Conan The Barbarian’s Strongest Form is Confirmed By Marvel

Spoilers ahead for Conan the Barbarian #25!

Over the course of almost 90 years, Conan the Barbarian has had three different forms, and Marvel has confirmed which of them is the strongest. In the story “Until Our Stories End,” appearing in Conan the Barbarian #25, on sale now in print and digital, Conan and his lover Belit fight two of Conan’s other incarnations—and a definitive winner is crowned.

Conan the Barbarian first appeared in the December 1932 issue of the pulp short-story magazine Weird Tales, created by Robert E. Howard. Across the course of 21 stories written (but not all published) in Howard’s lifetime, Conan wandered through a harsh and unforgiving world during Earth’s prehistoric Hyborian Age. After Howard’s death, other writers continued Conan’s story, and in 1970, Marvel Comics released the first issue of Conan the Barbarian; Marvel’s Conan comic is widely credited with keeping the character alive, to be discovered by new generations of fans. As the Conan mythos developed, three distinct periods of Conan’s life emerged: a young, but still savage, barbarian; a mid-life Conan, the favorite depiction of most comics and an older Conan who was a king. Various stories have been written about these different Conans, but now Marvel has settled which is the strongest. “Until Our Stories End” is written by Jim Zub, with art by Cory Smith, inks by Roberto Poggi, colors by Israel Silva, and letters by Travis Lanham.

Related: Marvel Confirms Conan the Barbarian is Its Most Ruthless Warrior, Period

Conan and Belit have stumbled across an ancient temple bearing a sigil strangely familiar to Conan. The two explore the temple, and when Conan looks into a magical orb, his life flashes before his eyes. The two of them are then attacked by a younger, more brash version of Conan, as well as the older King Conan. Belit takes on the younger Conan, eventually outsmarting him and dealing the death blow. Meanwhile, Conan fights his older self; the years have dulled the older Conan’s fighting instincts, leading to him surrendering to his mid-life self—who promptly beheads him.

“Until Our Stories End” is an anniversary story for Conan, marking the 300th issue of his Marvel title. Marvel has been integral to Conan’s legacy, and that legacy is shown here. Conan started as a brash and youthful warrior who relied solely on brute strength. He matured into an experienced fighter before growing soft as a King. All three of these Conans are here and pitted against each other. When the dust settles, it is the mid-life Conan who is victorious. His younger self was easily outmaneuvered by Belit, showing a lack of experience on his part. King Conan, on the other hand, had grown old and somewhat complacent; add to that the stress of being a king, and it is easy to see why King Conan fell. The mid-life Conan has the right amount of experience and none of the baggage of his older self—making him Conan’s ultimate form.

Conan the Barbarian is an enduring figure in popular culture, with a rich history spanning his life; Marvel celebrates this legacy be confirming which Conan is the best.

Next: Conan the Barbarian Explains Why Spider-Man Isn't a Hero

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