Conan the Barbarian #10 (October, 1971)

One week ago, in our post about Amazing Spider-Man #101, we shared the two lead items from the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page that ran in that issue (as well as in other Marvel comics shipping in July, 1971), which explained how, due to editor Stan Lee taking a couple of weeks off his comics-scripting duties to work on a screenplay, other writers would be temporarily stepping in to handle his titles.

But Stan’s sabbatical wasn’t the only big news out of Marvel that month, as was indicated by the very next Bulletin: 

As this “ITEM!” hints at with its closing remark about “what the future holds”, the move of Conan the Barbarian and select other titles to a 25-cent, 52-page (including covers) format in July actually foreshadowed the imminent transition of virtually all of Marvel’s 15-cent comics to this new standard — a change which followed in the wake of Marvel’s rival DC having made the same transition in June.  As many of you reading this will already know, Marvel’s line-wide move to the 25-cent format would ultimately last no longer than a month — but in July of 1971, we readers didn’t know that.  Indeed, as of yet we didn’t even know that the publisher’s whole roster of titles would be going to the 25-cent format in August, though some of us likely gleaned the truth by reading between the lines of this Bulletin (and also by assuming, not unreasonably, that where DC went, Marvel must eventually follow).

For the record (and courtesy of Mike’s Amazing World of Comics), here are the (non-Annual, non-reprint) Marvels that came in at the 25-cent, 52-page size in July, listed alphabetically:

  • Astonishing Tales #8
  • Conan the Barbarian #10
  • Marvel Feature #1
  • Monsters on the Prowl #13
  • Rawhide Kid #92
  • Sgt. Fury #92

Out of this batch,* the final three titles listed had already been featuring a mix of new material and reprints, so adding more reprint pages to justify the ten-cent price increase — as Marvel did — may not have seemed like much of a stretch for those books’ regular readers.  Marvel Feature #1, on the other hand, obviously didn’t have a track record, it being a first issue and all — and since we’ll be blogging about that very comic in a mere four days, we’ll postpone a discussion of its contents until that time.  Suffice it to say for now that, of these six “early adopters” of the new format, the only one that managed to make it to the stands with zero reprinted content was Astonishing Tales #8.

“But wait!” I hear you say.  “On the cover of Conan #10, right there below the title logo, it says ‘All New Stories’!  Surely you’re not going to tell me that Marvel (gulp) lied?

Well, no; I don’t think that Marvel intentionally meant to mislead anyone, so they didn’t actually lie, as I see it; nevertheless, the book did end up going to press with 6 pages of reprinted material.  But, if you don’t mind, I’d like to postpone further discussion of that material, and the reason for its inclusion, until we get to it in the course of reviewing the whole comic.  For now, though, let’s simply proceed on to Conan #10’s lead story — “Beware the Wrath of Anu!”, by the regular creative team of writer Roy Thomas and penciller Barry Windsor-Smith, with Sal Buscema on inks:

As the story begins, we see that Conan continues to be accompanied in his travels by Jenna, a young woman he first met in issue #6 while she was working in a tavern in the city of Shadizar.  That initial encounter had ended inauspiciously when, after the couple had saved each other’s lives from a giant bat-god and its murderous priestess, Jenna abandoned an unconscious Conan, taking his gold (which was stolen to begin with) in the process.  The two resumed their acquaintance in #8, in which Conan, having arrived in another city, found Jenna again working in a tavern — though this time as the establishment’s proprietress, she having bought the place with the aforementioned ill-gotten gold.  Letting bygones be bygones, the two fled together when the local constabulary attempted to arrest them both — taking them directly into issue #9, where in an adaptation of “The Garden of Fear” (a non-Conan short story by the barbarian’s creator, Robert E. Howard), the duo’s journey through a mountain range brought them afoul of a mysterious winged man-like creature.  This being kidnapped Jenna and carried her off to his lonely tower; though Conan ultimately slew the creature and rescued Jenna, the couple was understandably ready to return to civilization afterwards, which is how they now find themselves at the gates of the unnamed Corinthian city-state where Conan #10 is set.

Attempting to gain admittance for himself and Jenna, Conan’s discussion with the guards becomes more and more heated, but before things inevitably degenerate into violence, there’s a timely interruption:

Conan and his new acquaintances go scrambling over the roofs and walls of the city  until at last they come to the steps of the aforementioned temple; and then…

Yep, it’s our old friend Burgun the Gunderman, from Conan #8 — the mercenary soldier-turned-thief who’d appeared to buy the farm not once, not twice, but thrice over the course of that comic. I told you we’d learn his true fate in this issue, didn’t I?

As we noted at the time, the character of Burgun originated in a synopsis Robert E. Howard wrote for a story he himself never completed, but which became the basis for Thomas and Windsor-Smith’s “The Keepers of the Crypt”.  But Howard also wrote another Conan story set around the same time as that synopsis, called “Rogues in the House”, that mentions (but doesn’t name) a certain “Gunderman deserter” — and Thomas, knowing that he and Windsor-Smith would be adapting that story in just a few issues (the basic plot framework of “Beware the Wrath of Anu!” is in fact derived from a brief passage in “Rogues”) had the idea to make Howard’s two Gundermen one and the same.  It’s the sort of thing that Thomas did awfully well during his long first tenure as Marvel’s official Conan biographer, stringing together bits of lore from various pieces of Howardiana to establish a consistent, coherent continuity for the hero’s primary series, as well as its various offshoots.

But, to return to our present story…

Uh-oh.

Luckily, the Temple of Anu borders on the most disreputable section of the city, “the Maze”, so our crew is able to slip away into the night without encountering further harassment from the authorities.  As they saunter along the busy streets, Burgun, believing that he and Conan running into each other again like this must be a good omen, suggests that they “make a team of it”; and Conan agrees.

Yeah, this isn’t looking good…

Over the next several nights, Burgun and Conan pull off one job after another, eluding the ever more grim Captain Aron each and every time, until one night Burgun announces they’re going to go for a really big one — “the Red Priest himself!”  And so…

As you might guess, Nabonidus the Red Priest will be a major player in Conan #11’s adaptation of “Rogues in the House”; Thomas and Windsor-Smith’s introduction of him in these brief scenes is subtle, but effective.

Once they’re actually deep inside the building — which, as Burgun notes, is merely Nabonidus’ “official residence, not his real one” (a distinction that will prove significant, once we get to “Rogues” proper) — Conan, complaining that the “whole place stinks of sorcery“, opts to take nothing but a dagger-belt.  “But that’s not worth anything,” objectts Burgun, as he himself loads up on loot.  “No,” Conan replies, “but my life is.”

Not that Nabonidus himself is inclined to make such fine distinctions among the culprits, once he discovers the theft later the same night…

Well and truly on the hook, Captain Aron immediately takes a troop of guards to the Temple of Anu where he demands that the priest help set a trap for Conan and Burgun when they inevitably show up.  “But — the risk,” protests the priest.  “If the Maze-dwellers ever learn I am both fence and informer –” (Informer?  Yup.  Remember Igon wondering back on page 2 how the guards knew where he and Burgun would be that night?)

Conan manages to elude the guards’ nets; his companion, however, is not so fortunate…

“He’s delicate — sensitive — not like you.”  Yeesh.  I hate to break it to any “Conna” shippers out there, but I’m pretty sure that Conan and Jenna’s relationship is toast.

For the remainder of this scene, Thomas — a writer who’s been known to lay on the purple prose a time or two in his day — eschews captions completely, letting Windsor-Smith’s art carry most of the weight of the narrative.  It’s a wise choice.

That night, there are no guards patrolling the area around the Temple of Anu, “for, who would suspect that thieves would do aught but tremble in the Maze this night?”  Of course, they don’t know our boy Conan…

But pursue the priest Conan does — straight into the “holy of holies”, where the priest once more speaks the incantation that summons the Bull of Anu.  This time, however, something is different… something which Conan explains to the priest, even as the Bull begins to materialize:

Conan expects the priest to speak another spell that’ll send the Bull back where he came from, but the pudgy cleric says that’s impossible.  The god-monster proceeds to effortlessly knock down a stone wall, then snatches up our hero in one mighty hand…

As it turns out, the Bull recognizes the priest as the man who’s kept him imprisoned for years — and thus, he pays Conan no attention as the barbarian begins scrabbling in the rubble, trying to clear away just enough of the debris to allow his flight from the temple…

For my money, the ascension of the Red Bull is the most awesome (in the “inspiring of awe” sense of that word) sequence to appear in Conan since the transfiguration of Yag-Kosha in issue #4; your mileage may vary, of course (especially if your tastes are less cosmically-oriented than those of your humble blogger).

According to Roy Thomas in his book Barbarian Life, Vol. 1,  the sequence shown directly above was his and Windsor-Smith’s attempt to obliquely convey an action that the Comics Code Authority wouldn’t allow them to depict overtly:

…we had to deal with the fact that REH [Robert E. Howard] says that Conan decapitated the evil priest of Anu. The Comics Code wouldn’t have allowed us to say that in either the dialogue or the captions, let alone draw the scene, so Barry got the idea to show the priest’s head in profile after Conan has dealt him the death blow and not draw his obese body in the spot where it would otherwise have appeared. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

I’m not sure that the solution was completely successful; I think one might easily assume simply that the priest is simply lying on an uneven pile of rubble, rather than that “his obese body” isn’t where it’s supposed to be.  But I’m also not sure it matters; surely, the important thing to get across here is that Conan kills the priest, rather than precisely where the stroke falls, and Windsor-Smith’s visual storytelling accomplishes that quite efficiently.

In another context — say, in virtually any other Marvel comic book of 1971 — my fourteen-year-old self would probably have viewed the unfortunate guard in this scene as simply a cop trying to do his job, and Conan as a murderous criminal.  Here, though, I’m pretty sure my response was the one that Thomas and Windsor-Smith wanted; namely, “hey, serves the guy right”.

And here, at last, is the final fate of our old friend Burgun the Gunderman.  He won’t be coming back from this one, I regret to say.

The captions in the story’s final panel, which rather awkwardly telegraph the predicament we’ll find our hero in next month at the beginning of Conan #11, were evidently not in the original script.  Once again, we have the Comics Code Authority to thank, according to Thomas:

The enforcers of the Code… were unhappy with the fact that Conan went unpunished at the end of the story, notwithstanding how greatly the priest deserved his end. It wasn’t enough for us to argue that the Cimmerian would get arrested by the authorities in #11; they wanted us to make it clear in #10 that Conan wasn’t getting away with it. So that was the rationale for the three hastily written captions at the end of the story.

 

From such vicissitudes are born the great moments in comic-book history.

Frankly, it seems odd that the CCA would get so exercised about Conan getting away with murder in this story, considering the number of killings he’s already been responsible for over the short run of the series to date.  And it’s not like he’s going to stay in prison for any length of time, so what’s even the point?  Could the explanation simply be a very literal and legalistic reading of the Code — the 1971 version of which clearly stated, “In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds”, but then left ample leeway regarding how severe that punishment had to be?  Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

In any event, that’s a wrap for “Beware the Wrath of Anu!”  Reading what Thomas has to say about the story in Barbarian Life, I get the impression that he sees it as being not much more than the necessary prelude to what he calls the “main action” of “Rogues in the House”.  Prelude it may be; nevertheless, I’d rank it as one of my personal favorite Conan stories of this period — and probably higher than “Rogues”, when you get right down to it.  But you’ll be able to make up your own mind about the two stories’ relative merits in August, when we’ll be bringing you our overview of Conan the Barbarian #11 as part of the blog’s Giant-Size Marvel Month.


