Marvel Comics more or less invented the concept of the interconnected fictional universe as we know it, but that doesn’t mean they’re not open to outsiders every now and then. Last year, Marvel reacquired the license to the Conan the Barbarian comics, and the company kicked off 2019 with two new series featuring the character. (In fact, Savage Sword of Conan #1 hit stores just this week.) But Conan’s new reign at Marvel won’t be limited to just his own titles: EW can exclusively reveal that the character will be a key member of the new Savage Avengers series, fighting evil alongside classic Marvel superheroes Wolverine, Venom, Punisher, Elektra, and Brother Voodoo.
“This is an unsanctioned team of heroes,” says Gerry Duggan, who will be writing both Savage Avengers and Savage Sword of Conan. “It has to be something that visually makes sense to you, and I think it does. [Artist] Mike Deodato Jr. is illustrating this book in both worlds. We envisioned a threat, a magical green zone where the evil wizards of Conan’s world are trading spells with the Hand in Japan. Conan is on a very Conan-like mission; he’s heard a tale of an amulet so he’s chasing it, and the evil magic sorcerers are doing something that would be a Marvel Avengers problem. It feels like we have found some very fertile ground that is a Venn diagram between those two worlds.”
Though the “savage” in the title resonates both with Conan’s history and the prehistoric Marvel jungle known as the Savage Land (where much of the action begins), Duggan jokes that Savage Avengers might as well be called the “Stabby Avengers,” because “without checking, this has the most stabbing out of any Avengers book.” Between Wolverine’s claws, Venom’s teeth, Elektra’s sai, and Conan’s swords, it’s easy to imagine how much stabbing might go on. Though it will likely take a while for all these characters to see eye-to-eye (Conan and Wolverine will clash almost immediately), they definitely share common ground when it comes to fighting.
“The Marvel heroes have not quite seen the likes of Conan before, but when you turn it around and look at Conan viewing this, he’s very skeptical of a lot of it because he’s so magic-averse,” Duggan tells EW. “His interpretation of the Venom symbiote, when he first sees it, is that it must be an evil genie. There’s real fun to be had there. At one point Conan believes that Logan hails from somewhere called Pabst, and that’s a well-earned miscommunication. That’s where a lot of fun comes from. Conan is a fish out of water, but everyone will come to respect the skills they’re all bringing to the fight.”
If it weren’t for Elektra, Duggan notes, the series could also have been called the “Sausage Avengers.” But she’s an important part of the team, not least for her longtime experience with the Hand. Duggan describes her role thusly: “She’s working this like a methodical detective, while everyone else is running through walls like the Kool-Aid Man and stabbing people.”
Suffice it to say, Savage Avengers is going to be quite the pop culture mash-up. Duggan understands potential skepticism. There are plenty of Marvel superhero fans who are uninitiated in the world of Conan and his creator, Robert E. Howard, and plenty of fans of the latter who probably think the idea of the barbarian teaming up with superheroes is absurd.
“To those people I say, just give us one issue. One issue and we will convert you,” Duggan says. “You will convert to Crom.”
Savage Avengers #1 goes on sale soon. Check out the cover, by David Finch, above.