Sunday, April 11, 2010

Conan vs. Wolverine

If, after seeing pimp Conan, Conan the would-be God of Thunder, and Conan fighting beside Elric, you thought it couldn't get any stranger, you don't know Marvel Comics. In August 1990, they released What If Wolverine Battled Conan the Barbarian? and it is, if I do say so myself, the weirdest of all the Conan cross-overs Marvel concocted. I say that because it not only involves Wolverine being thrown back into the Hyborian Age by the Watcher (he wants to teach Logan a lesson after attempting to meddle with history concerning the death of Jean Grey/Phoenix) so that he can go toe-to-toe with the Cimmerian, it also involves Wolverine besting Red Sonja in combat and we all know what that means. But I get ahead of myself, so let's start from the beginning.

Upon arriving in the Hyborian Age, Wolverine quickly impresses Karanthes, priest of Ibis, with his martial skills. Karanthes sends Wolverine to a city to await his return, when perhaps they might be able to work together. Having nothing better to do, Wolverine complies and heads off, mugging a drunk for some local clothes along the way. He also runs into Red Sonja, who, for some reason, he thinks is Jean Grey. Sonja, as it turns out, is working with Karanthes and mistakes Wolverine for a spy, so she draws her sword to teach him a lesson. This convinces Wolverine that Sonja isn't Jean as he'd thought, so he then decides the best thing to do is to teach her a lesson. This he does, beating her in single combat. Yes, that's right: Wolverine defeats Red Sonja and thus her oath to Scáthach kicks in, as you can see:
Meanwhile, Conan is drowning his sorrows after the death of Belît by drinking and wenching, when he runs into the wizard Zukala. You may remember him from the Conan meets Elric comic. Anyway, Zukala has a deal for Conan. If he brings him Karanthes and Red Sonja, he'll bring his love back from the dead.

For some reason, Conan agrees to this deal and then promptly kicks Wolverine's butt, leaving him to die, while taking Karanthes and Sonja captive. Of course, as we all know, Wolverine pretty much can't die and he heals himself, seeking to find Conan and free Karanthes and especially Sonja, for whom he's developed feelings. (For what it's worth, Red seems to feel something for Logan too, what with him not ravishing her and all even though he defeated her in single combat).

As it turns out, to bring Belît back from the dead, Zukala needs to sacrifice Red Sonja, but Conan seems OK with that. Or something. Wolverine decidedly isn't and he and the Cimmerian get in a tussle.

This time, Wolverine deals a serious beat-down on Conan, even cutting off his right hand with his adamantium claws.

Conan then sticks his severed arm into some nearby burning coals to cauterize his grievous wound and this seems to clear his head. He decides that sacrificing Red Sonja might not be a good thing after all and he turns on Zukala. Of course, being a powerful wizard, he has a plan. First, he opens a portal back to the future, so that he can get rid of Wolverine. Second, he summons a demon to fight Conan. What he didn't count on was that Karanthes possesses a magic rod that allows him to banish demons, which Wolverine promptly uses to get rid of the beastie. In the chaos, though, Conan gets knocked into the portal, traveling to the future, where he arrives just at a crucial point in time to screw things up for the X-Men during the Dark Phoenix storyline.

And Wolverine? He remains in the Hyborian Age, hooks up with Sonja, and eventually becomes ruler of Aquilonia with her.

As I said, I think this is probably the weirdest of all the Conan cross-over comics, because it relies heavily on Conan not behaving like Conan, even the Marvel Conan, never mind the real one. Plus, let's be honest: there's no way Conan would ever lose to a punk like Wolverine.

31 comments:

  1. The problem with Wolverine is that he has stronger plot armor than Batman and Dr Strange put together, and often wears it on his adventures.

    Basically his healing factor insures that he can never be killed and his adamantium bones and claws can only be broken with adamantium. Hilarious.

    while I'd like to think Conan would easily have put Wolverine in his place, somehow I'm doubting it.

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  2. Having said that, by the way, I think Wolverine probably would be a lot better fit in the Hyborian Age than modern marvel. He kind of has this barbarian thing going on already. Take out the adamantium claws (replace with the late 90s bone claws) and he'd honestly be a pretty badass pulp fantasy hero.

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  3. As much as it pains me, Wolverine would kick Conan's tail across the Hyborean Age in an instant. The healing factor alone insures it.

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  4. I have to agree with Hyrum. Wolverine would basically outlast Conan.

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  5. I never got into comics, it always seemed to be a bunch of dorks arguing over who would beat who in a fight. Despite that Conan has defeated Gods and he cheats, claw boy doesn't have a chance.

