Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Comic Book Cambion – Conan the Barbarian: Red Nails

Back in 1983, Marvel Comics released their adaptation of Conan the Barbarian: Red Nails and it's really quite good. One can hardly have a comic book feature on a D&D blog without mentioning Conan a couple hundred times, so here's our virginal outing. It is true to the short story by Robert E. Howard in every way, which touchy modern readers might object to – more on that later.

Barry Windsor-Smith's artwork is alluring, distinctive, and not a bad fit for Conan. Personally, I prefer the black and white art of Savage Sword of Conan, as depicted by John Romita, best; but Windsor-Smith is by no means a hack artist. His eye for layout and perspective is top shelf stuff!

Without posting too many spoilers, the story is classic D&D material – and more modules based on this type of fair would be a welcome sight. It's basically a lost city in the jungle scenario … and with Chult being all the rage lately, the story seems almost timely. There's even a 'dragon' in the story, what's not to love?

Red Nails, however, is very much a product of it's time with a glimpse of racism and … well, Conan is pretty much a chauvinist; despite the fact that the heroine, Valeria, is a capable and strong female lead. It was a different time when stories like these, pulp fictions, were written and by no means am I a modern day apologist. I see the Hyborian age as a more primal reflection of today's world – for better or for worse. I personally like a non PC Conan … He's a Barbarian for chrissake! But I suppose YMMV … It's a good story and worth checking out if you come across it.