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  • Greg O'Driscoll

Conan sleeps with demons? Yup!

Updated: Feb 21


Cover image of Conan the Barbarian Annual #5 from Marvel Comics

Conan the Barbarian Annual #5

Writer - Roy Thomas

Pencils - John Buscema

Inks - Ernie Chan.


“At last! The WEDDING NIGHT of King Conan and Zenobia!” “But how can Conan protect his bride - - when she herself is a MONSTER FROM HELL?” Does cover copy get any more hyperbolic than this?  I thought it was time to take a brief break from the monthly issues of Conan to review one of the special annual issues.


While Conan's earlier days as a wandering thief and mercenary were covered in the monthly issues, several of the annuals were reserved for his days as king of Aquilonia. This story is the sequel to the previous year’s annual “Return of the Conqueror”. This year it was “Bride of the Conqueror” wherein Conan evades assassination and disbands his harem. Oh, and he also marries a demon summoned by the wizard Tsotha-Lanti, who still isn’t all the way dead!


As the cover gives away, Conan's intended bride has been replaced by a demonic assassin. At the moment, I am blanking on if Conan discovers the imposture before or after consummating the marriage. Though I am well aware Marvel would have never depicted something like that in a code-approved book, it does raise a somewhat funny issue. As I mentioned in my recent review of CTB #82, it is a shade odd how often a "superstitious barbarian" like Conan sleeps with supernatural beings that he would ordinarily kill-- as long as they look like beautiful women.


Conan fans are certainly familiar with the scene in the 80's Arnold flick where Conan bangs the sensual woods witch (played by the gorgeous Cassandra Gava). Mid-coitus she starts to transform into a werewolf or something. Still pumping away, Conan just rolls to the side and tosses her into the fireplace. In the comics, Conan slept with a witch that controlled bears before he ever left his wintry home, then a similar witch that controlled wolves, three beautiful blonde sisters who were all witches, a warrior queen that turned out to be a giant vampiric were-bat. These are only a few of the numerous times Conan dabbled in sorcery in the way Conan loves best.

 

A quick reread verifies that Conan did not in fact sleep with this particular demon in the guise of Zenobia. However, he was legally wed to the demon by a priest of Mitra. Thanks a lot, Mitra! By the end of the adventure, Zenobia is rescued from the wizard that started it all and a second, less opulent wedding is held. Conan is ready for his wedding night and sees no need to wait.


This annual was not a new purchase for me. I received it as one of the comics in the Legendary Giant Black Hefty Bag gifted to me in middle school, the story of which will have to wait for another time. Having read the cover off that copy, I had to purchase a new one that wasn’t so damn beaten and battered. Winning this one from a live online comic auction was like being reunited with an old friend.

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