As you may have noticed, Thomas and Windsor-Smith did manage to take advantage of the new 25-cent format to an extent, taking 23 pages to tell this issue’s Conan tale, in contrast to previous issues’ 20-pagers.  And there was yet more brand-new material to be within Conan #10’s pages — but before we readers of 1971 could get to the “Kull the Conqueror” story promised on the cover, there was a reprint to peruse.  A text box at the top of the comic’s “Hyborian Page” letters column — anonymous, but almost certainly penned by Roy Thomas himself — explained what had gone wrong between the creation of the comic’s cover and the final assembly of its contents:

This is the first time we’ve felt it needful that we correct an error on one of our covers. The blurb thereon states that this issue contains “All New Stories”-but, due to Roy’s heavy workload, at the last second he was unable to finish a third original tale scheduled for inclusion — so we’ve reprinted one of the much-requested tales of Marvel’s first s&s swashbuckler, the Black Knight, from some years back.

One might quibble with the description of Marvel’s original Black Knight, Sir Percy of Scandia, as an “s&s swashbuckler” — technically speaking, the strip didn’t feature enough sorcery amidst the swordplay to really qualify — but it was about as close to the genre as Marvel had ever gotten prior to 1970.

“Men of the Shadows” was originally published in Black Knight #5 (Apr., 1956); like most Marvel comics stories of the Atlas era, it bears no credits, but the Grand Comics Database attributes the art to Syd Shores (pencils) and Christopher Rule (inks).

Most of you reading this can probably predict the remaining beats of this story without my telling you, but here goes anyway:  The forest outlaws are essentially honest men who’ve been driven to outlawry by excessive taxation.  They blame King Arthur, but of course it’s really the fault of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, whom the Black Knight (Sir Percy’s secret identity) eventually brings to justice with the outlaws’ help, restoring Arthur’s good name in the process.  (Evidently, the story’s unknown scribe had the tales of Robin Hood on his brain at least as much as he did the Arthurian legend when he pulled this yarn together.)

In the summer of 1971, I was still roughly two years away from developing the enduring Arthurian obsession which would have made me considerably more interested in this story than I was at the time (and which would also eventually inspire me to create this hoary old web site).  Nevertheless, I was probably at least mildly pleased to have the opportunity to read a tale of the first Black Knight, due to the character’s connection to modern Marvel continuity (via the Avengers’ Dane Whitman, whom Roy Thomas had established to be a direct descendant and heir of Sir Percy).  And at six pages, it hardly had time to wear out its welcome.


The third and final feature in Conan #10 was apparently intended to be a regular part of the new, larger-format Conan the Barbarian comic.  As the earlier-referenced “Hyborian Page” text box put it:

[July, 1971]… marks the inclusion of Kull the Conqueror as an extra feature slated to appear in most (though not necessarily all) future issues of CONAN, We’re sorry to see the passing of Kull’s own short-lived mag at a time when we haven’t the foggiest notion of whether it soared or swan.dived in the sales arena, but we deemed it wisest to put all our sword-and-sorcery eggs in one basket-and watch that basket! Maybe later…

To your humble blogger, this reads very much like someone (again, probably Roy Thomas) trying to put the best face on a not-so-great situation.  While it’s easy enough to believe that Marvel publisher Marin Goodman took an axe to Kull the Conqueror after only two issues, I very much doubt that Thomas, at least, felt that this was the “wisest” decision that could have been made; and, indeed, in Barbarian Life Thomas writes:

I wasn’t happy about the swift cancellation of Kull the Conqueror, a series I had got Marvel to start when the first issue of Conan the Barbarian sold well, so I asked Marie and John Severin to illustrate an adaptation of “The King and the Oak” (a Howard poem featuring Kull), based on my own arrangement of the stanzas. The result was a beautiful piece of work.

“The King and the Oak”, though only five pages long, is one of my very favorite Marvel Kull stories; like Thomas says, it’s a beautiful piece of work.  We offer it here in full, without interruption:

Despite what was said in this issue’s “Hyborian Page” text box, King Kull would not be returning to the pages of Conan the Barbarian — at least, not for quite a long time, and not as a regular ongoing feature.  There would in fact be only one more issue of Conan in the new giant-sized format, and the titular star was going to have that one all to himself.  Kull would eventually make a comeback, of course, but not until 1972; and thus, it’ll be 2022 before I can tell you about it.  Just keep reading, however, and I promise we’ll get there, sooner or later.

