“Conan in the City of Magicians When Wizards Make War”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Zula takes Conan to a meeting of the Black Ring. There he offers to have him lead the army against the invading Kushites. The wizards debate this offer with Hak-Heru offering to save the city with his demon horde. Yet the wizards are open to it so Hak-Heru challenges Zula to a game of Zinat. It looks like a board game but Conan is transported as the piece for Zula. He has to fight various creatures and wins. He gets transported to Hak-Heru’s dungeon and frees Imhotep.

Meanwhile the armies of Kush arrive. The wizards set twin stone gargoyles against it. Ageera the Witch Smeller casts a spell that forms a giant skull. This clashes with the gargoyles and both are destroyed. Hak-Heru summons the demon horde, but Imhotep arrives and cuts the wizard in two with his scythe. He then has his horde which is under his control start to slaughter both Khesetta’s army and Kush’s. Conan reminds him of his vow, and he quits to take his horde to free Conan’s crew.

After everything is done, Thoth-Amon comes to put the city back to order. Imhotep frees Conan’s crew and the two part company. Conan is back to being a pirate.

This ending of the City of Magicians storyline was very satisfying. There is much strange magic and creatures that Conan has to fight. A big epic battle between two armies and two magical forces. Conan gets revenge on Mongo. Imhotep gets his revenge and his demon horde back. Thoth-Amon makes a guest appearance. Conan gets his crew back and Zula remains in Khesatta to follow his dream of being a powerful wizard.

Now this was the end of the policy of chronological stories for the magazine. After this they would go back to the old policy of adaptations and jumping around. I think was inevitable as it limited Conan to being a pirate when there are so many rich story ideas to explore.


“Conan and the City of Magicians Part IV Kheshatta!”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan arrives at Kheshatta. He manages to steal some camels from a caravan to gain entry. Only he gets knocked out by someone and finds himself on the slave block. He is surprised when his old comrade Zula manages to buy him. Zula is now a wizard and has taken over his old master’s title and estates. After a bit of playful fun fighting the two comrades make peace. Only a vengeful female wizard decides to send a demon to attack Zula. The two have to fight it to win. Zula will help Conan find Imhotep and rescue him. Meanwhile the army of Kush is approaching the city to make sure it never threatens Kush again with a demon horde.

“The Haunter of the Ring”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard

Artists: Jerry Decaire and George Freeman

King Conan comes to visit his friend Count Trocero. Trocero has married a new girl but there are problems. Trocero believes he is the reincarnated soul of a former evil ancestor who killed his wife. His wife was that woman in the past and is now trying to murder him. Conan figures out that the problem is from an old, rejected suitor who gave the wife a cursed Stygian ring. This ring will compel the wearer to kill the one they love. Now he summoned a demon to get the wearer of the ring. Only Conan managed to slip the ring on the guys finger and the demon comes and takes him.

In this issue Conan finally gets to Kheshatta. He has to sneak in and gets captured and sold into slavery. A surprise to find that Zula has become a lord of the city. There is a fight between him and Conan because Conan doesn’t trust the wizard Zula. Yet they make up and he will help Conan. Ends with the Kushite army approaching. Promises a big action-packed final with all the actors coming together. I really am enjoying this storyline and it builds on past stories that Roy wrote.

The backup is another non-Conan Howard story he adapted to Conan. Once again it is a very entertaining story. It feels like something that Howard would write which of course he did. All his stories I am sure can translate very well into Conan stories. A fun and enjoyable read.


“Conan in the City of Magicians Part III Drums and Death Out of Tombalku”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan and Imhotep are trying to escape from Meroe when Imhotep’s demon horde arrives. Hak-Heru has send them to bring back Imhotep. The demon horde drives off the Meroen soldiers and take Imhotep. Conan now has to escape which he does and continue on to Khesatta. He arrives at the city of Gazal which he knows from a past adventure. A comrade named Almuric told him of his adventures in this old city founded by Kothian exiles. He finds the people completely passive to life. He gets some water and fruit for his journey.

The next day a troop from Tombalku arrives at the old city. They find Conan who is now also passive from eating the food and drinking the water. The commander has a score to settle with Conan for taking a command position from him. He locks up Conan and his men start to loot and pillage from the meek people of Gazal. A guard assigned to Conan takes pity on him and gives him food from his rations. After the commander gets done raping and killing, he decides to get Conan. Only Conan is now himself and they face a lion. Still numbers will win out but an old scholar they burned alive comes back and kills the commander. The magic he unleashed causes an explosion that destroys the invading Tombalku troops. The meek citizens take up arms for vengeance and Conan continues on to Khesetta.

