"Conan the Adventurer....Conan...warrior without fear."
Conan the Barbarian is probably one of the most unlikely characters to star in a Saturday morning cartoon show. Robert E. Howard's famed creation is known for being a brutal warrior, a thief, and a mercenary. Two R-rated feature films based on Conan have been produced, one famously starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and a newer version with "Game of Thrones" star Jason Mamoa. It's safe to say that none of these incarnations are appropriate for youngsters. Then again, you wouldn't think Rambo would make a suitable protagonist for a kiddie show, but he did head up a G.I. Joe-esque team of military specialists on "Rambo: The Force of Freedom." If a traumatized Vietnam vet can get an animated series, why not a Cimmerian conqueror.
"Conan the Adventurer" debuted in syndication on Sept. 12, 1992 and was partly produced by Sunbow Productions, the animation studio behind such shows as "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers." Sure enough, "Conan" received the toy treatment with a line of figures by Hasbro.
As you can tell by the title, Conan is an adventurer now and not a barbarian. His exploits are more lighthearted and involve far less bloodshed than previous versions. Conan's father is the finest blacksmith in all of Cimmeria. In the aftermath of a meteor shower, Conan gathers up as many fallen rocks as he can and discovers they are made from a unique ore, which he dubs Star Metal. Conan's father forges many weapons from the Star Metal, including a mighty sword to be given to his son.
The Star Metal is voraciously sought by the evil sorcerer, Wrath-Amon, the leader of a cult of shape-shifting Snake Men from another dimension. Wrath-Amon needs the Star Metal to free his master, a Serpent Demon known as Set. When the Snake Men attack, Wrath-Amon turns Conan's family into stone. Conan vows to defeat Wrath-Amon and restore his loved ones. He learns that the Star Metal can not only reveal the true forms of the Snake Men, but banish them to the Abyss from where they came. This Conan doesn't cleave his enemies in two. He just zaps them away.
Conan's exploits bring him into contact with many powerful allies and one incredibly annoying animal sidekick. One of the wizards, who originally imprisoned Set, presents Conan with a baby phoenix named Needle, a whiny little creature constantly referring to himself in the third person. Luckily, Conan is accompanied into battle with more than just a glorified parrot. The Adventurer has made friends with warriors like Zula the African tribesman, Jezmine the circus acrobat and expert thief, Snagg the boisterous Viking, and Greywolf the master of magic.
This new 2-disc set from Shout Factory features the first thirteen episodes of the second season. The episodes included are:
- "A Needle in a Haystack" – While searching for Jezmine, Conan runs afoul of the local magistrate and has his shield (along with Needle) stolen by thieves.
- "Return to Tarantia" – Conan accompanies Jezmine to her homeland, but her reunion with her parents is interrupted by Wrath-Amon.
- "The Book of Skelos" – Conan, Jezmine, and Zula seek a book of spells, but wind up trapped in a nightmarish dimension.
- "Labors of Conan" – Conan, Jezmine, and Greywolf encounter a powerful wizard, who may have the power to restore the Cimmerian's family.
- "The Amulet of Vathelos" – Conan learns the story of how his grandfather acquired the Amulet of Vathelos.
- "Final Hours of Conan" – Conan's allies race to find a cure after he is poisoned by Wrath-Amon and slowly being transformed into a Snake Man.
- "An Evil Wind in Kusan" – Conan must train frail, young man to battle a demon in order to save his people.
- "Blood of My Blood" – Conan faces his most challenging foe yet, illiteracy. Jezmine tries to teach Conan to read while they research spells that may free his family.
- "Dragon's Breath" – In a continuation of the first season episode, "Shadow Walkers," Conan continues his training with the ninja master Dong Hee.
- "The Queen of Stygia" – Conan may get his chance to defeat Wrath-Amon, but not in the way he wanted as he falls under the control of Mesmira.
- "Nature of the Beast" – Mesmira is back again, impersonating one of Greywolf's siblings turned wolf in an effort to steal the heroes' star-metal weapons.
- "City of the Burning Skull" – Conan and Jezmine must defeat a malevolent being known as the Burning Skull to free the people it has enslaved.
- "Son of Atlantis" – Wrath-Amon uses an ancient Atlantean horn to control the people of Cimmeria.
The video is presented in its original fullscreen aspect ratio. The picture quality looks pretty good when upconverted on my PS3. However, watching it on a regular DVD player, the picture looks muddy with colors appearing dull.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. The sound is a bit flat, but serviceable with dialogue, music, and effects coming in clear.
Conan has been significantly watered down and defanged for this animated series. "Conan the Adventurer" is family friendly fantasy, but feels like a knockoff of "He-Man," which itself was a knockoff of the original Conan. The lead villain also looks like a ripoff of Serpentor from "G.I. Joe." Though it's hardly compelling, "Conan the Adventurer" displays a silly charm, especially when its hero encounters everything from sorcerers and Vikings to Picts and ninjas.