UPDATE, 7/30/21:  An earlier version of this post mis-identified the guard killed by Conan on page 22 of “Beware the Wrath of Anu!” as Captain Aron. Thanks to JoshuaRascal for the correction.

 

*As you may have noticed, one 25¢ title mentioned in the Marvel Bullpen Bulletin reproduced above — “the spanking-new TOMB OF DRACULA” — is conspicuous by its absence from this list.  It appears that Marvel was expecting to publish the premiere issue of ToD in July, 1971 — as we discussed in last week’s Amazing Spider-Man #101 post, the book had already been mentioned in the same Bulletins column as one of the comics someone else (in this case, Gerry Conway) was stepping in to write in place of Stan Lee — but for whatever reason, the book’s release was delayed until November, at which time Tomb of Dracula would debut as a 20-cent, 36-page comic book.

 

15 comments

  1. DontheArtistformerlyknownasfrodo628 · July 24

    As you’d expect, the art here is beautiful. By Conan #8, BWS was really beginning to get a feel for the character and was making great strides in using the comics format to showcase the very best of his talent and it showed in every panel. I’d like to have a chat with the colorist for making the temple of Anu that god-awful yellow, but that’s a different thing. I agree with you, Alan, that the panels depicting Anu’s ascension through the temple dome and back into the cosmos are incredible.

    Where I’m curious this time is in the story’s beginning pages. Why in the world did Conan feel the need to put himself on the bad side of the city guards over a pair of thieves he didn’t know? He hadn’t recognized the Gunderman at that point and it seems out of character for the Cimmerian to step in on someone else’s behalf when there wasn’t any obvious benefit in it for him. To a lesser extent, this is also true for the Gunderman’s dropping the brick on the head of the guard to save Conan’s life. I realize he was just returning the favor, but I think most thieves would have used the distraction of Conan’s battle with the guards to get the hell out of there and not waste time being Good Samaritans. Roy Thomas is one of the great comic writers of this time period and it was obvious Conan was the one book he was truly passionate about, but there’s a feeling here of taking the easy way out story-wise that rankles just a bit.

    Otherwise this story rocked and I really enjoyed it. As for the extra features, I would have skipped right over the Black Knight story back in my 14 year old youth and never looked back. I’m not sure about the Kull story; I wasn’t a big fan of either Kull or the narrative poetic form as a freshman in high school, but fifty years later, I enjoyed it quite a bit and the Severin’s artwork was some of their best. I’m glad you reprinted all of it here.

    All in all, this was the rare comic that was worth the price hike and then some. Alan, do we know what the story was Thomas couldn’t get finished by the deadline? Has he ever said and was it ever published? Just curious. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Stewart · July 24

      Don, I see what you’re saying about Conan going out of his way to help a couple of strangers, but it doesn’t strike me as being out of character for him. Conan’s a solitary wanderer, sure, but he frequently gets involved with other people (at least for a while), and he has a natural sympathy for thieves (and antipathy for law enforcement). And Thomas is working from a passage in Howard’s “Rogues in the House” that establishes that Conan and “the Gunderman” have been working as a team for a while before that story begins. They have to get together somehow, right?

      As to the mysterious “third original tale” that Thomas couldn’t get finished in time: in “Barbarian Life”, he talks about how he’d planned to have a semi-regular backup in the giant-size Conan called “Tales of the Hyborian Age”. As far as I know, only one of those stories was ever completed and published — “The Blood of the Dragon”, a 7-page collaboration with Gil Kane that ultimately ran in Conan #12. I figure that that story is a very likely candidate for being the planned third story in #10, but if it wasn’t, some other never-finished “Tale of the Hyborian Age” looks like a good bet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • frednotfaith2 · July 24

