Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Chronicles of King Conan: Vol II

As my friend Laura might say, meh. King Conan (later retitled Conan the King) was an attempt by Marvel Comics to get more mileage out of their license for the Conan character back in the early 1980s. The color comic Conan the Barbarian and the black&white magazine The Savage Sword of Conan were still selling well, so what the heck, let's put out another comic, this one taking place in the later years of Conan's life when he was the king of Aquilonia.
Unfortunately, Conan scripter Roy Thomas decided to stick to his habit of more or less following the outline for Conan's life established by L. Sprague de Camp in the Lancer/Ace Conan books, and so he gave Conan a son, also named Conan but called Conn, and began adapting the de Camp/Lin Carter stories from the paperbacks. Now speaking as a guy who actually liked some of the de Camp/Carter stories, I can tell you that this stuff was bottom of the barrel Conan pastiche in prose form. Illustrating it didn't help, even with the great John Buscema doing the art.
Volume II of the Dark Horse collections of the comics begins with an adaptation of the de Camp/Bjorn Nyberg novel Conan the Avenger. If there's anything worse than a bad de camp/Carter pastiche, it's a bad de Camp/Nyberg pastiche. Even Buscema seems to have lost interest, turning in lackluster layouts to be 'finished' by Ernie Chan.
This adaptation was Thomas's swan song on the King Conan comic, and he would soon leave Marvel for about a decade. Things only got worse after he left. The rest of volume two is filled out by boring stories and uninspired art. By the final issue presented here, Buscema too was off the book.
So now, my dilemma. After this Volume there's mostly a lot of forgettable stories and forgettable art. Do I continue picking up the reprints for the sake of a complete set or just let this one go? Time will tell.

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