Monday, March 04, 2013
An odd one today, from Conan the Barbarian #41 (and reprinted in glorious black-and-white in Conan Saga #78) "The Garden of Death and Life!" Written by Roy Thomas, art by John Buscema, inks by Ernie Chua. (AKA Ernie Chan!)
After leaving Zamora, the City of Thieves, Conan rides into a nameless desert town, where he finds the prototypical angry mob of villagers with torches chasing...a young girl? Conan holds back to watch for a moment, as the villagers refer to the girl as "Zhadorr." He isn't sure if that's her name, or her tribe, or something else.
Conan saves the girl, although at first it had looked like one of the villagers had fatally stabbed her; she says it only tore her dress. Conan and the girl ride off, headed back to Zamora; and the girl gets strangely lethargic at night, refusing food, then sleeping silently. Conan isn't a heavy sleeper, but the girl is up before him, basking in the dawn's light. Conan finds the girl attractive, and for him, saving a girl from a mob is like another guy springing for dinner and flowers. But she's strangely distant, saying they should wait until they reach the oasis of Shar-al-Tjinn. She does refer to him as "My Conan," which he seems to find somewhat charming.
Just before the pair can reach the oasis, though, they run across a quartet of brigands; who seem about as common as sand there. Conan does decide to have a quick dip before the brigands catch up:
Conan suspects the water as being somehow poisoned, but the girl--who still hasn't given a name other than Zhadorr--claims it's fine. The brigands attack, and Conan is captured surprisingly quickly for a change. The lead brigand plans on selling the barbarian as a slave, and has even more unsavory ideas for the girl.
Eventually getting free, Conan races to save the girl, but instead finds Zhadorr dying...next to a suspicious pile of bones. Her last words are that she had wanted to spare him, and he should flee the oasis. Instead, Conan buries the girl, then finds a plant-monster attacking the remaining brigands and their horses. Conan manages to lob a torch into the creature's mouth, causing a huge fire that destroys it and the oasis. Only a pod remains...
Conan hacks the pod creature into mulch, then sets off again for Zamora, knowing "he'll forget the thing that was called only Zhadorr." Conan saved the Hyperborean world from the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and no one knew, until now! Unless you had this issue already, I guess.