Chronicles of Conan Volume 10: When Giants Walk the Earth and Other Storiesby Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema
A failed assassination attempt brings into Freeman’s possession Muramasa, the Devil’s Sword, an ancient samurai blade that brings misfortune and death to any who possess it. Wishing to spare Freeman and tame the sword’s malevolent spirit, Tiger Orchid, Freeman’s wife, takes the blade to Kowloon to train with a legendary swordmaster. But she’ll need to find him in Kowloon Castle, a slum so riddled with crime and destitution that it does not officially exist. But its dangers are all too real, and even a possessed sword may not be enough to stop a gun-toting criminal army bent on selling Tiger Orchid into slavery! Written by the legendary Kazuo Koike, creator of Lone Wolf and Cub, and illustrated by the incomparable Ryoichi Ikegami, Crying Freeman is adult manga at its most challenging: dark, violent, morally complex, erotically charged and regarded worldwide as one of the classics of adult graphic fiction.
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Conan Volume 10 'When Giants Walk the Earth' is the latest collection which reprints the original Conan the Barbarian series from Marvel Comics. Included in this edition are issues # 72 - 77, 79 -82. As this book opens, Conan is continuing his adventures with the she-devil Belit and her black corsairs. In 'Vengeance in Asgalun' Belit and Conan must go to the city state of Asgalun, which is also Belit's home' to find a hidden elixir to save the shaman N'Yaga. While there Belit discovers that her father whom she thought dead may be still alive. Conan's arch nemesis, the Stygian Wizard Thoth-Amon makes an appearance in 'Battle of the Black Walls' as he appears to Conan in a dream and warns him to give up the quest to find Belit's father. Conan ignores the threats as he, Belit, and a Zingaran slave girl sneak into the Stygian city of Khemi and travel down the river Styx on a merchant ship where they are attacked by the Hawk Riders of Hor-Neb and Belit is carried off by the giant hawks. Conan attempts to rescue Belit but is thrown into a pit with a massive giant and discovers the secret which made the Hawks and this man grow so large. The last few issues in the book are an adaptation of a Robert E. Howard story called 'The Lost Valley of Iskander'. This was not an actual Conan story but an El-Borak story. El Borak was the middle Eastern name for Francis Xavier Gordon, a mercenary and adventurer, circa the 20's and 30's who traveled throughout the middle east. Howard wrote several El-Borak stories and Roy Thomas ties this into Conan chronology by having the ruler of the Khemi send Conan on a diplomatic mission to the lost valley and the city of Attalus. The adaptation comes off pretty well as most of Howard's heroes were pretty similar in their make. As usual the wonderful John Buscema handles the penciling chores on most of the issues along with the stellar embellishments of Ernie Chan. 'The Lost Valley of Iskander' was drawn by Howard Chaykin also with inks by Chan. Whether intentionally or due to Chan's inks, Chaykin's art ends up looking a lot like Buscema's. Thomas had a great affinity for Belit, obviously as he extended her stay with Conan from an initial short story by Howard into a comics run that lasted a over three years and spanned some 42 issues until her death in the classic Conan #100. As with the other Conan collections Roy Thomas provides commentary about the various issues in the run including his freely adapted version of 'The Lost Valley of Iskander'. Great insight from Roy as always and why not...he was there when these were all being created. Another strong volume from Dark Horse.
The masterful stories and the inspirational artwork in re-mastered vivid colour makes the series a collectors dream. Great set this one, features Belit very exclusively from the Marvel run in the late 70s. A must buy every time.