Comics Reviews

Why Marvel’s Most Brutal Avenger Is Also Its Worst Parent

In King Conan #2, one of the most brutal members of the Savage Avengers is revealed to be a great ruler and hero but an awful parent.

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for King Conan #2, on sale now from Marvel Comics.

Conan the Barbarian has long been considered one of the most frightening and fearsome figures in all of pop culture, and the hero has hacked and slashed his way from the Hyborian Age all the way to the modern day Marvel Universe. Although his time hopping adventures have certainly been thrilling, they don’t speak to the heart of who the barbaric hero is at the core. Conan didn’t just claim his throne in his own time, but he also made sure that his kingdom would be in good hands once he passed on his crown. Unfortunately, preparing his son for the duties that comes with ruling has also also made the noble barbarian one of the worst parents of all time, as seen in King Conan #2 (by Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, Matthew Wilson, and VC’s Travis Lanham).

Conan left his throne to sail the Western Sea, only to come into conflict with the evil sorcerer Thoth-Amon. In the midst of their fierce fight, the barbarian reflects on his past and recalls the day his son Conn called him out on his lust for battle. After bringing peace to his kingdom of Aquilonia, Conan tirelessly sought another fight to be won, and in his son’s eyes there is no reason to seek out violence for its own sake.

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After a ride out to the edges of his kingdom, Conan exiles his own son from Aquilonia. Leaving the young prince with only what he has on hand, Conan tells Conn he will not be welcomed back home until he returns with a tale from “every land on the map.” The moment is devastating for both of them, although there isn’t any doubt that Conan is taking such drastic action out of genuine love and concern for both his child and his kingdom. The barbaric king doesn’t just want his son to return as a fierce warrior, but he also wants his kingdom to be led by someone who is capable of protecting as well as ruling. He might not show it, but the decision to exile Conn isn’t an easy one for Conan to come to terms with, especially considering how much he knows about the path he has set his son upon.

Conan has faced his fair share of terrifying threats over the years. Conn can’t expect to look forward to the same time hopping adventures that saw his father fighting alongside some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but he is still in for what might be his greatest adventure. While Conan was born and raised on the battlefield, Conn has never known those kind of hardships. Stories of his father’s exploits are one thing, but being forced to seek them out on his own could very well be a death sentence for the prince. The monsters and villains that Conan has faced in his time cannot compare to anything Conn has experienced, not to mention the question of whether he is equipped to survive the vast wilderness that lies before him. Furthermore, the fact that these memories have sprung to Conan’s mind in the midst of a battle with hordes of undead and an evil sorcerer don’t bode well for either father or son.

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There is no question that Conan is one of the greatest warriors that the Marvel Universe has ever seen. From the looks of his kingdom at its height, he may also be one of its most impressive rulers.

The admirable traits of the barbarian might stem from all of the impossible odds Conan has overcome, but it doesn’t seem like any of those victories imparted much in the way of parenting skills. In trying to remedy the mistakes he has made with his son and trying to mold him into the next great ruler, King Conan has proven himself to be one of the worst parents in the Marvel Universe.

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