        Thomas’ unrealized plans brings up a recurring aspect of many of the new breed of comics writers from the early ’70s in particular, including Englehart, Gerber & Starlin — all the story ideas they had floating around in their heads and referred to in letters pages and interviews but for whatever reasons were unable to bring to fruition. Kirby clearly had many such ideas too. Neil Gaiman had some fun with that in The Sandman, with Morpheus’ vast library of stories dreamt of but never written (and I believe Gaiman got the idea from someone else but I can’t recall right off). I dare say that anyone with any imagination, regardless of whether they ever wrote any fiction or ever had anything published, has multitudes of stories floating around in their heads that no one else will ever know of. Of course, not everyone who does write or even has their stories published is a gifted writer, and some of those story ideas are best left in imaginary limbo.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. frednotfaith2 · July 24

    Excellent write-up, Alan! Thomas, Smith and the Severins produced some very splendid comics work for this issue. Rather amusing how Thomas & Smith had get around the CCA to tell their tale starring a thief who wasn’t above killing to achieve his ends, or even to fulfill his notion of justice. Having read at least parts of some very early Golden Age comics, even Superman would be regarded as having broken the law in pursuit of his sense of justice, as did Namor, among others. Superman was subsequently very ;much tamed long before the CCA and Namor somewhat, but still retained enough wildness that Lee revived him in the Marvel era as a villain, albeit one whose criminal actions against terrestrial civilization he felt were a justified response to the damage done to his aquatic homeland. He was, in essence, a vengeful anti-hero. Conan, however, is, to my knowledge, comicdom’s first bona-fide roguish anti-hero, an adventurer who regularly steals and occasionally even goes out of his way to slay people he has a grudge against. The success of his series was definitely a sign of significant change in comics, made more explicit with Tomb of Dracula, starring an even more amoral character who routinely murdered innocent people. Still, with both Conan and Dracula, Marvel was adapting literary characters and I suspect Thomas felt a greater impulse to push against what the CCA would typically allow with Conan than with typical super-hero fare because he was adapting particular stories and poems by Howard that were set in an ancient world. In the Avengers, Captain America couldn’t be shown directly killing Baron Zemo — Zemo had to be shown inadvertently causing his own death while trying to kill Cap; and Vision couldn’t just kill a Skrull who had seriously annoyed him, although he could be shown giving the Skrull a violent thrashing. But a few years later, the Swordsman, as a reformed rogue and a current Avenger, was shown to kill a man in that man’s castle after that man had shot the Swordsman in the back; not sure if that aroused any concern among the CCA staff but it was allowed to pass, something I doubt would have been allowed prior to the 1971 revisions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Stewart · July 24

      Excellent observations regarding how the success of Conan and other antiheroic characters reflect a general change in the era’s comic-book mores, Fred. That’s a Bronze Age “marker” that’s probably not discussed as much as it ought to be.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charles Santino · August 11

      Didn’t The Silver Surfer kill everyone in Doom’s caste after he escapes in Fantastic Four #61 in 1967? He destroys the castle with the prison guards–and who know who else–in the building?

      Liked by 2 people

      • frednotfaith2 · August 11

        In both that and the later Dr. Doom epic, Kirby’s take on The Prisoner, in which it definitely appeared that Doom had wiped out a big chunk of his pocketbook kingdom, along with all the villagers within, while trying to kill the FF, Kirby’s certainly hinted at a lot of death and destruction, as did Lee’s scripts, although to my recall it wasn’t explicitly detailed and maybe there was just enough wiggle room for Lee to smooth over any concerns the CCA might have had, although they were skirting very near the edge of what might have been permissible at the time, particularly as neither the Surfer nor Doom were shown to be held in any way accountable for their destruction — the Surfer flying off to freedom and Doom, well, he not only gave himself his Ph.D., he gave himself royal authority to do what he liked with his subjects and then, when he decided enough was enough, he just let the FF leave his realm. Maybe the CCA deemed what a despot did in his own realm was ok, regardless of how he came to power and however despicable he was to his own people. At least as long as he wasn’t a Commie!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Alan Stewart · August 11

