The Crapbox goes to Hell!
Arak, Son of Thunder #2
DC gets Roy Thomas to do Conan again…
The Devil Takes a Bride!
Writer – Roy Thomas
Penciler – Ernie Colon
Inker/Embellisher – Tony Dezuniga
Letter – John Costanza
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Dick Giordano
You would think that after reintroducing the “sword and sorcery” genre of comics with Marvel’s adaptation of Conan back in 1970 and carrying that series as writer for close to two hundred issues (non-sequential, but 1-115 and 240-275 + annuals and others), Roy Thomas would have had enough of that type of story. And for a prolific and talented writer like Thomas, there really was a lot he could do when he took back up with DC comics in the early 80’s.
As you’ll find out from his own lips at the end of this review, Thomas, along with co-creator Ernie Colon, were jazzed by the prospect of doing a alternate-Earth historical of their own devising. Thomas puts emphasis on it being one that didn’t rely on maps of unknown continents with tiny-tiny type for place names.
The fact that the hero of Arak was a Native American didn’t hurt in a pro-diversity 80’s climate either. Thomas even goes to great lengths to explain how he got the character into the European continent, also contained in that back article.
As for my impression? I always thought of Arak as a Conan knock-off, which he was, without the nice touchstone of Robert E. Howard’s credentials to lend it an air of geek respectability. What I hadn’t counted on was that the writing by Thomas would elevate this to the same status as his Conan tales and I’d leave the issue greedily pouring over the Crapbox to see if any more Araks had fallen in my clutches. I’m lucky, because at least a couple have.
With that I’m going to let us fall right in on Arak and his devilishly clever adventure. Take it away, Thomas and company…
We begin with Arak smashing his Viking longboat against some rocks, which tosses our Quontauka tribesman out on some random European shore. About the Quontauk, the book has them as an East Cost Nativie American tribe who were wiped out by “an enemy”(probably damn white people), but I believe they are made up just for the book’s purpose. Unsure of that and my Googling isn’t strong this morning. Maybe one of you lot knows.
Anyhoo, Arak spends the night on the beach before being awoken by this hot chick in jade and her three iron suited companions. She claims to mean Arak no harm, but he is wary of her complement of knights. When he lays hands on her…
…we get some nice actions shots of him using his otomahuk and knife to down two attackers before succumbing to a rap on the skull from the hilt of the third’s sword.
Thus he is shoved in front of the owner of the castle, the young lady Corinna’s “Father” (more on that in a bit), who treats him pretty harshly. Arak is kind enough to give him the two-page summary of his backstory in an effort to placate the jerk in charge, who insists being called “My Lord.”
Even after spilling last issue’s plot points, the Lord Nessa decides he doesn’t trust Arak’s story and is going to shove him in the dungeon for a few years just for good measure. This doesn’t sit well with Arak, who moves to attack the butt-head on the throne only to discover he has one monster claw where his left hand should be!!
And to match up with this beastly revelation, the Lord shows him that the suits of armor are EMPTY…dun-dun-DUHN!
So Arak gets tossed in the clink with this old wizard, named Malagigi, who happens to have worked for the King of the Franks Carolus Magnus. Arak is trying to get a warning to Magnus, which I assume makes up the first arc of this part of the series. And that leads to revelations also about Arak’s own past, as the son of He-No, the thunder god of the Quontauka.
All of which is cut short by the arrival of Corinna, who takes Arak out of the cell, gives him his weapons and helps him escape…
…right before beginning her own flashback tale of how her grandmother got tired of working as a prostitute and decided to make a deal with an actual lesser devil. The deal was for power in exchange for a little nookie-nookie. Hey, Devil’s got needs too, yah know. The son of this union was Nessa and he plans on sacrificing her to that Devil as its bride for something-something…I don’t know, it’s getting really complicated in here.
It’s right about then that Lord Nessa interrupts their chat.
And Arak has to deal with his living suits of armor. Luckily he remembers what Malagigi told him about how they don’t do so well if sent flying.
And while Nessa and the hero scuffle, the evil lord has finally gotten far enough away that his magics no longer depower Malagigi and he sets off an earthquake that splits the ground and destroys the castle.
As Arak worries about his wizard-friend, Corinna lets it slip that Nessa is her SON and the she is grandmother she spoke of…the one who slept with a Devil to give conceive Nessa. And when her son falls in the chasm, his burned up corpse is tossed back in response. As for Corinna, she traveled beyond the place the Devil’s power works. She ages 60 years in a few seconds, but…
…the tale has a happy? ending as the Devil appears and she leaps into the pit to be reunited with him. I guess eternal youth and Devil sex is better than death to some people.
As for Arak and Malagigi? They end up being travel companions for a bit it seems. And the tale wraps up.
Arak would eventually get morphed into the main villain of Convergence, which is a sad way for the second-rate Conan to end up. I think leaving him in Roy Thomas’s hands till the end would have been a more noble end for the warrior.
A few pages of bonus content wrap up the issue and the aforementioned Thomas Arak backstory: