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Comic Book / Conan the Barbarian

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From out of the earth's dark, forgotten past-- thru the timeless terrors of the Hyborian Age-- stalks the mightiest hero of them all--!
Original in-house advertisement for the Marvel series.

During the resurge in popularity Robert E. Howard's most popular character enjoyed back in The '70s, Marvel Comics was quick to take notice of this, and got the license from Conan Productions. In October 1970, the very first issue of Conan the Barbarian hit the shelves, quickly becoming one of Marvel's top-sellers. Spin-offs soon followed, each becoming popular in their own right, with The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian occasionally overtaking its sister title in sales.

However, what with certain cinematic failures i.e. Conan the Destroyer and the Red Sonja movie, Conan's popularity waned. During The Dark Age of Comic Books, Conan's main ongoing and Savage Sword were eventually cancelled after a combined 510 issues, to be replaced with other ongoings whose issue numbers barely lasted into double figures. Marvel soon gave up on giving Sword and Sorcery's greatest hero his own title, shunting him off into a few miniseries, the last of which was printed in 2000.

Dark Horse Comics then picked up the license in 2003, having previously made several miniseries based on lesser REH properties, such as Cormac Mac Art and Almuric. They took a slightly different approach to the character, putting out one ongoing, with the occasional miniseries on the side.

In 2018, Marvel announced that they had regained the Conan license from Dark Horse, with tentative plans to reintegrate the character into the Marvel Universe a year later. Two titles are currently ongoing: Conan the Barbarian by Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar and Savage Sword of Conan by Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney. There are also three page Conan novellas at the end of every Conan issue. There are also several miniseries, such as Age of Conan: Bêlit by Tini Howard and Kate Niemczyk, and Age of Conan: Valeria by Meredith Finch and Aneke. In addition, the Savage Avengers series (written by Gary Duggan and illustrated by Mike Deodato Jr.) features Conan as a member of a more violent incarnation of the team, which includes the likes of Wolverine, Venom, Elektra, The Punisher and Brother Voodoo. The character is also central to a miniseries called Conan: Serpent War which includes Solomon Kane, Dark Agnes and Moon Knight. He also featured in a later miniseries Conan: War for the Serpent's Crown where some robberies in Las Vegas leads to an adventure around the world involving various Marvel characters.

Final interesting piece of trivia: It was in fact the Marvel comics series that popularizednote  the franchise's title as specifically "Conan the Barbarian" — that title being specifically chosen by Thomas to not conflict with the paperback short-story collections with titles like Conan The Adventurer and Conan of Cimmeria.

In 2018, the French publisher Glénat started their own adaptation of Howard's stories as Conan le Cimmérien. The idea behind the collection is to give French authors a chance to tackle Conan, with each story having their own illustrators. Ablaze Publishing started publishing this collection in English as The Cimmerian in 2019.

    The Marvel franchise (not including reprints) 
  • Conan the Barbarian vol. 1 (1970-1993). 275 issues.
  • Savage Tales vol. 1 (1971-1974). Anthology title, Conan was the main character for 5 issues.note 
  • Conan Annual (1973-1987). 12 issues.
  • The Savage Sword of Conan (1974-1995). 235 issues.
  • Giant-Size Conan (1984-1975). 5 issues.
  • King Conan (1980-1983), later renamed Conan the King (1984-1989). 55 issues.
  • Conan the Barbarian Movie Special (1982). 2 issues.
  • Graphic novels (1985-1992). 7 issues.
    • The Witch Queen of Acheron (1985)
    • Conan the Reaver (1987)
    • Conan of the Isles (1988)
    • Conan: The Skull of Set (1989)
    • Conan the Barbarian: The Horn of Azoth (1990). Based on a rejected script for the film Conan the Destroyer.
    • Conan the Rogue (1991)
    • Conan: The Ravagers out of Time (1992). Crossover with Red Sonja and Kull. Involves Time Travel.
  • The Handbook of the Conan Universe (1986). One-shot publication.
  • Conan the Adventurer (1994-1995). 14 issues.
  • Conan (1995-1996). 11 issues.
  • Conan the Savage (1995-1996). 10 issues.
  • Conan vs. Rune (1995). One-shot publication. Crossover with The Ultraverse,
  • Conan the Barbarian vol. 2 (1997). 3 issues.
  • Conan the Barbarian: The Usurper (1997-1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan: The Lord of the Spiders (1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan: River of Blood (1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan Return of Styrm (1998). 3 issues.
  • Conan Scarlet Sword (1998-1999). 3 issues.
  • Conan: Death Covered in Gold (1999). 3 issues.
  • Conan: Flame and the Fiend (2000). 3 issues.
  • Conan the Barbarian (2019).
  • Savage Sword of Conan (2019).
  • Age of Conan: Bêlit (2019).
  • Conan 2099 (2019). 1 issue.
  • Avengers: No Road Home (2019)
  • Savage Avengers (2019)
  • King Conan (2022)

