Comic book readers: what is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of those who don’t read barbarian comics. Naturally. But more to the point, comics have a long history of savage warriors who speak more with their actions than their words. Here are some of our favorites:
10. Adrian The Barbarian
A comic within a comic (a British book called The Beezer), Adrian was a regular little boy who happened to have a magic sword. He frolicked with inanimate objects brought to life, and eventually had his name changed to Olaff the Madlander, because… Well, I don’t know why. But let’s agree it sounds cool, and leave it at that.
9. Barack The Barbarian
A misguided attempt to catch the “Barack Obama is a comic book nerd,” craze, or timely satire? Or both? Whatever it was, this title cast the President as a buff wanderer with a sword, fighting evils like Red Sarah – a thinly veiled Sarah Palin (in a chainmail bikini, no less) parody, and tax reform. We will say, if the Pres looks that buff under his suit, that how YOU doin’.
An ongoing story told in the UKs famed 2000AD, Slaine was like a lot of his brethren, wwith one major exception: he’s Irish. So he faced off against Irish mythological threats, wandered the highlands, and for the most part, his story arc lined up with the chronology of Irish mythology. I would make a tasteless Lucky Charms joke here, but I’m above that sort of casual racism.
Another straight forward Barbarian, Wulf was interestingly created by Lara Hama, who later went on to make the aforementioned Barack comic. Wulf was also recently revived by 30 Days of Night writer Steve Niles, who sucked him forward to the 21st century, where he probably tried to put a CD on a record player, and tried to chop a car with his axe at some point or something.
6. Santa the Barbarian
I’ll will give you one guess what this is about. Rob Liefeld wrote and drew this over the top action spectacular in the mid-‘90s, casting Santa as a bald, quick to go insane maniac with an axe, more liable to slice elves in half than deliver presents… Though how he managed that without feet, I’ll never know (©1995, The Big Book of Rob Liefeld Jokes)
5. Kull of Atlantis
I know you’re thinking, “I get it, he’s an underwater barbarian!” but Kull was actually set before the sinking of the famous island. Created by Conan writer Robert E. Howard, his slightly less famous creation actually came first – and laid the groundwork for good ol’ Connie.
4. Joe The Barbarian
Not technically a barbarian, Joe is actually the creation of Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. When regular kid Joe starts to go into diabetic shock, he enters a fantastic fantasy world where rats can talk, and giants are the same height as you and me. He goes on an epic journey, stops the dark forces of evil, and then has his feet amputated. Kidding!
Probably the most famous aardvark in the history of comics, Dave Sim’s creation started as a simple barbarian mercenary, and ended as a meditation on religion, humanity, and the meaning of life itself. In the middle though? Lots and lots of choppin’.
2. Groo the Wanderer
Ostensibly a parody of the barbarian genre, Groo is the biggest idiot in the history of comics… Yet he never fails to do the right thing. Or at least, he tries to, as his oft repeated catchphrase – “Did I err?” – can attest. However, he’s probably also successfully killed more enemies than any other barbarian; even if those enemies sometimes turn out to be his friends.
1. Conan the Barbarian
Aw, who’s the cute little bawbawian who has a new movie coming out? Is it Conan? OHMIGOD DON’T KILL ME. Easily one of the most recognizable characters ever, Robert E. Howard’s greatest creation hailed from Cimmeria, but has become known all over the world. A simple character (look at the quote up top), with a complex mythology surrounding him, Conan has stood the test of time – and so have the comics.