Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Conan the Barbarian #74 (May 1974)

Purchase price: $1

Apart from the couple of high school years I played Dungeons and Dragons fantasy books and movies have never done much for me.  Yeah, I liked the original Conan movies, but that was about it.  I bought a few issues here and there of Savage Sword of Conan, Conan Saga, King Conan (or was it Conan the King?), but it was never one of my regulars like Avnegers or any of the Spider-Man titles.  Since I recently enjoyed the Warlord issues I tried not long ago I figured it’s time to give Conan another try.

For me Conan the Barbarian #74 was just all right.  It wasn’t as bad as say, Metal Men, but it didn’t exactly set my world on fire.  The story revolves around Conan being haunted by a demonic creature through his dreams, and working with pirates to plunder a coastal city.  In the midst of the attack on the city he fights a giant water creature that looks like the Loch Ness monster, or at least descriptions of the famed monster.  Conan has a mate, but meets up with another woman who takes an interest in the hulking barbarian, much to his girlfriend’s consternation.  Yes, life is rough for our hero.

Generally speaking I kind of enjoyed Roy Thomas’ story, and John Buscema’s art was great like it always is.  I appreciate they don’t have Conan talking like a bad Shakespearian actor, as they often do in Thor.  I’ve never been a big fan of heavy narration in a comic books because I think the illustrations should carry that burden (movies would be pretty boring if you heard a random voice narrating everything that was happening instead of enjoying the visual experience), and there is narration a plenty in this issue.  I suppose what really prevents this from being a winner in my book, is I don’t get all of those made-up names, places, cultures and so on, or at least I have no reference point for them yet.  I can guess “Crom” is a god of some sort, but what’s a “Stygian” or “Zingaran” and how do they relate?  Mostly I think I haven’t read enough Conan lore in order to understand all of the nuances within the story.  There are some titles you can pick up and get into right away and others that need time; Conan the Barbarian is the latter for me.  Yeah, I’ll pick up some more Conan comics as I come across them and keep trying to really get into it.  To paraphrase Elvis, a million Conan fans can’t all be wrong, can they?

Notable Ad: The opportunity of a lifetime is being offered by VIP , Vinyl Industrial Products.  Their full page ad shows a quick way to make easy money through vinyl repair.  Four testimonials share their experiences making cash hand over fist.  With VIP you can start making money without any training, which is the true sign of any distinguished and worthwhile profession.  Back in the 70s there probably was a lot of income potential in this field.  As one testimonial quotes “wherever I see vinyl I can do business.” Furniture, car roofs, leisure suits, you name it and it was probably made of vinyl during the 70s.  For comic book readers the opportunity to make money with no training must have been very attractive, like building muscles by reading a book or learning karate through LP records.  So flash forward almost 40 years, could someone still be making bank by going around and repairing vinyl, or was this yet another comic book ad sham?


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