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Conan: Battle of the Black Stone #0 review

A Free Comic Book Day prelude to Battle of the Black Stone: The Staring Sigil.

Author avatar, James Allison (The Valley of the Worm, last seen in Zub's Conan: Serpent War), a 1930s pulp writer from Lost Knob aka Cross Plains, Texas who can recall the lives of his heroic past incarnations is startled by an unseen, unwelcome visitor, a phantom monster... possibly the vile Stygian sorcerer Koth-Serapis.

Back to the Hyborian Age. We are Beyond the Black River. The new Aquilonian province of Conajohara, Fort Tuscelan on the edge of the Pictish wilderness. Conan and friends are fighting incredibly crazed, almost suicidal Picts. Conan decapitates their giant, he notices that the man mountain is wearing a bone necklace with a pendant fabricated from a fragment of the BLACK STONE incised with a familiar eye symbol. Conan's soul is instantly assaulted by a flashback consisting of the events from past issues (Conan the Barbarian #1-8).

Solomon Kane, Dark Agnes de Chastillon, El Borak aka Texan Francis Xavier Gordon and friend of John Conrad, Professor John Kirowan (The Haunter of the Ring (actually Thoth-Amon's accursed copper ring aka the Serpent Ring of Set from The Phoenix on the Sword)), one by one, in their respective eras, we see them gawk at the BLACK STONE eye Sigil on different things.

A time displaced and very much alive Brissa (a fan favourite Red Sonja surrogate) arrives at James Allison's house, now in disarray, and finds him missing, his Underwood No. 5 typewriter and prosthetic leg (at fourteen a horse fell on James and crushed his right leg) lying on the floor.

The story of the BLACK STONE continues in The Savage Sword of Conan #4, Conan: Cult of the Obsidian Moon (a Black Stone novel) by James Lovegrove and in Conan: Battle of the Black Stone #1 (with excellent art by Jonas Scharf).

We also get an essay by archaeologist Jeffrey Shanks: Across the Howardverse and a sneak preview of Conan the Barbarian #13 by Doug Braithwaite, Frozen Faith, celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of Robert E. Howard's The Frost-Giant's Daughter.

What I did not like:

James Allison is seen smoking and his desk is not accurate. Disappointing!

Hulking 12 feet tall Picts do not exist.

Tsathoggua, Bran Mak Morn, Kull the Conqueror, Kirby O’Donnell and Steve Clarney where are you?

What I did like:

"Ah mglw'nafh!" means "Is dead!" in Cthuvian/R'lyehian.

First appearance of the dreaded Blank Page of doom.

Two strong female characters appear! Two!

Amazing cover by artist Roberto De La Torre!

Fans of Michael Mann's movie The Keep (1983) will appreciate that Kirowan is seen reading the book: Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt.

James Allison is not bedridden and resembles author Robert E. Howard.

El Borak doesn't resemble actor Thomas Jane.

The Howardverse precedes the Marvel Universe. The Marvel Universe also features concepts created by Howard such as Shuma-Gorath.

The Staff of Solomon aka the Juju staff finally appears!

The deadly Pictish scout, Brissa is back! It's about time!

An advert for Conan: City of the Dead by John C. Hocking.

I give it a 9/10. If you're a fan of Jack London's The Star Rover you'll love this comic and it's free! Go get it! Download it! It is spectacular... but very slim, too few pages.

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