Vids I Dig 198: Midnight’s Edge: The Ultimate ‘Conan The Destroyer’ Retrospective

From the Midnight’s Edge YouTube description: The 1982 feature film “Conan the Barbarian” is widely considered a classic. It’s 1984 sequel however, “Conan the Destroyer”, isn’t held in anywhere near the same regard; despite the two being made within two years of each other, by the same production company – so what changed?

In this retrospective, @AndreEinherjar will uncover just that, by first exploring the changing priorities behind the scenes, and how these manifested themselves on screen as the plot evolved from its very different original conception, to what ultimately ended up in theaters, and what impact it had on the future franchise.

Book Review: ‘Silken Swords: An Informal Guide to the Women in the Fiction of Robert E. Howard’ by Fred Blosser

This is a pretty cool book to have around for those who like Robert E. Howard’s work.

It’s all about the female badasses from his stories whether they appeared in the tales of Conan, Solomon Kane, Kull or their own stories.

This is basically a reference book that is organized and reads like an encyclopedia. Because of that, it’s really valuable if you like specific characters and want to know more about them and where they appear.

It still reads well if you delve into it from cover to cover and in doing that, it introduced me to a lot of characters that I hadn’t yet known about.

The only thing that I think could improve it would be to also include information about their comic book counterparts as many of these characters have found life alongside Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane since Marvel started publishing those characters in the ’70s.

For those of you that have a sword and sorcery section in your personal library, this would be a handy edition to it.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the Barbarian Life books by Roy Thomas.

Video Game Review: Conan: Exiles (PlayStation 4)

For my last video game review of the decade, I wanted to talk about something truly epic.

I bought this game without knowing much about it simply because it was a Conan the Barbarian game. I wanted to play a modern game set in that world, whether or not you could play as Conan or not.

Being that I never play multiplayer stuff online, this game, at first, felt like a waste of time. However, I found a lot to do in single player mode that made the game worth it to me and really, this game could be great or terrible depending upon what you want to get out of it.

Don’t go into this expecting a massive open world RPG with dozens upon dozens of quests like Skyrim. This is more of a survival game and it’s about living and prospering in Conan’s world more so than it is about simple adventure. But that’s not to say that adventure doesn’t exist, it does. But I’ll explain further as I work my way through this review.

The game starts with Conan sparing your life, as he unties you from a cross in the desert. From that point on, you have to figure out how to get food, water, how to make your own clothes and learn how to construct a shelter to protect you from the harsh elements of the desert wasteland.

As the game moves on, you gain experience, you get better at surviving and you discover new biomes (or environments) to explore and survive in.

Apart from survival, this is mainly a game about exploration. So if you dig survival stuff and exploring massive video game worlds, you should probably enjoy this game. It took time for me to adjust to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be clearly defined objectives or what I thought was a point to the game but when it clicks, it becomes fairly addictive.

Now getting back to what initially may feel like a lack of adventure, the game does provide it in a way.

First, exploration is an adventure and this game throws so many beasts, supernatural threats and savage men at you that traveling around is a challenge in and of itself. But man, walking from one end of the map to another is tough but it’s damn fun, as the world has a lot of different and unique challenges from biome to biome.

Also, the game may not have quests but it has great dungeons and the game’s developers are always crafting and making new ones, as the game has pretty frequent updates and tweaks, even 18 months after its release.

The game may lack a clear story or objective but each dungeon sets you on a path that pretty much serves as a one-off quest. And each dungeon feels unique and I’ve yet to play through one that wasn’t a fun experience.

On top of that, there are a ton of subterranean caves to explore, which aren’t specifically dungeons but they have their own challenges and treasures to discover.

There are also mini bosses and big bosses throughout the game. Almost every animal has a giant counterpart that is tough as nails to beat but rewarding when you do, as most have keys that open very helpful treasures.

I’ve been playing the game for a few months now and I mostly build cool cities with pyramids, castles and labyrinths but I really like going off into the wild and discovering new places. After all this time and exploring every biome, I still come across new caves and interesting locations every time I wander out beyond the safety of my multiple shelters.

Again, many people might not like this as it isn’t what most people would initially hope for in a gigantic RPG style sword and sorcery game but if you stick with it and give it a real shot, it will probably grow on you.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other open world survival RPG-type games.

 

Comic Review: Savage Sword of Conan (2019 Series)

Published: February 13th, 2019 – December 11th, 2019
Written by: Gerry Duggan, Meredith Finch, Jim Zub, Roy Thomas, Frank Tieri
Art by: Ron Garney, Luke Ross, Patch Zircher, Alan Davis, Andrea Di Vito, Alex Ross (covers), David Finch (cover), Marco Checchetto (covers), Dave Wilkins (cover)
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 336 Pages

Review:

This is the second time Marvel has done a comic book series called Savage Sword of Conan, although the original one was a black and white comic magazine while this one was a traditional color comic book. If I’m being honest, I had really hoped that this was going to be a colorless magazine but it was still pretty good, initially.

