SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #110

“The Army of the Dead!”

Writer: Bill Mantlo

Artist: Gary Kwapisz

Conan is leading some brigands through the mountains after they looted a caravan. The men are cold and hungry but Conan seems well fed and still has a horse. That is because he took food instead of loot. Now the men want his food and a fight breaks out. The horse is killed and the noise starts an avalanche. Only Conan survives but without any food or shelter it looks grim. While wandering along he comes on an army of the dead. Since he looks almost dead and Conan wonders himself it he is dead they accept him as one of theirs. They come on the city of life and attack. During the attack Conan is hit with a crossbow bolt. The dead have to retreat back to the mountains at dawn. The living soldiers killed also join this army. Since Conan doesn’t the inhabitants find out he is still alive and bring him inside.

Conan finds out that the city has properties that prolong the lifespan. That barbarians laid siege to the city and they hired mercenaries to fight them. Their reward was to be allowed to live in the city. Only at the end they were betrayed and the survivors killed. Now their dead bodies attack. Each day their numbers grow as the living decrease. Conan finds out they haven’t had anyone born since this. They think that if Conan can get the queen pregnant then they will bring in new life to keep the city going. Only Conan wants no part of this. The regent tries to stop Conan but ends up killing the queen. The queen comes back as undead and helps Conan find a horse to flee the doomed city.

“The Dinner Guest”

Writer: Alan Rowlands

Artist: Tim Burgard

Conan is chased by men to a lone cabin in the woods. An old couple are eating their meal when Conan bursts in. He fights and kills all the men after him. He rides off to an old woman in terror but the old man really enjoyed it.

“Extra! Bonus Pinups”

Artist: Ernie Chan

Full page portfolios of Conan in action.

Mantlo did a guest stint as writer for this issue. You can always count on him to deliver an excellent story and this was no exception. A fascinating tale that is one I remember from all those years ago as standing out. During that time the zombie genre wasn’t overdone so it was quite fresh. You find out the inhabitants of this city had what was coming to them. They were decadent and would watch the fighting with amusement. That the fools would fight for them. Yet they paid for their treachery. An excellent story with beautiful artwork by Kwapisz.

The backup story was told with all images. No dialogue or exposition. They just told the story with pictures and I always love those kind of stories. The old man seemed to live vicariously through Conan. This was an all around excellent issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #109

“The Shatterer of Worlds”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

The demon cult is performing the ceremony to resurrect Wraal. They are too greedy and spill the blood of the harlot in their fight to be the first to drink it. So they must get more blood and delay the ceremony. Nicos Irestides is a young apprentice scholar at the Nemedian academy. His job is to chronicle the adventures of Conan. Being an apprentice he gets the grunt jobs of getting supplies. While doing this he comes on the demons taking the blood from a prostitute. He overhears they are trying to revive Wraal. Unfortunately his superiors don’t believe him. Neither do the city guard. So he goes off to find Conan. One of the guard is sent along to see if he can find Conan. Along the way he comes on mercenaries chopped up by him. A tavern wrecked. Some prostitutes who have been very satisfied with his visit. He finally tracks Conan who has just rescued a bride from a marriage to a noble to return to her true love. Of course the young girl has to be sexually satisfied by Conan.

It is here that young Nicos finds Conan and tells him of the cults plans. Conan takes him as serious as everyone else. Only the cult also needs a bride who has not consummated her marriage and go to kidnap her. They manage to grab her and young Nicos. Conan gets captured by the Nemedian guard but the young man that hired Conan also arrives to get his revenge on him. He escapes in the fight and comes to the temple where the cult is reviving Whaarl. Conan throws his knife killing the demon about to sacrifice the young girl. Only the knife falls and manages to prick her throat and release some drops of blood. This is enough to bring back Whaarl. The ceremony has revived a Shatterer of Worlds. This being will destroy both Earth and Wraal’s world. So Wraal sacrifices himself to stop the creature and save both worlds.

“Bonus Pinups”

Artist: Tony Salmons

Two full page drawing of Conan. Not really a good artist.

“The Vezek Inn”

Writer: Jim Owsley

Artist: Mike Docherty

Conan has just successfully destroyed a Zamoran regiment leading Turanian mercenaries. Now he stops at an inn for a good nights sleep. Only the defeated Zamorans stop by to lick their wounds. The two commanders get in an argument about whose fault it was for the defeat. Soon the Zamorans are fighting amount themselves. Conan wakes to find them all knocked out and rides off.

