Skip to main content

Conan the Barbarian #12 (2023) review




Conan the Barbarian: Bound in Black Stone wins this year's Robert E. Howard Foundation "The Costigan Literary Achievement" and "The Rankin Artistic Achievement" awards at Howard Days!

Brule's life was just about to be extinguished by a freshly revived Thulsa Doom... it is finally time for:

Jim Zub's The Age Unconquered part 4: Terror Undreamed Of!

Thulsa announces a "New Age of Doom" and that the Spear-Slayer is out of time.

We get a flashback: A meteorite strikes the earth. Only Kathulos (the sorcerer, magician and scientist from the novella Skull-Face) is brave enough to touch the Black Stone from outer space.

The Black Stone uploads DARK knowledge and DARK magic into Kathulos's brain.

Kathulos is now able to control the deceased. He builds himself an army of the undead and renames himself Thulsa Doom.

Thulsa enjoys being a successful tyrant for some time, we even get another Renato Casaro Conan the Barbarian 1982 movie poster homage from Roberto De la Torre.

He orders his followers to make him a sarcophagus out of the Black Stone.

Doom feels threaten by Kull's lineage, so from the grave, his soul trapped in his coffin, Thulsa starts messing with the Conqueror's mind. 

Flashback over! Conan attacks Doom, he calls him "Skull-Face" (get it?).

Since Doom is not a mortal and has no past connection to our favourite barbarian, he cannot see Conan. 

Conan breaks Brule's Pict blade on Doom's Atlantean sword (a scene straight from the 1982 movie).

Conan shoves his broken blade into Doom's eye socket to no effect.

Brule distracts Doom and Conan grabs the Atlantean sword.

Touching the Atlantean sword creates an interrelation between Thulsa and the Cimmerian. Conan becomes visible to Doom.

Thulsa picks up Kull's sword and zaps Conan with DEATH magic.
 
Conan cuts Thulsa's hand, like Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) did to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

But, what is this? Kull is actually not dead, it was just a flesh wound, the Valusian king is just winded apparently.

Thulsa Doom proclaims once again that the Black Stone is his with its power and secrets.

Doom's mind merges with the Black Stone. He sees the genesis of the Stone, it's a tiny part of a terrible globe full of life, a terror soon to reawaken.

Conan beheads Doom (another scene straight from the 1982 movie), Doom explodes (just like the witch in the 1982 movie), the walls of the burial chamber crack open, water from an underground river flows in, Conan is teleported back to his time and the monarch of Valusia and Brule are washed away to safety.

Conan tumbles forward in time with Yag-Kosha's enigmatic words echoing in his mind.

We are back at the end of issue 8, now with a clear mind, Conan stops himself from taking his own life, he drops everything and rides out of Shadizar on a stolen horse (last seen on the cover to Conan the Barbarian FCBD 2023).

Back to Kull's time, the Pictish coast. A fisherman discovers among his freshly caught pollock... Doom's recently lost Atlantean sword (Yes, still straight from the 1982 movie).


What I did like:

The skulls on Jeffrey Alan Love's cover look ultra creepy.

Archaeologist Jeffrey Shanks talks about Professor Kirowan and John Conrad, mentions the Unaussprechliche Kulte (Nameless Cults) book from "The Children of the Night" and "The Black Stone".

You 'member the Conan the Barbarian 1982 film directed by John Milius? Yeah, sure, I remember. 


What I did not like:

We waited forever for Thulsa Doom to arrive and he's already gone. 

No serpent-men appear.

Thulsa is not a serpent-man. He is one in the 1982 movie.

Cthulhu is not mentioned.

The 1982 John Buscema model sheet for Doom from Marvel Comics Super Special #21 is ignored.

Why is Doom getting buried alive? He needs to be surrounded by Black Stone to stay alive? Wouldn't leaving his coffin kill him?

The sarcophagus is made of Black Stone? Part of it, all of it? How big was this meteorite? Who cares? But Conan made the Black Stone statue explode in issue 9. It doesn't make much sense. 

Who carved the Black Stone statue that exploded?

Why is Doom so worried about lineage? Kull has no interest in marrying or having children.

Thulsa has been sleeping in Black Stone for quite a while and he finally decides to mind meld with the Stone during a melee?

Is the Black Stone becoming Conan's kryptonite? Zub is always comparing Superman to Conan. 

NO strong female characters appear. Only a doxy addresses Conan. Shameful.

NO women appear on any of the variant covers. Lame.

An interminable Skeletor vs He-Man fight peppered with recap pages.

We get to know practically nothing new about Thulsa and the Black Stone.

We get to know NOTHING about the Neanderthals/Shadow-dwellers/Subterranean Horde.

The unknown divine forces that sent Conan back in time remain UNKNOWN.

Kull should be dead. He really should. This is insulting to the reader.

Doom blasts Conan with DEATH magic, but the barbarian doesn't die.

Yag-Kosha is still not coloured green. Embarrassing.

No advert for The Heroic Legends Short Fiction Program.

Where did the letters page go?

Kull never receives his Marvel face scar.

I give it a 6/10. A very unsatisfying finale. No astonishing revelations. Still so many questions left unanswered. Is the Black Stone actually from the savage planet of Almuric? It would be a cool connection... but for the moment Zub remains mum.



Popular posts from this blog

A Touching Tribute To The Late, Great, Bottalk Bulletin Board + Renaud FAQ!

The smartest and the most handsome podcasters on the Internet: The Fanholes and a collection of exceptional guests say au revoir to the legendary Bottalk board. Click to download or listen to this remarkable recording. And don't forget to get out your boxes of tissues! Thanks, guys! Much appreciated! Renaud FAQ

Renaud Frequently Asked Questions

Is that Autobot Stratosphere in G.I. Joe: Special Missions (2013) #3?       Yes, it is. I was Paul Gulacy's toy reference guy for most of his run on Special Missions. You ran the CTLP?       Yes, the Complete Transformers Listing Page, it linked to every single Transformers website on the internet. I kept it updated and dead links free for years and years. A titanesque task. Who was The Myth on the CTLP?       The Myth was my nickname for the youngest Transformers webmaster in the world. Today, he must be in his early 30s. Time flies.  You started a petition for G1 reissues?       Yes, in the late 90s. My online petition was signed by hundreds and hundreds of Transformers fans who wanted Hasbro to rerelease Generation One toys from the 80s.  Is that you credited on the Inhumanoids: The Complete Series - 2 Disc Set?       Yes, I supplied all the scans for it. Over the years you've helped multiple major online retailers and publishers sell Transformers and G.I. Joe products?     

Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane The Original Marvel Years review

Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane the dour English Puritan Swashbuckler gets a complete collection of his classic Marvel adventures. Sadly no Dark Horse Comics Guy Davis monster creations inside at all. You get All the pin-ups, adverts, text pieces + All the Kane stories from The Sword of Solomon Kane limited series, Savage Sword of Conan, Conan Saga, Kull and the Barbarians, Marvel Premiere, Marvel Preview, Monsters Unleashed and Dracula Lives. My favourite stories are: A Marvel Team-Up featuring the ectomorph: Kane in his twilight years and the mesomorph: Conan the Barbarian in his prime (The Moon of Skulls II: Death's Dark Riders by Roy Thomas and Colin MacNeil). Kane versus a ghost that kills (Skulls in the Stars by Ralph Reese). Kane versus a Lovecraftian cloud of blood (The Footfalls Within by Don Glut, Will Meugniot and Steve Gan). Kane versus the bat-people (Wings in the Night by Don Glut and David Wenzel). Kane versus vampires/zombies/the walking dead men (The Hills of t