After 15 years with Dark Horse Comics, the comic book adventures of Robert E. Howard’s famous Cimmerian hero will return to Marvel Entertainment, with the company announcing that it has regained the comic license to Conan the Barbarian.
In a brief release, Marvel announced that it would publish Conan “comic book titles, collections [and] reprints” beginning January 2019, with artwork that featured the character alongside Thor and Wolverine. “We’re thrilled to be working with Marvel and look forward to the new adventures in store for Conan,” president of Conan Properties International Fredrik Malmberg said in a statement accompanying the news. “As the most well-known and creative publisher in the industry, we think Marvel is a great fit for our stories.”
Marvel was the first comic book publisher to produce Conan material, starting with 1970’s Conan the Barbarian series. The character was such a success, he would eventually span a number of spinoff titles including Savage Sword of Conan, Conan the King and Conan the Adventurer. In addition to publishing Conan comic books through 2000, Marvel also produced a newspaper strip featuring the character from 1978 through 1981.
Dark Horse Comics gained the license in 2003 and has published a number of series in subsequent years, including Conan the Cimmerian, King Conan and a number of reprints of Marvel-originated material.
Conan is the second high-profile comic book license Dark Horse Comics has lost to Marvel in recent years, following Star Wars switching publishers in 2014. Additionally, the Fox/Disney deal is likely to shift Dark Horse’s many 20th Century Fox licenses — including Aliens, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Avatar — to the Disney-owned Marvel at some point in the future.
Current Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski added his own statement to Marvel’s announcement, saying, “From Barry Windsor-Smith to John Buscema to Neal Adams, a legendary lineup of amazing artists brought Conan to life in the pages of Marvel comics. It's a legacy we're now going to live up to with the talent we have lined up for the Cimmerian barbarian's homecoming in early 2019. We’re excited!”