          Good points, fred, though my impression was that the Latverian villagers were spared in FF #86 due to the timely arrival of Sue Richards (and her even more timely deployment of her force field) — though with no thanks to Doom, of course! https://50yearoldcomics.com/2018/12/22/fantastic-four-84-march-1969/

          Liked by 1 person

          • frednotfaith2 · August 12

            My impression was that it wasn’t made clear that Sue had saved the entire village, but that’s what made it ambiguous. I think that of all the Dr. Doom stories drawn & plotted by Kirby, that was by far the darkest, even more than the cosmic-powered Doom epic, which was itself pretty dark. Kirby was showing a glimpse of what it was like to live in a dictatorship run by a ruthless megalomaniac. And whether or not all the villagers were saved, the striking point was that Doom made an explicit effort to kill them all as collateral damage to destroying the Fantastic Four. That was the moment, IMO, when Doom most clearly lived up to his name (although still nothing like when Kid Miracle Man went on a murderous rampage!).

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Stu Fischer · July 27

    I think that it’s time for me to post my regrets now for not reading Conan the Barbarian when I was a kid, even though I could get them from my Dad’s Pharmacy, because I wasn’t interested in the character or the genre. These books are absolutely beautiful in artwork. I don’t know how valuable original run issues are but I imagine they aren’t cheap (perhaps to say the least). Of course, as long time readers of my comments know, any Conan issues I would have had from this era I would have lost in the Tropical Storm Agnes flood in 1972.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JoshuaRascal · July 30

    “Frankly, it seems odd that the CCA would get so exercised about Conan getting away with murder in this story, considering the number of killings he’s already been responsible for over the short run of the series to date.”

    I did a quick check of Conan #1 to #9 and really couldn’t find anything too far out of line for a Comics Code Comic Book. A fight during a battle in Conan #1. The fight in the Tavern in Conan #4. The priestess Hajii, brained by Jenna in Conan #6, because she was about to kill Conan. The soldiers in Conan #8, all “cutthroats from every rathole in Corinthia.” according to Burgun the Gunderman. Otherwise, a lot of nonhuman creatures and monsters and the like. Nothing to get too worked up about. This was long before the Animal Rights movement.

    I think Conan #10 did push the CCA limits in a lot of ways. The story has corrupt religious leaders, a protagonist that made a living by thieving and burglary, a priest being killed by our “hero” because he was a police informant, meaning he was killed by a criminal because he cooperated with law enforcement. Put in a modern setting, Conan #10 probably would have been flat out rejected in its’ entirety by the CCA.

    That is not Captain Aron that Conan kills on page 22. Burgun the Gunderman was not hanged by Captain Aron. Captain Aron was up talking to the priest of Anu in the Temple of Anu right in the window fully visible for Conan and for that matter anybody else looking in that direction to see at the time. The hangman was someone else. Captain Aron does make a brief reappearance in Conan #11.

    Another thing. Rigor Mortis would have set in for the poor Gunderman by the time Conan pulled him off the scaffold. Conan would have been carrying around a stiff body. Sort of odd that he had been hung and his body left on the scaffold for what seems to be hours after Captain Aron on page 5 declared he would put the heads of all three thieves on spears at the city gate. However, the Red Priest does order Captain Aron to find and hang Conan and Burgun “before another night has passed” on page 10. Thus, the swift hanging of Burgun after his capture. Evidently Captain Aron hadn’t gotten around to removing Burgun’s head from his body and putting it on a spear. I guess they were waiting for Conan to join him on the scaffold.

    This does lead to the question about the events of Conan #11. Not that I want to give away any spoilers, but why wasn’t Conan executed immediately after his capture, like Burgun was, given the orders of the Red Priest?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · July 30

      Welp, JR, you are of course absolutely correct about Captain Aron. Reading back over the scene, I realize that I misread “sprung the trap” as referring to the trap Aron had set for Burgun and Conan at the temple, rather than to the mechanical action of the scaffold. Still, I should have realized the poor schmuck Conan kills in the scene wasn’t Aron, as the captain has a beard, plus a distinctive crest on his helmet.

      Anyway, thanks for the catch. I’ll make the needed correction on the post.

      Like

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