Saturday, December 26, 2009

What If... Conan the Barbarian Walked the Earth Today?

Announced as "Next" since What If? #2, this Conan story took its merry time getting to the book's pages. Especially considering that What If? is a bimonthly. And what an odd choice for a What If story! I guess Roy Thomas always had it in him, and could never find a way to actually use it in one of his Conan comics. Be hard to explain Spider-Man to the Howard estate, I suppose. What's nice at least is that Roy pairs up with Conan artist John Buscema in this, so it's really "of a piece" with the Conan stuff.

And though I still question to relevance of this idea today, it managed to spawn at least 4 more What Ifs, including a direct sequel to this issue! Shame about those rights, eh?

What If Vol.1 #13 (February 1979)
Based on: Savage Sword of Conan #7
The true history: In the "full-length thriller" Citadel at the Center of Time, a wizard puts Conan in a bucket and drops him down the well of time. He sees the fall of Atlantis, the rise of Homo Sapiens and the reign of the dinosaurs. He manages to climb back up the rope and kick some magical ass.
Turning point: What if Conan was just a pound heavier?
Story type: Conan Crossover (trust me, it's a recurring type)
Watcher's mood: Critical of the readership
Altered history: The rope snaps and Conan falls back into the well to find himself in contemporary Manhattan (at 8:37 PM on Wednesday July 13th 1977 to be exact... His trip may or may not be responsible for the infamous New York City blackout). The future isn't what he imagined, which was this:
It's not much like that. Roy Thomas is more prescient than Conan however:
Right the first time, Girl #1! That is EERIE. Arnold's first Conan film didn't come out until 1982! Surprisingly, he doesn't much mix with any Marvel characters even if New York is lousy with them. Closest he comes to is getting ignored by Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson.
No, instead, he has a very Conan-esque adventure. For example, he attacks a cab at one point, and of course, the cabbie is a hot chick.
Despite the damage he does to her car, and the fact he doesn't speak English, she decides to take him home. Conan being Conan, he gets his Commerian groove on.
Danette is surprisingly well read and has a collection of books on history and architecture that comes in handy. Since Conan left his era from a ziggurat, then he must return via a zyggurat. The only one in NYC is upside down and...
...the Guggenheim! After having taken care of some rioters without killing them, Conan reverts to his true habits in the closing chapter after Danette gets shot by museum raiders. It's an arty massacre.
The temporary lovers exchange gifts (sadly, Conan doesn't wear the beret) and Conan gets to the roof of the building in time to be magically taken back to his own time.
Books canceled as a result: None.
These things happen: According to Wikipedia, Conan walked the modern Marvel Universe a number of times, for example in Excalibur #49, and Fantastic Four #405.

Next week: What if Sgt. Fury fought WW II in outer space?
My guess: The Romulans would lose.

2 comments:

Bully said...

Isn't Dannette supposed to be Roy Thomas's real-life girlfriend and later wife, Dann Thomas? "Who'd you date before me, honey?" "Oh, he was a real barbarian."

Sleestak said...

Yes that was her. One of those couples that made you go 'Huh? That's not fair!'

Good on their happiness.