SAVAGE TALES #3 CONAN THE BARBARIAN

“The Lurker From The Catacombs”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on “Red Nails” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is looking for Valeria who wandered off in the city of Xuchotl. He finds her battling two fanatics from the opposing faction. He rescues her and with Techotl leads them to his people. They traverse the catacombs and are attacked by a creature that is used by the enemy. Conan wounds it with his sword. At the sanctuary of Techotl’s people they are greeted warmly by Prince Olmec and Princess Tascela. Now they can post five more red nails to a post for the enemy that was killed. They find out the history of this conflict. Fifty years ago a rebel faction was forced to flee Stygia. They made there way to the city and managed to capture it. Later two brothers got into an fight over a woman and now the two factions have been trying to kill each other off. Conan and Valeria are offered a job to fight for them in exchange for treasure. The two agree.

The enemy then attacks and a final battle ensues. The enemy is slaughtered. Olmec sends Conan to check out their stronghold with two of his warriors. They go there and find the dead creature that Conan wounded and the heads preserved in jars of those that were killed. The warriors accompanying Conan go insane and try to kill Conan. Meanwhile Olmec makes his move to capture Valeria but he is stopped by Tascela and her powers of hypnotism. Tascela needs Valeria to sacrifice so she can maintain her youth.

“An Age Undreamed Of”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on Savage Tales. Seems this issue is once again being put on hold to see if its profitable. Thomas goes on to explain the format he envisions and hopes that the magazine will come back.

“Red Sonja She-Devil of the Turanian Steppes”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Esteban Maroto

A two page spread of Red Sonja with text on how Howard described her.

“The Crimson Bell”
Writer: Ray Capella
Artists: Al Wiliamson & Frank Brunner

A text story with illustration about Arquel of Argos. Arquel is after a mercenary army lead by two women who robbed his father’s castle. Set in the world of Conan.

“The Fury of the Femizons”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita

A reprint from Savage Tales #1.

“Red Nails in the Sunset”
By Roy Thomas

An article on the art for Red Nails from Weird Tales. It shows the drawing that have not appeared in over forty years since this story was first published.

“The Once and Future Talon”
Writer & Artist: Jim Steranko

An article about an upcoming sword and sorcery project by Steranko called Talon. Sounds like it had potential and will have to see if it was ever done.

“A Probable Outline of Roy Thomas Career”
Writer Unknown.

An article on Roy Thomas and his career from a English High School teacher to Executive Editor at Marvel.

“An Informal History of Barry the Barbarian”
Writer Unknown.

A brief biography on artist Barry Smith who draws for Conan.

“He Comes from the Dark”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on Red Nails by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan comes upon Techotl who was stabbed in the back by Olmec when he betrayed Valeria. He has crawled to warn Conan of his treachery. So he comes later upon Olmec strapped to a torture device. He frees him in exchange for leading him to Valeria. Olmec tries later to stab Conan in the back but doesn’t succeed. Conan comes on the throne room were Tescala is sacrificing Valeria. A steel trap in the floor catches Conan’s foot. Just then the old body of a lover of Tescala arrives with a wand that shoots a laser beam. He starts shooting down the survivors and Tescala frees Conan so he can kill the old man which Conan does. Then Tescala grabs the fallen wand but is stopped by Valeria who stabs her in the back. The two decide to leave this place and seek riches as pirates.

Well the only really thing of note about this issue was the adaptation of “Red Nails.” This was one of Howard’s best stories and was a true joy. It was to be spread out over another issue but the second cancellation had it included in this one. Of course this series still has life in it as we will see next week.

Otherwise not much of interest. The articles ranged from interesting to boring fillers. The Femizon story was a reprint from #1. I understand including it here since the first issue didn’t get much circulation but since I read it just recently not much new.

SAVAGE TALES #2 CONAN THE BARBARIAN

“Red Nails”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

Valeria a woman pirate who was serving as a mercenary for the Stygians has been forced to flee after killing the commander who was forcing himself on her. Now she is in the wilds south in the black kingdoms. Conan has followed her because he wants her and was bored with the garrison duty. His courtship is put on hold when they are attacked by a stegosaurus. The stegosaurus eats their horses and tries to eat them. Conan finds some poison in apples and manages to poison the beast. Now on the plans where the jungle ends they come on a city. The city appears to have been abandoned a long time ago.

Valeria rests and falls asleep while Conan continues to explore the city. When she wakes she comes on a man being attacked by a walking skeleton. The skeleton is a man in disguise and Valeria kills him managing to save the man she saw. This man Techotl tells that they are in the city of Xuchotl. He is part of a clan who lives by the west gate and they are in perpetual warfare with the clan at the east gate. She goes with Techotl to find Conan in the city.

“The Hyborian Rage”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial explaining this series. Two and a half years later after the failure of the first issue this series gets another go. This time Marvel is devoting resources to come out with several lines of the Black and White magazines. This series will be oriented toward Conan and other Robert Howard type stories.

“Robert E. Howard: Lone Star Fictioneer”
Writer: Glenn Lord.
Artists: Frank Brunner & George Barr

An abridged article from the Howard biography The Last Celt.It tells of Howard’s early life growing up in Cross Plains, Texas. How he started writing at nine and sold his first story at eighteen. He eventually made a living at one time making over $2,000 year. This was a great article and I have a love of Howard’s work. It is amazing that he managed to make a living writing while living in the middle of nowhere.

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

In the future ecological disaster forces people to live in enclosed cities. They come up with a chivalry code that has them dueling for any slight to their honor. Its meant to cull the population. Karl Linders kills someone in a duel then will be exiled outside. Instead he and his mate escape. They are about to then get executed by the Wets outside. The Wets have been engineered to live in the polluted atmosphere and service the machinery outside. Damian Linders is the brother of Karl and helps him escape. Karl then shows his contempt for all Wets and Damian then kills Karl. Definitely a dark story but quite interesting.

