Conan the Adventurer (animated series)

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Conan the Adventurer
Conantheadventurerlogo.jpg
Conan the Adventurer logo, featuring Jezmine, Snagg, Needle, Greywolf and Zula
Genre Action-adventure
Sword and sorcery
Fantasy
Format Animated series
Created by Robert E. Howard
Written by Christy Marx
Katherine Lawrence
George Bloom
Larry DiTillio
Starring Michael Donovan
Scott McNeil
Janyse Jaud
Gary Chalk
Richard Newman
Doug Parker
John Pyper-Ferguson
Lee Tockar
Country of origin United States
Canada
No. of episodes 65
Production
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Sunbow Productions
Graz Entertainment (season 1)
C&D Creativite and Development (season 2)
AB Productions (season 2)
Distributor Claster Television
Broadcast
Original channel Broadcast syndication
Original run September 12, 1992 (1992-09-12) – November 22, 1993 (1993-11-22)

Conan the Adventurer is an American-French-Canadian animated television series adaptation of Conan the Barbarian, the literary character created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s. Produced by Jetlag Productions and Sunbow Productions, the series debuted on September 12, 1992, ran for 65 episodes and concluded on November 22, 1993. The series was developed by Christy Marx who served as the sole story editor. The episode "A Needle in a Haystack",[1] written by Jean Chalopin, is considered a lost episode, as it was never released on the complete DVD set for Australia which only included 64 episodes. " A Needle in a Haystack" was the show's 33rd episode when it originally aired. It is unclear why this episode was left out of the collection[2] or why this episode is not even listed in most online sources at this time.[3]

The series was produced in association with Graz Entertainment for the first 13-episode season; AB Productions and Jean Chalopin's Créativité et Développement for the remaining episodes. The series also spawned a small toyline in 1992 created by Hasbro. This first incarnation of Conan in cartoon form performed much better than its follow-up cartoon, Conan and the Young Warriors, which lasted only 13 episodes.

Plot[edit]

Conan lived in Cimmeria with his parents throughout his childhood. While out with his grandfather one night on a trek, "fiery tears" or meteors dropped from the skies. Conan collected them and brought them back to his family. Conan's father, the village blacksmith, used the ore from the meteors to forge Star Metal and used it to create various tools and weapons that would never rust or break or dull. He sold them, but his finest work, a magnificent sword, he kept for Conan. It was laid in a crypt and covered over with a heavy stone slab. Conan's father told his son that only when he was "man enough" (i.e., strong enough) to push off the stone slab, could he rightfully claim the sword.

Meanwhile, the evil Serpent Man wizard Wrath-Amon learned of Star Metal and that in addition to its strength that it possessed the power to open portals between dimensions. He thus sought Star Metal to release his deity Set from "the Abyss" to which he long ago had been banished by the combined powers of virtually every living wizard then on Earth for trying to enslave the human race. As part of his search, Wrath-Amon sought out Conan's family. Conan's father told Wrath-Amon that he had sold all of the Star Metal but the wizard refused to believe it (The wizard was right for aside from the sword, it was revealed in a later episode that Conan's father had hidden pieces of Star Metal with other villagers). Wrath-Amon used the spell of living stone upon Conan's family.

Conan by then had gone to claim his Star Metal sword to attack Wrath-Amon and his followers. When the Star Metal sword got near Wrath-Amon it disrupted his magic and showed his reptilian face. To this, he said, "Those who see the true face of Wrath-Amon must perish!" (this scene is similar to one in the film). Having chased away the wizard, Conan then turned to his family and swore in the name of their god Crom to find a way of releasing them from the spell.

Conan's adventures thus begin as he searches Hyboria looking for a way to cure his family and free the land from Wrath-Amon's tyranny Wrath-Amon's henchmen are also shapeshifting Serpent Men. When Conan's Star Metal sword is close enough to them it broke the spell that disguised them and revealed their true form to be Serpent Men; when Star Metal made contact with the Serpent Men it banishes them to the Abyss with Set. Spies and agents of Set and Stygia, many of them also Serpent Men, were present in many cities, nations and tribes throughout the land in the age of Conan.

