Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Conan the Barbarian #144 (Mar. 1983)

Purchase price: $1

Check this cover out.  Our hero, Conan, wields a humongous broad sword, standing in the shadow of an even more humongous beast; his giant, green paw/arm/appendage about to strike at the Cimmerian.  Speaking of broads, there is a scantily clad blonde woman cowering from the beast behind Conan.  Kind of a cool cover, eh? Having read the story I can say the cover is reflective of the story except for the scantily clad woman. Not that I have anything against scantily clad women, but why did Marvel have to stick this chick on the cover?  Maybe I’m just a comic book purist and think covers should be reflective of the story side.

“The Blade and the Beast,” written by Bruce Jones with art by John Buscema, starts off with a splash page giving a different perspective of the cover, but wisely substituting a character from the story for the scantily clad woman (OK, I’ll let it go now).  Conan and his (male) traveling companion have become trapped in a cave by the previously mentioned giant green monster. Never one to give up a fight Conan gives it everything he has which causes the monster to knock down the cave.  After Conan digs him out, the wishy-washy traveling companion catches readers up on how they got into this predicament. Once upon a time there was a village that was terrorized by a big green monster until a wizard made a special sword that a brave villager used to attack the monster.  Well, he failed, but the sword remained in a statue outside of the monster’s cave, which helped keep him trapped in there until someone stole the sword.  The wishy-washy companion stole the sword back and gave it to Conan.  Of course a magical sword usually has a curse too, as this one does, but I found this part kind of confusing.  Snapping back to the current story, the village has been ravaged by the monster again, but this time Conan is here to help set things straight, using the magic sword to finally free the little village from the curse of the monster.  And they all lived happily ever after.

For me, this was a pretty good issue of Conan the Barbarian.  Apart from the rather odd solution surrounding the curse of the magical sword, Bruce Jones provided a thoroughly enjoyable story.  The art by John Buscema was excellent as always.  In past reviews I’ve noted how Conan has always been a periphery title for me; I just couldn’t get into it when I read it in the past.  That’s all changed. I think I’m turning into a full-fledged Conan the Barbarian fan.  When I bought #144 I also found #145, so I have that to look forward to in the near future.  I really would like to find some of those big black and white magazines in the bargain bins.


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