July 25, 2015

CONAN THE ADVENTURER

CONAN THE ADVENTURER
(Syndication, September 12, 1992-November 22, 1993)


Sunbow Productions, Jetlag Productions, Graz Entertainment (season 1), Créativité et Développement, AB Productions (season 2)

MAIN CAST:
Michael Beattie – Needle
Scott McNeil – Zula, Greywolf, Misha, Wrath-Amon, Ram-Amon, Yang Doo, Erik the Flame-Lord
Janyse Jaud – Jezmine
Kathleen Barr – Sasha, Mesmira
Garry Chalk – Snagg, Gora, Conan’s father, Torrinon
Alec Willows – Falkenar
Doug Parker – Dregs, Skulkur, Windfang, Kari Dragon, Zogar Sag, Jhebbal-Sag (corrupted)
Richard Newman – Set, Conan’s grandfather, Dong Hee, Jhebbal-Sag


            After a trip to the Rio Grande in 1932, Robert E. Howard fully conceived of his latest character: Conan the Barbarian. Upon his return, he rewrote his rejected story “By This Axe I Rule!” and replaced the star character, Kull, with Conan to call it “The Phoenix on the Sword,” as well as wrote an original story called “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter.” He submitted both to Weird Tales magazine, and after some editing “The Phoenix on the Sword” appeared in the December 1932 issue.

The first appearance of Conan.

            Series editor Farnsworth Wright had Howard write a personal essay detailing the world of Conan for his own personal use and future reference. Conan is a Cimmerian, a tribe descended from the ancient Atlanteans based on the Celts or Gaels. He was born the son of a blacksmith and became an adept fighter by the age of 15. Living in the fictional Hyborian Age (which was the title of Howard’s essay), Conan began wandering the lands and spent time as a thief, outlaw, mercenary and pirate until he eventually sized his own kingdom in his later years. While often depicted as an incredibly strong, muscular man, Conan has intelligence to back up his skill making him an excellent commander as well as a skilled warrior. Originally, Conan was depicted as having a keen sense of humor, although in future adaptations of Howard’s work that was largely downplayed or removed.

The beginning of Marvel's 30-year relationship with Conan.

            Howard published 17 out of 21 completed stories, with numerous others left in unfinished fragments before his suicide in 1936. Since then, other writers have taken up the Cimmerian’s adventures in pulp and book form. In 1952, Conan made the leap to comics in the Mexican anthology series Cuentos de Abuelito from #8 through #61, featuring adaptations of Howard stories as well as original works (and Conan as a blonde, rather than a brunette as Howard intended). In 1970, Marvel Comics acquired the license to the character and consistently published him in various titles, primarily written by Roy Thomas, and crossed over with their other characters until 2000. Some of the comics were also adapted into daily newspaper comic strips.



            In 1982, Conan made the transition to film with Conan the Barbarian. Directed by John Millus and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film featured Conan escaping enslavement by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and seeking revenge against him for the death of his family and people. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a box office success and led to the 1984 sequel Conan the Destroyer. Directed by Richard Fleischer, the film had a less positive reception than the first but was still a box office success. A third film, Conan the Conqueror, was planned, but with Schwarzenegger committed to Predator and unwilling to negotiate a new contract with producer Dino De Laurentis, the film fell into development hell. In a bit of history repeating itself, the script was repurposed for Howard’s other character Kull in 1997’s Kull the Conqueror starring Kevin Sorbo.

Conan and his horse Thunder.

            In 1992, Conan entered the world of animation in an American-French-Canadian adaptation. Developed by Christy Marx, who also served as sole story editor, the series focused on the discovery of star metal made from meteors that fell from the sky. Conan’s father (Garry Chalk) would forge the metal into tools and weapons that would never dull, break or rust; including a sword for Conan (Michael Donavan) that he placed in a sealed crypt for Conan to claim when he was strong enough to open it. The evil wizard Wrath-Amon (Scott McNeil) learned about the metal and laid siege to Conan’s village to get it, turning his parents into stone. Conan began a quest across Hybornia to find a cure for his family’s condition, prevent Wrath-Amon from building pyramids needed to unleash his Serpent-god Set (Richard Newman) upon the world.

Snagg, Zula, Conan, Jezmine and Greywolf.