Now this was a really fun issue. I liked the idea of telling the story through the eyes of this young scholar. We get to see the aftermath of Conan being someplace. He naturally leaves a trail of death, destruction and satisfied women. There are several factions out to get him and they fight among themselves. I was surprised that it ended with Wraal sacrificing himself to save the world. He regards humans as worms but truly cares about his world and people. He showed real courage and bravery in his self sacrifice. This with the beautiful Kwapisz/Chan artwork made this an enjoyable read.

As for the backup story it was good. A solid little one that has Conan be Conan. Yet it had the irony of his enemies fighting among themselves instead of getting their revenge. All around this was a very enjoyable issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #108

“Claws of the Osprey”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan has hired on to a city-state in Corinthia being attacked by Baron Gorbek. They are about to bring up the siege tower and Conan has a plan. He will throw grapping hooks on it and they are attached to a capstan which will pull them down. Only the attackers catapults manage to take out the capstan. Never fear for Conan is so strong he manages to pull over the tower all by himself. For now they have driven back the invader. Count Nerval has placed all his faith in a brilliant inventor named Pol Tiurno. Conan finds out the inventory is secretly working with the enemy. He comes to get him and Pol tries to fly away on a hang glider he as made. Only Conan manages to cut the strut and it flies into a tall peak.

Conan is then assigned to infiltrate Baron Gorbek’s city-state as a gladiator to find out his plans. He manages this while some mysterious creatures in hoods take the blood from a prostitute. At this time Pol has survived and wants revenge. During a storm a bolt of lightning strikes a huge osprey flying along. Pol takes the wings and talons and attached them to himself and flies off to find Conan. Conan finds out that Gorbek has an army of men with hang gliders and plans to attack. So he goes back to want Count Nerval. While they get ready Pol swoops in and grabs Conan. Only Conan managers to grab a torch and set the wings of Pol on fire. Then as the hang glider army attacks he has the catapults throw flaming ballast which sets the gliders on fire. At the end the mysterious creatures go to a cave an revive Wraal.

“The Fear of Crom!”

Writer: Don Kraar

Artist: Mike Docherty

Argos is attacking the Stygian city of Khemi. The army is demoralized for they think all their bad fortune is the work of dark sorcery. Conan comes to put the fear of Crom into the army. He has them haul up a catapult to breach the wall. Along the way they find a spy and use the catapult to toss him back to the Stygians.

This was a fun issue. The story had all sorts of crazy stuff going on. In fact it was a bit over the top. I mean Conan is strong put pulling down a siege tower all by himself? He also not once but twice survives a fall from great heights without a bone broken. Not to mention the goofy inventor and his taking osprey wings to fly. Yet the story moved right along and the artwork was just beautiful. The final few pages were just without any dialogue or exposition and they told the story brilliantly. At the end we find out that Wraal the Devourer of Worlds is coming back so Fleisher once again brings back a popular villain.

As for the backup story that was also amusing. Conan gets the Argossean army into shape and I love the ending. He tells he catapult crew to aim for the red smear on the wall. This was good if somewhat goofy issue. Also if you can’t get Buscema then I think Kwapisz is the next best thing.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #107

“The Eyes of G’Bharr Rjinn!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artist: Rudy Nebres

Conan rescues the daughter of a rich merchant from a kidnapping attempt and takes her back to her father. There he sees his many artifacts he collects including the Eye of G’Barr Rjinn. G’Barr was an god way back that pissed off the elder gods so he was burned up. Nothing was left but his eyes. This eye can shoot fire. Meanwhile Sharaq Boraq has entered a tavern to recruit men to help him kill Conan. When they mock him he starts to kill them. Then locks the rest inside the tavern and sets it on fire. Also while this is happening the Snow Raven the Khitain thief is about to be hanged. She manages to escape by making a bolo out of some mugs and the belt of a Mitran priest she managed to steal it from. Both these characters meet while stealing the other eye of G’Barr Rjinn from the provincial governor’s home. Boraq agrees to have the Snow Raven help him in stealing the other one.

They manage to break into the merchants home and surprise they meet Conan. Conan manages to chase them off but not before they steal the other eye. The Snow Raven comes to Conan later at night to basically get a good tumble from Conan. The merchant’s daughter sees this and gets jealous so reports to her father that Conan is in league with the thieves. Conan though manages to get out before the guard comes to arrest him. He finds that Boraq has mounted the eyes in his helmet. One can freeze which he has frozen the Snow Raven. The other traps Conan in its mystical flame. Conan manages to grab the Snow Raven’s bolos and knock Boraq down. His helmet falls off and Conan manages to beat him. The Snow Raven grabs his helmet and freezes him. She takes one eye while giving the other to Conan. They ride off leaving Boraq frozen but alive and ready to thaw out.

