“The Lurker Within!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from “The God in the Bowl” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Barry Smith
Conan is approaching the city of Numalia when he comes on a woman in a chariot being attacked by a pack of wolves. Conan jumps into action and rescues the women. Lady Aztrias is a haughty woman and starts to boss Conan around instead of thanking him. She lost her driver in the attack and commands Conan to take her home. Conan complies because he wants access to the city. In the city he scrapes the wheel of another noble and gets into a fight with Kallian. Only Aztria’s presence stops Conan from being arrested.
So he finds out why Aztrias wants him. A group of Stygians traveling north stopped at Kallian’s palace of antiquities to store a gift for Karanthes the priest of Ibis. She wants Conan to steal the gift. So at night Conan breaks into the palace and finds the bowl empty and Kallian dead. The nightwatch finds him and summons the guard who thinks that Conan murdered Kallian. Aztrias comes to cover her ass and accuse Conan. Suddenly there is a scream and the nightwatchman comes crawling back talking of a “god with a long neck.” The god is a giant snake with the head of a man that has snakes coming out of his head like Medusa. The god kills everyone except Conan who manages to kill it. At the end he looks into the empty bowl and sees the image of Thoth-Amon.
“Conan the Marvelous The God in the Bowler”
By Roy Thomas
An article about this issue. He flew to London and met with Barry to plan this issue. It was an unpublished work of Howard’s that was found in the fifties and released. Interesting Stan Lee wanted to cancel this series since the sales were steadily declining and he wanted to use Barry on a superhero title. Roy convinced him to wait and sales started rising until this was one of Marvel best selling title.
Another excellent early Conan story. An adaptation from a Howard story and you can see that the man was a brilliant writer. This is the first time Conan has any dealing with Thoth-Amon the Stygian wizard who is destined to become his greatest nemesis. Barry was the one who came up with the ram horns the wizard has. The only alteration to the original story is changing the person who hired Conan from a man to a woman. This was good idea since it works so well to have this bitchy woman who Conan’s barbarian code of honor won’t let him kill. Interesting to learn this was the final issue that was experiencing a sales slump and how it almost ended. That would have been a real loss.