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  6. I may end up saying something here that may pile some hate on my but here goes...to people doing the comparison of what would happen if one fictional character fought with another fictional character..stop..please...just stop. Its moronic, it's stupid and its a waste of perfectly good brain cells. I don't think that was the intent of James' post..James if was I'm terribly sorry for miss reading this. I know that fiction is all about interactions that don't occur in real life, but it's the incessant will this hero can beat this hero stuff that irks me after a while...do people realize how stupid it sounds...its as bad as saying who'd win in a fight between Mickey mouse and Donald duck. I think I'm fed up with it because I read it EVERYWHERE on the internet, and its just about the stupidest thing that people can have ridiculously heated arguments about...can Batman take Superman..or Thor..or frikkin Goku for God's sake.All the comic writers need to do if he doesn't like your answer as to why Captain X would lose to The Ultimate Y is write that Captain X got the new Cosmictron powers, thereby making him invunerable to everything but fried fish....Its the most useless idiotic argument people can have on the net.....sorry but this pet peeve has been building for some time now.

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  7. God forbid we spin off a conversation from the post. Sorry for upsetting your delicate sensibilities.

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  8. For the record: Donald Duck would win easily.

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  9. Are you mad?!? Surely Mickey would win.

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  10. I remember the parent story of this story in "Conan the Barbarian" comic, Conan takes Sonja as a sacrifice to Zukala and changes his mind at the last moment and lops off Zukala's head. In the what if arc wolverine comes just before Conan meets with Sonja and in the end , who lops off Zukala's head is wolverine in a scene similar to other scene.

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  11. Wolverine would OBVIOUSLY beat Conan, sure Conan might get the jump on him once, but then Wolverine would just heal and mess up Conan, probably cut off an arm of something.

    Don't believe me? let me reference a comic marvel put out in 1990 that referenced just such a combat..

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  12. @brink:

    Because you disagree with me YOUR SOUL SHALL BE TORMENTED BY A PLAGUE OF RATS! OR SOMETHING OF THAT NATURE!

    I'd challenge you to a duel to the death, but, you know, I got . . . stuff . . . to do this week.

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  13. Just to be clear, in case it needs saying, my last line about Conan and Wolverine was a joke. It wasn't meant to be serious.

    That said, Donald Duck would totally kick Mickey Mouse to the curb. That guy's got some serious moves.

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  14. But the real question is:
    "What if... a D&D 4e 1st level Hero Battled an OD&D 1st level fighting-boozer."

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  15. In Response to Eric M.

    "God forbid we spin off a conversation from the post. Sorry for upsetting your delicate sensibilities."

    I have no problems with spin-off conversations, but you gotta admit that it does egt silly sometimes when people talk about who would beat who in a damn comic book fight.

    James, I know yours was more a tongue in cheek thing, it was late and I was more commenting on the responses.

    P.S. Yes I know Donald would win, I'm surprised that psychotic duck has been arrested yet and forced into anger management courses.

    Verification word binin....I've binin trouble like this before; don't worry about it.

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  16. errr.....egt is complex FBI code for get


    Word Verification Oxyhoe.....too easy

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  17. Yes, yes, we all know that the supremely overpowered (come on, healing factor AND unbreakable skeleton? Might as well put Conan against Superman) Wolverine would beat Conan in a fight. There's no fun in the debate.

    It's like pitting a honey badger against a Tyrannosaurus: sure a honey badger's pound-for-pound one of the most ferocious fighters in the animal kingdom, but you just can't surmount the fact that a T rex's jaws could bite a car in half. Which is why people don't pit honey badgers against Tyrannosaurs: it's lopsided to the point of irrelevance.

    Anyway, that's not what bothers me about the comic. What does bother me is the very idea of Conan choosing to sacrifice anyone - especially a friend - in order to resurrect Belit. While many people faced with the possibility of resurrecting their loved ones might choose to, Conan wouldn't. Conan comes from a country with "necromancers" in its mythology: he knows full well that sometimes, dead is better.

    This comic is about as offensive as Conan the Destroyer was for that reason. Conan would feel incredible pain and melancholy, but he would've accepted that Belit was gone. He knew that bringing her back would be nothing less than necromancy, and that's something no Cimmerian would trifle with.

    Yes, I realise it's a bit silly to call a What-If comic on characterization, but this was a really bad example.

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  18. What does bother me is the very idea of Conan choosing to sacrifice anyone - especially a friend - in order to resurrect Belit.

