Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Conan Battles A Dragon
In Marvel Comics' adaptation of "Red Nails," Conan and Valeria are atop a rocky butte when they hear their horses scream. By the time they climb down, their horses have gone silent. Then they hear the predator rushing toward them. From the animal's tread, they imagine it must be as big as an elephant.
As Conan and Valeria cannot battle something this large and powerful head-on, they hurry back up the butte. Valeria is too exhausted to resist Conan's desire to comfort her.
But Conan has noticed the skeleton atop the butte. Whether the man died of poison or old age, he has no intention of joining him.
So, like Loon in Kim Stanley Robinson's novel Shaman, he uses his knowledge of the land,
and the skills he learned while growing up in his native Cimmeria,
to forge a weapon that may kill the dragon,
or at least slow it sufficiently to make a head-on confrontation possible.
Artist Barry Windsor-Smith evokes Robert E. Howard's story with vivid imagery. Conan is not a genius, a philosopher, or an inventor, but he's always alert to the possibilities inherent in any situation. In addition to his courage, that ability helps him battle dragons, and fills his life with adventures.
That's why we love and admire him.