    The Dark Horse franchise (not including reprints) 
  • Conan #0: The Legend (2003). One-shot publication.
  • Conan (2004-2008). 50 issues.
  • Conan And the Daughters of Midora (2004). One-Shot publication.
  • Conan And the Jewels of Gwahlur (2005). 3 issues.
  • Conan And the Demons of Khitai (2005-2006). 4 issues.
  • Conan: Book of Thoth (2006). 4 issues.
  • Conan: Free Comic Book Day Edition (2006). One-shot publication.
  • Conan And the Songs of the Dead (2006). 5 issues.
  • Hyborian Adventures: SDCC Free Giveaway (2006). One-shot publication.
  • Conan And the Midnight God (2007). 5 issues.
  • Conan the Cimmerian (2008-2010). 26 issues.
  • Conan: The Weight of the Crown (2010). One-shot publication.
  • Conan: Road of Kings (2010-2012). 12 issues.
  • King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel (2011). 4 issues.
  • Conan: Island of No Return (2011). 2 issues.
  • King Conan: The Phoenix on the Sword (2012). 4 issues.
  • Conan the Barbarian vol. 3 (2012-2014). 25 issues.
  • Conan: The Phantoms of the Black Coast (2012-2013). 4 issues.
  • King Conan: Hour of the Dragon (2013). 6 issues.
  • Conan and the People of the Black Circle (2013-2014). 4 issues.
  • King Conan: The Conquer (2014). 6 issues.
  • Conan the Avenger (2014-2016).
  • Conan the Slayer (2016-2017). 12 issues. Final Dark Horse publication before the rights reverted to Marvel in 2018.