            Conan was joined on his quest by several allies; Thunder, Conan’s willful and loyal horse with star metal horseshoes that often tossed Conan from his back rather than enter a city; Needle (Michael Beattie), a phoenix who resided on his shield, spoke in the third person, and was often required to disguise himself as a parrot (which he resented); Zula (McNeil), Prince of the Wasai who wielded star metal bolas that the later reforged into a more useful boomerang; Jezmine (Janyse Jaud), a circus performer and thief who wielded star metal throwing stars and had strong feelings for Conan; Greywolf (McNeil), a wizard from Xanthus whose staff was eventually given the star metal Claw of Heaven topper that increased his power; Snagg (Chalk), a Viking-like barbarian with a sense of humor who wields a star metal axe and grapnel and is often at odds with Conan because of their opposing cultures; and Falkenar (Alec Willows), champion of the kingdom of Kusan armed with a star metal whip who is able to fly using the Mantle of Wind. Sometimes joining them were Greywolf’s older brother and sister Sasha (Kathleen Barr) and Misha (McNeil), who had become transformed into wolves by Mesmira (Barr)

The demon Set.

            The primary villains of the series were the Snake Cult led by Set. The Snake Cult was comprised of Serpent-Men who could take the shape of ordinary humans, hiding amongst the populace. Only unprotected exposure to star metal could reveal their true identities or cause them to be banished to an alternate dimensional limbo known as the Abyss (a way of sanitizing enemies being killed for the benefit of the cartoon-viewing audience). All worshipped the cobra-like serpent demon Set.

Wrath-Amon.

            As said, the leader of The Snake Cult was Wrath-Amon. Originally a gila monster transformed into a man-like creature, Wrath-Amon overthrew his master Ram-Amon (also McNeil) to become the high priest of the cult. His Black Ring protects him from the more harmful effects of star metal. Serving Wrath-Amon was his assistant Dregs (Doug Parker), a sneaky Naga who was essentially Needle’s opposite and nemesis; Skulkur (also Parker), an undead warrior empowered by the Black Ring that could animate skeletons to fight for him; Windfang (Parker again), an enslaved four-armed winged dragon man that could breathe fire and sought his freedom from Wrath-Amon; Mesmira, the evil queen of Stygia and a powerful sorceress; and Gora (Chalk), Zula’s cousin, also a Prince of Wasai and a sorcerer who worked as a spy for Wrath-Amon and sought to eliminate Zula in order to inherit his throne. Yang Doo (McNeil) was an exiled warlord who frequently joined Windfang on his own independent schemes.

Ready for sacrifice?

            The series was produced by Jetlag Productions and Sunbow Entertainment and premiered in syndication on September 12, 1992. It ran for two seasons with the first running on Saturday mornings produced by Graz Entertainment and then daily for the second produced by AB Productions and Créativité et Développement. Animation Korea Movie (AKOM) Productions handled the animation duties throughout while the theme was composed by Chase/Rucker Productions. Although it was criticized for the taming of the Conan character and the world in which he lived, the series proved popular with fans of the character and general audiences. It was also highly praised for staying close to Howard’s original material.



            In 1992, Hasbro produced brief a line of action figures based on the series. Included was Conan in four different outfits, Greywolf, Skulkur, Wrath-Amon, Zula, Thunder and a horse for Wrath-Amon. Each figure came with a pull-cord battle action. In the United Kingdom, Maximum Entertainment released several episodes in 2004 and the complete first season in 2008 on DVD. Maximum also released episodes as part of a three pack in Action Man/RoboCop/Conan the Adventurer. Force Entertainment released the complete series in Australia in 16 single-disc volumes of four episodes per disc. From 2011 to 2012, Shout! Factory released the complete first season followed by half of the second across two volumes.


EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“The Night of Fiery Tears” (9/12/92) – Wrath-Amon attacks Conan’s village for the metal they made from fallen meteors, prompting Conan on a quest to free his family from statue form.

“Blood Brother” (9/19/92) – Conan is sold into slavery and leads a revolt against their captors, befriending Prince Zula along the way.

“Star of Shadizar” (9/26/92) – Conan and Zula head to Shadizar to find the Star of Transmutation and Jezmine joins them on their quest.

“Conan the Gladiator” (10/3/92) – Conan and Jezmine set out to find Zula after hearing he was captured by cannibals.

“The Heart of Rakkir” (10/10/92) – Wrath-Amon and Conan both want the Heart of Rakkir, which can control a sea monster—if the user is Atlantean, which Conan is.