“Bonus Pinups!”

Artist: Rudy Nebres

Three large drawing of Conan.

“Deepest Devotion”

Writer: Alan Rowlands

Artist: Tony Salmons

Conan and Belit are raiding a ship with the treasures of the priests of Ishtar. A giant is ordered to take the treasure chest and jump overboard to deny it falling into the pirates hands. Conan jumps him after him and gets the treasure. Only it is empty and a decoy to distract from the real treasure. Belit knows this and Conan decides to tie the empty chest around the head priest and toss him into the ocean.

Another Fleisher story with good old Boraq Sharaq. He is just still one nut job obsessed with killing Conan. He also decided to bring back the Snow Raven which is a cool character. Also once again he gives us one of these ridiculous names. I have the say that the story was a bit silly. I mean I didn’t understand why he decided to join forces with the Snow Raven. Conan also decides not to kill the guy but let him live to go on stalking him. I am not sure that is a responsible thing. I mean Boraq is always killing and raping all these innocent people along the way. Seems the responsible thing would be to put him out of his misery. I guess Fleisher didn’t want to get rid of this villain just yet. In spite of its goofy premise the story moved fast and had some beautiful Nebres artwork.

As for the backup I can’t say much for the art. The artist is unknown to me and I can see why he is unknown. The artwork was very crude and just not good. Fortunately the writing was and the story was amusing. So this issue was OK but not really my favorite.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #106

“Feud of Blood”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artist: Dave Simons

After the adventure with Boraq Sharaq in the city of giants, Conan and Jessica have arrived at an Argossean small village to get their horses rested. Only the local blacksmith recognizes Conan as a wanted pirate and reports him. So when he comes to pick up his horses they are ambushed by guardsmen. They capture Jessica and threaten her which gets Conan to surrender. He is taken to the local garrison for eventual transport to the capital for execution. Meanwhile in the city of giants a volcano blows and lava carries the crystallized form of Boraq Sharaq to the river which miraculously revived him back to life. He continues on his single minded quest to get revenge on Conan.

Back at the garrison it finds itself under siege by invading Zingarans. The commander is convinced by his second that they should send Conan for help. He agrees and offers a pardon if Conan manages to bring back help. Conan sneaks out of an underground tunnel and steals a Zingaran horse. This was actually a plan by the second in command for he is secretly a Zingaran agent. He wanted Jessica and now that Conan is gone he believes there is nothing standing in his way. Only Jessica manages to knock him over the head with a wine jug and escape the besieged fort.

Conan on his journey is attacked by Boraq who has tracked him down. They fight and go over a cliff. The fight is interrupted by Zingarans out to get them. The two must united to defeat the Zingarans. Then Boraq turns on Conan who is injured. The arrival of Jessica and her bow skills forces Boraq to retreat as Conan and Jessica make their escape. Of course the Agrosseans are rescued in time because Jessica is an Agrossean and convinces Conan to help her inform the military.

“Men of the Shadows Part IV”

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

Artist: Gene Day

The story of the Pictish shaman concludes with the future. In it Rome conquers but is defeated by barbarians. The Picts under Bran Mak Morn stride upward but are eventually defeated by a new race.

Boraq Sharaq is once again brought back to bedevil Conan. You can’t keep this guy down. He keeps going and going. I do love this villain. He has a ruthless single-minded purpose to get his revenge. He is cruel, ruthless in his goal but has the weakness of being a narcissistic braggart. Something that eventually brings him down but he is still alive and ready to continue. Fleisher sees that this is too good a villain to get rid of. A fun action packed story.

The conclusion to the Bran Mak Morn story was a very short one. Just a few pages and cryptic. Probably would have been better as a complete story then skip an issue to just finish it. Never really found out what happened to the Norse prisoner. Still the story as a whole was excellent with beautiful artwork. Probably should have never been stretched out over so many issues so it loses it’s effectiveness.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #105

“The Mill”

Writer: Don Kraar

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Bob Camp

Conan is part of a group of mercenaries sent to put down a peasant revolt in the frozen tundra. Only the peasants manage to win. Now Conan leads a small group of mercenaries trying to escape the vengeful peasants and the brutal cold. He has to deal with one guy turning cannibal and attacks from the peasants. They come on a mill and break in for food and shelter. The mercenaries turn their anger on the old man and his family. Some try to rape the woman and others to kill the kids. Conan has promised they wouldn’t be harmed and has to fight his former comrades. He manages to win and takes a sack of grain and heads out.

“The Crypt!”

