Friday, May 3, 2019

By Crom, it's sword vs. shield--in 1984!?


And then there was the time when Captain America battled the leader of the Barbarians, a new street gang in New York.

You might know the fellow as Conan the Barbarian.
(Brought to you by Peter Gillis and Bob Hall.)







11 comments:

Big Murr said...

A "What If?" that should have been retitled "What If Captain America Fought While Stoned?" Conan has ability, no question there. But Cap has either fought against or trained with the Swordsman, the Black Knight, THOR...all manner of individuals with expert weaponry skills. Conan just doesn't bring anything fresh to the fight that explains this win.

AND, Cap better get some fresh chainmail made for his costume. The way that antique sword sliced thru it, the stuff is apparently past its expiry date.

Meanwhile, Conan is apparently going to be an Avenger! I didn't buy the issue of "Savage Avengers", but there he is on the cover...

Colin Jones said...

Reading today's post I thought "how the #&@$ is Conan fighting Captain America???" but Big Murr's comment explains everything - a WHAT IF story. I was only aware of the first Conan What If...

Speaking as a life-long Conan fan who discovered him in 1975 thanks to Marvel (UK) I was delighted at the news that Conan was returning home to Marvel at last. I jokingly told myself: "He'll probably end up in the Avengers like everyone else in Marvel". And now Big Murr reveals that Conan really HAS joined the Avengers!!!

Comicsfan said...

The only excuse I can make for Cap, Murray, is that he was repeatedly trying to talk down Conan and give him every chance to pack it in, which probably gave Conan some sort of opening to get under his guard. I fully recognize that's a flimsy explanation, and I don't really buy it myself--after all, how often do we see Cap give armed hoodlums the benefit of the doubt, instead of taking them out on sight?

Colin, I agree that the Avengers might as well rename themselves "Heroes 'R Us," since the greater novelty would be to ask "Who these days hasn't been an Avenger? (Well, maybe Galactus, but probably because no one has thought to ask him.)

Anonymous said...

I liked this comic. Actually, I think it's quite reasonable that Conan could more than hold his own against Captain America. At least for a while. Neither one is technically superhuman, Super-Soldier Serum notwithstanding.
And Cap goes out of his way not to kill anybody (except Baron Blood), while Conan is troubled by no such qualms. He doesn't hold back. He fights monsters for a living!
I figure if any non super-powered guy could hold his own against Cap, it would be Conan. Or Squirrel Girl, maybe.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate that some creative licence was necessary for Gillis to come up with a reasonably entertaining comic, Conan adapted far too easily to life in the twentieth century.
Probably some point about contemporary urban living was being made, and the fight with Captain America at least added to the ambiguity - its not often Marvel heroes deal coke, right? - but the basic idea was misconceived.

They should really have left the whole idea at its starting point, The Citadel at the Centre of Time from SSOC; the vision of horseless chariots and ships in the sky was a more effective look at Conan and the twentieth century than either What If.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Well, I could make a case that if any Hyborian could adapt to the 20th century, it'd be Conan.
Robert E. Howard (a very smart cat himself, to say the least) created Conan as an extremely shrewd, intuitive, and adaptable character, a true polyglot with an uncanny aptitude for picking up new languages, like the guys the CIA or MI5 recruit. Conan traveled extensively (or roamed and pillaged extensively) and despite his barbarian image, he was usually the smartest guy in the room. Or battlefield.
Just because a guy is holding a sword and wearing a loincloth doesn't mean he's stupid, which is exactly what I told the local cops last week.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Shrewd is one thing M.P., adapting to another world and completely different culture thousands of years in the future is another.
I feel out of place in London these days compared to just twenty years ago, and I've only been travelling into the future one day at a day at a time!

The Spidey/Red Sonja Team Up with its museum setting was a much better Hyborian age crossover imo, especially the bit near the end where both Sonja and that wizard suddenly find themselves outside and start to get a sense of just how different the modern world actually is...

-sean

Comicsfan said...

That's a fair comparison to make about the Red Sonja story. What If tales are often, by necessity, quite accommodating when placing someone in a different role and/or time period--to say nothing of fast-forwarding us a bit when getting that person to a point where the story can progress. Though to Gillis's credit, he does a decent job at making Conan's progression as believable as possible--helped in no small part by the fact that 20th century New York City had enough unsavory elements to make adapting to its culture possible for a man who lived by his wits and skill: "...Conan soon finds his way to a part of New York that has always drawn the dispossessed, the stranger, the fugitive: 42nd Street. Though details are startlingly different, here are figures Conan has known well--prostitutes, pimps, beggars and thieves." Even learning the language is handled pretty well. Unfortunately, he ends up surviving by fitting easily into a life of crime, which leads to the altercation with Cap--and whether Conan should have walked away the victor in that encounter will naturally be debatable. (Though since it's Conan's name plastered on the cover and not Cap's, his "victory" perhaps wasn't all that surprising.)

Big Murr said...

The run of What If tales of this era are absolutely infamous for having heroes be defeated, mangled and/or killed by situations they faced victoriously every other issue in their regular adventures. Floundering in the face of "business as usual" events.

And then the world was destroyed, more often than not.

Killdumpster said...

The first What-If's were highly entertaining, and I believe part of it was because of the unusually unhappy endings.

Conan finds himself in the 20th century? Of course he'll be involved in the criminal element! As far as adapting quickly, c'mon! A little "suspension of disbelief" maybe needed, but don't we all have the ready-switch handy for that just by
reading comics in the first place?

That story, as well as many other What-It's, is exactly what it was supposed to be. Great fun.

Anonymous said...

You're right Kd, and thats an argument I've often used when defending, say, Jack Kirby's 70s stuff - if I can accept Cap going up against a geezer with a camera for a head and his face on his chest putting Hitler's brain in a robot, then why not a barbarian from the past?

I suppose its because Conan comics had a greater... well, realism isn't quite the right word, but they did seem to operate on different rules to the superhero stuff.
So for me, combining the two bought my disbelief crashing down. But if it didn't for you or anyone else, then thats great you were able to enjoy it more.

-sean.

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