“Cimmeria”
Writer: Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith

A poem by Howard about Conan’s homeland Cimmeria.

“The Crusader”
Writer: Unknown
Artist: Joe Maneely

A group of crusaders traveling to the holy land are struck by plague and set up camp. A Saracen with a band of Mongols comes upon them. The leader finds no honor in attacking sick men. The Mongols have no such qualms and the Mongol leader wants the Saracen blade that the leader has. The Mongol treacherously attacks and is killed. Later the Saracen finds out that the crusader leader is his half-brother. An old reprint from the fifties but kind of interesting if a little bit hokey.

“A Probably Outline of Conan’s Career”
By P. Schuyler Miller & John D. Clark, Pd.D.

An article that outlines Conan’s life based on Howards’ writing. It starts with Conan as a youth and his experiences as a thief. He later moves on to being a mercenary and pirate. Finally he becomes king of Aquilonia. A very informative article on the history of Conan.

“The Skull of Silence!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Berni Wrightson

Kull and his Red Slayers are returning to The City of Wonders which is the capital of Kull’s kingdom. He decides to stay at a castle in spite of the warning a slave gives him. The castle is supposed to be where a sorcerer Raama imprisoned the Spectre of Silence. Kull scoffs at such superstitions and breaks the seal on the door. They are assaulted by silence. Kull manages to ring a gong that breaks the silence.

So Savage Tales is revived and it comes back strong. We get two Howard stories adapted by Roy Thomas who you can tell loves his work. Red Nails is supposed to be Howard’s last Conan story he wrote before his untimely death. It is definitely a classic and I can’t wait for the conclusion. The Kull story was also good. I don’t think I did it justice in summarizing it. You have to read it to appreciate it.

The two articles were very interesting. I have an interest in Howard and enjoy reading about him.

It is really great that Marvel managed to revive the magazine titles. I don’t know what my Sundays as a child would have been like without them.

SAVAGE TALES #1

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story written by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is fighting the last survivor of the Vanir that attacked the Aesir he was with and kills him. Conan is seriously tired and falls into the snow. He is later awakened by a beautiful woman naked except for a thin gossamer veil. She taunts Conan who finds the strength to get up and chase after her. The woman leads him into an ambush. Two giants that are her brothers are waiting to kill him for sport. Conan isn’t one to go out meekly and kills both the giants. The girl panics and after Conan grabs her veil she calls on her father Ymir to rescue her. She is transported away in a beam of light and Conan passes out.

The Aesir find him and he thinks its a dream. An old man named Gorm tells that he saw the woman when he was young. She is Atali the Frost Giant’s daughter and she likes to lure men for her brothers to ambush. Everyone thinks its just a myth but Conan is grasping the gossamer veil.

“Fury of the Femizons”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita

It is the 23rd century and woman rule after some sort of apocalypse. The United Sisterhood Alliance and its creed of Sexuality! Solidarity! Superiority! are enforced in the New USA. Men are meek and subservient. Lyra the queen’s sister is approached by a man named Mogon who is from a tribe of men still free. He discovers that Lyra has forbidden history tapes and the two join forces to overthrow the Sisterhood. The evil Syrani who heads the secret police discovers the plot and Lyra is forced to kill Mogon to keep it from being exposed.

“…Man-Thing!”
Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
Artist: Gray Morrow

Ted Sallis is a chemist who is working for the Army to perfect a super-soldier serum. Unfortunately his girlfriend sells him out and he finds some thugs that are there to take his serum. He escapes and injects it into himself to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. His car goes into the swamp and this turns him into the Man-Thing. The Man-Thing gets revenge on those who were after him.

“Black Brother!”
Writer: Sergius O’Shaughnessy
Artists: Gene Colan & Tom Palmer

A woman is being sold for money by her father. This is stopped by the arrival of Joshua who is governor of Potonga a province of the newly independent nation of Orbia. Joshua is a real hands on governor who opposes the central governments plan to sell out his province to foreign interests. These interests manage to have a reporter try to seduce him and they get pictures of it. The pictures of him with a white woman cause outrage among his people and force him to flee.

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

A Ka-zar story reprinted in Astonishing Tales #14.

This is the first of the black and white magazines that Marvel started publishing in the seventies and as such is rare. I just spent $172 bucks for it but figured it was my birthday and it would complete my collection. It didn’t succeed because an editor didn’t want to get into this market and let it fail. Fortunately Roy Thomas manged to resurrect the idea when the editor left and so we are blessed with the many magazines that came out.

It starts with a Conan story written by Robert E. Howard and this was in the early days when Conan was already becoming a runaway success so its not surprising that Conan was chosen to be the main feature for this series. He was so successful that he moved on to his own magazine The Savage Sword of Conan. It features the original team of Thomas and Smith who made the Conan character the success it is today.

The Femizon story was a fun story. I always love these futuristic post-apocalypse stories. I read somewhere that this is being considered as a possible movie to be developed. Nothing probably will come of it but you never know.

The Man-Thing story was the first one and has his origin. Now Man-Thing has gone on to be a successful second tier character in the Marvel universe.

Black Brother was an interesting idea. Sort of like Shaft as a governor of a province in Africa. A bit dark but this magazine didn’t have the comic code so it could explore more mature themes. This and the Femizons looked like they were meant to be regular features for this series. To my knowledge nothing further was done with either stories.

Ka-zar was reprinted in Astonishing Tales and you can follow the link above to read that. Ka-zar would replace Conan as the main feature for this series when Conan moved on.

I definitely loved this series. A great mix of adventure stories and R rated in showing nudity and violence. Set the stage for all the magazines to come later.