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  • Greg O'Driscoll

No one takes Conan hostage! Or do they?

Conan and Zula tear into some Stygian soldiers on the cover of Conan the Barbarian #84 from Marvel Comics.

This cover has blurbs a plenty! The central image is very strong but was obviously composed to accommodate a lot of cover copy, and the boys at Marvel deliver that in spades: “Two Against the Hawk City!” “Introducing - - Zula! Swordsman and Sorcerer - - in one mighty warrior!” “In this issue! Big John Buscema returns as artist of comicdom’s most honored mag!”

That last blurb is in reference to Howard Chaykin's brief tenure as penciller. He accquitted himself well, but lacked a little of that crazy naturalistic energy Buscema puts into his pencils-- but then so do most other artiststs. Obviously, Chaykin moved on to bigger things than fill-in artist Conan. If you have never read American Flagg, check it out!

Written by Roy Thomas with art by the two-fisted team of John Buscema and Ernie Chan, Conan's adventures continue in the land of Stygia, a pre-cataclysmic Egypt ruled by sorcerers. Returning after side quests freely adapted from REH’s lesser creation El Borak and another based upon Howard's Black Canaan, Conan discovers Belit has taken a hostage in order to escape the hawk city of Harakht. Thinking to seize Conan as a counter-hostage to force Belit’s return, the king of Harakht and his guards have a fight on their hands. Suddenly, a mysterious slave knocks Conan out from behind. Sent to the dungeons, Conan awakens and discovers the slave can talk. His name is Zula and he has plans to escape…

This one has a good intro followed by a solid issue overall. The art is great with good four-color coloring that, while not great, would probably not look right to me if it was “fixed” by modern computer coloring. As a bit of trivia, it should be noted that Conan first rides a giant hawk in this issue. The second time will be to defend the floating city of Akah-Ma’at in Conan the Barbarian #153. Reading a lot of these out of order as a kid, I didn't realize Conan had already flown on the back of a giant bird in this issue. I just thought the barbarian was that ballsy.

Purchased as another one dollar comic from the now defunct Round Boys online comic auction. I replaced a lot of my old and battered but well-loved Conan comics through those guys during the pandemic.

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