    The Glénat/Ablaze comics 

These comics have all included these examples:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Happened twice with Conan the King. In its first issue (after being retitled from King Conan) the writers decided to have everyone think Prince Conn was dead, and to have him Wandering the Earth in his own back-up. It was a very good story arc, showing Conan as a man who makes mistakes and having him deal with the consequences of those actions. However, Arc Fatigue and Cerebus Syndrome set in, so after eight issues Conn returned, and the story shifted to Conan dealing with several kingdoms uniting against him and killing his entire legion of Black Dragons, with many of the previous subplots being either killed off or left unresolved. Then, with #50, all of those subplots were pushed aside so the last six issues could tie up all of the unresolved plot threads from the previous story arc. To add insult to injury, the ending of #55 was completely at odds with the end of the second story arc, which was about to deal with Conan fending off yet another tyrant bent on taking over his kingdom, effectively making the last four years worth of stories one big "Shaggy Dog" Story.
    • The Dark Horse publications introduced an interesting premise by telling Conan's stories through a Framing Device with an Arabic prince being narrated to by his sinister Vizier who is heavily implied to be Thoth-Amon and occasionally he was given A Day in the Limelight in a handful of issues highlighting his own troubles such as being hated by his father, who is eager to have him killed. After the first volume was completed, subsequent publications ignored the prince, who would only show up once in a one-shot revolving around Akivasha from her point-of-view and never again beyond this point, leaving any sort of conclusion hanging. In addition, Conan the Slayer ended with No Ending.
  • Adaptational Badass: Some characters from the original books get a dose of this in original storylines they are featured.
    • Zenobia in The Hour of the Dragon was quite the Plucky Girl, who made up for her lack of fighting skills with her courage, intellect and quick thinking. In the Marvel comics, its revealed she has military training, with her father being a soldier that had no sons and showed his daughter how to fight. Also Zenobia ends up being the one to dispose of Tarascus when he tries to double-cross Conan after he had his life spared.
    • Downplayed with Natala in the Dark Horse comics, who is a lot more strong-willed than her book counterpart, who was an easily-scared Damsel in Distress (although she does play out exactly in the same way in the comic book adaptation of Xuthal Of The Dusk), but she is not necessarily a fighter herself. With that said, she is willing to stand up to the likes of Thoth-Amon and even leading him to a trap.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Pretty much every other Conan comic that wasn't a direct adaptation of an REH story or a pastiche. This became more out of necessity from The '80s onwards for Marvel, as pretty much every good Conan story had already been adapted. Dark Horse do more or less the same thing.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • The '80s team The Iron Damsels. Of course, as they're in Conan stories, All Amazons Want Hercules. The last two issues of Conan v1 featured an actual tribe of Amazons, complete with Lawful Stupid Straw Feminist and Brawn Hilda.
    • The Dark Horse Conan the Avenger featured Janissa the Widowmaker and her She-Devils, an all female group of warriors that fought to free slaves whenever they passed by.
  • Ant Assault: In "The Devourers" in Savage Sword of Conan #182, Conan and his companions find themselves in the path of the Maribunta: a wave of army ants devouring everything in its path. The Maribunta is followed by the villain Moloch, whose caravan travels behind the Maribunta and picks the treasure of the villages that are cleared by the ants.
  • Bash Brothers: Zula, Pallantides, Trocero... the list goes on.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Invoked — when Roy Thomas decided to create a Distaff Counterpart for Conan, he wanted to make her a redhead, as the established warrior women in Conan lore were Valeria (blonde) and Belit (Brunette). Enter Red Sonja.
  • Canon Immigrant: Red Sonya was a musket-wielding 16th century Ukranian in the Howard story that introduced her, but was retconned into being a Hyborian Age swordswoman in the comic books decades later. Thulsa Doom was a villain in the Kull of Atlantis stories before he was adapted into the villain for The Movie - and even then, he had more in common with the Conan adversary Thoth-Amon (a priest of Set with a fancy for snakes) than he did with his namesake (a semi-immortal necromancer with a skeletal face.)
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Not just or Howard's or Sprague de Camp's adventures, but occasionally of other sword & sorcery stories released around the same time as the original Conan stories, with Conan replacing the heroes in those stories.
    • There were also adaptations of the Conan movies. Conan the Destroyer had two! (The first is an adaptation of the movie Thomas and Conway wrote, the second an adaptation of the movie we actually got.)
    • Dark Horse have also gotten in on the act...
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Zenobia had two; one in Conan The King, another in Dark Horse miniseries Conan & The Midnight God.
  • Darker and Edgier (Hotter and Sexier, Bloodier and Gorier): Marvel's black-and-white The Savage Sword of Conan and the later Dark Horse titles compared to Marvel's Comics Code-constrained Conan the Barbarian.
  • Depending on the Artist: Conan's build may be leaner or bulkier, as shown by pre- and post-Frazetta covers. In the comics, shown by Marvel's Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema. Dark Horse usually go with a happy medium...
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few, over the years...
    • Savage Sword of Conan #216 was one big Shout-Out to Tennessee Williams, of all people...
    • In Conan the Avenger an early story involves a fake wizard who dresses and introduces himself exactly like Doctor Strange.
    • Also in Conan the Avenger, Prince Almaric and his men call themselves "breakers of chains" after successfully freeing slaves of Nippr.

These tropes happened specifically in the Marvel Comics run:

  • The Ageless: In "The Forever Phial", the immortal wizard Ranephi cannot die of old age, though he can still be killed like any man.
  • All There in the Manual: Roy Thomas wrote three nonfiction books called "Barbarian Life" that discusses the production of every single issue of the series.
  • Artificial Limbs: There was a story featuring three outlaws who'd run afoul of Conan, and had one Anatomy Arsenal each (well, two did. One just had a plate in his head).
  • Ascended Fanboy: Most people assume Roy Thomas was this. Whilst he was instrumental in getting Conan his own comic, it was Gil Kane who was the big Robert E. Howard fanboy. He did a lot of the artwork for Conan in The '70s, and he couldn't have been happier.
    • Roy Thomas notably became a fan of Conan the Barbarian because he was looking into finding a character outside of Marvel's usual superhero wheelhouse to adapt. He devoured the Robert E. Howard stories and became the character's everlasting promoter.
  • Ballistic Discount: In Savage Sword of Conan #75, Captain Bor'Aqh Sharaq has a smith construct him a Swiss-Army Appendage that can be fitted with a sword, an axe or a spring-powered throwing iron. Naturally, he kills the smith after the job's done.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: In "Citadel at the Center of Time", the Babylonian king Shamash-shum-ukin was a sorcerer who avoided his recorded death via Time Travel.
  • Book Burning: Ranephi, knowing that he will soon be dead, burns his collection of scrolls and spell books to keep his arcane knowledge from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Born as an Adult: In "At the Mountain of the Moon-God" (Savage Sword of Conan #3), the giant egg which Conan discovers while climbing the titular mountain hatches into a fully-grown Pteranodon at the story's climax.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Conan meets the Living Tarim and discovers that he is a severely inbred man with a mental disability as well as deformities. He is far from the living god that everyone is willing to fight and die for.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In "Citadel at the Center of Time", Conan enters the city of Akbitana and immediately takes note of a ballista set up in the town square. At the story's climax, he uses that ballista to kill a rampaging tyrannosaurus.
  • Collector of the Strange: Shamash-shum-ukin keeps a collection of the various time-displaced things which have come out of the Well at the Center of Time. It includes such things as an Egyptian pharaoh, a Pteranodon, an entire tribe of Neanderthals, and a Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: In the early issues of King Conan the titular character bears a strong resemblance to Charles Bronson.
  • Continuity Snarl: Inevitable with Conan canon, but an interesting little hiccup occurred in Savage Sword; Recurring villain Ogerd Vadislav was reintroduced in an issue, despite having been swallowed up by an Eldritch Abomination. There was an L. Sprague de Camp story explaining how this happened, and in a later issue of Savage Sword explained this too... in a completely different way to the pastiche, as Marvel didn't have permission to run that story, so they just winged it. Later, they did get permission to adapt the short story, so they ran it, and attempted to explain how Ogerd survived another attack. It worked... kind of.
  • Crossover:
    • Happened a few times with the Marvel Universe back when the Conan comic rights were owned by Marvel. In fact, the Conanverse version of the god Set became a major part of the MU's Back Story. Of course, all these team-ups began in the Mighty Marvel Manner.
    • There was a Conan/Elric crossover in Marvel's Conan #14-15. No, really. Notably these comics were written by Michael Moorcock himself.
      • This story would receive a sequel in Savage Sword #189 — licensing issues, however, would force the writers to write around Elric, referring to him instead as "The Albino", although weirdly his foe Prince Gaynor the Damned is not only referred to by name, but appears in the story's climax for a brief battle with Conan.
      • This inspired the artists the Shallow Parody comic Thrud the Barbarian in White Dwarf to do a story where Thrud encountered "Eric of Boneymaloney," a "Melancholy Crimson-Eyed Wimp".
    • Conan managed to have a few team-ups with Kull, and a nice two-part team-up with Solomon Kane ("The Savage Sword of Conan #219-#220").
    • What If? Vol .1 No. 39 features an alternate take on an event in The Mighty Thor Annual Vol. 1 No. 8 where a young Thor's wandering in a cave containing portals through time and space, instead of leading him the Trojan War as happened in the original story, instead deposits him in the Hyborian Age, where he encounters Conan.
    • What If? Vol. 2 No. 16 features an alternate take on an event in Uncanny X-Men #137, showing Wolverine getting lost in the Watcher's realities and ending up in the Hyborian Age.
