Thursday, May 28, 2020

Conan Saga #20 (December 1988)

Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco, Editor: Craig Anderson, Assistant Editor: Sue Flaxman, Traffic/Production Coordinator: Virginia Komita, Technical Advisor: Glenn Lord, Cover: Earl Norem, Frontispiece: Dave Simons, Soul and Inspiration: Robert E. Howard

P. 4: "Jewels of Gwahlur," Script: Roy Thomas, Art: Dick Giordano, Adapted from the story by Robert E. Howard. The original Conan short story "Jewels of Gwahlur" appeared in the March 1935 issue of Weird Tales and was originally titled "The Servants of Bit-Yakin." This comics adaptation first appeared in Savage Sword of Conan #25 in 1977 and is reprinted here.

The graphic representation of the story is excellent and finds Thomas and Giordano in fine fettle. The Cimmerian's climbing ability is put to the test, and the tale involves political maneuverings, corrupt priests, a dancing girl posing as a goddess, mysteries revealed by Pelishti frescoes, a hidden temple, and "hideously inhuman" servants left long behind. A wonderful black-and-white adaptation of one of Howard's original pieces of weird fiction.

P. 47: "The Cold Hands of Death," Script: Don Glut, Art: Steve Gan and Dino Castrillo, Featuring the hero created by Robert E. Howard. Another piece reprinted from Savage Sword of Conan #25, this seems to feature Solomon Kane, but perhaps not be based on an actual story by Howard. In the tale, Kane is crossing the Carpathian Mountains to go to Transylvania, when he comes across a stone statue representing a beautiful woman whose "eyes of stone... which seems to burn through the puritan's own eyes, taking command of his very will..." Kane smashes the statue in order to "remain clean in deed, word..." only to have unknowingly released a succubus who then follows him and proceeds to drain his life force.

The first scene reads as a half-unwilling love scene, but the second Kane seeks the succubus out on her home turf—the ruins of a temple erected to her before she was imprisoned in the statue that Kane had destroyed—to do his best to defeat her. He does his best, but it isn't easy. And the story is intriguing despite the time-worn concept of woman as temptress and man as unwitting dupe to her wiles.

P. 60: "The Buscema Barbarians," a portfolio of Robert E. Howard's greatest creations as portrayed by John Buscema. These pinups reprinted from Savage Sword of Conan #19 represent Conan, King Kull, Red Sonja, and Solomon Kane.

Of special note is the back-cover ad for the Hyborian War play by mail game run by Reality Simulations—and a game that seems to continue to this day.

Availability: The two stories are collected in The Savage Sword of Conan Vol. 3, while the pinups are available in The Savage Sword of Conan Vol. 2. All of Howard's Kane stories are collected in The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, and the story "Jewels of Gwahlur" is available in Conan the Warrior.

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