As compared with the original Conan stories and the Marvel Comics such as King Conan, Conan Saga, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the King, the cartoon Conan displays a higher degree of modern morality. While the original Conan is a thief, a killer, and a womanizer, the cartoon Conan has more in common with sword-wielding cartoon characters such as He-Man. At one point he refuses to join a pirate crew on the grounds that it is wrong to steal, he refuses to strike unarmed or defeated opponents. He is a kind and caring character, albeit a little naive, who stands up for his friends and what he sees to be right and is very respectable. The show also reduced the violence of the original to cartoon levels, deliberately making the Serpant Men "banished" with any touch of the heroes' weapons rather than actually struck.

Characters[edit]

Heroes[edit]

  • Conan (voiced by Michael Donovan) - The main character of the story. In this version, his parents are turned into living stone and there are few hints of his predestination of becoming a king; the references come as either a private joke to those who know the Conan mythos (one episode ended with him wearing a crown on his head, to the amusement of his allies) or as a finale note (in one episode in particular, Conan rescues a princess from a one-shot villain. Her father, a king, promised his kingdom to whoever returned her safely home and naturally, Conan succeeds in rescuing her which is a spoof of the adult Conan movie's King Osric asking Conan to rescue his daughter but Conan does not rescue her from Wrath-Amon but is thrown in prison for demanding the promised payment which is his weakness here. He is rescued then by the princess he saved who comments that Conan would always be a king in her heart as the closing line). It is stated a few times that he and his Cimmerian tribe are descended from the people of Atlantis, and Conan is a descendant of Atlantean kings. He has a star metal sword that he obtained the day when Wrath-Amon attacked his village. Unlike Conan the Barbarian, he is more of a kind and caring character with Jezmine as the only woman he's involved with. He shows mercy to some of his opponents and nonetheless reconciles with friends, unlike the original Conan the Barbarian. He is portrayed to be able to break metal chains, do more unusual feats of strength as well unlike the movie Conan. He eventually defeats his long-time archenemy Wrath-Amon, the leader of the Snake Cult but was forced to face the old leader of the Snake Cult Ram-Amon as well as Set (his final enemy) in the last battle. By vanquishing Set, he had somewhat permanently defeated the Snake Cult.
  • Needle (voiced by Michael Beattie) - Conan's fledgling phoenix sidekick and only constant companion. He possessed the ability to enter flat surfaces and magically transform into a phoenix design (although he needed his magical tail feathers to accomplish this feat, and lost this power if he lost one of them). He spent most of his time inside Conan's shield. Needle speaks in the third person giving others nicknames (i.e. he calls Conan "big dumb barbarian") and loves to eat pomegranates. He eventually learns how to harness his full power and aid Conan in battle. When in public, Needle (who has the ability to speak) is often asked to impersonate a parrot in order to not arouse suspicion, an act which he greatly resents. As a phoenix, death for him only means to rise again from his own ashes and as such, with effort, can sometimes recall useful information from his 'ancestors.' In an alternate future, Needle was turned into a statue by Set, but this timeline was averted.
  • Thunder - Conan's willful (but loyal) horse, eventually armed with Star Metal horse shoes that was made from Snagg's grapnel. Thunder was stubborn as he is always refusing to enter cities, and threw Conan from his back on more than one occasion rather than enter a city.
  • Zula (voiced by Scott McNeil) - Prince of the Wasai, a tribe similar to Sub-Saharan Africans, based from the original Conan literature, may have inspired T. J. Storm's character Bayu in the live series, who is a different but similar person. He is the first ally Conan makes in the show, when Conan is captured and enslaved, alongside Zula and other captives. He and Zula start a slave rebellion and free the other slaves. Zula, who is Conan's second-in-command, makes Conan his blood brother. Zula's cousin Gora was a spy for Wrath-Amon, and secretly tricked Zula into the ambush where he was captured by Wrath-Amon's slavers so he could inherit the throne instead of Zula (ironically, by making Conan his blood brother, Zula made Gora third in the line of succession). Gora schemed against Conan and his friends, and was eventually discovered and captured. Zula was a master of the sign of Jhebbal-Sag, which allowed him to communicate with beasts and persuade them to aid him in whatever way possible. Originally armed with Star Metal bolas, he reforged them into a boomerang because the bolas tangled. They would return on command thanks to Jezmine using a special potion on them.