  • Dem Bones: In "The Valley of the Howling Shadows" (The Savage Sword of Conan #118, November 1985), Conan and his followers meet a group of talking and walking skeletons. The skeletons are the nicest and friendliest characters in the entire story, but their dialogue creeps Conan out. They claim that Conan looks familiar to them, suspect that they have seen him before, and ask him whether he is related to them through their families. They also indicate that they would like to know him better. Conan retreats quickly. Notably, for most of the scene, the skeletons pay no attention to the other characters present.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the second Marvel run, Conan, after being poisoned and killed by an evil witch, meets Crom himself in the afterlife. When Crom reveals that he doesn't care about the world of the living or has any intention to stop the witch, Conan, incensed after spending a lifetime of fighting in and swearing by Crom's name, attacks the god. It goes as well as you'd expect. Crom eventually sends Conan back to the world of the living, but swears that as punishment, Conan is now cursed to live forever and watch everything he holds dear, including his own strength and legend, fade away to nothing. Conan isn't worried.
  • Digital Destruction: The recolouring of the Barry Windsor-Smith issues, which removes Windsor-Smith's own expressive, balanced colouring note  with muddy, realistic earth tones and secondary colours. Talked about by artist Tom Scioli here.
  • Dolled-Up Installment;
    • The Curse of the Undead-Man is based on Robert E. Howard's Dark Agnes story, Mistress Of Death with Conan added and Agnes replaced with Red Sonja.
    • Conan The Barbarian #17 was based on Howard's short story, The Gods of Bal-Sagoth with Conan replacing Black Turlogh.
  • Downer Ending: The War of the Tarim Arc ends with the sacking of the Kingdom of Makkalet by King Turan, the death of its king, and its queen forced into becoming The Exile. Conan Did Not Get the Girl because she's pregnant with her late husband's child. Even worse, the living Tarim that everyone was fighting over is dead (and used as a prop post-mortem).
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Sonja is a lot more cunning and deceptive character in the beginning as well as willing to use her sexuality as a weapon. She dances on a tavern table to get Conan's attention and leads him on to use him to help her rob a wizard's tower.
  • Easter Egg: During the eighth issue, there are piles of coins in one scene. One panel features a hidden message among the coins: "I must be mad to sit here drawing all these coins".
  • Evil Sorcerer: There was no end of these during Roy Thomas' run with one of the most formidable being Kharam Akkad during the War of the Tarim.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: In "Sleeper Beneath the Sands", Ahmed Mullah's people rescue a dying Olgerd Vladislav and nurse him back to health. He repays their kindness by murdering their chieftain and taking their priestess hostage to force them to lay a trap for Conan.
  • Feuding Families: In Savage Sword of Conan, Conan visits Cimmeria to discover that his family's rivals, the Clan Diarmiad, has used foul magic to murder his parents and his relatives, as well as turning his sister Siobhan into their tortured slave. Conan vows revenge against them and in the end, manages to slaughter every single Diarmiad responsible, though his sister is mortally injured and dies a little after her brother fulfilled his vow. Conan is left the only immediate survivor of his family because of this feud.
  • Fight Dracula: In a one issue of The Savage Sword of Conan, Solomon Kane slays Dracula in a continuation to a story from Dracula Lives!.
  • The Fool: Rufio, in King Conan.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Issue 24# "The Song of Red Sonja" is absolutely dripping with this and Roy Thomas has confirmed all of it was intentional via Word of God in his Barbarian Life books. Phallic imagery is repleat through the book to represent Conan's sexual frustration, Conan gets an erection that disturbs the water during a bath scene, and he makes multiple references to masturbation that Roy was certain the Comic Books Code Authority would catch (but didn't).
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Conan the Adventurer became a Crucial Type A and Type B. A talisman of a long-sleeping god was scattered into 6 pieces, and 7 wandering adventurers were promised riches if they found all 6 pieces. Turns out it was the god tricking them so he could initiate a Class 5.
  • Historical Domain Character: The antagonist of "Citadel at the Center of Time" is a temporally displaced Shamash-shum-ukin, the brother of Ashurbanipal and king of Babylon.
  • Hollywood Natives: In Conan the Barbarian (2019), Picts are portrayed as like some pretty stereotypical Native Americans.note  However, they're portrayed far more sympathetically than in the original stories, as while fierce it's emphasized the Picts are defending themselves and hostile to outsiders with very good reason, as the Hyborians to the south want their land.
