MAN-BATS of UR-XANARRH

Classification: Bat winged humanoids (native to earth?)

Location/Base of Operations: During the Hyborian Age the floating city of Ur-Xanarrh amongst the clouds of Cimmeria and about six leagues from the floating city of Akah Ma’at, current whereabouts unknown.

Known Members: King Ur-Xanarrh, Princess Lyzala, Captain Durzzak

Affiliations: Chthon (creator), Raskos B’Quen (ally/victim), Thaltar (traitorous elder of Akah Ma’at/ally), Conan the Barbarian (enemy, ally of Akah Ma’at), the Bird-Men of Akah Ma’at (hereditary enemies)

First Appearance: (In flashback) Conan the Barbarian#153 (December, 1983), (in action) Conan the Barbarian#154 (January, 1984)

Powers/Abilities: The Man-Bats are capable of flight on large bat-like wings. Their fangs can be used as weapons in close quarters. There is some small evidence to indicate the Bird-Men have peak human to enhanced human strength so it might be safe to assume the Man-Bats have a similar strength level. They utilize conventional Hyborian era weaponry such as swords, spears, and shields, but seem to have no science or sorcery that can match the Bird-Men’s Cylinder of Power.

Traits: The Man-Bats of Ur-Xanarrh have blue skin, large bat-like wings, pointed ears, clawlike fingernails, two toes, and pronounced fangs. Many of the males of Ur-Xanarrh have slits instead of normal noses and huge fangs giving them a skull-like visage. Some males of Ur-Xanarrh have also been depicted with ridged jawlines and a single backward curving horn-like projection on the top of their bald heads. Because this is a Conan comic the only female of Ur-Xanarrh was obviously a heck of a lot better looking than the males. The Man-Bats appear brutish, cruel, obsessed with conquest for the most part, and lacking any real culture. They apparently have at least two divinities they swear by: the Great Fanged Bat and the Rat.

History: (Marvel Tarot (fb) - BTS) - Chthon created the Man-Bats to serve him.

(Conan the Barbarian#153 (fb) ) - For uncounted eons the Bird-Men of Akah Ma’at dwelt above the earth in their floating, cloud enshrouded city, their existence unsuspected by the wingless races of the planet below. The only threat to tranquil Akah Ma’at was the race of evil race of bat-winged conquerors from nearby Ur-Xanarrh some half-dozen leagues away. For centuries the Man-Bats launched attack after attack in an endless quest to subjugate and destroy the Bird-Men. However one of Akah Ma’at’s mighty sages devised the miraculous Cylinder of Power. This source of inexhaustible energy in turn fueled a cordon of ‘power batons’ encircling the city. These batons emit blazing, death-dealing bolts of energy on any attempting to invade the floating city, which the Bat-Men painfully learned in at least one attack. However periodically the power batons and other weapons fueled by the Cylinder must be recharged.

(Conan the Barbarian153 (fb) ) - For a millennium Akah Ma’at enjoyed the peace provided by the Cylinder and the cordon of floating batons, but a fortnight before Conan finds himself drawn into the struggle between the two floating cities the traitorous elder Thaltar steals the Cylinder of Power with the intention of betraying Akah Ma’at to the Men-Bats. Luckily for the Bird-Men Thaltar did not succeed and was shot down by a warrior wielding one of their energy weapons before he could get too far away. However Thaltar’s dead body and the Cylinder both fell to earth far below. Three of Akah Ma’at’s most valiant warriors were dispatched to find and recover the Cylinder and never seen again.

(BTS) - The wizard Raskos B’Quen or his henchmen discover the slain Thaltar and the Cylinder near his castle. The three valiant warriors of Akah Ma’at track the Cylinder to Raskos’s castle but are captured and tortured for information as to its use. The three warriors die before revealing anything to the evil wizard. About a fortnight later Raskos either detects the use of power similar to that contained in the Cylinder or by other means detects Alhambra and Conan’s approach and dispatches his Bug-Riders to attack them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Conan the Barbarian#153) - The bug-riders return to Raskos’s fortress believing they have successfully killed Conan and the unconscious Alhambra by plunging them into a river where they drowned. Later spying on the two decidedly not dead adventurers via crystal ball Raskos learns the history and powers of the Cylinder. Following the trail of the Bug-Riders Alhambra and Conan discover the stone castle of the wizard Raskos B’Quen not even a full half league from where Thaltar the Traitor fell to earth. Going right up the front steps they discover the three bled and hung bodies of the bird-warriors sent to recover the Cylinder. Raskos appears on a ledge above and reveals he tortured them for information of the Cylinder which he holds in his hands, but learned nothing until spying on the two of them. He orders his warriors to kill them. Alhambra uses her ring on them until a warrior shoots her with bow and arrow. A shaft in her back Alhambra falls to the ground and Conan true to form slays the rest of the soldiers in a rage. Charging up the stairs to confront Raskos, the wizard summons a three headed dragon with a wave of his hand. Conan swiftly slays the beast but Raskos escapes, barring Conan’s pursuit with a stoutly barred door. Conan races back to Alhambra’s side and as she tries to plead with him to save Akah Ma’at she collapses unconscious and near dead in the barbarian’s arms.

(Conan the Barbarian#154) - Raskos escapes from Conan mounted upon one of his giant dragonflies and apparently evades or is missed by the two Bird-Men that capture the pursuing Conan. Arriving at Ur-Xanarrh Raskos threatens to blast the guards that rush out to meet him with the Cylinder of Power. He demands the king be told of his arrival and wish to make him an offer. Brought to the King of the Man-Bats Raskos laughs off the king’s desire to hold the glowing rod before he is properly paid. Princess Lyzala uses her feminine wiles to get close to the unsuspecting sorcerer and buries her fangs in his throat, killing him. The king takes the Cylinder and vows that by tomorrow Akah Ma’at will be a domain of ghosts drowning in a sea of scarlet flame.

