterers were driven out and came to this place. The woman gave birth to a multi-armed and two headed monster. This creature has been terrorizing the countryside since.

At this time another guy is following Conan to get this idol. He has a henchman who wears an iron mask, and they torture the villagers to get info. Conan and Sonja run into the monster and are forced to take shelter in a cave. The other guys show up and distract the monster so they can get to the temple. There they find a statue holding the idol across a chasm. The other guys show up and a fight ensues with the monster also showing up. The leader manages to sneak across and get the idol as the bridge collapses. Conan and Sonja leave empty handed but Conan will help her retrieve the kids she is after. The leader that took the idol is poisoned by it and dies.

“Bonus Pinup Portfolio”

A series of full-page drawing of Conan by various artists.

This one we get a guest star from Red Sonja. I love Red Sonja and this adventure is a fun little story. They have a quest and a monster to fight. In addition to a very evil guy and his men. As always Dixon gives us an excellent story with top notch artwork from Kwapisz/Chan. There are whole segments that tell the story without any dialogue or exposition. Stuff that I really admire. I have been loving the fact too that these issues are just one big story and no backup one. Not that I don’t enjoy the odd backup story now and again, I just love they devote the whole issue to the main story.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #143

“Blood and Honor”

Writer: Don Kraar

Artist: Val Mayerik

Conan is a scout for Aquilonia on the Pict frontier. Shooz Dinz is leading a campaign against the settlers. Conan rescues a young woman escaping the Picts and takes her to a fort. They know that soon Shooz will attack with his Picts. There is also a rivalry between Shooz and Conan where each has vowed to kill each other. Conan rescues a merchant named Daedelus. Daedelus stole some severed fingers that were Shooz Dinj’s children. Deadelus also has been selling iron ax heads and arrowheads to the Picts. Shooz wants both him and Conan and attacks with the help of his rival the shaman Zinga Dur. First it is fog then the animals of Jhebbal Sag. Conan goes to Shooz and makes a deal. He will give him the severed fingers and Daedelus in exchange for the life of Zinga Dur. Shooz agrees and Conan tosses the renegade merchant into the fire as Shooz stabs Zinga. One worthless thing for another as Conan put it. After this the Aquilonian relief column arrives, and Conan lets Shooz go because Shooz didn’t kill him when he appears to offer the trade. A gesture of honor among barbarians and savages.

“Portfolio”

A series of portfolios by various artists.

A change of pace with a new writer and artists. Both did a good job with this story on the Pict frontier which happens to be my favorite location for Conan stories. A story filled with plenty of action. A traitorous merchant who is arrogant and believers himself untouchable for his crimes because of his protection from the king. I loved the idea of this story of noble barbarians and savages that are committed to killing each other but have a sense of honor. This is a very Howardian theme. A fun and enjoyable issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #142

“Blind Vengeance”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is one of a handful of survivors of an army in Vanaheim. The survivors head south to look for someone to sell their swords to. In a small village they find the adults are all blind. A cruel warlord named Wonangus did this because the villagers were trying to hide their food from him. One of the young guys in the group falls for the chief’s beautiful daughter and decides to stay and help the villagers fight Wonangus. Conan sees this as a lost cause and with the other men continues on. They come to a destroyed village with the desiccated corpse of a young woman who was clearly violated and staked out on a table. A W carved in her forehead tells who did it. This motivates Conan and the others to return and help the village. Conan teaches the villagers how to shoot arrows at sounds. They dig punju pits and when Wonangus comes he is surprised by the villagers. He is defeated and Conan continues on with the surviving men deciding to stay on at the village.

“PInups”

A portfolio of Conan images from artists William Johnson, Vincent Waller, Dale Eaglesham and Fraja Bator.

This was just another excellent issue from the regular team. In this we get a village that suffers under a very cruel warlord. So cruel he blinds everyone for trying to save some food for themselves. Dixon gives us a vile villain to root against. We have a subplot of a young guy falling for a local woman. Conan is shown as this typical hard ass only interested in himself but he does have a sense of justice. A good solid story with the usual beautiful artwork.