“Murderer’s Grog”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from short story by Robert E. Howard

Artist: Ovi Hondru

In a small city state in Vendhya, Conan needs a seal of safe conduct from a hill chieftain to travel safely. A Nemedian woman betrays him, and Conan goes off to drink. The woman has some Silver Lotus put in his wine. This powder makes the drinker want to kill those he has old grudges against. The woman thought that Conan would go and kill the leader of the city. Only Conan has a bigger grudge against her. He kills her lover but the potion wears off. He gets his safe conduct among the hillmen.

Roy decided to explore an old Howard story that was partially written, and he adapted on his first run of Savage Sword. Conan never visited Gazal but gets to in this story. He also has a run in with a character from his adventure in Tombalku. This was an interesting story with Conan being under the drug that saps the will. It had some evil opponents and weird supernatural events. This also separated him from Imhotep and he has to continue his journey alone. Should arrive in Khesatta next issue which should be really exciting.

The backup was another Howard non-Conan story adapted to Conan. Roy was a master at this and I really enjoyed it. It feels like something that Howard would write. Another fun and exciting issue.


“Conan in the City of Magicians Part II Marauders in Meroe”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan and Imhotep continue on in the stolen chariot. They are attacked by winged apes sent by Hak-Heru. They manage to defeat them but lost the chariot. Imhotep uses his magic to get zebras for them to ride. They make it to the capital of Kush. It has been ten years since Conan was in the city of Meroe. Yet his old former lieutenant of the guard is now the captain and remembers Conan. He takes Conan and Imhotep to see the new king. Ageera the Witch Smeller is the new king and with his powers, exposes the true demon nature of Imhotep. They manage to capture Imhotep and Conan escapes. He goes to a former girlfriend and finds that Mongo the captain is now living with her. He defeats Mongo and gets the girlfriend to help disguise himself as the captain. He goes blackface and manages to get into the dungeon and break out Imhotep. They are discovered by Mongo who was set free by the girlfriend, but they have a more pressing issue. Imhotep’s winged demons now under the control of Hak-Heru have arrived.

“Old Gerrad’s Heart”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from “Old Garfield’s Heart” by Robert E. Howard

Artist: Sandu Florea

Conan is a fourteen and has make a friend of old Garrad. Another villager tells him the story of how Garrad became immortal. Years ago, while fighting Picts, an old Pict shaman put the heart of a god into Garrod to save him. Garrad confirms this and gets Conan to swear he will cut out his heart if he becomes too injured. This happens the next day when a bully tries to spear Conan. The spear hits Garrod in the head. Conan kills the bully and cuts out the heart of Garrod. The old shaman comes back and gives the heart to a giant bat to carry back to the god that owns the heart.

I really love this new storyline. We get back to Meroe which Conan had adventures back in the old color comic. I love how Roy explores these places years later. Conan meets up with some old characters. We get a more detailed explanation of how Imhotep’s demon horde and powers were stolen. Conan and Imhotep’s interactions are enjoyable.

The backup was an adaptation of a non-Conan Howard story. Roy did this for many stories and nice to see him go back to the practice. This was a fascinating story with a supernatural twist that is very Howardesque. Savage Sword was really firing on all cylinders with Roy back in the writers seat.


“Conan in the City of Magicians Part I The Sword and the Scythe”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan has signed on to a new pirate ship. During a storm a rebellious crewmate decides to kill the captain. Conan tosses this guy overboard and becomes the new captain. After dropping off Morganis in Zingara, the ship is stalked by Captain Zarono and two of his privateers. The chase leads south of Stygia where they finally give up the chase. Conan is forced to put in to the only port in Kush. He finds out that the blacks of the kingdom have overthrown their Stygian rulers. They are also very xenophobic about foreigners. They attack and take Conan and his crew prisoner. The king wants them to teach sailing so they can become a naval power.

In the stockade, Conan is surprised to find Imhotep the Ravager of Worlds also a prisoner. He has lost his powers to the magician Hak-Heru. He has become the lover to the queen and convinces her to also take Conan. The two escape from the city with Conan agreeing to help him regain his amulet and powers in exchange for coming back and freeing his men. They steal the king’s chariot and make their way to Khesatta in Stygia.

“Exile of Atlantis”

Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard.

Artist: E.R. Cruz

Kull comes back with his friends from a hunting trip to find his old childhood playmate Sareeta has been captured. Because she married a Lemurian pirate they are going to burn her at the stake. Kull throws his knife into her to spare her the agony. For this crime his tribe will burn him. He jumps off a cliff and swims out to sea.

