Conan the Barbarian 11 (November 1971)

19999

Windsor-Smith has this amazing close-up of Conan during a fight with an ape (the ape has gone amok, the pet of Conan’s target). There’s still the significant nose problem, but the panel just looks so great it’s hard to believe Windsor-Smith didn’t think maybe drawing a reasonable nose was in order.

Thomas continues the previous issue, somewhat awkwardly but welcomely. He backtracks a little—and shows Conan and his lady friend post-coital—but it all works out. There’s a nice continuity between the issues now, with Thomas weaving in and out of Howard source material.

This story’s double-sized (nearly) and gives Thomas a lot of room. He gets to layer the story (no idea if it’s from the Howard source) and show Conan not just as the problem-solver, but as the thief and avenger.

The series is really finding its legs.

Just not noses.

CREDITS

Rogues In the House; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Barry Windsor-Smith; inker, Sal Buscema; colorists, Mimi Gold and Smith; letterer, Sam Rosen; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Conan the Barbarian 10 (October 1971)

19998

Oh, the noses. Why, oh why, can’t Windsor-Smith get noses right? He didn’t start out having problems with them. It must have been some kind of weird creative decision to draw bad noses. I don’t see how any of the characters gets enough air to breath.

Otherwise, he does a good job with the issue. There’s a very grandiose battle scene with a growing bull god and an escape from some guards. He handles those aspects fine. It’s just noses.

Thomas does his own thing here, giving the previous couple issues some closure. Conan has a sidekick return and we get resolution to his situation with the girl.

Until the last couple panels, the entire story takes place in town, which seems a little off for Conan but Thomas paces the story well and it feels right. It’s almost too bad he didn’t take another issue to finish it.

CREDITS

Beware the Wrath of Anu; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Barry Windsor-Smith; inker, Sal Buscema; colorists, Mimi Gold and Smith; letterer, Sam Rosen; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Conan the Barbarian 9 (September 1971)

19997

So, The Garden of Fear–Howard’s original story this issue is based on–did come out after Burroughs’s Out of Time’s Abyss. They feature a very similar evil winged race of men… though with different motives for kidnapping women.

That possible “homage” of source material aside–and Windsor-Smith’s continually weak noses and prominent brows–this issue is excellent.

It continues the last issue, with Conan and the girl, and gives them an immediate action scene. Once that scene is resolved, there’s a little calm and Thomas moves into the next part of the story. Basing the issues on Howard’s short stories gives them a nice epical quality. You get three acts an issue and the feeling things happen.

Conan mounts a rescue to save his girl–who still isn’t his girl, which makes their relationship interesting–and has to get through the obstacles.

It’s probably the best issue yet.

CREDITS

The Garden of Fear; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Barry Windsor-Smith; inker, Sal Buscema; colorists, Mimi Gold and Smith; letterer, Sam Rosen; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Conan the Barbarian 8 (August 1971)

19996

How sweet, Conan ends the issue with a girl on his arm. Well, actually, they’re on horseback fleeing for their lives, but it’s the first time he’s gone off with anyone else and the first girl to be around for the last page.

Windsor-Smith is doing something bad with the noses. It’s not the inkers. They’re these really small noses. I have no idea why he’s doing it, but it ruins his faces.

This issue is a direct sequel to the last, though some complications occur off-page.

It’s a treasure hunt–and Conan does get a sidekick for a while–and ends with Conan fighting some inexplicable giants during the place.

Thomas does a great job with the pacing again. This time the issue even has a longer third act (I’m curious if they’ll continue next issue straight from the cliffhanger).

Besides the nose, the book’s quite good.

CREDITS

The Keepers of the Crypt; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Barry Windsor-Smith; inkers, Tom Sutton and Tom Palmer; colorist, Mimi Gold; letterer, Sam Rosen; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Conan the Barbarian 7 (July 1971)

19995

The art this issue is a mess. Buscema and Adkins each hurriedly handled a half of the book. I assume Windsor-Smith was speeding along too because the result is people with huge eyes and minuscule noses. Sometimes it looks like Conan’s face is off-center on his head. It’s an ugly issue, which is too bad.

The story is mostly solid. Thomas is adapting God in the Bowl and has a lot in Conan’s head at the end. Except they don’t visualize what Conan’s seeing, it’s all in the narration. So even though Conan’s fighting a serpent god, he’s thinking about far more visually intriguing things.

The fault must be with the hurriedness—Windsor-Smith’s panel composition isn’t up to par here either (the letters page mentions the rush). Thomas does manage to get a lot in—his one page third act is the series norm; it reads fine.

CREDITS

The Lurker Within; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Barry Windsor-Smith; inkers, Sal Buscema and Dan Adkins; colorist, Mimi Gold; letterer, Sam Rosen; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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