“Men of Stone” (10/17/92) – Conan threatens the loss of his friends to discover the secret of Wrath-Amon’s stone spell.

“The Terrible Torrinon” (10/24/92) – Conan and friends fall into a trap when they attempt to rescue a woman kidnapped by a wizard, who also fools Wrath-Amon leading to a duel.

“Greywolf of Xanthus” (10/31/92) – Conan and friends travel to Xanthus to find a cure for the stone curse.

“Shadow Walkers” (11/7/92) – Conan and Greywolf offer aid to a group of ninjas in exchange for ninja training.

“The Claw of Heaven” (11/14/92) – Conan and Greywolf have to convince the Picts to give up their piece of magic-amplifying star metal before Mesmira and Skulkur get their hands on it.

“The Serpent Riders of Set” (11/21/92) – Conan and friends agree to help an ousted ruler drive Wrath-Amon from his lands before he can resurrect the Serpent Riders of Set.

“Windfang’s Eyrie” (11/28/92) – Wrath-Amon has Windfang kidnap Jezmine.

“Seven Against Stygia” (12/5/92) – Conan rallies his allies against Wrath-Amon before he completes his second pyramid.

Season 2:
“Tribal Warfare” (9/13/93) – Groups that resemble Vanirmen and Cimmerians attack each other, leading to a war between the tribes and Conan and Snagg.

“Curse of Ahx’oon” (9/14/93) – Gora has Conan and Zula deliver the mask of Ahx’oon to the Wasai in order to bring peace to the two kingdoms.

“The Master Thief of Shadizar” (9/15/93) – Conan and Jezmine team-up with a thief to rob a wizard’s tower.

“The Vengeance of Jhebbal Sag” (9/16/93) – Zula calls beast master Jhebbal Sag’s spirit into the real world, allowing it to be captured by Wrath-Amon.

“The Red Brotherhood” (9/17/93) – After being rescued by the pirate Valeria, Conan and Snagg agree to join her crew.

“Thunder and Lightning” (9/20/93) – While looking for the maker of weapons duplicated from his father’s, Thunder falls for a female horse causing Conan to take another named Lightning.

“The Crevasse of Winds” (9/21/93) – When pursuing the Book of Skelos Needle must decide if he’s loyal to his friends or the tainted phoenix guarding it.

“Hanuman the Ape God” (9/22/93) – Investigating a possible star metal sighting in a magical golden city, Conan and Jezmine discover the god the city worships is actually a prisoner.

“Isle of the Naiads” (9/23/93) – Conan and Snagg lose all their strength to waters of weakness as Wrath-Amon and Windfang lay siege to a nearby land.

“In Days of Old” (9/24/93) – Conan and Jezmine seek out a sorcerer that turned Greywolf into an old man after their encounter.

“Birth of Wrath-Amon” (9/27/93) – Conan is sent back in time to prevent Wrath-Amon’s spell.

“Earthbound” (9/28/93) – Windfang kidnaps Jezmine in order to use a spell to break free of Wrath-Amon’s control.

“The Treachery of Emperors” (9/29/93) – Conan agrees to save the kidnapped princess of Vendhya on the promise of being made a king.

“A Needle in a Haystack” (9/30/93) – Looking for his stolen shield leads Conan to rescue Jezmine from a dungeon and learn of Wrath-Amon’s latest plot.

“Return to Tarantia” (10/1/93) – Journeying to Tarantia reunites Jezmine with her family and exposes dark secrets.

“The Book of Skelos” (10/4/93) – Conan, Jezmine and Zula seek the second Book of Skelos which leads them to a demon-ruled alternate dimension.

“Labors of Conan” (10/5/93) – Wizard Zulanti comes to Conan’s aid against a group of Serpent-Men and reveals he can reverse the stone curse.

“The Amulet of Vathelos” (10/6/93) – Conan encounters a man who knew his grandfather and is told how his grandfather stole the amulet of Vathelos.

“Final Hours of Conan” (10/7/93) – Conan is stung by an imp created by Wrath-Amon which slowly turns him into a Serpentman.

“An Evil Wind in Kusan” (10/8/93) – Conan must train a weak boy how to fight in a duel in order to save Kusan from a transformed Falconer.

“Blood of My Blood” (10/11/93) - Jezmine teaches Conan how to read while Mesmira hatches a plot against them.

