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The Barbarian Returns!

Some speak of comics' Golden Age. Many debate the end of the Silver Age. And no one knows what to call the era we're currently undergoing (how about comics' dot age? - bad pun intended). The one age too long left out of the discussion, of course, is The Hyborean Age.

Yes, after an extended absence, Conan The Barbarian returns to comics, and Dark Horse has him. Set to launch in mid 2003, the new book will mix all-new stories with adaptations of Robert E. Howard's original Conan tales.

In a press release this morning, Dark Horse Comics President Mike Richardson commented, "I am very honored and excited to bring this classic character back to the comics world. We will be working closely with Fredrik Malmberg of Conan properties to ensure the highest quality stories and art to do this legendary character justice."

One thing that Dark Horse Comics absolutely knows how to do right is adapt properties from other media. Witness the popularity of their Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Aliens books, as well as that great elephant Star Wars.

Malmberg concurs, "Dark Horse was our number one choice when we looked for a new licensee and we are extremely pleased with the creative approach they are planning."

Not mentioned at this point is exactly who is planning that creative approach. In Conan's original ground-breaking comics series for Marvel, Roy Thomas wrote the character, and he has been involved through several incarnations of the comics (even a syndicated strip). Up until the meltdown of the company that bore his name, Stan Lee had the rights to do Conan, though nothing ever came of the association. Neither creator seems likely.

Certainly as a property, Conan is regaining heat, with a lot of rumors circulating that Schwarzenegger plans to return to the character in a film scripted by John Milius. Alternately known as King Conan or The Iron Crown, the movie would purportedly feature Conan at the end of his career (as hinted in the earlier entries) with his son Conn handling much of the action. Though the Dark Horse press release does acknowledge a film project exists, it seems that the publishers will be ignoring it. At least at first.

May Crom guide them on their path.

Derek McCaw

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