BONUS BOOK – Arak, Son of Thunder (August, 1981)
Writer – Roy Thomas
Art – Ernie Colon
Embellisher – Tony DeZuniga
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Edits – Dick Giordano
Hey look, another “Insert Prevue” without an actual cover! Whatta bummer.
Speaking of “bummers”… today we take a look at Arak, Son of Thunder. Gotta be honest here, there’s a reason why it’s taken me so long to get to this one. This is definitely not my type of comic… and, I’ve been dreading having to cover it. But, ya know what they say… in for a penny, in for a pound. We don’t do things halfway at this here blog… if we’re covering Insert Prevues, then dammit, we’re covering ’em all.
We open with Arak lurking and hunting alongside overly flowery narration… and, a lot of it. He comes across a pool, where a beautiful woman is skinny-dipping… and so, he decides to stick around and watch for a bit… as ya do?
Anyhoo, Arak watches as the woman “Phoebe Cates” out of the pool, while more overly-purple (and perhaps some blue) thoughts cross his mind. The woman notices him, and doesn’t take kindly to the hulking peeping tom… and so, she sics her dogs on him.
Arak makes short work of them… however, it gives the woman, Dziewona, enough time to flee… at least for the moment. She hops on the back of her horse and takes off. But then, Arak starts up his “War Whoop” which frightens the horse enough to buck the broad off!
Arak approaches the fallen bather, and assures her he means her no harm… maybe he’s just a creepy pervert then? Anyhoo, he tells her that he’s only out searching for amber for trade. Just then, a bunch of shadowy folks appear from the forest… and one hurls a spear right at Arak’s face, knocking him out! When he awakens, he’s all alone… looks like his attackers have taken Dziewona.
Arak manages to track his attackers to a nearby amber-hoard… so, we’re killing two birds with one stone here! He discovers that his foes are Vikings… and they appear to be setting up Dziewona for some sort of ritual. They bind her and place her within the amber motherlode.
Then… they chant. Suddenly, the amber begins to move… and comes together in the form of a great glowing beast. The strange serpentine predator approaches the prone Dziewona.
This prompts Arak to belt out another War-Whoop! He lunges into battle with the Vikings, and takes them out alongside even more flowery narration. Ya know, there are a lot of reasons why I don’t read Thor… faux-Shakespearean, or over-dramatized narration is very high on that list. This sort of thing is pretty off-putting to me, and is really taking me out of the story. It almost feels like I’m reading a parody. “Sinews and Steel”… c’mon, gimme a break.
All the while, the amber-beast kinda just menacingly looks at Dziewona. It doesn’t exactly “attack” or attempt to harm her in any way.
That doesn’t stop Arak from attacking it, however. He hacks away at the beast, taking off chunks of amber with each swipe. The amber actually seems to attach itself to his hand-axe… not sure if there’s anything special about that… but, Roy really wanted us to know this was happening.
More fighting… more slashing… and finally, Arak goes in for the “kill”.
The Vikings look on, and are flabbergasted. Well, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet… because Dziewona takes this opportunity to stand up and begin a chant of her own. This causes the great amber beast to stiffen, ultimately turning into a shining statue.
The Vikings flee… and Arak passes out, again. When he wakes up, he asks Dzie if she was ever in danger from the beast… and, of course she wasn’t. She then calls forth her decrepit-looking steed, and takes her leave.
Not before telling Arak that they will see each other again, however… well, he’ll meet someone like her at the very least. All’s he’s gotsta do is head for the City of the Golden Horn. And… that’s that.
Ya know, this wasn’t bad. It’s not something I feel compelled to continue reading… but, I didn’t dislike this as much as I feared. I should always expect quality from Roy Thomas, and shouldn’t doubt in his ability to make even stories that are so far out of my personal wheelhouse, at least somewhat interesting.
Arak feels like a series I’d probably need a “running start” to try in earnest. I just don’t see how stories like this were able to last as long as they did. I think Arak, Son of Thunder lasted something like fifty issues… which, dang… different times, I guess.
So, whatta we get here? Besides some gorgeous Ernie Colon art, we get to sorta-kinda meet our leading man. All we know is that he’s looking for amber to trade, is “sinewy”, and he has a War Whoop that can spook even a horse! Sorry, I’m really looking for something interesting to say… there’s just nothin’ comin’! I’m sure folks who are into this kind of book… will like this, and probably like it a lot.
Over on social media, I’ve been counting down to my four-year anniversary by sharing “This Day in Christory” posts… where I just compile all of the books I’d covered on that date over the past few years. Just the other day, I shared this one:
This Day in Christory
Jan 5, 2017 – Justice League Europe #1 (1989) https://t.co/z5Nuexb2qU
Jan 5, 2018 – Convergence #0 (2015) https://t.co/ApncNXYZx9
Jan 5, 2019 – Titans East Special #1 (2008) https://t.co/ezJxTSQ4e8 pic.twitter.com/6XOAvY7sWm
— Chris Sheehan (@AceComics) January 5, 2020
Convergence #0… actually features the first appearance of Arak… as Telos! Which is pretty dumb! But ya know, kinda relevant with the timing of this post. Or maybe I’m just grasping at straws to extend this post?
Anyhoo, just one Insert Prevue left to go… if you’re following along at H.O.M.E. you probably know exactly where we’re headed. Also, we’re going to take a short peek at the planned Len Wein & Ross Andru-crafted Insert that never happened!
UPDATE: February 16, 2020:
A piece from Amazing Heroes #1 (June, 1981) regarding Roy Thomas’ arrival at DC Comics, and his plans to continue his Conan-ing through a certain Indian/Viking character:
Interesting (and Relevant) Ad: