“Vampirella Horrible People Doing Horrible Things to Horrible People”

Writer: Scott Bryan Wilson

Artist: Mariano Benitez Chapo

In 2002 Vampirella is at a bar when someone comes in. The man is celebrating a book he wrote being published. Horrible People Doing Horrible Things to Horrible People is a book that explores the darkness of humanity. During the conversation this man admits to Vampirella that the book is really the crimes he has committed and gotten away with. Vampirella asks a question if the guy would rather spend eternity here or in Hell. The guy choses here and finds himself then tied to a stake. Vampirella used her powers to sentence him to an eternity of torture. He is later tied under the ocean to be eaten by sharks, hung on a tree and tied to railroad tracks eaten by vultures. Vampirella also after twenty years admits to reading his book and finding it a failure.

“Allan Quatermain and the Missionaries of Madness”

Writer: David Avallone

Artist: Will Rios

Quatermain is in 1883 Natal on the trail of a dangerous cult. These missionaries are the Servants of the Great Old Gods and have been killing the natives. He tracks them to the sea where they are conducting a ritual. Quatermain shoots the leader in the head with his Winchester and waits for the onslaught of the other cult members. Only a giant tentacle faced god rises from the ocean and scares them off. This god just walks away and Quatermain burns the cult’s book.

Red Sonja the Executioner’s Sword”

Writer: Scott Bryan Wilson

Artist: Al Barrionuevo

Sonja arrives in a village in time to see an executioner chop someone’s head off. She finds that the guy loves his job and is just killing people left and right. He started after finding a sword on a battlefield. He then tries to kill Sonja, but she takes his sword and sticks him with it. The sword was cursed, and she buries the man and sword, so it won’t harm anyone ever again.

“Captain Gullivar Jones His War”

Writer: David Avallone

Artist: Hamish Munro-Cook

In 1918 France Captain Gullivar Jones leads his men against the Germans. He has a conversation with his sergeant. We find out Gullivar was a navy captain but recently lost his wife to the Spanish Flu. He decides to join the army. At the end he sees a carpet flying in the sky and recognizes it.

Another one-shot of Savage Tales. Seems Dynamite likes to release one every year. Wonder if they will revive the series someday. Anyhoo this was an enjoyable issue with beautiful artwork. Two of the stories feature Dynamite’s most popular characters. The Vampirella was a fascinating if somewhat confusing story. I don’t really know what happened to this murderer. Not familiar with Vampirella’s powers but I guess she can put people into some type of dream.

The Red Sonja story was excellent and very understandable. So was the Quatermain story with a bit of Lovecraftian mythology thrown in. The final Gulliver Jones was a confusing one. I believe that this character was a Civil War vet who gets transported to Mars. Not sure what he is doing in WWI or the meaning of the carpet at the end. Overall, an enjoyable read.


“Savage Tales Vampirella”
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artists: Anthony Marques, J. Bone, Fernando Ruiz, and Daniel Hor

Vampirella wakes up in a strange world. Four men are trying to kill her and are controlled by some powerful being. She kills the first three then mind controls the fourth. She finds out that their ruler Ankimu sensed a dangerous presence and ordered them to kill anyone they found at this location. So Vampirella goes to the city of Gharad. She finds a nice place where everyone is happy. Suddenly the people are under the mind control of Ankimu and take Vampirella to his throne room. There a snake-man wants to marry Vampirella. When she refuses he sics the guards on her but they are easy to defeat. So Ankimu turns into a giant snake but Vampirella still manages to tear his head off. She decides to remain as queen to help the people of this city.

Writer: Doug Murray
Artist: Lui Antonio

A warrior comes back to find his village destroyed. He meets a mysterious hooded woman named Valaka. She tells how she is hunting the wizard who did this. So they join forces to rescue the women and children taken. They come to a castle and battle the zombies that guard it. Inside they find the wizard has sacrificed some of the women and is going to sacrifice the warrior’s betrothed. They have to fight a demon but their combined strength manages to kill it. Then Valaka snaps the neck of the wizard. Valaka then reveals she is a vampire and drains the warrior of his blood. Then feeds on the bound betrothed. Seems she was protecting her source of food.

So every once in a while you get these off the wall single titles released. Having Vampirella on a barbaric world fighting barbarians and sorcery is a pretty cool concept. I love that the cover replicates the original Conan cover from the first cover.. It left the possibility of future stories and hopefully maybe a new Savage Tales series starring Vampirella. I would buy that.

The second story is a reprint from the first Dynamite Savage Tales series. That was a good series and this story was a bit dark. It ending in a very surprising way with the woman being an evil vampire. You were expecting the warrior to be reunited with his betrothed and not killed. A good story and I do remember that old series had a strong lineup of mainly Robert Howard characters. Once again I support the revival of Savage Tales and hope this leads to it.


“A Day of Tigers!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Gil Kane & Frank Giacola

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #11.

Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Steve Gan

Reprint from Savage Tales #6.

“Back to the Savage Land”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Barry Smith & Sam Grainger

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #3.

“The Sun God!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Barry Smith & Sam Grainger

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #4.

Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Barry Smith & Frank Giacoia

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #5.

“Dark Tomorrow”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Gray Morrow

Reprint from Savage Tales #2.

So here is the final Savage Tales and they made it an annual. They also didn’t bother writing anything new but printed reprints. Good stories and they look great in a larger black and white format but still reprints.

Not going out on a high note unfortunately but this was a series with great potential. The Ka-zar stories were more adult and darker than what was appearing in the color comics. It introduced such interesting characters as John Jake’s Brak the Barbarian and continued the Shanna saga. It also introduced the most popular character Conan the Barbarian into his wildly successful title. Plus there is just something cool about the title. The concept would get a makeover in the eighties but that will be for the future.


“Marauder in a Cage of Time”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artists: Steve Gan & Rico Rival

Ka-zar is capturing a unicorn that he needs to ride. First he has to take out a raptor that wants to eat the unicorn. After he and Zabu kill the raptor Tongah comes riding on a horse. He is searching for Ka-zar because outsiders have arrived in the Savage Land and are up to no good. They are suspected of kidnapping Tongah’s woman Sheesa. As they track the men Ka-zar comes on a dinosaur killed by the men. He then comes on a man tied to a tree with a giant bear about to eat him. After he saves the man and finds out he is a paleontologist named Bernard Kloss. Kloss wants to study the Savage land and hired a mercenary named Greig to lead him here.

Now Greig is not the expert guide he sold himself to be. He tied up Kloss when he threatened to stop his plan to come back and capture the dinosaurs to display in civilization. He has kidnapped Sheesa to guide him out of the Savage Land. Ka-zar manages to kill Greig, free Sheesa and at the end frees his captive unicorn.

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: Russ Heath

A plane fleeing a failed revolution attempt in South America crashes in the Antarctic. A mercenary named Clete Brandon, an ex-Green Beret is the only survivor. He survived by ruthlessly killing the survivors so he could survive. Now he finds himself in the Savage Land and loves it. He is a man who doesn’t like rules and feels free in this new land. Well right off the bat he is attacked by cavemen. He manages to shoot them with his M-16. He then goes to their village and blows it up with explosives to neutralize a threat. There are still survivors of the tribe that continue to track him. He loses his modern weapons and clothes. Finally he comes on a group of baboons feasting on a recent kill. He kills the baboon leader and assumes the leadership role of the tribe. It ends with him feasting on the fresh kill with his new tribe.

This is the end of Savage Tales and it ends with two solid stories. The first was good but not great. Evil bad guy coming to the Savage Land and causing all sorts of trouble is not new and Greig is no unique character. The unicorn thing was also kind of pointless. Still the artwork was beautiful and the story was coherent and an enjoyable read.

The second story was a feature they were going to start called Tales of the Savage Land. Non Ka-zar stories that occur in the Savage Land. This one was excellent. Clete Brandon comes off as a stone cold killer. In flashbacks we see him shooting a game warden that tried to arrest him for pouching and killing a village of innocent Vietnamese in the war. He is a man who is a psychopath and hates the rules. The Savage Land is his perfect place and the ending were he reverts to a beast is fitting and powerful. He is a character that they should have had meet Ka-zar. If would have been interesting.

