Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sadly, the book was cancelled before Conan faced the "Men of X."

Whether you're a fan of the character or not--and by god, you should be--you'd have to admit Conan the Barbarian had a pretty successful run at Marvel Comics. From his first issue in 1970, Conan would have a 275 issue run (and I would dearly love to have that last issue for "The End" Week...) as well as 235 of Savage Sword of Conan, 55 of Conan the King, and other spin-offs.

Then there was his 1995 relaunch, simply titled Conan. Even with Larry Hama and Dan Abnett writing, and art by Bret Blevins and Enrique Alcatena (on a few issues...) the series didn't seem to catch on. Today's issue? Didn't help. Conan #7, "Man of Iron" Written by Larry Hama, art by Bret Blevins. One look at the logo and you have a pretty good idea what you and Conan are in for; and I'm pretty sure there was another issue around that time with Conan meeting a grim-yet-familiar warrior who's family was killed before his eyes, who took a skull for his emblem...

Working as a mercenary, Conan is hired by a duke to put down a "freeholder with territorial ambitions," with the promise of pillaging and looting. However, the duke and his men end up put down, with Conan the only survivor, facing a Man of Iron. I'm not completely sold on the design, but at least Blevins doesn't just put an Iron Man armor with more spikes and a bigger codpiece in there. Fighting viciously, Conan knocks the Man of Iron's head off, which does nothing; and gets slapped down by the flat of an axe.

Carried off the field of battle by shield-maidens, Conan wakes up in a garden surrounded by scantily-clad babes; but suspects treachery. He is introduced to siblings Ragallo and Rowena, master and mistress of the castle. Conan suspects Ragallo of being the Man of Iron, but later sees the Man in action against brigands, as Ragallo fires arrows into the fray. After nearly getting stuck in the suit, Rowena emerges; describing the suit as not sorcery, merely "cleverness and craft" and the work of a man named Wu. (I thought that was supposed to be a nod to Ho Yinsen of Iron Man's origin, but now I'm not sure.)

Rowena had been studying the armor, and had learned enough to build more of them. She wanted Conan to be her general, and looked like she was also going to sleep with him right there, before her brother shoots her in the back and takes the armor for himself. Enraged, Conan fights the novice Ragallo, positioning him so his attack launches them both over the parapet and into the moat, where Ragallo drowns before he can get out of the suit. Just that quickly, too.

I actually had to count how many pages that issue ran, since it was a bit slight.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

That would be cool if it was a shout-out of sorts to Ho Yinsen. As for Conan, I respect his creator and all the creative people that worked on him, but I never really got into him. I did buy one Conan the Barbarian comics once. #235(8) I think, but that was mostly because it had Ron Lim art.

I do know Roy Thomas worked on his marvel series the most, and according to him, was the guy responsible for Marvel to get the publishing rights for awhile.