SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #170

Emerald Lust”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Gary Kwapisz

Conan gets in trouble by sleeping with a chieftain’s daughter in Vanaheim. This chieftain assembles a group to go after him. Red Sonja who happens to be in the area offers her services. Meanwhile a Vanir ship finds a guy on a raft. Before he dies, he tells of a great emerald mountain far to the north. Valeria, who is on the ship, was able to translate and convinces the captain to go after this treasure. Conan comes to the port and meets his old friend Valeria who invites him on the quest.

Conan agrees since the chieftain is after him. The chieftain is not swayed by Conan leaving and hires a ship to pursue. Conan and the crew do find an emerald mountain. Only it is soon discovered that the mountain is made of green ice and not emerald. The chieftain’s ship arrives and attacks. During the fight the ice mountain collapses and destroyed both ships. Only Conan, Sonja and Valeria survive. They head south and battle the cold and huge walruses.

“The King Kull Portfolio”

Artists: Steve Carr and Al Williamson

A portfolio of full-page drawings from some of Kull’s greatest stories.

Dixon and Kwapisz are back to the series, and we get another fun story. This one has both Red Sonja and Valeria. I didn’t think that the super jealous Valeria was really in character for her. Otherwise, it was an interesting story. Now there was a story taking place in the far north about two issues ago. So, it seemed a bit repetitive. Yet I have no complains about the art. It was beautiful especially Sonja and Valeria. The Kull portfolio was also enjoyable to look at.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #169

“Brothers of the Skull”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Mike Docherty and Ernie Chan

Conan finally makes it back from his adventures in the New World. He finds that the capital Tarantia is in pretty bad shape. Crime is rampant as he finds out when some thugs try to collect a toll from him. He finds his general Pallantides drinking in a tavern. From him he finds out that while he was away many suitors came to marry his queen. They were sent away but one an Akhmet Ta a noble from Turan. He had a sinister retinue called The Brothers of the Skull. He gives Zenobia a skull gem which mesmerizes her. Just then a sailor claims to have seen Conan die in a shipwreck off the coast of Kush. Zenobia sends the Black Dragons off to find the body. She then has Trocero take the army and city militia to the border. This is why the city has fallen into such lawlessness.

Conan has Pallantides go and fetch the army. He sends his companions lead by Gobo to infiltrate the palace using the sewers. Conan goes to enter through the front door and confronts The Brothers of the Skull. He finds out they are zombies and is captured. Akhmet Ta has used his magic to control Zenobia and orders her to kill Conan. Only her love is too strong and breaks the spell. Just then Gobo comes into the throne room being chased by rats. The rats eat Akhmet Ta and his zombies. Trocero comes back and Conan is once again King and reunited with his family.

“The Endless Stair”

Writer: Peter B. Gillis

Artists: Steve Carr and Armando Gil

Red Sonja is in a village in northern Aquilonia. She is waiting for an event known as the Endless Stairs. A bright light that shoots up into the sky. Rumor has it that it leads to treasure. Sonja goes to it and finds a beautiful man. This man tries to win Sonja in fair combat and does defeat her. Only Sonja still resists him. Because of that, he is taken back by the light.

“Death and Taxes”

Writer & Artist: Dave Simons

Kull has decided that some rich people have not been paying taxes. So, he sends out his tax collector. Bollag Zajak runs the local gambling house and hasn’t paid taxes in 28 years. He has no intention of paying and hires a wizard. This wizard lifts the gambling house into the air and thus Bollag Zajak is no longer residing on Valusian soil. Only the wizard gets drunk, and the place comes crashing down. Kull is there to collect the taxes with interest.

In spite of the lackluster cover this was a really good issue. Like Homer’s Odyssey, Conan comes home to find his wife besieged by unwanted suitors. Only all the suitors were turned into zombies by a wizard who managed to mesmerize Zenobia. Needless to say, Conan as Ulysses did, takes out the unwanted suitors and reclaims his manor. Conway did an interesting story with Conan going to the Hyborian New World.

As for the two backups well, the Red Sonja was a bit of a letdown. I didn’t care for the art. It makes Sonja just too ugly, and the story didn’t have much to it. Now the Kull one was excellent. Kull makes some deadbeat pay his taxes and it had a humorous ending.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #168

“The God Below”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Mike Docherty and Ernie Chan

Conan continues his adventures in the Hyborian New World. This time he takes his ship north to look for a passage back home. Instead, he finds a frozen land. A giant blue whale traps his ship. After a fight with a giant walrus, he runs into an Eskimo tribe. They take him and his crew back to their igloo village and give them food. Conan notices that they are starving and finds out that the whale has driven all the fish away. They believe the whale is a god and is punishing them for some reason.

Conan wants to live and devises a plan to kill this god. He builds a giant crossbow to mount on his ship. The Eskimos try to stop him because they don’t want to anger their god. They fail and Conan manages to kill the whale. The Eskimos and Conan’s crew feast on its carcass and Conan sets sail westward, abandoning the search for a northwest passage.

The third installment to a Hyborian Odyssey brings up to that world’s version of Alaska. A fairly simple story of battling a giant whale. What makes it so beautiful is the stunning artwork. Most of the story is told with little or no dialogue. The pictures convey the story. Some beautiful feel of an Artic waste and a giant whale. A good enjoyable issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #167

“Spirit of the Beast A Hyborian Odyssey, Part Two”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Michael Docherty and Ernie Chan

Conan and Gobo with their small crew of Inka continue north to look for a northern passage home. They land for supplies and get attacked by natives. Later birds carrying flaming embers manage to set fire to the mast. The natives at night swim out and capture Conan and the crew. The shaman of the tribe has Conan and a beautiful girl taken to be sacrificed to a large bear. Conan manages to escape with the girl and they go back to her tribe.

He finds out that the two tribes were friendly until this shaman came and took over the neighboring tribe. After a bit of peyote, Conan gets a vision that his inner beast is the lion. The next day Conan leads the tribe in an attack on the village. Conan has to fight the bear which is united with the shaman. Even after burying his ax in the bear’s head, it doesn’t die. The girl stabs the shaman which kills both him and the bear. For his reward the mast is fixed, and Conan continues on his way home.

The second in the Hyborian Odyssey brings us to a Hyborian North America. Conan has some adventures among the Hyborian Native Americas. Like all the other places in the Hyborian age they also have their share of sorcery and magic. A fun and original story that gives us some great beautiful artwork and takes Conan someplace completely different.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #166

“The Blood of Brothers”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Mike Docherty and Ernie Chan

King Conan is on a diplomatic mission to Vendhya and decides to take a shortcut back home by crossing the Eastern Ocean. A storm wrecks the ship and only Conan and a sailor named Gobo survive. They get captured by the locals and taken to the city of Kuzko the sacred city of the Lord-Inka. Here Conan gets involved with a power struggle between two factions. The ruler a child who is married to his sister have a proposition for Conan. If he can steal back the mummified body of their father from the rebel brother, then they will give Conan a ship to return home. He agrees and infiltrates the fortress of the rebel brother. He has to fight the reanimated corpse of the father but hears that the sister plans treachery. So he takes the mummified corpse and mounts it in the city square. This angers the people, and they destroy the sister and child king. The rebel brother furnishes Conan a ship to get home.

We get a new writer in Gerry Conway which is a nice change of pace. The storyline involves Conan in the New World version of the Hyborian age. Obviously, this is the equivalent of the Incas in our world. There would be two other installments of Conan and his adventures in the Americas of the Hyborian age. I liked this idea and look forward to more adventures in the Americas.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #165

“City of Rats”

Writers: Charles Dixon and Gary Kwapisz

Artist: Gary Kwapisz

Conan has been hired to guard the heir to the throne of Iranistan. He is only a young boy and with his sister are the sole survivors of the dynasty. The government has agreed to have the boy come back to be crowned but there are those that still want him dead. A criminal league of assassins manages to kill the boy and girl under Conan’s protection. Naturally Conan has to get revenge. He goes around the city looking for the assassins and beats up many people in the process. The league sends assassins, but Conan easily kills them. Then disguised as a returning assassin he confronts the leaders. They flee into the slums with Conan after them. He stalks and kills them.

“Siege”

Writer: John Arcudi

Artist: Tony Salmons

Kull is ambushed by followers of Ohris Dehjmal. Kull takes an arrow in the chest and must recuperate from this wound. The cult lays siege to the camp and later launches an attack. Kull in a fever gets up and sees monsters attacking. He attacks and this inspires his men to fight. The cult is driven off and Kull is back to health.

This was a good issue. The story was a fairly standard one of Conan getting revenge against those that killed the children under his protection. Storywise it was nothing new, but it had plenty of cool artwork with him hunting down various assassins.

The Kull story was also an OK if nothing new story. Kull gets ambushed and, in a fever, fights off the attackers. What I didn’t care for was the artwork. It was very crude and not the style I like. All in all, a decent read on a Sunday morning if nothing spectacular.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #164

“The Slithering God”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Ernie Chan

The Zamoran city of Hanghara has fallen on hard times. Ever since the cult of Sodatha there has been a series of mysterious disappearances at night. People are taken by some tentacled creatures that come up from below ground. Conan gets involved with a group of thieves and ends up captured by the city guard. Conan and a cowardly compatriot are sentenced by the fat magistrate to be hung up in cages in the city square. The cowardly Trollo convinces a young boy to free him at night in exchange for a gold tooth. Trollo then reneges but Conan offers to get his gold if the kid releases him. Conan does track Trollo down and relieve him of his gold teeth as payment to the boy.

Conan then takes Trollo and looks for a way out of the city. He sees one of the tentacled creatures burrow underground and follows. This leads to a ceremony where the cult plans to sacrifice a drugged girl to the giant tentacled creature. Conan notices the jewels the woman wears and decides to rescue her. A fight ensues with the creature getting set on fire. It comes above ground and destroys the city in the process. Conan gives Trollo the girl’s jeweled tiara as compensation and takes the girl with him to more hospitable climates.

“Uprising! A Tale of the Hyborian Age”

Writers: Matthew Jorgensen and S.C. Ringgenberg

Artist: Matthew Jorgensen

A Pict king named Berak leads an assault on the Aquilonian fort of Damos. He is after the general known as the White Vulture. This general has waged a genocidal war against his people. He plans to free his captive people and kill the general. During the fight he is surrounded but convinces the general to fight him. Berak defeats the general and burns down the fort.

This was another fun issue. Dixon gives us this kooky story in a minor city beset with creatures from a cult. I love how he gets out of the cage by promising to get the gold teeth the boy was promised. A man of his word he does extract them. Then decides to rescue a woman for the jewels. He gets the woman at the end naturally. A fun story with beautiful artwork by Chan. Including some full-page spreads of the city and the huge Cthulhu like creature that destroys it.

The backup story dealt with other stuff going on in the Hyborian world. That is good idea to get some non-Conan stories about his world. This one dealt with the Picts and was quite enjoyable.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #163

“Code of the Wolf”

Writers: Charles Dixon and Gary Kwapisz

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Pat Redding

A settler family on the border of Aquilonia has a visitor. Conan comes as a hired scout to tell them the wildmen are massing an army. He takes them and other settlers to the fort. They prepare for the inevitable assault and hope to hold out until the Legion arrives. The commander is killed by some deserters, so Conan takes charge. The wildmen attack and are beaten off. They bring up a ram and Conan releases the dogs on it and sets it on fire. Another attempt manages to pull down a section of the wall, but Conan rallies a successful defense. The wildman chief knows that there is little time so proposes a duel with Conan. If Conan wins the tribe will abandon their seige. If the chief wins, then the women and children will be allowed to leave and only the men put to the sword. Conan agrees and wins the fight. He gives the chief a ceremonial funeral pyre.

