Make Mine Crom!
After getting the publishing rights to Star Wars a few years ago thanks to the Disney/Lucasfilm buy out, you’d think Marvel would be good when it comes to publishing other properties. But then they made the announcement last week that they will be publishing new Conan the Barbarian comics next year. It’s a weird announcement. Even though Marvel arguably put Conan back on the map in the 70’s with their original Marvel Conan books, was anyone really clamoring for more Conan? Robert E Howard’s Cimmerian was enjoying a nice, quiet run over at the Dark Horse Comics, so why exactly would Marvel want this property back? And what could they possibly do with him that Dark Horse wasn’t already doing?
If your first thought was “putting him in the Marvel Universe”, you wouldn’t be too off the mark, especially since one of the announcement images was a Mike Deodato drawing of Conan being flanked by Thor and Wolverine. But I highly doubt that Marvel will throw Conan into the Marvel Universe right away. If anything, they’ll probably do a series of out of continuity stories pairing him up with Thor, Wolverine, The Hulk, and….Drax, I guess? While that would be pretty cool, the real draw would be reprinting their original back log of Conan titles. Sure, Dark Horse was able to reprint a large chunk of the original Marvel stories, but they couldn’t do the cool What If issues that featured the Cimmerian, so I would imagine that a bunch of old stories that couldn’t be reprinted before will get that treatment now.
Of course, there’s also the matter of just what this means for Dark Horse. After losing the Star Wars license, we all assumed it would be the beginning of the end for the publisher. But they still had the Buffy license, as well as Conan, Aliens, Predator, and Serenity. But now that Conan is going to Marvel in 2019, and Hellboy is coming to an end, AND there’s a good chance that Disney is going to buy Fox (the studio that owns Buffy, Aliens, Predator, and Firefly), it’s looking extremely dire for Dark Horse. Once (or if) all of those properties are gone, Dark Horse will have next to nothing left. They’ll need to start working on some new properties or making new deals fast.
Having Conan back at Marvel is odd, but I’ll admit there could be some cool things to come from it. While Marvel’s in a building phase when it comes to their talent, it would be awesome to see Jason Aaron and Esaad Ribic on a Conan book, or even the God Country and Thanos creative team of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw. While not as popular these days, Conan’s original Marvel comics left a huge mark on the creators of today, and it would be really cool for some of those creators to give back to the character by reinvigorating him for a modern comic audience.
If Crom wills it, of course.