Review: Conan The Adventurer

Conan the Adventurer.jpgConan The Adventurer

Conan is a work of modern mythology.  The character, created by Robert E. Howard, was created in the early ’30s, and follows a barbarian as he travels with his friends and kills monsters.  It takes place in a made up era called the Hyborian Age, which is after the fall of Atlantis, but before the rise of ancient world as we know it.  It mixes recognizable ancient history with magic and monsters, not unlike Greek Mythology.

Conan The Adventurer is a Saturday morning take on the story.  It’s somewhat sanitized, but the setting and sense of wonder shine through.  Conan is a very civilized ‘barbarian’ in this series.  He’s helpful, he protects animals, he doesn’t kill anyone.  And yet, it still comes across that he’s a warrior, relying more on brute strength than strategy or training.  He’s a little out of place compared to the rest of the Hyborian civilizations, who have developed large cities and pants.

The plot of the series is that a ‘serpent-man’ wizard, Wrath-Amon, is trying to collect ‘star metal,’ which he will use to release his serpent-god Set.  Conan and friends all have weapons made out of star metal, the weapons having been fashioned by Conan’s father, and sold at market (it just so happens that those that bought it were brave, strong, and just).  Wrath-Amon comes to Conan’s village to get the star metal his father was selling, and failing to find any, turns Conan’s family to stone.  Thus, Conan sets off to defeat Wrath-Amon and find a cure.

One of the examples of sanitation comes with how the serpent-men are dispatched.  When touched by star metal, a vortex opens above the serpent-man, sucking him into the other dimension which currently houses Set (there’s even a scene in which Set tells Wrath-Amon that the serpent-men are with him, lest the children watching worry what happened to them).

The Hyborian Age draws influences from much of the ancient world.  There are barbarians, of course, as wells as Veniermen (vikings) , the Wasai (and African tribe), and something like the Romans and Egyptians.  It makes for an engaging setting.  The familiar cultures keep it from getting bogged down in made-up minutia, as many fantasy worlds do, while at the same time, the ancient world has a kind of mythical quality to it by its nature.  Its a world you want to explore and see more of.

There’s a punctuated continuity to the series.  All the characters are introduced one at a time, and then show up in random combinations to accompany Conan on one of his quests.  It’s clear that some episodes take place in a certain order, but there are a number of stand alone ones as well.

Accepting the constraints of Saturday morning TV in the ’90s, Conan is a well developed series that respects its audience.  The wonder and adventure of the original Conan stories are carried through to the series, even without the sex and violence.

All in all, it’s an enjoyable show that holds up very well for those who watched it as a child.