  • Jezmine (voiced by Janyse Jaud) - An agile and beautiful circus performer who possesses a set of Star Metal throwing stars, she started as a thief but became an honest woman for the rest of the series (but is in love with Conan nonetheless) especially where the first point is that Conan and Jezmine are seen climbing a tower where Jezmine attempts to steal some priceless treasures. Her parents are later revealed to be a nobleman and woman in the city of Tarantia. To her horror, she learns that her mother serves Wrath-Amon and her father is the Serpent Man Astivus, making her a half-breed. From that moment, she is terrified her Serpent Man heritage will assert itself. When her father Astivus, who loved Jezmine's mother, sides with Jezmine and her mother against Wrath-Amon, Wrath-Amon banishes her father and mother to the Abyss. A magical potion applied to her Star Metal shuriken allow Jezmine to magically summon the throwing stars to return to her. She shared this potion with Zula. Jezmine hated Astivus, despite his love for her. She and Conan were able to free her mother during a trip to the Abyss, and later Astivus escaped when Set and the Serpent-Men banished over the years were freed from the Abyss by Wrath-Amon. Once again, Astivus chose Jezmine and her mother over serving Set, and it is implied in the final episode that Jezmine might be willing to reconcile with him. Unlike Valeria, Wrath-Amon doesn't kill her.
  • Greywolf (voiced by Scott McNeil) - A wizard from the magical city of Xanthus. Originally armed with a bare staff, he was given the mystical "Claw of Heaven" made of Star Metal that was mounted atop his staff and effectively doubled his magical power (as stated on a couple occasions). His brother and sister were transformed into wolves in a plot by the Stygian queen and sorceress Mesmira. As a result, he consistently seeks a cure for their condition alongside of Conan. In the finale, he isn't able to turn his siblings back to normal, though he did manage to give them a small sampling of the cure that causes them to revert to human form once per month (on a full moon). The inability to completely cure his siblings remains as a plot dangler which never even happened in the sequel Conan and The Young Warriors which is somewhat similar to the events of Conan the Destroyer.
    • Sasha and Misha (voiced by Kathleen Barr and Scott McNeil) - Greywolf's older brother and sister who were transformed into wolves by Mesmira as part of her plot to become powerful. During one episode, a single flower was found that could transform one of the siblings back into a human. Not wanting to have to choose, the flower was split down the middle with Sasha and Misha each eating half giving them the ability to resume human form when the full moon is in the night sky.
  • Snagg (voiced by Gary Chalk) - A Viking-like barbarian (as strong as Conan) from Vanirmen tribe, which lives at the sea shore. Snagg likes to travel by water. He often quarrels with Conan, because they grew up in neighboring countries with different culture. Once even a war happened between them. Despite it, Snagg and Conan are true friends. Snagg also has Star Metal weapon which happens to be an axe and grapnel. Later, he gave his grapnel to make Star Metal horseshoes for Thunder when Thunder saved his life. Conan and Snagg start as rivals, but become increasingly friendly. They continue to compete with and insult each other, but it becomes jovial and good-natured. Snagg and Conan are very similar, though Snagg is generally less serious and controlled.
  • Falkenar (voiced by Alec Willows) - Champion of the kingdom of Kusan, he the uses the "Mantle of Wind" to fly and is armed with a Star Metal whip. He and Windfang are bitter enemies through repeated attempts by the villain to invade Kusan. He has a female falcon named Stormclaw.
  • The Kari Dragon (voiced by Doug Parker) - The only dragon character in the series, the Kari Dragon was once imprisoned in an artifact and could be summoned to do the bidding of mortal men. Conan summoned him and granted him freedom for which the dragon was grateful. However when Conan later came to him for aid, the dragon gave him a series of tests, which Conan passed. When the final battle against Set came, the dragon battled Set to provide Conan with enough time to escape Set and his minions sacrificing himself in the process.
  • Epimetrius the Sage (voiced by Jim Byrnes): Leader of the wizards that banished Set to the Abyss thousands of years ago. His ghost is Conan's guide in his quest against Wrath-amon and to free his parents. He presents Conan his shield and companion Needle and on a few occasions aids Conan in his adventures.
  • Zogar Sag (voiced by Doug Parker) - The Pict shaman-chief, Zogar aids Conan and his friends in battle against Wrath-Amon, their common enemy. Unlike in the novels and comics, he does not worship Jhebbal-Sag (although he does support Zula's suggestion to ask the deity's aid), and he is a hero instead of a villain.
  • Dong Hee (voiced by Richard Newman) - An elder among the Silent Dragons of Phenion, Dong Hee was Conan's instructor in the art of ninjutsu and become an infrequent ally and father figure.
  • Torrinon (voiced by Gary Chalk) - Master inventor descendant from wizards, Torrinon is a little person that showed little talent in actual magic but would apply himself after meeting Conan.