So this is the last issue except for an annual that we will see next week. The annual was just reprints so this is the final original stuff. Savage Tales with Ka-zar was an enjoyable series. I loved the adult stories and the various backup stories were equally excellent. Unfortunately Ka-zar never seems to connect with a broad audience and this ended as the other incarnations of Ka-zar.


“Requiem for a Haunted Man!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Russ Heath & The Crusty Bunkers

Ka-zar and Zabu are surrounded by crocodiles. To make matters worse Ka-zar is wounded and one arm is in a sling. Things look grim when a mysterious stranger comes to their aid. He then leaves as quickly as he arrived. Later Ka-zar notices the men from villages marching off to what looks like war. They meet a group of horse mounted barbarians and are clearly outclassed but the barbarians have their women so they attack. Suddenly a horde of stampeding dinosaurs come and pound the barbarians into the ground. Ka-zar notices its the mysterious man who is responsible. When he tries to talk to him he finds that he is very adamant about his privacy.

Later at a dinner of the River-Forest people he finds out the man’s story. He is Edward Culhaney and was an IRA terrorist. He ran when this men were ambushed and on a ship going around South America jumps off to commit suicide. Instead he drifts into the Savage Land. Now he makes up for his past by helping people. Later that night the barbarians attack the village and Culhaney sacrifices his life to save Ka-zar.

The Running of Ladyhound”
By John Jakes
Illustrated by Mike Whelan and rick Bryant

Duncan is a traveling minstrel who seeks shelter in the castle of King Lor. Lor is at war with the neighboring king and is in a foul mood. He has a greyhound named Ladyhound that he takes sadistic pleasure in tormenting. His necromancer is a fat slug named Magid and has it in for Duncan as does the kings right-hand man Rol. The king does have a beautiful daughter Mylinda who he has a romance with. One night he has a dream that the king is eaten by a worm and shouts it out loud. Now the king is obsessed with Duncan explaining his dream. He later finds that Ladyhound is the kings wife who he had turned into a dog. It all ends with an assault by King Gonwyr and the death of practically everyone involved.

“Blood Purge!”
Writer: Carla Conway
Artists: Ross Andry and Vinnie Colleta

Shanna the She-Devil is pursuing Raga-Shah in the Himalayan mountains. She comes on a fight and saves Prince Tehmah. Tehmah was in the outside world studying. When he came back he found that his father died and his evil uncle now rules. What’s worse is he married his mother and practices blood sacrifices. When Shanna hears that Raga-Shah is his guest she agrees to help. While sneaking into the palace they are ambushed and caught. Shanna and Tehmah are condemned to die like in Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum. Shanna is able to use the swinging pendulum to sever her bonds and start taking out the kings soldiers. She kills the king but not before he unleashed the lava from a volcano that destroys the city. She then leaves to continue her quest for vengeance leaving Tehmah to rebuild his kingdom.

The Ka-zar story was an excellent one. A mysterious man who turns out to be an IRA man now trying to redeem himself. Once again this format allows a more adult story for Ka-zar. Beautiful artwork and a sad ending make this a very good entry.

The John Jakes story is actually a prose story with illustrations. Jakes has a strong writing style and this story has a fascinating mystery and an enjoyable cast of characters. I would like to check out his S&S writing some time. I think I would enjoy them.

Finally the Shanna story was the best. I get to see her in her quest for Raga-Shan. I know how it ends but she is such a beautiful woman and one kickass chick. She practically takes on the entire army by herself and actually wins. I can see why Ka-zar fell for this girl.


