“Many wars and feuds did Conan fight. Honor and fear were heaped upon his name, in time, he became a king by his own hand. But that is another story…”
Without Conan, there probably never would have been the Terminator or the Governator. Arnold Schwarzenegger first played Conan in Conan the Barbarian in 1982 followed by Conan the Destroyer in 1984. Because of the box office success of those films, Arnold dawned the fantasy-warrior mantle (albeit a different one from Conan) for his last sword and sorcery adventure in 1985, co-starring along with Bridgette Nielsen in Red Sonja. Universal Pictures has announced Arnold has signed on to play Conan the Barbarian one more time–or maybe even Conan the King–as we last left him on the throne. Arnold will star in The Legend of Conan, slated for release in 2014.
Just like Bryan Singer did with the Superman franchise with his Superman Returns, which continued the adventures of Superman from Superman II and skipping over the other sequels as if they never happened, The Legend of Conan is expected to be a direct sequel to John Milius’s original Conan the Barbarian.
The Legend of Conan producer Fredrik Malmberg was quoted last week: “The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make. It’s that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.”
Does that make anyone else cringe in light of Arnold’s publicity last year? Arnold at the beginning of his career was a perfect candidate for Conan–he had the look and his personal attitude fit the chest thumping old world womanizer. And now his return to Conan sure seems to show his career coming full circle, in parallel with the character he made so popular.
While waiting for Arnold to return as Conan, fans of classic Conan stories and art should check out Dark Horse Comics’ new release… The Savage Sword of Conan Volume 12, reprinting Issues 121-130 from the 1980s issues of the long out-of-print series The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian. For under $20 retail the giant, black and white, 500-page trade edition is a good buy. Each story is an account of the lone drifter willing to work for hire going town to town, beating up locals, earning or stealing gold, and enjoying food, drink and women along the way. Long-time fans will love this volume but those new to Conan may find it a bit dated. And you either like Conan or you don’t. Conan’s story is a lot like Rambo from First Blood–“he’s not trying to get into fights, he just gets challenged everywhere he turns.” But he’s also the original opportunist, and if a course of action will benefit Conan he will take it, despite the repercussions to others. He knows who he is better than anyone, saying: “I side with myself.” His adventures are a lot like Hercules’s tales from the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, but Conan is just not the sympathetic, kind-hearted guy Hercules was. That said he manages to fall in love in this volume (as much as Conan can), and defend the men that are sworn to him (although he is betrayed and they are all fed to a dragon). The volume reflects several writing and art styles from the different creators working on the original series. But all show the classic Conan the Barbarian just as you’d expect to find him, flaws and all.
The Savage Sword of Conan Volume 12 will be released in stores on November 20, 2012, but is available for pre-order now for $10.94–more than $11 off the cover price. Or grab it from your local comic book shop once it is released. All the other past volumes are still available on Amazon.com while you’re waiting for Volume 12.