These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
"Book Conan" vs. "Movie Conan". Or rather fans of the latter who use it as their baseline for everything Conan vs. those who are at least aware of the stories. The Shallow Parodies more about Arnold than Conan don't help.
Robert E. Howard vs. other Conan authors.
Complete Monster: Most of Conan's foes are so irredeemably evil that you can't help but cheer when the mighty Cimmerian finally slays them. However, a few stand out in particular above the others. Thoth Amon became this in Book of Thoth. He kills his friend, expresses no remorse when learning that he killed his sister, has his kindly mentor lobotomized to save his own ass, and plunges stygia into darkness purely into to appease his selfish lust for power. Ra Sidh from Midnight God kills Conan's unborn child purely to lure Conan into a final confrontation, committs genocide against his own people, and plans to usher in a world so goddamned horrible that the Giant Kings of Acheron are terrified and give Conan advice on how to triumph. Valerius plans to drive his own kingdom to ruin as a fuck you, while Xaltotun plans to revive an evil empire so goddamned nasty that even other dark magic worshippers are horrified.
King Numedides, who Conan slew to gain the throne of Aquilonia, was a madman who bathed in the blood of virgins to gain immortality (at the advice of the equally evil sorceror, Thulandra Thuu. Conan only came to oppose the king when Numedides had him tossed in prison for being a bit too popular. He also had a dancer who Conan fancied skinned and had his men toss a scrap of her flesh into Conan's cell to taunt him.
Fair for Its Day: While many of his female characters were stereotypical cringing females waiting to be rescued Howard also wrote some surprisingly strong female characters: Belit, Valeria and the Devi of Vendhya. His treatment of non-whites is more disjointed and complex. On the one hand is the revoltingly racist "Vale of Lost Women." On the other hand Conan is surprised to find in "Queen of the Black Coast" that his black crewmen, who he had expected to panic and run had fought and taken a toll of the werehyenas. Likewise, while a minor character, the black guardsman who seeks to kill, and inadvertantly frees, Conan in "Red Citadel" is given a sympathetic treatment. Yes he wanted Conan dead but for a perfectly acceptable reason, Conan had burned his village and killed his brother during his pirate days as Amra the Lion.
Another thing on race; while his most famous villain, Thoth-Amon was black*
or sometimes Arabic
, and was evil, he had several noble qualities; he was brave, strong, intelligent, and genuinely cared for the advancement of his people, compared to the usually selfishly motivated Conan.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In the letters page of Conan the Barbarian #267, a reader asks for back issues of the title, and expresses regret that the title was cancelled. The editor points out that a) Marvel don't directly give out back issues and b) the title's clearly still going. That title was cancelled by #275.
Just Here for Godzilla: Many who bought the original books had no interest in reading them at all. They bought them for the lush, power paintings that served as the book covers. Courtesy of Frank Frazetta himself.
The Valley of the Lost Women features strange women capturing and kissing the female lead in order to paralyse her. Also in Red Nails Valeria assumes that Queen Tascela wants to drug her in order to have her way with her. She actually just want to suck her soul in order to keep her youth. Note that these example are portrayed in a negative light.
Also a little between the Jenna and Zula in the second movie.
Also in Red Nails, there's a scene of Valeria whipping the slave girl who tried to drug her.
Most of the non-evil Les Yay went to sister franchise Red Sonja, as one might expect.
Sometimes in the later non-Howard books, Conan's womanising instinct becomes so strong that the books feel the need to refer back to events and clarify that nobody got raped. Still you have to wonder how exactly Conan went about seducing Isparana while she was trying to kill him.