    Yep. That's why I find it weirder than the other What If ...? comics: Conan has to cease acting like Conan in order for the story to even happen, let alone happen as it does. That it's based on an already-existing Marvel Conan comic, where Conan acts more or less as he does here, is pretty good evidence, I think, that the comic book version of the Cimmerian isn't a very good reflection of Howard's character at all -- not that that's not very obvious anyway.

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  19. I'm afraid I don't understand why it's considered silly to come up with elaborate arguments to decide who would win in a fight between Batman and the Hulk, but it's considered perfectly fine to come up with elaborate rulesets to decide who would win in a fight between a party of tomb robbers and a band of orcs.

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  20. Smart Hulk or Stupid Hulk?

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  21. Conan would *obviously* just hew Wolvie's head clean off, and if he subsequently noticed any unnatural healing going on, immolate the black sorcerer's cursed corpse completely and scatter the ashes to the four winds. :)

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  22. That it's based on an already-existing Marvel Conan comic, where Conan acts more or less as he does here, is pretty good evidence, I think, that the comic book version of the Cimmerian isn't a very good reflection of Howard's character at all -- not that that's not very obvious anyway.

    Oh Valka, don't get me started on the comics of that era. That was the age of the Nemedian Navy, Venarium destroyed by Sorcery, and enslaved Cimmerians. They make Roy Thomas' stories look like REH incarnate.

    Conan would *obviously* just hew Wolvie's head clean off, and if he subsequently noticed any unnatural healing going on, immolate the black sorcerer's cursed corpse completely and scatter the ashes to the four winds. :)

    Only if Akbitanan steel really was unbreakable. ;) And even then, it might not work, since Wolverine's been known to heal from a single drop of blood. Man, things can get really crazy in comics.

    Then again, Spock from Star Trek managed to hand Wolverine his tail on a silver platter in a split second in another "What-If." I have to believe Conan at least stands a chance from that point of view.

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  23. Will: And then whichever portion of the ashes was largest? Would grow back into Wolverine.
    They've tried burning him.
    It doesn't do jack. He really is that frustratingly OP.

    Anyway, to make the comment I originally intended to make, that's just bizarre. So apparently Red Sonja resembles Jean enough to fool Wolverine, and Mary Jane Watson once transformed into Red Sonja.

    So does that mean MJ and Jean look exactly alike? Weird.

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  24. @Cameron -

    Oh man, i've been called out, and i was too busy to even check the blog comments to find out! i suppose i should offer some incontrovertible proof that Mickey would mop the floor with Donald... but, truth be told, i was just being obstinate. Let my soul be tormented by rats.

    Now, Bugs v. Daffy - there's a battle we can sink our teeth into...

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  25. Bugs v. Daffy? No contest. Bugs has the wits, while (the later) Daffy continually loses his temper, or lets his greed get the better of him. Bugs takes him, 9 out of 10 times. (The 10th being a draw as they both wind up in trouble.)

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  26. The only thing that could have saved this bottom-feeder issue of What If...? is if they had added a panel after the amputation where Wolverine admitted that he was Conan's father...and the mother was the now-conquered Red Sonja.

    By the way, I think the best What Ifs were the ones that changed only one discrete element - if Spider Man joined the Fantastic 4, if Flash Thompson had been bitten by the spider instead of Peter Parker, What if Gwen Stacy hadn't died...hmm, basically anything involving Spider Man! - but the ones that had to change a bunch of stuff (What if Ghost Rider and Captain Marvel were bad guys and relevant - What if Iron Man could profit from evil and was almost as stupid as the Hulk - What if Daredevil and Captain America met in a future where the Scarlet Witch did not exist or something...

    This example falls into the latter: what if a non-REH Conan acted differently from a Marvel Conan and got punked by a Watcher-punished Wolverine who also defeated Red Sonja?

    Needs work!

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  27. This pales in comparison to the weirdness of the Wonder Woman/Fafhrd & Grey Mouser team up written by Samuel Delany. No, I'm not making it up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WW202.jpg

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  28. James, I hope you're going to go ahead and do the Marvel Team-Up between Spider-Man and Red Sonja. If nothing else, the artwork is gorgeous, and Thoth-Amon shows up.

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  29. James, I hope you're going to go ahead and do the Marvel Team-Up between Spider-Man and Red Sonja.

    If I can snag a copy, I may well, although Red Sonja always make me feel a little ... dirty -- and not in the sense you're probably thinking. :)

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  30. There's only one explanation: The Conan in this story must be a clone. From an alternate future timeline... where he met Spider-Man and incurred Norman Osborne's wrath.

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