In the realm of comic book heroes, Conan the Barbarian stands as a unique figure—forged not in the modern era of capes and cosmic powers, but in an age of high adventure and sword-swinging action. Created by writer Robert E. Howard in 1932, Conan has carved his way through various mediums, including pulp magazines, novels, films, and of course, comic books. Marvel Comics has been a significant home for the Cimmerian warrior, giving fans decades of stories that are both classic and continually evolving. In this blog post, we’ll delve into Conan’s rich history in the Marvel universe.
Conan made his Marvel Comics debut in 1970 with “Conan the Barbarian” #1, written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith. The comic was an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant,” and its immediate success proved that the sword and sorcery genre had a place in comic books. This initial run had a staggering 275 issues and included memorable arcs like “The Song of Red Sonja” and “The Tower of the Elephant.”
This arc brought Conan into the role of a king and showed the weight of the crown on his warrior shoulders.
Here, we find Conan leading a rebellion, showing another facet of his leadership and tactical skills.
An adaptation of Howard’s only Conan novel, this arc is a true epic, exploring themes of power, betrayal, and the indomitable spirit of the barbarian.
Conan has recently returned to Marvel Comics after a stint with Dark Horse Comics. His current stories often cross over with Marvel’s mainstream heroes, an integration most prominently seen in the “Savage Avengers” series.
Collecting Conan the Barbarian comics can be a rewarding experience, given the character’s rich history and compelling stories. For those looking to own the most influential, entertaining, or significant issues of Conan’s adventures, here are the top 5 comic book issues that every Conan collector should have:
This is the issue that started it all for Conan at Marvel Comics. Written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith, this comic adapts Robert E. Howard’s story “The Tower of the Elephant” and has become a staple in Conan lore. Owning this first issue is like having a piece of comic book history.
This issue, known for “The Song of Red Sonja,” is significant for introducing Red Sonja, another character from the Robert E. Howard universe, into Conan’s life. The chemistry between the two characters was palpable, and this issue set the stage for many more collaborations between them.
Originally titled “King Conan,” this series focuses on Conan’s years as the ruler of Aquilonia. The first issue is critical because it shows Conan in a different light, as a king rather than just a wandering barbarian. It adds a new layer to the character that hadn’t been thoroughly explored in earlier comics.
This issue is a milestone in more ways than one. Not only does it mark the 100th issue of the series, but it also features an epic story called “Death on the Black Coast,” which is one of the more memorable Conan tales that involve both high-stakes adventure and tragedy.
This magazine-format comic was aimed at an older audience and thus allowed for more mature themes and graphic content. The stories in “Savage Sword” were longer, more intricate, and often adapted directly from Howard’s original material. Issue #1 is particularly noteworthy for setting the tone of what this series would become.
Conan the Barbarian is more than just a relic of pulp fiction; he is a character that has stood the test of time, and his stories continue to captivate new generations. Marvel Comics has been a major part of Conan’s endurance, offering a platform where his adventures can unfold in all their savage glory. Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the lore, there’s a Conan story waiting to take you on a journey through sword fights, sorcery, and untamed adventure.
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