  • Idiot Ball: Conan is depicted as blinded by his own greed and acts idiotic in the story "The Valley of the Howling Shadows" (The Savage Sword of Conan #118, November 1985). Early in the story, Conan learns of a location called the Valley of Howls, which is the source of great treasure and of a high-priced hallucinogenic drug called Zuk. But that only a single cloaked figure exits the Valley to trade items, and that the treasure hunters who entered the Valley never returned. Motivated by greed, Conan decides to seek the Valley, and leads his current love interest (who just saved his life) and a stranded military unit (who chose him as their leader) into the Valley. Right at the entry of the Valley is a Sphinx (the creature, not the statue) who warns him that the Valley is a location of nightmares and there is no hope for those who enter. Indeed Conan encounters increasingly surreal horrors and nightmares within the Valley, and every local human and creature seems to be insane. His followers keep getting killed on the way, but Conan keeps on going. By the time he gets to the treasure, everyone is either dead or has abandoned him. Conan suddenly realizes that he may be permanently trapped in "this evil place" and is desperate to escape. The cloaked figure (which is not human after all) appears to show him the only way out. Conan escapes with only the clothes on his back and his sword.
  • Immortality Inducer: In "The Forever Phial", the wizard Ranephi gained eternal life by drinking from the titular phial. He has since come to regret that decision.
  • Joker Immunity: Ogerd, Wraarl, Boraq d'Sharaq
  • Just Friends: Conan and Red Sonja. During the times they've adventured together it's become clear that Conan is attracted to Red Sonja. Red Sonja, on the other hand, does not feel the same way about Conan.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: In Savage Sword of Conan #119, Conan (in a scene that is undoubtedly a Shout-Out to the movie The Vikings) is forced to play a game where his sister's head is stuck through the middle of a hollow target and he must throw axes to sever her braids while blindfolded. Luckily, he manages not to slay his own sister; and since he ran out of sisterly braids while still having an axe left, he indulges in a manly jest and throws the weapon at Magloclun, cutting the clan leader's own braid.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Comics Code-constrained series compared to the original stories. Averted with The Savage Sword of Conan.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: "The Valley of the Howling Shadows" (The Savage Sword of Conan #118, November 1985) is a pretty surreal horror story. At some point Conan meets a mad man who keeps insisting that he is Conan's real father. Unfortunately for Conan, the man's main goal is Offing the Offspring.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Implied in the story "Disciples" (Savage Sword of Conan #184); Conan's disciples Eiji, Ikuo and Jiro are implied to have been directed to Conan by Conan's own former teacher, the broadsword-master Sennan.
  • Mercy Kill: Defied in "Sleeper Beneath the Sands". Conan briefly considers putting an arrow into Olgerd to spare him the agony of being crushed in the titular monster's claws, but ultimately decides to let Olgerd suffer.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: An almost comical scene in "Homecoming" (The Savage Sword of Conan #119, December, 1985) involves this. Conan is facing an evil Cimmerian clan (the Diarmiads), has personal reasons to hate them all, and he has already managed to eliminate several of their most experienced fighters. The remaining leaders of the clan are terrified of Conan, and try to find ways to kill him from a distance. Dumoric, a rookie fighter and one of the youngest Diarmiads, instead decides to stand up to the invincible foe. He approaches Conan, challenges him to a sword duel, and tells Conan that he has no fear of him. Conan replies that Dumoric is a young fool and needs to be taught a lesson. Conan kills Dumoric with a single blow and then forgets about the boy.
  • Outlaw Town: The Abode of the Damned, in the story of the same name, in The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian #11 (loosely adapted from the Robert E. Howard story "The Country of the Knife").
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: In "Sleeper Beneath the Sands", Ahmed Mullah's people have kept the titular monster dormant for eons by performing a ritual every fifty years. When Olgerd Vladislav disrupts the ritual out of his desire to get revenge on Conan, the Sleeper awakens immediately and begins killing everything in sight. Dhira manages to put the Sleeper back in its can at the cost of her life.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: In "At the Mountain of the Moon-God", Conan is escaping from a fortress by climbing down a crevasse in the floor. Quzak, the fortress commander, tries to kill Conan by pouring a cauldron full of boiling oil down the crack after him. Quzak tips the cauldron over the wrong way, however, dousing himself in the boiling oil.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Happens whenever Conan gets lucky in the non-Savage Sword stories.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Zigzagged in the story "Disciples" (Savage Sword of Conan #184); whilst Conan is a brutal instructor to the three not-Japanese warriors who come seeking his tutelage, he warns them beforehand that his training will be arduous, and he is not deliberately abusive towards them. As they impress him with his sincerity, master and apprentices legitimately bond.
