Published: January 29th, 2019
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Barry Windsor-Smith, Gil Kane, John Buscema
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
Marvel Comics, 776 Pages
I read this collection of the first 26 issues of Marvel’s original Conan the Barbarian run because I had just read Roy Thomas’ book where he gives in-depth commentary on the first 51 issues.
Also, I’m a big Conan fan but I hadn’t read most of these issues yet, as some of the earliest ones are really expensive now and because I didn’t start collecting Conan comics until this series was well over a hundred issues. I wasn’t born until the very end of ’78 and didn’t really get into buying and collecting comics until ’89.
Anyway, this was really cool to read and just about every issue was a great story with superb art, whether it was the illustration work of Barry Smith, Gil Kane or John Buscema. The book is mostly dominated by the work of Smith and I found his art here to be some of his absolute best.
What’s especially neat about these stories is that some of them are actually adapted from the works of Robert E. Howard and some are original stories made to fit within Howard’s already established universe that predates the comics by about forty years.
Not all of the Howard material that was adapted was actually Conan stories, specifically. Some of them were taken from other characters like Howard’s Kull and then retrofitted into Conan tales.
This collection of issues includes some first appearances and a crossover as well. This is where we see evil sorcerer Thoth-Amon debut, as well as the most popular female sword and sorcery hero of all-time, Red Sonja. As for the crossover, in this book Conan meets Elric of Melniboné, a popular fantasy character that was created by Michael Moorcock in 1961. Elric has gone on to have his own multimedia franchise in the same vein as Conan.
The price tag on this omnibus is pretty hefty but it’s a 700-plus page hardcover and it still costs less than trying to round up all these issues, individually.
Pairs well with: other Conan and sword and sorcery comics penned by Roy Thomas.