The story picks up with the Barachan pirate chronology after the two excellent storys for the 200th and 201st issues. Needless to say this was the beginning of a really great story. He brings back Imhotep which shows that he is familiar with stuff that was written while he was gone. It also brings us back to Kush after the rebellion. Lots of memberberries in this story. Another start to an epic storyline.

The Kull backup deals with his exile from his tribe. This has been covered in past Kull issues but still an enjoyable story. It also marks the start of Kull’s adventures outside Atlantis. A really enjoyable issue.


“The Man in the Iron Tower”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: M.C. Wyman and Dave Simons

Conan has been invited by King Numedides to attend a celebration in honor of his victory over the Picts. He arrives and finds the insane Numedides a decent host. Only the king is jealous of Conan’s popularity with the people. He drugs him and tosses him in the Iron Tower. There his wizard Thulandra Thu sends hallucinations to torment him. Count Trocero and Prospero hire Valeria who is in the capital to rescue him. She successfully manages to sneak in and free Conan. The two have to fight the guards and the magic of Thulandra Thu who resurrects the dead guards. Conan manages to flee, hoping to raise his men at the border.

Thomas is really on a roll with the series. The first one after the big 200th issue is another enjoyable story. This one tells us the story of how Conan was imprisoned by King Numedides and escapes. Thomas did an amazing job of telling a full-length story that never bores you. He brings back Valeria to help Conan. I just love the interaction with her. The zombie guards were really fun. They chop off hands that continue to choke and heads that bite. Conan uses these rogue parts to toss at living guards to take them out. A cool idea to give us the story of his imprisonment and escape that eventually led him to the throne of Aquilonia. A great start to another 200 issues that sadly never quite came about.


“Barbarians on the Border”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan is fighting King Yezdigerd and is the last man standing. The wizard in the king’s employ calls forth a giant bat that snatches Conan up. In 1932 Texas, Robert E. Howard has gone to visit the Alamo in San Antonia. While in an antique shop checking out swords he meets an East Indian. This man is going to the Rio Grande valley and Howard decides to go along. He is having writer’s block and hopes the trip will inspire him. Conan meanwhile manages to kill the bat and finds himself next to a Zamorian city. Howard arrives in a small border town and buys himself an oversized sombero. He decides to check out a bar in the Mexican part of town.

The story switches back to Conan who enters the local tavern. He meets a Vendhyan who drugs Conan. Back in Texas, Howard overhears the Indian man he met meeting with others to smuggle something over the border. They catch him listening and take him outside where he jumps in the creek to escape. Conan finds himself a prisoner of the Vendhyan’s cult about to be sacrificed to their demon. Conan manages to break free and defeat the demon. Howard tracks the Indian down and has a fight that defeats them. He also has a vision of Conan. At the end Howard is back in front of the cantina he entered. It was all the imagination of Howard. Yet he gets inspired and writes the first Conan story.

“A Short History of Savage Sword”

By Roy Thomas

A one page article that gives the reader a brief history of the series.

“The Father of Conan”

By Glenn Lord

Another one page article by the literary agent of the Howard estate. It gives the reader a biography on Howard’s live and tragic death.

Wow. Two hundred issue of Savage Sword. This is the only black and white magazine to achieve such a milestone. In fact it was the only one to survive into the nineties. I really love this tribute that Roy wrote to Howard. Including him as a main character in Conan was brilliant. They way he cut between the Conan story and Howard’s story to show the similarities. At the end we find out Howard’s story was all in his imagination. Yet as Roy explains in the letter’s page, Howard did travel to the border and it was there he got his inspiration for the greatest sword and sorcery hero ever. I was really glad Thomas came back for this seminal event. A worthy 200th issue for my favorite comic.


“Treachery On Tortage”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Conan is one of the few left on Tortage after most of the pirates went to find their woman. Unfortunately, Black Zorano has betrayed the Brotherhood and leads a flotilla of Zingarian buccaneers to the island. Conan and the handful left fight but are defeated. Only him and a young girl are left. Zarono is in the employ of Lord Hambria who first wants his wife back. He also has come for a treasure that is supposed to be on the island. Located under the lake that had the monster. Conan is forced to dive into the lake and retrieve a piece of the nautilus so Hambria’s sorcery can use a spell to locate the treasure. He is going to sacrifice the young woman, but she decides to kill herself by jumping over the cliff. The sorcery is forced to improvise and this is a mistake. He turns into a monster and kills Hambria. Conan manages to defeat him.

“The Pit: Vengeance in Valusia Part Two”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artist: E.R. Cruz

Kull and his friend Khor-nah are taken to the local Valusian commander. He decides the two will fight to the death in the pit. They are tossed in and under threat of death must fight each other. Only the sun is in the eyes of the commander and the two pull two of the soldiers into the pit. They climb out covered in mud and manage to escape as the two soldiers are mistaken for them and killed for trying to escape.

This story started out with promise. The invasion of Tortage was exciting and I loved the interactions with Lord Hambria. Only the second part was really recycled story from the last issue. Even the monster was basically the same. I suppose Roy was more busy working on the big 200th issue story which will be next. As usual the artwork was superb.

The backup Kull story was much more interesting. It had a fun story with a clever way for Kull and his friend to escape. I really do enjoy this look at Kull in his youth. A decent issue if not up to the usual standards.


“The Soul Eater”

Writer: Roy Thomas inspired by poem from Robert E. Howard

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

The pirate ship Conan is on finds three beautiful women adrift in a rowboat. They claim to be the virginal votaries of the god Atarata. Captain Strombonni takes them on but they give him the creeps. So he gives them to his crew. Naturally the pirate crew would ravish them, but they have a power over the men. When they get to Tortage the pirate stronghold the three votaries start to take over all the men. Only Conan seems unaffected. The girls have the pirates expel all the women including Valeria which they gladly do. Later they lead the men to the lake on the island and marches them in. Conan follows and finds that there is an air bubble surrounding a temple on the bottom. A monster has taken the souls of the girls to bring the men down so he can feed on their souls. Atarata can only control Hyborians which is why Conan was unaffected. Conan kills Atarata and the whole temple collapses. The pirate realize they expelled all the woman and go to get them back.

“Vengeance in Valusia”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artist: E.R. Cruz

Kull is returning from a raid on the Picts when during a storm his friend is washed overboard. He dives in and rescues him but both are left behind. They wash ashore and are captured by Valusians. Kull gets in a fight with a braggard and seriously kicks his ass. The captain continues on to take Kull and his friend to their captain.

This story was inspired by a poem by REH. It gets recited by the virginal votaries. Unfortunately, this was not my favorite issue. The story while competently done just seemed to go on and on. A lot of exposition and not much action. The action with Atarata was not really handled well. The artwork of course was excellent.

The Kull backup was also somewhat of a disappointment. Not much happened in that one either. Only there was the anticipation of something more exciting coming in the next issue. This was a mediocre issue which I guess even brilliant writers like Thomas had once in a while.


“A Night in Messantia!”

Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from Robert E. Howards “The Dragon of Kao Tsu.”

Artists: John Buscema and Ernie Chan

Strombanni and Zarono put into Messantia the capital of Argos. They have a lead on a merchant that claims to have a map to the Treasure of Tranicos. Conan is put in charge of taking the Lady Morganis to a man to arrange a ransom from her husband. Conan takes along Valeria. At the merchant, the man can’t keep her because it is too risky. Morganis has a solution to have her ransom paid now. She tells of a valuable statue called The Dragon of Kaontsu. A local noble has it and she can provide plans to have it stolen. The merchant sends his servant to steal it. Only he decides to keep it for himself. Conan and Valeria go after him and find the guy with his throat slit. The noble that it was stolen from then pursues Conan and Valeria. They are chased into the Temple of a Thousand Gods. The noble finds them and has a servant bring to life a statue of his spider god. Only the servant was resentful and turns the spider on his master. Conan manages to defeat it but leaves without finding the real statue.

Meanwhile Strombanni and Zarono find the guy who will sell them the map. Only the candle is knocked out and the man is stabbed. Strombanni and Zarono blame each other but must flee the city guard.

“Raiders of the Pictish Isles”

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artist E.R. Cruz

Kull is part of a raiding party on the main Pict Island. They plan to kidnap the Valusian ambassador to force Valusia to break their alliance with the Picts. They succeed but a shaman calls forth a demon. Another shaman named Gonar stops the demon. In exchange he wants the ambassador back which Kull agrees to. We find out at the end Gonar also saved Kull because he knows how important to the future he will become.

This was a fun and exciting issue. Thomas used the old idea of adapting a non-Conan Howard story. This story had plenty of callbacks to past adventures that Thomas wrote back in the old Conan the Barbarian series. The characters and the temple are stuff that Conan has some past familiarity. This very much had the feel of a Howard story. It is really fun to see him continue the honor Howard and his past work. Plus, the beautiful Buscema/Chan artwork also brings back memories.

The Kull story was also excellent. It had some callbacks from the Kull comics and story. Gonar was an important figure. It also reminds us that Kull is destined from greater things. I really enjoy this telling of Kull’s youth.