  • Slipping a Mickey: In "Citadel at the Center of Time", the dancer Alhambra slips some powder into Conan's drink while flirting with him. The drug quickly renders Conan woozy, though he almost manages to fight it off before Alhambra knocks him out with a Tap on the Head.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Taurus and his sister Radegund undergo this in Conan the King, they go from being a toddler and the infant they were in King Conan to young teenagers.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Played with in the story "Disciples" (Savage Sword of Conan #184); after Conan declares his training of his apprentices Eiji, Ikuo and Jiro complete, they later return for a formal, no-holds-barred fight to establish if they have succeeded at this — or die trying. They lose, with each taking a crippling injury — Ikuo is blinded, Jiro loses a leg, and Eiji loses his right arm. There is no malice or hatred on either side, however, and in fact Conan is shown to be rather dismayed about the whole affair, as he'd grown to genuinely like the trio. His own former teacher, Sennan, comforts Conan that neither he nor his students failed — their respect for him made their devotion waver, whilst his for them is why he didn't slay them.
  • Swiss-Army Appendage: Captain Bor'Aqh Sharaq has a prosthetic arm that can be fitted with a sword, an axe or a spring-powered throwing iron.
  • Tap on the Head: Alhambra knocks Conan out by whacking him upside the head with a frying pan.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: During his crossover with Elric, Conan constantly complains about Elric's presence, bickers with him, and generally spends his time complaining about magic and sorcerers being evil and unmanly. At the story's climax, he parts ways only after avowing never to work with Elric again and damning him as an inhuman monster incapable of honest human emotion. Which, if you know anything about Elric, is hilariously inaccurate.
  • Terrifying Tyrannosaur: A tyrannosaur is the centerpiece of Shamash-shum-ukin's collection of time-displaced oddities in "Citadel at the Center of Time". Conan is alarmed by the beast when he first sees it, even though it sits at the bottom of a deep pit where it can do him no harm. When it gets loose at the climax and goes on a rampage through the surrounding town, everyone who sees the tyrannosaur is terrified of it, and even Conan is struck dumb by fear for a moment before he regains his wits and tries to put down the rampaging monster.
  • Terror-dactyl: The monstrous pterosaur featured in "At the Mountain of the Moon-God" is is scaly, bipedal, and has teeth, and can fly while grasping a fully-grown human in each talon. The narrative acknowledges that last inaccuracy and brushes it off in the same panel:
    In a later age, learned men will say that what happens next is impossible — that such monsters did all their gripping with their nether limbs. Yet across a chasm of millions of years — who is there that can truly know? Suffice it to say — Khossus and Vateesa are grasped, and that firmly!
  • Time Travel: In "Citadel at the Center of Time", the antagonist is a Babylonian sorcerer-king who traveled back in time to escape the armies of Assyria.
  • The Unfavorite: Taurus, mainly due to his siblings being so much cooler/nicer although it turns out he was a changeling Switched at Birth for the real Taurus... who later made a Heroic Sacrifice for his parents. At least, that's how it was until #50, when the aforementioned Aborted Arc was brought back
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Though the main character frequently takes pleasure in brutal revenge, this trope pops up when Conan's ally Zula slays his former master. After Conan asks him how it felt, Zula responds that it simply felt hollow. Interestingly, Red Sonja also mentions this trope during this conversation when she says she was unable to slay the man who ravished her after he had been badly tortured.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In Conan the Barbarian #3, the main focus of the story was The Battle of Clontarf... and how it heralded the death of a god. Given that this issue was based on "The Twilight of the Grey Gods", one of Howard's non-Conan stories that was about the Battle of Clontarf, this isn't surprising.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The War of the Tarim is supposed to be about rescuing the kidnapped holy man who is a Physical God. Roy Thomas makes it clear the Prince of Turan is only interested in sacking the city for its wealth.
  • What Have I Done: Pubilus says this in Conan the King #46, after Zenobia's fourth child dies in childbirth when he refused to let the Asurans protect both mother and child.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: In "The Forever Phial", an immortal wizard has grown tired of his unending life and wants to die. His immortality does not prevent him from being killed, so when he learns that Conan is in town, the wizard does everything in his power to force the barbarian into a confrontation. As a result, Conan storms the wizard's tower and grants the wizard his wish.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Conan the Barbarian' #23 (i.e. Red Sonja's debut) is essentially a adaptation of Robert E. Howard's short story The Shadow of the Vulture, an historical work set during The Cavalier Years where a Christian knight called Gottfried is pursued by an Crimean Tatar (the titular Vulture) in service to the Ottoman caliph Suleyman the Magnificent for an perceived slight, and he is rescued by an red-haired swashbuckler known as Red Sonya of Rogatino. In this issue, Conan replaces Gottfried, Sonya becomes Sonja and Suleyman is turned into Yezdigerd. The setting is also updated from Vienna to Makkalet.

