Friday, October 26, 2012
My Scale of All Things Conan
So, with the announcement that Arnold will once again wield the Atlantean Sword (or an updated variation thereof), I have been thinking of the Conan character and property, and where I rank all of the various incarnations. Below is a list of the ones that I can honestly form an opinion about, each given a rank on a scale of 1 to 10.
The original, unedited stories by Robert E. Howard – 10
These are the standards. The litmus tests by which all other incarnations must be weighed and measured. REH was a master storyteller, with a gift for vivid prose and amazing characterization. If he had any flaw, it was that he tended to be long-winded with background information. But even then, he dumped the information in a style that made it enjoyable to read. So, really, it’s hardly a flaw. Ideally, this is where you should start if you want to know who Conan was intended to be. However, for a lot of us, it didn't begin there...
Conan the Barbarian (1982) – 8.5
Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian/Savage Sword of Conan/etc. – 8
Marvel’s and Dark Horse’s various Conan mini-series – 7
Conan the Barbarian (2011) – 6
Kull the Conqueror (1997) – 5
Conan (TV, 1997) – 3
Red Sonja (1985) – 2
Conan the Destroyer (1984) – 1
Not seen: Conan the Adventurer (TV, 1992) - N/A
There are probably a few other incarnations that I have left out, such as the DeCamp and Tor Books pastiches. DeCamp’s stories are ok, but not Howard-worthy. And I have only read a single Tor novel, by Roland Green. It was unmemorable, so I don’t feel I can honestly comment on those.
So, there you go. Now, let’s get on with ‘The Legend of Conan’ (though I hope they change the title…I rather like Milius’ planned ‘Crown of Iron’).