“Dark Island of Doom”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Steve Gan

Ka-zar and Zabu are hunting a T-Rex that killed eleven people. They finally catch it and kill it. Afterwards they notice the trek has taken them to a new area of the Savage Land that they have never been to. Just then they come upon a woman being attacked by bat-winged lizard-men. Ka-zar and Zabu save the beautiful woman of course. She is Omell and she is the Queen of Palandor. It seems that this kingdom has a problem with poverty. Most of the people live in squalor and a few nobles in luxury. Omell decided to impose a tax to help the poor. Thus her evil brother Sann conspired to overthrow her. Naturally Ka-zar will help because she’s the good queen and really hot.

So leaving Zabu outside they ambush some nobles and take their clothes. Omell leads Ka-zar to a tavern and the queen talks to the tavern-keeper. Suddenly Ka-zar is ambushed and knocked unconscious. He wakes up in the dungeon with Sann. He now learns that its the queen who is the evil one and the brother the just. Of course evil queen Omell plans to execute her brother to a mutant brontosaurus. She already loves to feed the random slave girl to it. When Ka-zar rejects her love well then Ka-zar is also slated to be a meal. Ka-zar is not one to submit meekly and kills the brontosaurus. It falls on the queen killing her and freeing the city.

“The Golden Blood-Beasts of Daka-Jur!”
Writer: Carla Conway and Gerry Conway
Artist: The Tribe

Shanna the She-Devil is fighting a giant gold elephant that has come to life. She is in India and fighting the evil Raga-Shah and his bloodthirsty cult of Kali. We then flash back to how she got here. In Africa she comes on a safari being slaughtered. She defeats the men with her leopards Biri and Ina. The survivor is her friend Jakuna Singh the SHIELD agent. He tells her to go to India and seek out her sister. Then a giant bull comes and kills him.

So in India when Shanna goes to his sisters place she is attacked by the followers of Raga-Shah. Her two leopards she brought along come in handy in defeating them. Unfortunately she chooses the wrong boat to hire for she is knocked out and captured. She wakes up and finds herself a prisoner in the temple of Kali. Jakuna’s sister is there and tells of the man Raga-Shah. He is her husband and she has found out he has plans to kill the world for the death goddess. So Shanna breaks free but Raga-Shah uses the life energy from her leopards to bring to live the golden elephant.

So now we are caught up on why she is in this predicament. Shanna being the clever badass blinds the elephant and it goes on a rampage and destroys the temple. Raga-Shah vows revenge has he takes his wife away. Shanna is left mourning Ira and Bini.

Now this is an excellent issue. The Ka-zar story was full length and full of twists and turns. It uses the old beautiful woman turns out to be bad. Oh well Ka-zar is a man so you can’t blame him for falling for the beautiful girl. He still manages to defeat her and save the city. Another great story that showcases the mysteriousness of the Savage Land and the savage badass that is Ka-zar.

The Shanna story was also excellent. The story was ended in Rampaging Hulk #9 so it was nice to get the beginning of the story. We get to see how she lost her leopard friends Ina and Biri and who actually this Raga-Shah was. Shanna is just beautiful in black and white format. I have never seen her sexier than these stories. So this was an excellent character for a backup in Savage Tales.


“The Billion Year War!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Tony Dezuniga

Ka-zar and Zabu see the Hill-Forrest people worshiping some silver obelisk. After having to kill a guard that attacks Ka-zar decides to not bother this tribe again. Meanwhile in Denmark some object is activated and starts to head toward the Savage Land. Ka-zar later hears that a boat from the outside world has arrived and goes to check it out. It is a SHIELD boat and Bobbi Morse his old flame is leading the expedition. She also has Shanna along since she may need someone who has experience with the jungle. They have come because of the object that is burrowing toward the Savage Land. Ka-zar remembers the obelisk and so the group heads off to the Hill-Forrest people.

Along the way they battle a giant python that Shanna doesn’t want killed but Ka-zar feels no obligation to get eaten so the poor snake is killed. They then fight the Hill-Forrest people and while they are at it the silver obelisk releases a giant lizard man named Grond. Grond seems to recognize Ka-zar. He has been in the obelisk for a billion years waiting to complete the war that was started. The Hill-Forrest people dug up the obelisk and set in off. Ka-zar manages to kill Grond. As the SHIELD expedition leaves they intercept the other obelisk and find inside a body that looks exactly like Ka-zar. So they understand why Grond seemed to recognize Ka-zar but who where the two groups a billion years ago remains a mystery.

