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  • Greg O'Driscoll

Conan and the Valley of Iskander: Part II

Cover art by John Buscema and Ernie Chan for Conan the Barbarian #80 from Marvel Comics.

Well, after years of never finding this one in the wild, and refusing to buy it online, I finally know how the story turned out. Of course, anyone (including myself) who had ever read Robert E. Howard’s The Valley of Iskander already knew. I just didn’t know how it turned out for Conan. 

You see, that’s all this little three issue side-quest was—Roy Thomas putting Conan into the role of Francis Xavier Gordon, also known as el Borak or “the swift”, an Irish-American adventurer who discovers a lost valley in the ravines of Afghanistan. Rather strangely, rather than create some ersatz lost civilization in line with Hyborian history, Roy Thomas added an extra time travel element to the story. 

The Valley of Iskander remains the lost colony of Alexander the Great. However, it is now lost in time as well as space. As far as Marvel universe continuity (of which Conan is part) is concerned, the famous ruler of Macedonia and conqueror of much of the known world also travelled through a portal in time to create this new city. He didn’t stay, but the gigantic Ptolemy rules the descendants of the first builders in the name of the departed Alexander the Great.

Obviously, Ptolemy and the Cimmerian have to square up in a wrestling match, but is the outcome ever really in question? After all, our man Conan has to finish this inconsequential diversion and get back to battling the Stygian empire. As with the other original stories by Robert E. Howard, The Valley of Iskander can be read for free at various spots around the internet. The Project Gutenberg listing for the story can be found here.

Cover art for the paperback edition of The Lost Valley of Iskander by Robert E. Howard.


1 Comment

James Hanson
James Hanson
Feb 12

Gotta love how they tried to give El Borak that Conan-painted-by-Frazetta vibe on the cover!

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