“Dragon’s Breath” (10/12/93) – Conan’s old master Dong tells him that an answer may lie with the Kari Dragon.

“The Queen of Stygia” (10/13/93) – Mesmira is able to entrance Conan into fighting against his friends.

“Nature of the Beast” (10/14/93) – Mesmira transforms herself into Sasha in order to trap Conan and his friends.

“City of the Burning Skull” (10/15/93) – A sorcerer needs the bodies of a town’s populace in order to maintain his life.

“Son of Atlantis” (10/18/93) – Wrath-Amon uses a horn to summon the Cimmerians to Stygia through their Atlantean blood.

“Conn Rides Again” (10/19/93) – Mesmira claims she’ll free Conan’s family, but sensing a trick Conan and Greywolf plot against her.

“Down to the Dregs” (10/20/93) – Needle is forced to team up with Dregs to escape an animal collector.

“Dregs-Amon the Great” (10/21/93) – Dregs becomes ruler of Stygia.

“The Wolfmother” (10/22/93) – Greywolf goes after Sasha and Misha when they run away in a frozen country.

“Conan of the Kosaki” (10/25/93) – Conan and friends are imprisoned in a faraway kingdom and must join the Kosaki people to stop a pyramid from being built.

“Torrinon Returns” (10/26/93) – After ticking off Wrath-Amon, Torrinton summons Conan, Snagg and Jezmine for help.

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter” (10/27/93) – Snagg seeks a flower in the garden of the frost giant’s daughter to win the heart of a warrior woman.

“Cornucopia of Grondar” (10/28/93) – Wrath-Amon gets the Cornucopia of Grondar, a horn of plenty that can create everything—even star metal.

“When Tolls the Bell of Night” (10/29/93) – Yin Doo and Wildfang unleash an evil fear demon from ancient times, which proves too powerful for them to control.

“The Last Dagger of Manir” (11/1/93) – Conan and his friends end up captured by pirates, and Conan must convince their captain of the danger of Set.

“Thorns of Midnight” (11/2/93) – Mesmira is after the same plants Conan and Greywolf need to restore Sasha and Misha.

“The Vale of Amazons” (11/3/93) – Jezmine must defeat the queen of the Amazons to rescue Conan.

“Bones of Damballa” (11/4/93) – Wrath-Amon sends Skulkar to assassinate his potential replacement, Shadizar, but Shadizar ends up

“Turn About is Foul Play” (11/5/93) – Conan and Zula are imprisoned and sentenced to die by a queen who is really a Serpentwoman.

“Once & Future Conan” (11/8/93) – Wrath-Amon lures Conan to a garden for a cure and sends him into the future.

“The Sword of Destiny” (11/9/93) – A kid steals Conan’s sword to face Wrath-Amon and prove himself as great as Conan.

“Sword, Sai & Shuriken” (11/9/93) – Conan has to defeat an unstoppable warrior in Phenion.

“Full Moon Rising” (11/10/93) – A wizard defeated by Greywolf and Conan teams up with Mesmira for revenge.

“The Stealer of Souls” (11/11/93) – Wratjh-Amon summons the Stealer of Souls and Gora uses it on Zula, his uncle and Conan.

“Amra the Lion” (11/12/93) – Gora uses voodoo magic to drain the life from Conan and Zula, and Conan uses his new totem animal to find Gora in the forest before it’s too late.

“Escape of Ram-Amon” (11/15/93) – Conan finds and frees Wrath-Amon’s predecessor Ram-Amon.

“The Star Metal Monster” (11/16/93) – Wrath-Amon seeks the living star metal statue created by a lonely orphan girl with magical powers.

“Into the Abyss” (11/17/93) – Conan and Jezmine travel into the Abyss in order to recharge the Amulet of Vathelos with some of Set’s magical energy.

“A Serpent Coils the Earth, Part I” (11/18/93) – Wrath-Amon completes the pyramids and frees Set, who begins to conquer the Earth with his army.

“A Serpent Coils the Earth, Part II” (11/19/93) – Conan infiltrates Wrath-Amon’s fortress and finally defeats him, reverting him to his original state and destroying his black ring.

“A Serpent Coils the Earth, Part III” (11/22/93) – After Conan and his allies close off the Abyss, Ram-Amon captures the heroes and aligns himself with Set for the final battle.

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