Friday, August 23, 2013

Crab legs--ah! Or ew.


This is the second-to-last issue of Conan the Barbarian's surprisingly long stint as a pirate with Bêlit, the pirate queen. No spoiler, but it doesn't end well for her. Today, they fight crab-men, in Conan the Barbarian #99, "Devil-Crabs of the Dark Cliffs!" Written and edited by Roy Thomas, art by John Buscema and Ernie Chan, and adapted sorta from Robert E. Howard's non-Conan story "The People of the Black Coast."

Having recently lost a royal treasure, Bêlit is working her crew hard to make back that money. Conan realizes the men are on the verge of either exhaustion or mutiny, but he's been around long enough to know fortunes are to be won and lost: Bêlit just seems like she's being controlled by greed, and she's the captain. (I don't know if that was normal for her, or if they were just trying to foreshadow her fate.) When they come across a deserted Argossean ship, moored by a dark cliff, and find shredded bodies of sailors and mysterious Eastern treasure, Bêlit doesn't care about the mystery or the danger, only the possibility of more treasure, and they investigate. Which leads them to the crab-men.

A captured sailor fills them in: the crab-men seem to be telepathic, and lured the sailors there for some kind of lethal experiments. Oh, and the treasure, just because. Conan would not leave men to die that way, and Bêlit agrees to save them...and their treasure. The freed sailors don't make great time lugging treasure chests, and the crab-men give chase. Conan first has the idea to roll rocks down on them from the high ground in the cliffs, but then sees an opportunity: steam vents, heated from underground. To a crab-man, they're cooked.

Bêlit nearly keeps all the treasure, but seemingly on a whim elects to split it with the Argosseans. It may be far from a generous impulse, though: she knows if those sailors make it home, others will try their newly-discovered passage to the Eastern lands; which means more ships for her to loot...and mysteriously, Conan has a momentary weakness in the end, probably more foreshadowing.

I know I have Conan #100 somewhere...but without crab-men, perhaps it's not as memorable.

Fun fact: since I grew up in Montana, I've for years had a distrust of seafood; since it probably would've had to take a plane, a bus, and a cab to get to my plate.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

That very fact alone, excused you sir from having to eat seafood. But now that you live in Washington.....not so much;)

Hope you have a great weekend buddy
and getting a new damn phone already ya bum!:)