“Armando Gil Portfolio”

A portfolio of pinups of Conan by the artist.

This was an enjoyable story. It had the feel of a Pict story which happen to be my favorite. The wildmen are something a bit different. They use swords and can build siege weapons which are beyond the Picts. Has some beautiful art with epic battle scenes. The story has Conan be a cool badass barbarian who has more in common with the wildmen then the civilized people he fights for. Filled with barbaric honor and the treachery of civilized men as the Legion plans to slaughter ever man, woman and child as punishment for this rebellion.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #162

“The Horned God”

Writer: Charles Dixon

Artist: Jorge Zaffino

The king of a city-state in Brythunia has trouble producing an heir. His advisors decide that they need the horn of a unicorn to give him the virility to produce one. Conan gets hired to lead the expedition into the savage wilderness of Hyperborea. They have to fight the savage hillmen and Conan starts a romance with the sister of the king. They find the valley, but the unicorn is not the peaceful creature they expected. It is a fearsome carnivore. One of the leaders knocks Conan out as the men flee and takes the princess. He hopes to use her as bait since it is rumored that unicorns love the taste of virgin blood. Only it is too late because thanks to Conan, she isn’t a virgin. Just then Conan arrives and is pissed off. He easily takes out the cowardly guy. Seems the unicorn decided to leave Conan alone when he was unconscious, and Conan will return the favor and not kill it. Instead, they will find a goat’s horn to pass off as a unicorn horn.

“Solomon Kane’s Homecoming”

Writer: Robert E. Howard adapted from his poem. Adapted by Steve Carr

Artists: Steve Carr and Al Williamson

Solomon Kane comes home to Devon after his world travels. At a tavern he talks about his many adventures. How he fought the Spanish and was imprisoned by them. His later travels to Africa battling vampires, ghouls, spirits, slavers and a mad witch queen of a lost city. He then leaves to continue his wandering ways.

This was an interesting issue. The unicorn idea had a cool twist in that the unicorn was this bad ass carnivore with huge teeth. Otherwise, a fairly standard quest epic. Didn’t really care for the art. Zaffino has a sketchy style that uses way too much shadowing. There were whole panels that had way too much blackness to them.

The Solomon Kane story was beautiful. I love Howard’s poem and they did a great job of putting it to a visual image. There were whole pages devoted to some of Kane’s most famous adventures. So an interesting if somewhat flawed issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #161

“Call of the Howling Shadows”

Writer: Charles Dixon and Gary Kwapisz

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Mark Pacella

Conan is haunted by the spirit of Shameel who he left in the Valley of Howling Shadows. He agrees to come back and rescue her. The apparition tells him to go to a wizard named Thanamar Zalix. This wizard is the one behind the apparitions. He needs Conan to lead him to the valley so he can get a gem that will make him supremely powerful. Conan arrives and agrees to lead the wizard and his servant a graverobber he encountered in the last adventure in the valley. Once again Conan is in this weird valley with all sorts of horrific creatures. They arrive at a castle of giant ants, and they find Shameel. Conan is angry when he finds out this was all a ploy by the wizard. The wizard finds the gem but only the person holding the gem can use the portal he opens. His servant turns on him and kills the wizard. Shameel kills the servant and begs Conan to kill her. She has been impregnated with the evil demons, so Conan does and escapes through the portal. He destroys the gem and continues on.

“Distortions”

Writer: John Arcudi

Artist” Ernie Chan.

A pretender to the Topaz throne starts a rebellion against Kull. This man claims to be the son of the former king. Kull prepares for a bloody fight, but a shaman has another idea. The next morning the rebel mob is confronted by the image of the dead King Borna. The pretender panics and admits to not being his son. The image strangles him before disappearing. The shaman created the image to end the rebellion.

This issue brings us back to the Valley of Howling Shadows. I think this was a Kwapisz creation and like its predecessor it is filled with surreal and horrifying imagery. Does a good job of giving the reader some needed exposition on the last visit. It has been a long time since that issue.

The Kull backup is also excellent and a nice filler for the issue.