Conan the Barbarian is known for taking down all threats with sword in hand, but his last enemy might be the weapon he trusts the most.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Conan the Barbarian # 18 by VC’s Jim Zub, Luca Pizzari, Israel Silva, and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Conan the Barbarian is famous for his incredible strength, both in terms of his physical prowess and his indomitable willpower. It is this sheer power that has allowed him to defeat any enemy, be it fighting other people, wild beasts, or ancient demons.
While Conan is one of the most accomplished swordsmen in the comics, the sword in Conan’s hand is what defeats him in Conan the barbarian # 18.
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Having acquired a katana known as the Tooth of the Night Star, Conan heads to the distant land of Khitai to return the weapon to its rightful owner, Maltus-Rai. An ancient curse has been placed on the sword and soon the barbarian is overcome by hallucinations that threaten his understanding of reality. A band of warriors attack him on a mountain pass and he is forced to take the Tooth of the Night Star to defend himself.
This is the configuration at the beginning of Conan the barbarian # 18, which begins with the titular hero reflecting on all the past battles he has survived as he wields the cursed sword against the enemies around him. The blade glows a fiery orange light in his hand as his eyes glow red, but the weapon gives him the strength to defeat his attackers. Only once they are killed does Conan look at his handiwork, at which point his vision clears and he finds himself standing in a tent village, having killed all the unarmed innocent villagers.
The horror of the revelation surprises him, and once again, the sword takes control. Speaking directly into his mind, the Night Star Tooth reveals its bloody history from the day it was forged through years of battle and treachery at the hands of its bearers. The sword repeatedly calls Conan a vessel, a term that offends the barbarian. He tempts him with promises of wealth and women, if he willingly agrees to wield her, giving the sword the blood he craves in exchange for the strength to take what he wants for himself. Still, Conan refuses. To punish this defiance, the sword takes control of his arms and forces him to raise its shining blade towards his own throat. You can agree to be a container for the cursed weapon or else it will kill you.
With a last effort of will, Conan manages to shed his hold on him. Exhausted and disoriented, he drops the katana at his feet. A moment later, he is attacked by Khitai warriors, but at this point, Conan is so weak from his fight with the Nightstar Tooth that he is captured without even putting up a fight.
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