The first half dozen issues or so were written by Gerry Duggan and the story was solid and had a good flow and pace. About halfway through the twelve issue run, he went off to write Savage Avengers and the duties were then handled by four other writers all taking turns. This is where it became a bit disjointed and somewhat directionless.

Plus, Marvel had just relaunched the regular Conan the Barbarian title a month earlier, so reading both books, monthly, created a lot of confusion, as I couldn’t remember which events happened in which story arcs.

That being said, this probably reads better as a complete body of work, as opposed to reading it in one issue increments with a month of time between the chapters.

For the most part, I loved the art in every issue and am happy that Marvel are using some of their better talent on these new Conan books.

Side note: the first issue was absolutely fantastic. Everything starts to be a letdown after that.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other Conan and sword and sorcery comics of the modern era.

Comic Review: Conan the Barbarian: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus, Vol. 2

Published: August 6th, 2019
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Gil Kane, John Buscema, Neal Adams, Rich Buckler
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 856 Pages

Review:

There’s not much I can say about how good this is that I didn’t say in the review for volume one. This is virtually more of the same but that’s a great thing.

Roy Thomas is still writing these stories and adapting the work of Robert E. Howard while mixing in his own original ideas that he keeps as close to the spirit of the source material as possible.

I did like the monsters in a lot of these stories more than the ones from the earliest issues, as they felt more imaginative and refined.

We also get a few stories that team-up Conan and Red Sonja again, which is something I’ve always loved and that we’ll never get to see again unless both heroes end up at the same publisher one day.

This collection is massive, beefy but none of it is dull, even if some one-off issues and adventures may start to feel a bit repetitive after awhile.

Conan is still a cool and engaging character, however, so even when the stories feel like they may be retreading something you’ve already read, Conan still makes it fun and worthwhile.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: other Conan and sword and sorcery comics penned by Roy Thomas.

Comic Review: Conan the Barbarian: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus, Vol. 1

Published: January 29th, 2019
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Barry Windsor-Smith, Gil Kane, John Buscema
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Marvel Comics, 776 Pages

Review:

I read this collection of the first 26 issues of Marvel’s original Conan the Barbarian run because I had just read Roy Thomas’ book where he gives in-depth commentary on the first 51 issues.

Also, I’m a big Conan fan but I hadn’t read most of these issues yet, as some of the earliest ones are really expensive now and because I didn’t start collecting Conan comics until this series was well over a hundred issues. I wasn’t born until the very end of ’78 and didn’t really get into buying and collecting comics until ’89.

Anyway, this was really cool to read and just about every issue was a great story with superb art, whether it was the illustration work of Barry Smith, Gil Kane or John Buscema. The book is mostly dominated by the work of Smith and I found his art here to be some of his absolute best.

What’s especially neat about these stories is that some of them are actually adapted from the works of Robert E. Howard and some are original stories made to fit within Howard’s already established universe that predates the comics by about forty years.

Not all of the Howard material that was adapted was actually Conan stories, specifically. Some of them were taken from other characters like Howard’s Kull and then retrofitted into Conan tales.

This collection of issues includes some first appearances and a crossover as well. This is where we see evil sorcerer Thoth-Amon debut, as well as the most popular female sword and sorcery hero of all-time, Red Sonja. As for the crossover, in this book Conan meets Elric of Melniboné, a popular fantasy character that was created by Michael Moorcock in 1961. Elric has gone on to have his own multimedia franchise in the same vein as Conan.

The price tag on this omnibus is pretty hefty but it’s a 700-plus page hardcover and it still costs less than trying to round up all these issues, individually.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other Conan and sword and sorcery comics penned by Roy Thomas.

Book Review: ‘Barbarian Life: A Literary Biography of Conan the Barbarian, Vol. 1’ by Roy Thomas

Man, this was a really cool book to read. Any fan of the ’70s Marvel Conan the Barbarian comics should love this, as it gives deep insight into every one of the first 51 issues.

The best part, is all this insight is given by Roy Thomas, the man who wrote and managed the creation of each of these issues.

Each chapter in this book covers a single issue. Each chapter is also typically four-to-five pages, which really is a lot when looking at the bigger picture. In fact, I’m surprised that Roy Thomas was even able to remember so many details, even with the help of his own notes.

I mean, I’m in a field where I create art every day and even on the biggest brands I’ve designed, I can’t remember all the reasons why I made certain creative choices. And I’m a lot younger than Thomas and my work wasn’t done decades ago.

This is a fun and impressive read. It gives you Thomas’ point-of-view on the character, the mythos and how to stay as true as possible to Robert E. Howard’s vision when there isn’t enough material to use over a lengthy amount of time creating monthly Conan stories.

Also, this book is labeled as a “volume one”. So I guess there is more coming. I hope so, because this was so enjoyable. But I also hope that I don’t have to wait too long for “volume two”.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: Roy Thomas’ historic run on Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian.