Marvel comics have recently reacquired the licence for all things Conan the Barbarian, and they are certainly making the most of it. With writer Jason Aaron at the helm, this run of Conan looks set to finally place your favourite barbarian firmly into the Marvel regular continuity, so you can expect Conan mixing it up with Marvel royalty such as The Avengers.
As well as a regular monthly issue, there are also a few spin offs hitting the stands soon including Age Of Conan, Belit and the return of The Savage Sword Of Conan.
However, way back in 1979, Marvel released issue 13 of their popular alternate reality title What if? This particular adventure featured What If Conan had walked the Earth today? And it followed the imaginary story (aren’t they all) of Conan being thrown into 1970’s New York by way of Shamash Shum-Ukin’s Well Of Time! Conan finds himself in Greenwich Village where he is mistaken by bystanders as Arnold Schwarzenegger. As he makes his way through the streets, he encounters wannabe Kiss rockers that think he is a new act, and sticks an aggressive bag lady in a garbage bin. Chased by the cops, he runs into and attacks a yellow cab, driven by sassy Danette, who takes him home leading to the usual Conan shenanigans. Meanwhile there’s a blackout in the city, and looters run wild. Conan intervenes leading to a nice action sequence, while Danette decides to do a little research to try and find out who Conan is and where he has came from.
The story is a really nice bronze age comic, and the script by Roy Thomas is a great read. John Buscema’s art is awesome as usual, and this creative team had a real handle on the character. The extended page count afforded by what If gives the whole thing a real cinematic feel, and the final act is satisfying and exciting. This is a classic Marvel book that has pretty much went unnoticed except by fans of Conan, however the resurgence of the title has led to collectors looking back at the character. With Conan seemingly being introduced to the Marvel continuity, What If 13 has sparked a lot of interest in the speculators market, and the fact that Marvel has just released this issue as a True Believers reprint, confirms that this issue is being considered as the first appearance of Conan in the modern age. A quick look at eBay should confirm that What If 13 is rising in price, as people try to pick the issue up.
For those of you that just want to read the comic, it’s yours for a buck in your LCS shop now, and I strongly urge you to pick it up, it’s a great issue, and still holds up after more than 3 decades.