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Marvel's Top 5 Barbarians

Updated on August 23, 2017

The Greatest Savages of Marvel Comics

Arrgh! What evil boils my blood?

Easy fellow! It's not a diabolical wizard or sniveling thief. It's Marvel's Top 5 Barbarians, a countdown list of the most worthy and brutal axe-wielders, sword-slayers and fearless warriors paid heed by Marvel Comic Publishers. And here's what we know; since the 1960s, they've been charging to the front, showing off bronzed skin and bloody battles, giving us magical sorcerers to slay and hordes to crush.

Left: Conan got a big chair; makes it harder to backstab him.

This is their moment of glory! Let the barbarous might reign fury upon the weak!

Naw...wait. Just put down the shovel and start reading, my friends. In this article I'm going to go over the 5 greatest barbarians seen in the Marvel Universe. It's time to give them their due; you're going to hear a bit about them--who they are, what they do, where they come from. And who knows, maybe you'll be able to pick up some clues on what they're doing now! Let's begin!

Marvel Barbarian #5: Skull The Slayer - You can call him "Scully".

Skull The Slayer #1
Skull The Slayer #1

Originally known as James Patrick Scully, Skull the Slayer was born to Marvel Comics in Skull The Slayer (August 1975). His series ran, unfortunately, for 8 issues, but he's made special appearances with other superheroes from time to time.

Although he's received less attention than most barbarians, Skull ranks up there as a tough guy. Back when he was a average Joe, he at least had his soldier training to fall back on. What changed him into the barbaric fighting machine he is today is two things: 1) In issue #1, while being flown to the U.S., his plane is caught in the Bermuda Triangle and he's stranded in a land of Dinosaurs and Cave Men. 2) In issue #2, he encounters the Cave Men worshipping a strange alien. This is where he acquires his Skull-shaped belt buckle. (It's sometimes referred to as "The Scorpion Power Belt".)

From there, Skull The Slayer was unleashed. No one really knows the powers imbued to him, but it became clear; his strength, speed, and even his agility, became superhuman. In some stories it was also shown that this artifact also preserved him from aging.

Perhaps one of the downfalls of Skull was that he was a man outside his own time; a reoccurring theme has been one where he gets pulled from reality to reality. Originally, he was settled into a land where dinosaurs and aliens both littered the land. (Think "Land of The Lost".) And later he was pulled into the world of regular superheroes (That's ok; Skull eventually found a job as an occult investigator for a mystic known as Dr. Druid. )

Did someone say "Land of the Lost" - Ok, it was me.

One of the striking things that came out of the Skull the Slayer series was a reminder of that Marty Kroft run known as "Land of The Lost". To be honest, it was pretty well done for it's time; authors like Ben Bova were notorious for their contributions.

Land of the Lost: The Complete Series
Land of the Lost: The Complete Series

Follow Will and Holly Marshall as they investigate the strange world of dinosaurs and aliens, mysterious technology, and ever-impending danger as they fight for their lives and try to get back home. This is the Land of the Lost, the complete first 8 episodes of that 1974 series that ran every Saturday morning.


Marvel Barbarian #4: Kull The Conqueror - Formerly Kull The Destroyer

Kull The Conqueror
Kull The Conqueror

But what difference does it make--really--if you're a "Conqueror" or a "Destroyer"? Just as long as you've got Skull, or some variation in your first name; that's what qualifies you as a full-fledged barbarian.

Born from the creative imagination of Robert E. Howard, and later acquired by Marvel Comic Publishing for comics, Kull is actually best known as King Kull, the child, slave, then assassin-mercenary of the now long-lost empire of Atlantis, who later rose to take the throne of Valusia. Having one of the most deadly pasts of trials and passage by combat, he is clearly a barbarian through and through.

The original appearance of Kull to comics books started around the 70s with Kull The Conqueror #1(1973) which lasted for 10 issues. That's okay, though, he ended up having four more series (although they still ended fairly abruptly).

Notorious for his might, Kull is typically seen wielding a gigantic battle-axe, true to the heart of every savage. After all, if you can't decapitate hordes of soldiers on a bloody hilltop, you're not a barbarian. And although most of his adventures were on the lost continent, he has often been portrayed with Conan The Barbarian in his comics. Furthermore, if you want to find a really interesting connection, it's worthy noting that Kull's greatest enemy was the necromancer Thulsa Doom, a character that appeared in Conan The Barbarian (1982).

Special Note: People have been asking me Kull's last name, it's " ".

Kull The Conqueror (1997) - Kevin Sorbo

It's time for some barbarian action. And if you want to spice up your collection of gruesome blood-letters, you'll be needing this copy of Kull The Conqueror, a movie which was released in 1997 and started Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo and Tia Carrere.

Kull the Conqueror
Kull the Conqueror

Hailing from the barbaric land of Atlantis, Kull fights to join an elite legion for the King, but is refused admittance because his blood is not noble enough. Well, he's had enough of that! Time to swath a path of death!

And that's the plot (No, not really). In this movie you'll be able to follow Kull as he rises from a bloodthirsty mercenary to the King of all he surveys.


Marvel Barbarian #3: Lyra and Skaar - They'd make a dad proud...

Lyra and Skaar
Lyra and Skaar

Fairly new to the barbarian scene, and by new we mean only recent in the last couple of years, Marvel Comics has decided to show us what would happen if The Hulk, an already naturally-inclined skull-smasher, was born of a different time or age. The results? Well, we have two, namely Skaar and Lyra.

Skaar, the fruit of a union between Hulk and an extraterrestrial named Caiera, was born on the planet Sakaar, spawned from a cocoon. His was a ravaged tale of conquest or revolution; with the power to draw his strength and power from the entire planet, this devastating behemoth was beset with the choice of saving his home or destroying it. And if you're curious which he chose, well, Skaar is now on Earth, his sole quest is now to defeat his father, The Incredible Hulk, in battle and kill him.

Lyra, however, is a very unique story that involves the future timeline of an alternate earth. In this cornucopia of plots and elements, her birth is the result of a genetic breeding of Hulk and Thundra DNA. The result was a green-skinned warrior woman with one drawback; her rage caused her phenomenal strength to fade. Not surprisingly, Lyra was also an outcast among her people (ironically, her people were all women, and were bred through a gene program). Her birth of "man" DNA made her unclean; she was considered equally as barbarous as the hordes of men her society tried to destroy. And lastly, this resulted in a mission that sent her to the past, which has trapped her.

Both Skaar and Lyra are anomalies on Earth, if that's possible with Marvel Comics; neither actually belong here. But both truly fight into the category of creatures of war and bloody battle. And besides, now we have an answer to that ever-pervading question: What would the Hulk's son or daughter look like?

So which of these "Hulk"-warriors do you like the most? Skaar and Lyra represent varying sides of the barbarian spectrum, yet both are ruled by a need for battle and destruction. And true to form, they both are super-powered style warriors, each with their own set of traits.

Choose your favorite Hulk-spawn

Marvel Barbarian #2: Red Sonja - She-Devil with a Sword

Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword
Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword

Do you like female barbarians? The savage trail of fury left by a voluptuous vixen intent on vengeance? Does a long-haired wild-woman wielding a sword through scores of men raise your interest? What about her armor and raiment? (By the way, does anyone know why barbarian woman-armor looks like lingerie?)

Let me rephrase that -- what's there not to like about female barbarians? They're savage heroines, like the tigress protecting her cubs, cutting a swath of death at the snap of a finger. And better yet, ask yourself this: what infamous, scarlet-tressed, She-Devil with a Sword comes to mind when all this beserker fury and enraged bloodlust need a sultry, but deadly curved warrior to take to the battle?

