WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: No Road Home #5, by Jim Zub, Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Sean Izaakse, Marcio Menyz, Erick Archiniega and Cory Petit, on sale now.
While Marvel has been publishing the new adventures Conan the Barbarian since the beginning of the year, Robert E. Howard's iconic sword-and-sorcery hero has stayed in his own little corner of the publisher's catalog.
But in Avengers: No Road Home #5, Conan comes face-to-face with the modern Marvel Universe when the Scarlet Witch crashes into his ancient home, the distant past of the Hyborian Age.
In the modern Marvel Universe, Scarlet Witch and a team of Avengers have been trying to keep the ancient goddess Nyx from assembling the scattered shards of her soul and plunging the universe into eternal darkness. The Queen of Night has already slaughtered the Olympians, Marvel's take on the ultra-powerful Greek gods, and reduced two Avengers to dust, so things aren't going too well for Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
After the alien Avengers ally Voyager sends the Scarlet Witch and a shard of Nyx's soul about 12,000 years into the past for protection, Conan finds the disoriented Avenger and saves her from a band of Zamoran thieves.
While this marks Conan's first interaction with a Marvel character in almost two decades, Conan used to be one of Marvel's most popular characters, and already has a firm place in the publisher's history.
From the 1970s through the early 2000s, Marvel published the adventures of the fantasy hero in titles like Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan. Those popular titles and their numerous spinoffs mixed some of the most consistently acclaimed work that Marvel has ever published with the kind of lurid and pulpy fantasy storytelling that made Game of Thrones a hit.
Even though Marvel lost the rights to publish Conan comics to Dark Horse Comics for years, certain aspects of the barbarian's world never stopped being part of the Marvel Universe.
Before she travels to the past in this issue, the Scarlet Witch makes a passing reference to Shuma-Gorath, a squidlike cosmic being of unimaginable power and an unlikely combatant in the Marvel vs. Capcom video game franchise. While this bizarre creature is firmly part of the Marvel Universe, his creation was inspired by a reference in a Robert E. Howard story, and he played a role in Conan's old Marvel adventures.
The Hyborian Age, the savage, magic-filled world that Conan lives in, has been firmly established as part of the prehistory of Marvel's main continuity. Kulan Gath, a Hyborian Age sorcerer who Conan fought, has even traveled to the modern Marvel Universe, where he's tangled with heroes like the Avengers, Spider-Man and the X-Men.
Like that evil wizard, Conan is also set to get caught up in the affairs of the modern Marvel Universe. After helping the Scarlet Witch, the Cimmerian is set to encounter other Marvel heroes like Monica Rambeau in upcoming issues of Avengers: No Road Home.
In May, Conan the Barbarian will step into the present-day in a major way as the leader of the Savage Avengers. In that upcoming series by Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato, Conan will bring together a team that includes Wolverine, Venom, the Punisher, Elektra and Doctor Voodoo to fight a group of sorcerers that's working with the Hand.
On top of that, Conan is also currently starring in Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asar's Conan the Barbarian and Gerry Duggan and Ron Garney's Savage Sword of Conan. The Hyborian Age is also being explored in Age of Conan: Belit by Tini Howard and Kate Niemczyk.
With all of these upcoming appearances, it seems like Conan the Barbarian won't be leaving Marvel again anytime in the foreseeable future. Although it's not clear if the events of Avengers: No Road Home will bring him into the modern Marvel Universe, Conan is well on his way to reestablishing himself as a major Marvel fixture.
Conan's adventures will continue in continue in Avengers: No Road Home #6, by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub and Sean Izaakse, on sale March 20.