“The Unspeakable Shrine”
Writer: Doug Moench adapted from book by John Jakes
Artist: Steve Gan

Brak wakes up to find himself prisoner with two men. One was a follower of Yob-Haggoth who had his eyes sewed shut so he could compose songs. The other is a priest of the Nameless God. Brak is the unbeliever. They are to be sacrificed to Yob-Haggoth by his high priest Septegundis. Just then his daughter Ariane comes and transports Brak in a bubble to her flying chariot. She desires Brak and if he agrees to give her his soul then he will be spared. Brak naturally refuses and Ariane give him a necklace that will summon her if he changes his mind.

So Brak ends up back in front of the giant statue of Yob-Haggoth with the other intended victims. As Septegundis approaches Brak is able to break free of the spell and grab his sword. He then plunges it into the statue that was coming alive killing the earthly manifestation of Yob-Haggoth. Septegundis then magically hurls a knife at Brak who calls forth Ariane. She appears in front of him and takes the knife instead. Septegundis takes his dead daughter and vows to meet Brak at his destination of Khurdistan.

“Ka-zar Of The Pulps”
By Bob Weinberg

An article on the Ka-zar from the pulps from the 1936. He appeared only three times and was the son of a couple that had their plane crash in the jungle. He learned to talk to all animals and became this Tarzan clone. The article was written by the foremost expert on pulp magazines and was quite interesting.

“Jann Of The Jungle”
Writer & Artist: Unknown

Jann and her boyfriend Pat come upon a warrior that is sick. They take him to his village and learn that the tribe is weak from lack of water. The reservoir has been taken over by two men who want the Golden God a statue of solid gold. Jann goes off and defeats the two evil men with a little divine intervention from the Golden God.

So this is the first almost non-reprint issue since Ka-zar took over. The Ka-zar story was an interesting one. It brings back Ka-zar’s old love interest Bobbi Morse and his future wife Shanna. Ka-zar sure does get the beautiful women. So the story was interesting but just fell flat at the end. We never find out why there were these two beings who were still fighting a war from a billion years. I guess that was the point but just didn’t do it for me.

The Brak story was excellent. It was engaging and witty with a cool ending. I will have to explore the writing of Brak in the future.

Jann of the Jungle was surprisingly fairly interesting. This was the first story where Jann didn’t have to save her blundering photographer boyfriend. The artwork is beautiful but the writer just can never write a realistic or engaging story.


“Stalker In A Savage Land”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

Ka-zar and Zabu continue their fight with the T-rex from last issue. Ka-zar manages to impale it with a tree and the group moves on to the Mountain of Darkness. There they are attacked and captured by warriors and taken to the city of Sylanda. A city made of glass and located inside the mountain. There Ka-zar and his companions are sentenced to death by the fop of a leader the city has. Ka-zar finds a group of outsiders are also prisoner. So Ka-zar then finds out the city does have water with healing powers but its ruler will not share. Indeed he forces Ka-zar to fight his best man who Ka-zar makes short work of. This then devolves to a free for all fight that sees the leader killed. Just then the T-rex that Ka-zar thought he killed comes looking for revenge and in the process tears apart the whole city. Ka-zar and the others escape with the water to cure the plague.

“The Unspeakable Shrine”
Writer: Doug Moench based on book by John Jakes
Artist: Steve Gan

Brak has just been exiled from his tribe and his heading to the southern land of Khurdistan. His first stop is the city of Kamda Kai. He finds it a squalid place filled with painted strumpets and weird cultists. He runs afoul of the worshipers of Yob-Haggoth. They need a third sacrifice one who doesn’t believe and Brak fits the bill. The Blind acolytes are young children with silver eyes, filed teeth and silver claws. They have power to shoot lightning which knocks him out.