Villains[edit]

The Snake Cult[edit]

The Snake Cult is an evil religion that worships Set and lures away victims, even rulers who fear the wrath of Wrath-Amon. Wrath-Amon preaches the wicked religion of Set and so did the sorcerer Ram-Amon before him. Their quest is to set their god free from the Abyss.

  • Set (voiced by Richard Newman) - The evil Serpent Demon and god of the serpent men as well as the Snake Cult. He is a giant cobra with mystical powers but he only has one head unlike the usual representation from Marvel Comics. He planned to enslave the human race through his serpent men worshipers, deceived many into his cult. As punishment upon his defeat, he was locked away into the Abyss for that offense by the Elders. He gives orders to the Snake Cult's high priest to give him the Star Metal, to build seven pyramids to release him. He returns in the finale to wreak havoc only to be banished once again thanks to the combined efforts of Conan and his friends with their star metal powers combined.
  • Wrath-Amon (voiced by Scott McNeil) - The evil sorcerer who currently leads the Snake Cult as its high priest and the personal enemy of Conan. He was originally a large gila monster who was changed into a serpent man who overthrew his own master Ram-Amon, the previous high priest of the Snake Cult, after taking his Black Ring and now has the mission to free his god Set with the help of the Star Metal. Conan's grandfather states that his evil is legendary, that he is feared by kings and that he possesses so much power as the high priest. But he only fears Set who is his deity to whom he is the high priest. He led the attack on Conan's village where he turns Conan's parents into living stone instead of killing them like in the original line. He was given ultimate power by Set and became gigantic and he was almost unbeatable. At the end of the series, Conan reverts him back into the gila monster he was through the Amulet of Vathelos. Like Thoth-Amon in Conan, he is powerless without his black ring. It was said that if his ring is destroyed, his spell of living stone on Conan's family would be undone. He obviously looks like a Serpent Man even without being exposed. His long life span may be due to his black magic.
  • Dregs (voiced by Doug Parker) - Wrath Amon's evil Nāga assistant. He once became Dregs-Amon when Wrath-Amon was going to undergo hibernation. He quickly changed his loyalties when Wrath-Amon was defeated, and served under Ram-Amon. He was crushed by a large statue in the final episode, but it is not revealed if he survived.
  • Skulkur (voiced by Doug Parker) - One of Wrath-Amon's henchmen. A powerful undead who can raise skeletons as warriors and star-metal would break the spell that animated them. Once Sakumbe (voiced by Blu Mankuma), a human member of another Snake Cult branch in Africa, where Set is worshipped as Damballah; (it is assumed that they are cannibalistic as well). He helped a man seize the power of the high priest in return for a promise of power, but the new high priest betrayed him. He then swore himself into Wrath-Amon's service, who empowered him with the Black Ring. When he tried to take his revenge, the new high priest who had betrayed him tried to transform him into a zombie slave, but his magic and the Black Ring's magic clashed, and transformed him into the skeletal Skulkur.
  • Windfang (voiced by Doug Parker) - Windfang is a fire breathing, four-armed winged dragonoid enslaved by Wrath-Amon. Windfang was once a human general named Venturas from Koth that opposed Wrath-Amon 200 years before the events in the series. His king sent him to invade Stygia, but his men fled from Wrath-Amon's evil sorcery. Venturas fought on, but he was captured and mutated by Wrath-Amon. Being a cruel despot, he then released Windfang who flew to his fiancee who screamed and reacted with horror upon seeing him. Realizing he had nothing left to live for upon Wrath-Amon finding him in his eyrie, he agreed to serve Wrath-Amon in exchange for a promise to transform him back into a human at some point in the future (a promise Wrath-Amon certainly never intended to keep). He has an eyrie high in the mountains where he keeps trophies of his long lost past and human self. His eyrie was located close to or within the borders of Kusan (the kingdom of Falkenar) and he raided it often making the two are bitter enemies. He was in love with Jezmine initially because she reminded him of his dead fiancée Lady Mirim, but although she showed him kindness she didn’t love him. Windfang also commands other flying reptilian creatures similar to himself. Windfang often sought to find a way to transform back into a human without Wrath-Amon or to force Wrath-Amon to keep his promise, and made it clear he would not continue in Wrath-Amon's service if he could regain his humanity. In one occasion, he succeeds in breaking his curse and regaining his human form, but upon returning to Koth, he realizes that all the things and people he cared about no longer existed, leaving Venturas without a purpose in life. After Wrath-Amon appears and forcefully transforms him into Windfang again upon sacrificing himself, he resigns his fate as the villain's servant. He has twice worked with Yin Doo in plots that revolve around Kusan.
  • Ram-Amon (voiced by Scott McNeil)- Wrath Amon's creator and predecessor. An Egyptian-looking sorcerer and previous leader of the Snake Cult, probably a member of a forgotten race. After transforming a large lizard into a lizard man, he lost the black ring, claimed by the lizard man, who later became Wrath-Amon taking over his position as the high priest. After at least 200 years of imprisonment (as Wrath-Amon was shown to be the leader when Windfang as Venturas invaded Stygia 200 years ago), he was released by Conan as he knew the knowledge of the Black Ring. He later replaced Wrath-Amon in aiding Set after his defeat by Conan, and escaped following the defeat of Set.
  • Serpent Men - A race of humanoid snakes that serve as the foot soldiers of the Snake Cult. If a Serpent Man is hit by anything that contains Star Metal, they would be sent to the Abyss where Set is imprisoned in.

