Maybe the Conan we all enjoy has become a dated character. To, us that is really a nonissue. We like the Conan character and whether the stories conform to current fashion is of no concern. It is a concern to those who produce comic books however and has to be. Brian Wood is trying to write his stories for an audience with a contemporary sensibility. That isn't me.. My taste in fiction is resolutely old fashioned. But has the gap in time between REH's fiction and the present day become too great for us to expect faithfulness to the source material? Are we basically demanding that Dark Horse produce dated comics?
I have to disagree: what makes Conan endure as a character from my point of view is the things which make him beyond a character of his time, not the relics of it. The Conan character I love is the one which shows pity on a monstrous, elephant-headed inhuman being and promises not to harm him - is such a concept as mercy and empathy dated? The Conan character I love is the one who makes it royal decree that men should not face persecution or marginalisation for their religious beliefs - is that dated? Sure, there's a lot in Conan informed by racial theories of the day, but Conan is also a man who will fight side-by-side by men of any race, who will emancipate a crew of slaves and promise them freedom - that's certainly not something that dates him to the early 20th century.
And yet through it all, he is utterly unpretentious and untouched by the artifices of today. There's a famous quote which I can't immediately recall, something along the lines of "the life of the average person saw less change between the year 9 and 1909, than between 1909 and 1999." So much of life has changed in the 20th century as to be virtually unrecognizable for the majority of humanity born at its beginning and at its end. That's the problem with Wood's Conan: the very idea of a 21st Century barbarian is anathema to the very concept of the barbarian itself.
Will it stand the test of time? Who knows. But I find more similarities between characters Howard created and those created by a millennia's worth of authors, than I do between Wood and Howard. In terms of temperament, personality, and spirit, Howard's Conan is kin to Ursus, Ab, Matho, Beowulf, Enkidu, while also having some modern sensibilities to distinguish him from his predecessors. Can the same be said of Wood's?
That's the crucial difference to me. No, this doesn't make Conan dated: it makes him timeless.
very well said.