“Creating A Fantasy Hero”
by Lin Carter

An article by Lin Carter on how he created the Jandar of Callisto series. He is quite open in that he used Burrough’s Martian series as an inspiration. It is about an American pilot in Cambodia who finds a temple that transports him to a moon of Jupiter and the wild adventures he has. This sounds interesting and I would like to check these books out in the future.

“The Dream-Temple of Kandu Ra!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema & Crusty Bunkers

Ka-zar is at the village celebrating the success of his mission to find a cure. He falls for a woman named Myrain. Unfortunately she is soon kidnapped by the cult of Kandu Ra. Ka-zar tracks them to their temple and tries to put a stop to the ritual. Then Kandu Ra shows up and it is a giant Komono Lizard. Ka-zar frees Myrain but she runs toward the beast and is killed by it. Ka-zar and Zabu then kill the creature. He finds out that the smoke the cultists were burning had a drug. This drug made its victim want to be sacrificed which is why Myrain ran to the creature. Ka-zar gets angry and throws the priest into the burning alter.

So this second issue of the new Ka-zar lead Savage Tales was an all original edition and I loved it. The stories were of a much more savage Ka-zar which is consistent with the title. Here you see a Ka-zar without the self aggrandizing statements of “Mighty as the Mastodon” schtick. He is a man of few words and all action. He drives a tree trunk through a T-rex and throws one of the cultists into the fire in anger. The Savage Land is portrayed as a place with monsters and strange lost tribes which is what it was meant to be. I think these were some of the finest Ka-zar stories I have ever read.

The Brak backup was also quite interesting. A new barbarian and a whole new savage world to explore. I am intrigued by John Jakes character and would also like to check out his books sometime. This was a great idea for the magazine. Look forward to more of both next issue.


“The Damnation Plague”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Tony deZuniga

A plague is infecting the people of the Savage land. It turns them into homicidal maniacs. The plague was brought by those from our world who for centuries have been immune. The natives of the Savage Land have no such immunity. A rumor that there is a cure in the Mountains of Darkness of an ancient race that discovered it leads Ka-zar, Zabu and a young woman named Rhyla take off. They come upon a Tyrannosaurus Rex that Zabu attacks and now endangers them all. Meanwhile Ka-zar’s cousin has come to the Savage Land to seek out Ka-zar.

“Walk The Savage Land”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on Ka-zar and his history. He started out in the thirties first in pulp stories then in the comics in 1939. Interesting to find out that Ka-zar has been around for so long.

“The Sword and The Road: The Saga of Brak the Barbarian”
By Fred Brosser

A chronological history of the John Jakes character Brak the Barbarian. He starts out being banished from his northern tribe for mocking their gods. He is traveling to the southern kingdom of Khurdistan and along the way battles various demons, sorcerers and men. Next issue has the first story and it sounds like an intriguing character.

“Jan—With One—N A Review of Otis Adelbert Kline’s Jungle Hero.”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the 1930’s character Jan of the Jungle. Jan was reared by wild animals in the jungles of South America. His second book takes him to India and the wild adventures he has. Another old character that sounds interesting.

“Fangs of the Black Orchid!”
Writer: Unknown
Artists: Al Williamson and Ralph Mayo

Jann of the Jungle has to rescue her boyfriend Pat Mahoney from the Black Orchid. He has heard about it and wants a picture of it. Some unscrupulous white men overhear and think they could get rich by possessing the orchid. So they follow and one gets a poison thorn shot at him and almost dies. The other almost gets eaten by a carnivorous plant and luckily Jann and Pat save him in time. Nice of them to save such scallywags.

Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Steve Gan

Marlok the Merciless is in a foul mood. His entire army was slaughtered and now poor old Marlok can’t conquer. So he goes to a wizard for help. The wizard has dragon teeth that when planted will sprout warriors that will follow Marlok. The wizard doesn’t want to give it but before he can tell the reason Marlok just takes the dragon’s teeth. He grows his warriors and they follow him to the first village. Only they then decide to kill Marlok instead. Marlok manages to cause an avalanche and destroy his new army. He goes to the wizard for revenge but the wizard does point out that Marlok wouldn’t listen to him. Also the owner of the teeth has come back a real large dragon.