Other villains[edit]

  • Mesmira (voiced by Kathleen Barr) - Mesmira is the evil Queen of Stygia and a powerful sorceress who battled Conan and company several times. She initially appeared as a visiting sorceress in Xanthus, pretending to be a friendly visitor, before revealing herself as an agent of Wrath-Amon seeking to attack Xanthus. Her further appearances on the show continued in that deceptive vein; she often appeared using her illusion magic to disguise herself, generally as an attractive, seemingly innocent young girl, and typically engaged in subterfuge and deception to further her goals. On several occasions, star metal has failed to have any harmful effect upon her, so she is almost certainly human, indicating that there are human Set worshipers in Stygia, even many who have apparently reached high positions (though it stands to reason that Serpent Men and Serpent Women may have interbred with her human ancestors at some point in the past). Despite being a member of the Stygian royal family and the Queen of Stygia, she did not rule Stygia (a position she most certainly strongly desired), as the Black Ring was in Wrath-Amon's possession, and rulership of Stygia apparently depended upon possession of the Black Ring (it is possible that Wrath-Amon's seizure of the ring from Ram-Amon disrupted the process of succession, and it might have passed to her under ordinary circumstances). Although she initially served Wrath-Amon, she hated him, and tried several times to overthrow and kill him in order to seize the Black Ring and rule in his place. Mesmira turned Greywolf's siblings into wolves before he acquired the Claw of Heaven (a piece of star metal that greatly increased the power of a wizard who possessed it) and affixed it to his staff, she sought to take his staff to further her power. Mesmira found Conan attractive and openly sought his affection. She hated Jezmine (possibly stemming at least partly from jealousy of her close friendship with Conan and viewing her as a rival for his affections) and Jezmine despised her right back. At the end of the series after Set's reurn, she assists Conan's friends in infiltrating Stygia to launch an attack upon Wrath-Amon (as she will never rule Stygia if Set conquers the world). After Wrath-Amon is defeated, Mesmira escapes with the melted remains of the black ring.
  • Gora (voiced by Gary Chalk) - Cousin to Zula, a Wasai prince. He was also a sorcerer. He worked as a spy for Wrath-Amon and constantly schemed to eliminate Zula so he'd be the only heir to the throne. His traps and plans often thwarted by Conan who became second heir throne ahead of Gora, after helping Zula escape a band of slaveholders loyal to Wrath-Amon. After his connection to the Snake Cult was discovered he was banished from the tribe. In another attempt he produced a spell using voodoo dolls to inflict pain on Conan and Zula. After discovering his totem animal (the animal that represents the user of the sign of Jabbal Sag), Conan captured Gora and stopped the spell from becoming permanent.
  • Yang Doo (voiced by Scott McNeil) - A warlord who was exiled from Kusan for his evil deeds. He often teams up with Windfang in his various plots.

