5 Conan Stories We Want at Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics announced last week that Conan the Barbarian would be returning to its comics pages [...]

Marvel Comics announced last week that Conan the Barbarian would be returning to its comics pages after almost two decades away. Conan, created by Robert E. Howard in 1932, first appeared at Marvel Comics in 1970. For the next 30 years, the character appeared in a variety of titles including Conan the Barbarian, The Savage Sword of Conan, and Savage Tales. The work of artists like Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema on the character became legendary within the industry with detailed linework and explosive action sequences galore.

Those comics became more difficult to find when the license left Marvel in 2000, and it has remained with other publishers like Dynamite and Dark Horse Comics until now. Conan will be coming home to Marvel in 2019, and there's no doubt the publisher is already dreaming up new projects for their wayward son. We've collected some of the ideas we most want to see Marvel Comics tackle once Conan returns based on his history within Marvel Comics and the medium as a whole.

Conan at Marvel - Hyborian Avengers
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Kulan Gath Takeover: Part Two

One of the most fondly remembered Conan stories at Marvel Comics doesn't actually feature the barbarian himself. Instead the pages of "An Age Undreamed Of" focused on one of Conan's greatest foes: Kulan Gath. In Uncanny X-Men #188 through 191, the sorcerer used magic to resurrect himself in modern day New York City, then transformed the home of many Marvel heroes into a place resembling the Hyborian Age of his origin. It remains a fan-favorite story from Chris Claremont's run and features crossovers with Spider-Man, The Avengers, and Doctor Strange.

It's easy to imagine a sequel to this event being used to return Conan to his rightful place in Marvel Comics history. Not only would it place Conan smack dab in the middle of Marvel continuity and in front of most readers, it would also provide an opportunity for a lot of fun. Imagine transforming the current iterations of Marvel heroes into characters wearing animal skins and using ancient weapons. It's a real win-win for superhero and sword and sorcery fans alike.

Conan at Marvel - Avengers 1000000 BC
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

The Earliest Avengers

Marvel recently established a much longer history for their core set of heroes, The Avengers, in the pages of Marvel Legacy #1. The one-shot introduction to the new wave of comics and upcoming events leapt back in time roughly 1,000,000 years where it showed the very first Avengers defeating a Celestial. This group has links to many modern heroes and featured iterations of the Black Panther, Ghost Rider, Starband, and Iron Fist alongside Agamotto, Odin, and Phoenix. It's a concept that has only just been introduced, and one we hope to see more of.

There's no reason to make these the only Avengers to precede those established by Iron Man, Thor, and their cohorts though. Similar to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it's possible to imagine Avengers dating across the entire history of the Marvel universe, one team for every era. There's no doubt that Conan would be involved in the Hyborian Avengers, and it would make for an excellent mini-series or storyline in Conan's own title. While Conan is normally a solo act, he has joined teams before to defeat overwhelming enemies. Why not have him join The Avengers?

Conan at Marvel - Doctor Strange
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Mystic Battles With Doctor Strange

It's inevitable that Conan will find opportunities to cross over with heroes of the Marvel universe. Not only are crossovers a hallmark of modern comics, but the temptation to bring the barbarian king into superhero adventures is simply too great to be resisted. That raises the question of where he might best fit, and the answer is obvious: Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange has the benefit of easy access to multiple timelines and realities through his use of magic, making the mechanics of a crossover an easy problem to solve. More importantly though is that the pairing of Strange and Conan would be bound to ignite some sparks. Conan is essentially distrustful of magic, meaning any partnership would be on shaky grounds at all times. Even more interesting would be their clash of personalities when the highly educated and refined Stephen Strange meets the bluntest brute in Marvel Comics. There's a great story to be told between these two and we hope to see it (along with the return of Strange's axe) very soon.

Conan at Marvel - Doomquest
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

A New Doomquest

Another excellent opportunity for a crossover would be the return of the "Doomquest" series. The very first iteration of this tale was told in Iron Man #149 and 150 by writer David Michelinie and artist Bob Layton. It took Iron Man and Doctor Doom back to the age of Camelot, fusing magic and science together as the unlikely duo used the technology of the age to battle one another. It has been continued in multiple sequels, shifting the story to a future Camelot in the year 2089 A.D. and even Hell.

Iron Man and Doctor Doom are still kicking around Marvel Comics, and after decades without a new installment in this saga we are overdue for a Doomquest in the Hyborian Age. The new setting would offer new opportunities with different allies and sources of magic. It's easy to imagine an uneasy alliance between Doom and Kulan Gath while Iron Man and Conan assemble an army to save the day. Doomquest is too good of a concept to have lapsed for this long and the return of Conan provides a great opportunity for its return as well.

Conan at Marvel - Barry Windsor-Smith
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

An Artist Showcase

While there are many great stories to be told with Conan in the superhero domain of Marvel Comics, the stories we most want to see take the form of a new Conan the Barbarian or Savage Sword of Conan comic. The 30-year tenure of Howard's creation at Marvel Comics was primarily told in the pages of his own sword and sorcery comics, which were dominated by some of the best artists of the day.

Titans like Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema defined the look and style of Conan and his world early on, and inspired almost every notable artist to later approach the genre in comics. With Conan returning to Marvel, there has never been a better time to establish a new ongoing series featuring some of the best artists of modern comics. We hope Marvel reaches out to artists like Russell Dauterman and Esad Ribic to revitalize the character and spark new imaginations. Even if they only come for one or two issues, there's incredible potential to showcase artists in a new Conan comic.