These tropes happened specifically in the Dark Horse Comics run:

  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: A hideous hag in Conan the Slayer issue #3 seeks to breed with Conan and places him on a spell that makes him view her as a beautiful sea nymph. He is not fooled by the disguise having already seen how her true form beforehand.
  • Framing Device: The actual stories are framed as an tale to an Eastern prince living in centuries into Conan's future who has discovered the Nemedian Chronicles narrating his deeds. They are narrated by Wazir, his sinister vizier dressed in Stygian robes heavily implied to be Thoth-Amon.
  • King in the Mountain: When Conan's ruins are found in the distant future by the Prince, they find a inscription stating that "in our hour of darkness, when the serpent strikes he shall return".
  • Related in the Adaptation: Natala and Diana, the female leads in Xuthal of the Dusk and A Snout in the Dark respectively are made sisters in the comics whereas in the books there is no indication of such, to set up an entirely original story arc in search of a treasure.
  • Slave Liberation:
    • In "The Damned Horde" storyline, Conan and his allies are forced to storm the slave trading hub of Nippr in search of Natala, and they end up freeing all their prisoners and killing their owners. Its pointed out in-universe the possibility of buying her off, but the mercenaries had no money and trying to buy one specific slave would likely raise some suspicion from the slavers due to her knowledge and they would have been unwilling to sell her. Also the realistic consequences of this feat are laid out in the Surprisingly Realistic Outcome entry.
    • After betraying the Bone Woman, Janissa wandered off aimlessly before making a goal of raising an all-female army to free slaves whenever she went. It turns out she was being subtly manipulated by the Bone Woman to fulfill her own goals.
  • Speak of the Devil: The Prince finds a bust statue of Akivasha and upon saying her name out loud, she appears in his mind from the distant past to give him a vision.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Trying to pull a Slave Liberation by assaulting a prominent slave hub, killing all merchants and freeing its prisoners will only result in the neighboring countries at war with each other to put aside their differences and assemble a huge army against you for disrupting their economy, as learned by Conan's mercenary allies.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: The "Sorrow of Akivasha" story in Conan the Cimmerian reframes the Akivasha encounter from The Hour of the Dragon in her point of view, painting the originally seductive and vicious vampiress in a lonely, tragic light.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Prince in the Dark Horse print served as an Audience Surrogate whom the story was narrated to the readers through him. He hasn't appeared again in any recent comics published since Conan the Cimmerian.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us:
    • During his time with the Free Companions and kozakis, Conan witnessed two men trying to force themselves on a farm girl and he proceeded to lay smack their asses and place them in iron chains as punishment.
    • Played with in Conan the Avenger when needing an alternate route through the city he promises a brothel that he and Amar's Bastards will not hurt any man or woman inside if the door is opened. When they, understandably, don't believe him he switches tactics and claims that if he has to break down the door he will absolutely be bringing people to harm.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: A treasure hoard discovered by Natala's husband from translating ancient scrolls drives both Conan and Thoth-Amon in its search. They both find out in the end that her husband mistranslated the text and there is no hoard, but a horde of demons waiting for them.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: A trio of monstrous brothers in Conan the Slayer whose physical appearance varied from each person's point of view: to Conan, they looked like normal humans with gigantic proportions, to one man they looked like troll-like creatures, for another they were tentacled beings resembling Davy Jones and another man viewed them as demonic skeletons on fire. This extends to their mother too, though she intentionally assumes a more comely form to seduce Conan. Its hinted that their true form might be even more horrific, but the readers never get to see it.

Alternative Title(s): Conan, King Conan 1980, King Conan 2021, Conan Marvel Comics, Conan The Barbarian 1970