Conan is brought before Alhambra’s father, the King of Akah Ma’at, as a captured spy. Conan explains to the king he has pledged to help his people. The king seeing that he has nothing to lose has Conan freed and set up with a giant cloud-hawk in order to fly to Ur-Xanarrh and steal back the Cylinder of Power. Conan is spotted approaching the city of Ur-Xanarrh and his giant cloud hawk is slain, but he manages to ride the dying beast down and leap to a nearby tower. Conan is captured and brought before the bat-king only to back talk during interrogation and get clubbed over the head for it. Captain Durzzak and Lyzala drag Conan off to the torture chamber where both are amazed by Conan’s strength and stamina albeit in different ways. Ordering Durzzak out of the room Princess Lyzala then proceeds to come on to our hero. Conan given a respite from the tongs and pincers breaks free and threatens to wring Lyzala’s neck if she screams. Using Lyzala as a hostage Conan escapes the torture chamber and flees further into the gloomy floating city, tossing the bat-girl aside along the way. Subduing a sentry Conan discovers the treasure room, but doesn’t take even one gold coin in favor of the Cylinder and an ashwood bow. Finding the dead wizard’s giant dragonfly Conan makes his escape and shoots down three pursuers.

Conan returns the Cylinder in triumph, but the horde of bloodthirsty Man-Bats are on his heels and there is no time to recharge the power batons. Conan leads them into battle the old fashioned way - - with steel! An aerial battle erupts and though outnumbered two to one the Bird-Men led by the barbarian turn the tide of battle. Conan slays Durzzak in personal combat only to be struck down from behind with a club by Lyzala. Alhambra reappears in the nick of time, fully healed and ready for battle, and puts a spear into Lyzala’s back, killing her. Akah Ma’at is once again safe from the warlike people of Ur-Xanarrh. Alhambra carries the wounded Conan to a cabin in his homeland of Cimmeria. The wondering couple that find Conan on their doorstep see Alhambra flying away and think her to be a goddess.

 

Comments: Created by Michael Fleisher(w) and John Buscema(a), and for Conan the Barbarian#154: Michael Fleisher (W) and Gary Kwapisz(a)--the ole' change artists in mid-story trick!

Ur-Xanarrh, as it is referred to in Conan the Barbarian#154, is also called Ur-Xanarrah throughout Conan the Barbarian#153. I opted to use the second version since it sounds more menacing to me and in keeping with the consonant heavy Bat-Men names Durzzak and Lyzala. The term Ur-Xanarrah also appears to be interchangeable as a name for both the city and its inhabitants.

Alhambra’s statement that the Bird-Men of Akah Ma’at had dwelt upon their floating island for uncounted eons with the only thing to threaten them the Man-Bats of Ur-Xanarrh could be chalked up to legend, hyperbole, poetic license, or whatnot. But if her statement is accurate that means both races are prehuman and possibly magical, otherdimensional, or demonic in nature. She mentions the wingless races below being unaware of the Akah Ma’at of long ago, but she does not specifically state ‘human’ races and could mean the any of the Elder Gods, demon races including the N’Garai, dinosaurs, or even the Deviants which all at one point ruled earth before the rise and ascendancy of man.

During Alhambra’s return to action she gathers up the wounded and unconscious Conan in her arms and easily flies him back to Cimmeria where he can be cared for implying the bird men have some measure of enhanced strength (peak human or enhanced human). If this is the case it might be safe to assume the Bat-Men have a similar strength level.

Only Capt. Durzzak and Princess Lyzala were seen during the Man-Bats’ doomed raid upon Akah Ma’at. The king was conspicuously absent. I suspect that he stayed behind in his floating castle and lived to plot more deviltry against Akah Ma’at in the future though neither he, Ur-Xanarrh, nor the Bird-Men are ever seen again.

For my own part this was always one of the better two part Conan adventures and still ranks as one of my favorite Conan stories of all time despite the switch from the reliable duo of Buscema/Chan in the first half to the good, but somewhat erratic team of Kwapisz (who has done his share of fine Conan stuff) and Camp. The characters and concepts surrounding the Bird-Men of Akah Ma’at and the Man-Bats of Ur-Xanarrh are yet another example of cool characters/settings that Marvel owns to come out of one of their licensed properties comics like Conan, Rom, etc. I’m surprised some writer hasn’t tied in Akah Ma’at with the race of bird-men that raised and equipped Red Raven or brought the Man-Bats back as enemies to menace ol’ Red. Kurt? Anyone?

by Greg O'Driscoll

Clarifications: The Man Bat’s of Ur-Xanarrh should not be confused with:


 

 

 

King Ur-Xanarrh, Princess Lyzala, and Captain Durzzak were the commanding triumvirate of the Man-Bats, obsessed with the destruction of Akah Ma’at and generally just not a nice bun ch of people to be stuck with on a floating island. Here we see the sorcerer Raskos B’Quen showing off the Cylinder of Power to these three the way a fool holds out a scrap of meat to starving wolves. The King is never specifically named so King Ur-Xanarrh seems as good an appellation as any.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Appearances:
Conan the Barbarian#153 (December, 1983) - Michael Fleisher (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Ernie Chan (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
Conan the Barbarian#154 (January, 1984) - Michael Fleisher (writer), Gary Kwapisz (pencils), Bob Camp (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
Marvel Tarot (2007) - David Sexton (writer), Doug Sexton & Jeff Christiansen (consultants), Jeff Younquist (editor)


Last updated: 08/02/02

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