Thursday, May 18, 2017

Somehow, I heard this story before I read it.

The Comic Book Shop had a pretty great sale last week--although a cynical man might think they were just trying to get my cash before the next local comicon--and I picked up another random Conan back issue, that turned out to have an interesting history: from 1980--sort of--Conan the Barbarian #116, "Crawler in the Mist!" Written by Len Wein ("Aided and abetted" by J.M. DeMatteis), art by John Buscema and Neal Adams!

Crossing the desert of Corinthia, Conan's horse is spooked by a snake that would be massive by any standards other than Conan comics; and Conan is thrown off and then bit. He tries sucking out the poison, then passes out, only to awaken on a camel? Honestly, that's not the weirdest scene transition-slash-place Conan woke up. He had been found unconscious by some traders, and one, the gnarled Rasto, has chained Conan to him as his prisoner, to be sold into slavery. Considering Rasto appears to weigh 90 pounds, and is suffering from "the wasting illness which has twisted his body," that seems optimistic. Conan proceeds to beat the other two slavers, with Rasto, swinging him on the chain! Using a handicapped man as a flail is morally suspect, but they were going to sell him, so...

Conan commandeers the remaining camel, but while being used as a blunt instrument, Rasto lost the key to the shackles. Conan appears to seriously consider lopping off Rasto's hand, but instead opts to allow him to come too, until they find someone to get them out. Riding into the evening, they come across a city; which Rasto wants no part of, believing it to be cursed. While such curses have probably come true ten times out of ten in Conan's experience, he still opts for the city, where the inhabitants are hiding and inhospitable. Possibly because a giant slug is roaming the streets at night!

The creature breaks the chain and takes off with Rasto, and while Conan doesn't owe him anything, he's come to kind of like the little guy. He ends up fighting another, black slug-creature, and crushes it with a pillar. Pretty standard operating procedure for Conan. But Rasto begs Conan not to kill the red slug, since it's really a wizard from another dimension! And Conan had just killed its soulmate, because she never learned to speak human. Harsh. The slugs had been gathering up the sick, aged, and infirm, and taking them to their "land beyond the shimmering veil," where they could live, healthy and young. Conan is so not invited.

When I picked up this issue, I thought Neal Adams was too big of a name for this era of Conan; and I was right! The bulk of this issue was from the 1976 Power Records set Conan the Barbarian: the Crawler in the Mist! I didn't have this one as a kid, but I know I downloaded it from Power Records Plaza, and so can you!

1 comment:

SallyP said...

I always rather liked John Buscema's Conan.