References to deities[edit]

There are references to other beings (mostly deities) who are never seen in the series.

  • Crom - The main deity of the Cimmerians. In Conan the Barbarian he was a Deity of the earth and asked the recently dead before they entered Valhalla the secret of steel. In this series we learn that he fervently believes in freedom of men when Conan is offered a chance to a rule a city and its slaves which he outright refuses.
  • Mitra - Another deity who does not appear but has priests. In the series finale it is revealed that he has paladins and we see one of his priests marry a couple.
  • Kraken - Mentioned by a pirate in an episode of Conan. It stands to reason this is a sea deity as the Kraken was a mythical creature of the sea in Norse Mythology.
  • Woden - The main deity of the Vanirmen.
  • Tarim - A deity worshiped in Xanthus.
  • Jhebbal-Sag (voiced by Richard Newman / Doug Parker in corrupted form) - The Lord of Beasts worshiped by the Wasai, he could be invoked to commune with animals. He appeared once in the series in the episode "The Vengeance of Jhebbal Sag."
  • Erlik the Flame-Lord (voiced by Scott McNeil) - Wielder of the Crystal of Light and responsible for the imprisonment of the elder demon Shulgareth, the ruling family of Kusan descend from his blood. He appeared once in the series in the episode "When Tolls the Bell of Night."

Nations, tribes, and groups[edit]

  • Cimmerians - Conan is a Cimmerian, a tribe that tends animals in the mountains and valleys. Despite being called barbarians, they have settlements and do not invade other towns when not at war. Barbarian is probably a reference to their relative primitiveness; they have villages, but not large towns, wear little clothing, paint their bodies for war, and are largely warriors. They are descended from the Atlantians. Their chief, and possibly only, deity is Crom.
  • Wasai - The Wasai are a large, powerful and wealthy tribe, of whom Zula is a prince. The Wasai are African and live in the jungle.
  • Vanirmen - The Vanirmen, including Snagg, are a barbarian tribe almost completely analogous to Vikings, except that they are not pillagers. They serve a god called "Woden" and are a seafaring and fishing tribe, whose organization and outlook is similar to the Cimmerians.
  • Picts - The Picts are an extremely primitive tribe, who paint their bodies. They are similar to the Picts of Scotland, in the name, painting, and habit of pillaging other towns, though they live in or near the jungle. Nearby tribes and nations tend to fear the Picts.

Episodes[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

In the UK Maximum Entertainment has released the complete season one DVD set containing all 13 episodes in their original story order. This set was released in Region 2 format, but is now out of print.

Force Entertainment released the complete series on DVD in Australia in Region 4 format in a series of 16 single-disc DVD volumes, with four episodes per disc.

In 2011, Shout! Factory began releasing the series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. To date, they have released season 1 as well as the first half of season 2 on DVD.[4][5][6]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season One 13 July 26, 2011
Season Two: Part 1 13 November 22, 2011
Season Two: Part 2 13 April 17, 2012
Season Two: Part 3 13 TBA
Season Two: Part 4 13 TBA

Reception[edit]

The animated version was popular with fans and audiences alike, and also praised for staying largely true to Robert E. Howard's material, and was one of the most popular sword and sorcery cartoons alongside He-Man and Dungeons & Dragons.[citation needed]

However, it did receive some criticism, for being more suitable to younger audience, removing the adult content and toning down the violence. According to The A.V. Club, this cartoon, like the other two Conan television series, "has been significantly defanged, dumbing down and infantilizing the character to the degree that he’s robbed of his savage appeal".[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]