Writer: Jim Neal

Artists: Willian Johnson and Geof Isherwood

Six panel full page illustration set to a poem. It has Conan go to a crypt to rescue Octavia his woman who has been captured and entombed in the crypt. He has to fight the undead and manages to set them on fire and rescue his woman.

A guest writer and artist for this issue. It was a really good one to. A story without any wizards, monsters or supernatural elements. Only the brutal elements and the angry men that Conan leads. This was a real brutal one filled with some awesome fight scenes. At the end the peasants try to kill Conan who saved him which shows no good deed goes unrewarded. This was Conan at his most brutal. Also he manages to maintain his humanity where his comrades fail. Plus some beautiful artwork make this a story I vividly remember decades after reading it.

The backup story was also good. Some beautiful full page images with a poem that wasn’t too bad. A really good solid issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #104

“The Treachery of the Gray Wolf!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: Val Mayerik and Ernie Chan

In the alternate universe King Konar of Aquiloria is in battle with the forces of Ophit. Konar manages to defeat the king and have him sue for peace. Back in our Earth Conan is with a trollop who is leading him for a roll in the hay. Only the trollop was in the employ of the Brotherhood of the Falcon. This assassin guild is still after Conan. They find that Conan is no easy victim but numbers will wear him down. Yet a mysterious man wearing a wolfs head joins the battle. The two manage to defeat the Brotherhood. Then the wolf head man knocks out Conan. He takes him to the other world because King Konar needs him. The kingdom of Nemeria has kidnapped his wife Zenoria. He needs Conan to go and rescue her while he stays and signs the treaty.

Conan agrees and heads out to rescue Zenoria. He manages to sneak into the palace but is captured. King Olaf of Nemeria thinks Conan is Konar and tries to torture him. When this doesn’t work he brings Zenoria to be tortured. Conan manages to break free of this bonds and kills King Olaf and escape with Zenoria. They run into the Grey Wolf who is secretly working for Nemeria. The two fight and go over the cliff. Zenoria sees that the guy wearing the wolf head survives when he crawls out of the river. She jumps on her horse and goes back to Konar. Konar is fighting off an ambush of Nemerian spies when the Grey Wolf enters. Only he attacks the Nemerians and with Konar defeats them. It is revealed that it is Conan wearing the wolf head. Saving the kingdom for Konar he rides back to his world much richer.

“Men of Shadows Part III”

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

Artist: Gene Day

Bran Mak Morn defeats the shaman. The shaman then tells the history of the Pict people. How they eventually came to Europe and settled. How they had to fight the Norsemen, the Celts and the Gaels.

So Fleisher brings back two ideas from previous issues. First is the Brotherhood of the Falcon still trying to kill Conan. Apparently they were not all killed off in the last issue they appeared. That last issue also featured an alternate world of three suns that had a Conan clone called King Konar. Apparently the portal between worlds is still wide open. Also King Konar has forgiven Conan for impersonating him. This was an enjoyable story. Conan has some fun adventures to showcase his badassness. We get to revisit the cool alternate world that is similar but different from Conan’s world. Plus it has some very beautiful artwork that in many instances tells the story with a minimum of dialogue or exposition.

We also get a continuation of an adaptation of a Bran Mak Morn story. Thomas does a good job with Day giving us some real epic full page illustrations. All around a very good issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #103

“The White Tiger of Vendhya!”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artist: Pablo Marcos

Conan is causing grief to the Turanians with his raids on their taxmen. So King Yezdigerd hires a Khitain Jong Tsak. Jong comes up with a plan to ambush Conan by using a crown going to the satrap of Zamboula as bait. Only one of the servant girls is in the employ of Conan and warns him. So when Jong and the crown come he is ready and easily springs an ambush that sees him get away with the crown. Jong is shamed and sentenced to death by Yezdigerd but manages to escape. He vows to hunt down Conan and his compatriots.

After the successful theft Conan and his partners in crime split up the jewels and head their own way. Conan goes to Vendhya. He comes on a tiger trapped in a pit and is attacked by a white tiger with a star on it’s forehead. He manages to escape and falls into a river. A peasant rescues him but later reports him to the Maharajah of Conan surviving with the white tiger. The Maharajah lost his arm to the tiger’s attack and has his men capture Conan. The Maharajah has Conan help him track down the tiger which Conan does. Yet when the tiger bravely faces the Maharajah’s men Conan turns on the Maharajah and saves the tiger before getting knocked out. He wakes to find himself prisoner of Bengala a beautiful blonde woman who is the guardian of the tigers. He agrees to help her free the tigers that the Maharajah has captive and also to be her lover.

