Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Four Color Conan: Freely Adapted
I mentioned at the end of my last Four Color Conan post that the big Cimmerian was about to run into Kulan Gath, the Wizard introduced in the nigh legendary Conan/Elric team-up back in Conan the Barbarian issues #14 and #15, about which I'll have a LOT more to say soon.
Unfortunately, Kulan Gath's return was the beginning of a long and I thought, drawn out adventure called The Second Coming of Shuma Gorath, which ran from issue #252 to issue #260. The storyline is enjoyably Lovecraftian, with Kulan Gath trying to raise the Elder God like Shuma Gorath to take his power for Gath's own, but anybody who's ever read Lovecraft knows this is a bad idea. You call up some tentacled horror from the outer dark and you're probably going to end up as a snack. It's not a bad storyline and there are many appearances by characters from Conan's past, but it does run on.
Once Shuma Gorath has been dealt with, Roy Thomas settles down to doing some adaptations, just as he did in the old days, but by this point there aren't many Robert E. Howard stories left to adapt. Over issues #261, #262, and #263, he "freely" adapts Guns of Khartum, Scarlet Tears, (which I think is a Lin Carter rewrite of a REH yarn) and The Voice of El-Lil.
Whenever Thomas had to make a lot of changes to a story he called it "Freely" adapted. Since Guns and Voice take place in what for Howard would have been contemporary times, they were certainly freely adapted. Still, they make for some pretty solid stories.
For issues #264 and #265, Thomas goes even farther afield, adapting Clifford Ball's sword and sorcery story The Thief of Forthe, which works pretty well as a Conan story, since it was written for Weird Tales after REH's death and aimed at the market Howard had created and left open.
Issues #266 through #269 were devoted to an adaptation of the TOR Conan novel Conan the Renegade by Leonard Carpenter. I like a couple of Carpenter's Conan books, but I hadn't read this one, so I can't say how good the adaptation is. It's a serviceable S&S tale.
And that brings us to the end of the adaptations. Issue #270 reintroduces an old foe of Conan's from Savage Sword, the Eater of Souls, for a three issue storyline. I never really warmed to that character, but someone must have because he ended up as an action figure in a combined set with Conan. Go figure.
That takes us to issue #273, which I have yet to read. Only three issues now until the end of the Marvel Conan the Barbarian comic book. I plan to read those over long weekend, so I'll let you know how things turn out.