Okay, you better say Red Sonja because that's the answer. Created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith and first arriving on the scene in Conan the Barbarian #23 (February 1973), no female of Hyborean legend has fascinated, or caused our tongues to drop out of our mouths, like this First Lady of Bloodbaths. That's when we watched a young girl from the Western Hyrkanian steppes emerge from tragedy with a heart of vengeance and a taste for war. Born from the darkness of hate, her gifts lay in her curse: she was given mastery over the sword and blades, but never to fall in love or lay with a man until he could defeat her in battle.

For most of us, Red Sonja is very appealing with the numerous Robert E. Howard tie-ins and brutish age of iron and blood. Graphic Novel or comic book, she'll remain forever immortalized in ink. And for those of us that enjoy the eye-candy, she'll be there for you, too. Don't worry about that!

Red Sonja - The She-Devil with a Sword and a 1985 Movie

To start off, I can't tell you how popular this movie is; no, I can't. Hmm. Maybe that's because so few people have watched it.

Well, either way, I watched it -- and, yes, it's definitely a B-Movie that sensationalizes the Red Sonja with actress Brigitte Nielsen's flashy moves. You have to understand the era, though. This was the 80s and Arnold Schwarzenegger had already come out with Conan and Terminator. In other words, barbarians and gory battles were pretty popular and Red Sonja was one director's idea of getting the 13-24 testosterone-led crowd to the big screen.

Red Sonja
Red Sonja

Red Sonja stars Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger, basically following the path of her origin to the age where she has mastered the sword to become a deadly killer. In the story, her quest is to avenge the death of her sister and kill the maleficent queen.


Marvel Barbarian #1: Conan - The Barbarian, The Destroyer, The Conquerer....pick a title.

Conan The Barbarians is Marvel's #1 Barbarian
Conan The Barbarians is Marvel's #1 Barbarian

He's been known by many names...and that's because everyone is afraid of him in their own very-special way. Conan the King, Conan The Savage Sword, Conan The Adventure -- you get the hint -- The number one barbarian of all time is this muscle-bound behemoth, a killer who has never displayed a trait of fear or lack of resolve when wading into a sea of blood and gore.

To true Conan fans, you know him as the creation of Robert E. Howard, Conan The Cimmarian, hailing from the land of Cimmaria, king-slayer of the Hyborian Age (you might notice that Mr. Howard was also the creator of Kull and has a lot of influence in this area). Originally, he was brought to you in the pages of Weird Tales as far back as 1932.

But his legacy did not end with the passing of his great creator. No, Conan lives on to this day!

When Conan first re-emerged, it was with Marvel Comics in the 1970s title Conan The Barbarian. Quickly sensing he had a cult following, they gave him more and more spotlights, including the black-and-white Savage Sword of Conan (1974). To this day, he is unstoppable; spawning movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, video games, and a role-playing game, none other will ever compare.

Time to enter The Age of Conan - Rise of the Godslayer

Back in 2008, The Age of Conan was released as a gory, hack and slash role-playing game with intense graphics and a level of attraction meant for an older audience.

Today, things have simmered down a bit. And you're in luck; now Age of Conan is a Free-to-Play (F2P) game, meaning you can download the software at their main site.

Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer - PC
Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer - PC

If you played Age of Conan when it first came out, you're in for an exciting experience. Things have changed -- I mean changed...a lot! This game still has one of the best graphic engines around and involves a real-time environment. So if you don't aim your arrow right, you're going to miss. The Rise of the Godslayer expansion is also available now, which expands upon the lands surrounding Hyboria, giving you access to new content, advancement, and quests that would otherwise be unavailable. My recommendation it that you try out the free version and see if this game is worthy of your attention. You'll have paid nothing!


Have you seen Conan? - It was August 19, 2011.

The Conan The Barbarian movie released on August 19, 2011. It's was also in 3D. Check here at Conan's website for more info.

Thanks for dropping by!

If you have any comments are wish to talk about what you've seen, please let us know. Your opinions and constructive criticism are always welcome.

Your Barbaric Feedback is welcome. - Just don't hit me.

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    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 

      7 years ago

      I always loved the art put into conan magazines ect....very graphic....:)


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