Roy Thomas, who returns to full scripting duties with this issue, sends Arak and Valda, by way of the Pope, to Neapal where a friend of his should be and who knows where White Cathay might be located. When reaching the ship of said friend, Arak and Valda come across a man beating a slave and Arak has no patience for either bullies or men who keep slaves. After a bit of a scuffle, the man reveals that his partner is dead and he has taken over the business and if the companions would join his crew as protection against possible pirates, he would gladly take them where need be. So it is that they find themselves at sea and after running into some pirates, they learn that their benefactor is not looking to honour his agreement. All of this leads to a bit of magic, a wizard encased in stone taken from Pompeii – The City of the Dead and a little bit of revenge to see Arak and Valda through their current turmoils. With incredible artwork from Ernie Colon once again, he takes this horror-infused tale and makes it come to life on the page making for a great read when coupled with Thomas’ script. Also in the book is the second part of Robert Kanigher’s Viking Prince saga entitled Frozen Hell for a Viking, once again pencilled by Jan Duursema. When last seen, Jon was sinking beneath the waves in danger of being eaten by a sea creature while chasing down Krogg the Red for kidnapping his sister. As all of these memories wash over him, he nearly loses his life but comes to in the nick of time, hammering away at the creature’s eye in order to both injure the monster and facilitate an escape. Against all odds, Jon does just that and later he is met by his former bard and jester who agree to go with him and rescue Ailsa. While the story does venture into the ridiculous a little bit with Jon subsequently defeating a dragon, it does lead into the moment where he loses his arm, the beginning point of this entire journey as seen in the first part of the tale told in the last issue. With not one, but two very exciting stories, the ninth issue of Arak continues on its path of excellence.
4 out of 5