Remakes of Conan the Barbarian are everywhere these days. This is completely understandable for someone who like myself has had the pleasure of reading the original novels. What I can’t understand, however, is why the remakes continue to be so horrible. Dark Horse’s newest foray into the series, “Conan Road of Kings,” manages to take one of the most bad ass characters imaginable and take out his soul, turning him more into a member of the Jersey Shore than anything else. Read on for the skinny…
One of the most impressive parts of the original Conan series was how absolutely dark they were. Conan exists in one of those worlds that seems to be the fantasy counterpart inspired by books like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The newest Dark Horse adaptation ruins this and makes Conan fall into a category of protagonist’s that lies somewhere between Brad Pitt’s Achilles from the recent Troy, and Obelix from the French classic Asterix and Obelix. My comparison may sound a little weird, but what I’m trying to get across is that this is a Conan who, although a bad ass because he is constantly pulling hot slam pieces and has that I’m untouchable ‘tude, also comes off as a little too stupid or naive for my taste. What was great about the original Conan was that he was supremely confident in his status as a complete hard ass, but he wasn’t an arrogant prick or idiot who let himself get drunk and tricked into stupid situations. He had too much world wariness for that.
Regardless of my potentially misguided summary of Conan’s personality (i did read the novels a longtime ago in all fairness) I am also not a big fan of the world he finds himself in. Again I base this on my expectations of how I saw Conan’s world when I read the novels, and in my opinion it was much more, well, barbaric and unknown. In this adaptation it is portrayed as much more medieval/Prince of Persia Jake Gyllenhall pretty boy than anything I would have taken Conan for.
I would say the comic is at least entertaining, if lacking some of the depth and darkness that I hoped it would have. The monsters and bad guys are well drawn and Conan definitely gets down to skull crunching in every book. If there is none of that original horror I was really hoping for, it’s because it has been replaced by a more contemporary action movie atmosphere. When it’s all said and done, if you’re looking for an entertaining action comic to give your 15 year old little brother, or something in lieu of a Playboy, then the new Conan series will probably be a fine substitute. If you were hoping for something with a little more depth, then I’d look elsewhere, especially to the original novels which I’m beginning to feel I need to re-read before another remake comes out.
2.5 out of 5 skulls