“The Night of the Looter!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

A reprint of Astonishing Tales #14

So the first issue with Ka-zar in the lead. Sadly it didn’t turn out as planned. The Damnation Plague was a full length story but the artist got a kidney infection so the full story was never submitted in time. So we just get a partial story and some reprints. Now the partial story was excellent and shows that Ka-zar translates well into this new format. I expectantly look forward to the conclusion. Its an interesting story with beautiful artwork so it is worth the wait.

The articles were also interesting on old pulp characters. Quite informative and I am interested in checking out some of John Jakes Brak books.

Dragonseed was a solid story. A kooky barbarian who gets his comeuppance.

Otherwise it was reprints. The Jann story was kind of hokey and very similar to past Jann stories that were reprinted. Whoever wrote her stories had a thing for orchids.

The Night of the Looter is a great story but has been reprinted twice so nothing new. Still there is great potential in the series with the conclusion to the Damnation Plague and a new Brak adaptation in the future.


“The Secret of Skull River!”
Writers: Roy Thomas & John Jakes
Artists: Jim Starlin & Al Milgrom

Conan is traveling Zamora and looking for water. A blind man directs him ahead to a valley with a river but warns him that the water is unsafe. Later Conan is attacked by a giant named Hanuman who Conan manages to kill. He gets to the river and starts to drink when he notices that it looks wrong. He passes out and wakes up in a village. A beautiful woman named Naia has been looking after him. Her father the mayor comes and has a job for Conan. The village has been in a sorry state since the local warlord Sophos hired a wizard named Anaximander. The wizards experiments have been dumping waste into the river their only source of water. The waste has been turning the people to disfigured horrors that shun the light.

Conan decides to help and when he sneaks into the castle is captured. Another giant Grandall tries to kill him. Conan defeats him and finds out that the giant and his brother were turned this way by the wizard. He agrees to help and leads Conan to their lab. There the wizard has succeeded in finding a formula for turning iron into gold. The giant overhears the wizard say he has no plans for turning him back to normal. Thus the two come in and slay the warlord and wizard. The giant dies and Conan gets a new horse out of the deal to continue on his way.

“Savage Tales is Dead! Long Live Savage Tales”
By Roy Thomas
Art by Roy Krenkel

An editorial on the state of Savage Tales. Conan is so successful that it it getting its own title “The Savage Sword of Conan.” Ka-zar will be the new main feature.

“The Legacy of Greenberg”
By Roy Thomas
Art by Tony DeZuniga & Roy Krenkel

The second part of the Gnome press article from last issue. It tells of the success and failures in reprinting the Conan stories. It then tells how L. Sprague deCamp was hired to rewrite non-Conan Howard stories into Conan. Later a Scandinavian named Bjorn Nyberg submits some stories. An interesting article.

“Spell of the Dragon!”
Writer: John Jakes
Artists: Val Mayerik & Joe Sinott

Brak the Barbarian has been hired by a village to slay a dragon. He goes to a witch for magic. She agrees but there is a catch. He must kill the dragon at the sun’s zenith and can not look at anyone for an hour or he will kill that person. Brak then kills the dragon and the beautiful daughter of the village headman comes. Luckily Brak is blinded by the sun and manages to grab a sash to tie around his eyes. The old witch sent the girl out there saying Brak was injured and needed help. She hates the beautiful woman and wanted her dead. Brak instead kills the old hag.

“The Legend of the Lizard Men!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

A reprint from Astonishing Tales #9.

So the big news is that Conan is moving on to his own magazine and Ka-zar will be taking over. This is a transition issue. Now its interesting that two of the stories were by John Jakes a writer known more for his epic historical novels that were turned into mini-series back in the ’70s & ’80s. Apparently he also created his own barbarian hero in Brak. Brak is going to be a fixture of this new Savage Tales. Ka-zar was a good choice. The story in this was a reprint. Apparently it was written for the second issue but found its way into Astonishing Tales after the series first cancellation. A good story and actually looks better in the larger black and white format.

So Ka-zar and Brak are two welcome additions to this series.