So they attack the palace where the Maharajah is about to throw the tigers in a pool of burning oil. Bengala revels herself to be the white tiger. Instead the Maharajah is knocked into the burning pit and the tigers are saved. At the end Conan has to fight Jong who has tracked him to Vendhya after hunting down his companions. Only he is no match for Conan.

“Men of the Shadows Part II”

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

Artist: Gene Day

The Roman Norseman is saved from the Picts by Bran Mak Morn. This causes the shaman to confront Bran. The shaman wants to return to blood sacrifice and to sacrifice the Norseman. Bran fights with him and it ends with a giant dragon fighting the wolf.

This was an enjoyable issue. Fleisher has this cool story of Conan going to Vendhya and getting involved with a girl who can turn into a tiger. He also adds this subplot like he does sometime with the Khitain who goes after him for revenge. It ends with him somehow tracking him to the wilderness cave of Bengala and confronting Conan. It bit goofy but fun. I love Pablo’s artwork. His women are especially beautiful.

The Howard adaptation is also another treat from Thomas. It is one filled with mysticism and Bran Mak Morn. I loved how it ends with a two page spread of a giant wolf battling a dragon. Interesting to see how this ends.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #102

“The Iron Lions of Kharamun”

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Artists: Gary Kwapisz and Ernie Chan

Conan is the leader of a Zuagir band that is very successful. So successful that the other bands want to get rid of him. So the chieftain makes a deal with the priestess of the Lion God. Later at night some guys in lion masks abduct Conan and take him to the priestess. She puts a spell on him that makes him a coward and afraid to even touch a sword. This new cowardice gets Conan driven from his band. He later is reduced to being a beggar in the city. A kind woman with a son takes him in. Unfortunately the Lion God guys in masks come to punish her. They kill the woman and her son while leaving Conan a cowering wreck.

Conan takes the remains of the woman and son to her father in the mountains. This guy helps Conan overcome the curse by giving him a bow that is immune to the curse and telling him to retrieve the Crimson Lotus in the mountains. Conan does this and has to battle a giant winged serpent. Conan manages to overcome his fear and kill the creature. Later on his return the lion men come to punish the old man. Conan manages to kill the lion men and the curse is lifted. He goes back to the Zuagirs to get revenge on the man who overthrew him.

“Men of the Shadows”

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

Artist: Gene Day

A Roman legion in Briton is destroyed by the Picts. Five of the legionnaires survive. They attempt to make it back to their base and are picked off one at a time. Finally the only one left is a Norseman and he comes on a horde of them.

This is an issue I remember well from the old days. It was a unique story in that it showed Conan as being a coward which is something I never saw before. It was a real humbling experience for Conan to be a beggar and unable to fight back. The story did a good job of him rediscovering his courage. I loved the ending where he rides back all badass and it’s his rival that shows who the real coward is. Also the first issue that Kwapisz gets a crack at. After Buscema he has to be my favorite Conan artist.

The backup story is another Howard one done by Thomas. That guy was a very prolific writer for it has been years since he left Marvel at this time and they still find stuff from him. A real excellent tale of ancient Briton and Howard’s obsession with Picts. Ends in a cliffhanger that will be told in a future issue.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #101

“The Siren”

Writers: John Buscema and Michael Fleisher

Artists: John Buscema and Rudy Nebres

Conan is visiting an old friend in Argos. He comes on his castle and finds it under siege by Barachan pirates. Conan manages to fight is way to his friend. He later helps in a counterattack that sees his friend’s son captured. Actually he was killed but the pirate captain hides that fact. He gets plenty of gold for the safe return of the son. Only they get back a corpse and the man vows vengeance. So we find him on a ship going after the captain. They chase them to a mysterious fog back. Inside is a fleet of old ships caught in seaweed. Including the pirate ship they were chasing. A beautiful naked woman then appears offering to help. Conan can see she is a demon of some kind and this proves correct. Tentacled creatures then attack but are beaten off but not before taking his friend. Later the friend comes back and it is revealed he is turned into one of the tentacled creatures. That all sailors are eventually taken and turned into creatures of the beautiful siren.

So a giant sea serpent attacks which Conan defeats. Later the siren comes and sings her song which saps the will of the crew. They are taken by the creatures and Conan is saved for the siren. Only he breaks the spell and kills her. This kills all the creatures and Conan is the last survivor. He finds a rowboat and makes his way to shore.

Another enjoyable story plotted by Buscema and fleshed out by Fleisher. It was an enjoyable story with beautiful artwork. The only thing I have an issue with is why didn’t the siren use her song in the first place instead of just having her followers killed in the beginning. Maybe its just me who notices that stuff. Anyway a good solid issue with a full length story.