Classification: Demon race or a branch off of humanity
Location/Base of Operations: Stygia;
the pre-Cataclysmic and Hyborian eras
Known Members: Hotephaaph, Mehennassar,
Nuubissat, Ssarbaarix, Sschaaronn (image to the right), Thefertaash;
Affiliations: Set (ancestor or creator); Serpent
Men (distant relations); Thoth-Amon;
may have been associated with Thulsa Doom in the pre-Cataclysmic era
Enemies: Mankind in general;
specifically Arus, Aztrias, Belit, Conan, Demetrio, Dionus, Kallian, Li-Zya, Thulsa Doom, and Zula
Aliases: The Sons of Set
First Appearance: REH's The God in the Bowl
(Space Science Fiction, September 1952);
(Marvel Universe) Conan the Barbarian I#7 (July, 1971)
Powers/Abilities: The Man-Serpents have serpentine
bodies which are fifteen to thirty feet in length. They are at least as
strong as a conventional serpent of that size. They have a human-like head,
which is covered by venomous snakes in place of hair.
They can mesmerize others, leaving them in a trance-like state which is susceptible to their commands. This is best accomplished via direct eye contact, but they can also fire mesmerizing blasts from their eyes. Awareness of their powers grants some immunity, and deliberate blinking of the eyes can enable one to throw off the trance.
Their golden faces have been mistaken for true gold by others.
The Man-Serpents have life spans lasting "untold thousands of years (of obscene, unnatural life)."
The Man-Serpents have the same aversion to "Ka Nama Kaa Lajerama" the phrase that exposes Serpent Men disguised as humans. They can neither say nor stand to hear it.
Traits: The Man-Serpents tend to act as agents of Stygian sorcerers, such as Thoth-Amon. They are fiercely loyal to Thoth-Amon, and will gladly sacrifice themselves for him. While the Serpent Men turned against Thoth-Amon in favor of Thulsa Doom when the two met, the Man-Serpents remained dedicated to Thoth-Amon.
(Savage Sword of Conan#192 (fb)) - The Man-Serpents are a race either descended from or created by the Elder God Set. For eons, there was a single scaly race, which did Set homage for longer than the human mind can conceive. Then, for reason unknown, it split into two distinct races--the Man-Serpents and the Serpent Men. For an epoch, the ancestors of humanity served the Serpent Men, while the Man-Serpents tended to be more reclusive. Eventually, a Pictish shaman discovered this phrase, and spread the knowledge of it to men, who used it to successfully overthrow the Serpent Men and root out the Man-Serpents. Over bloody centuries, man won a total victory--or at least they thought they had. In truth, some Man-Serpents escaped into hiding, and a few Serpent Men learned to wrap themselves in the hypnotic guise of humans.
(Savage Sword of Conan#192 (fb)) - A small number of Man-Serpents and Serpent Men survived the great Cataclysm, @ 18000 BC, which destroyed much of civilization. While their activities in the following millennia are unknown, by @ 10, 0000 BC, in the Hyborian era, both snake people came to serve Thoth-Amon, a powerful Stygian sorcerer.
(Conan the Barbarian I#7 (fb) - BTS) - Stygian priests, agents of Thoth-Amon, searched the caverns below Stygia, where they found the slumbering form of Sschaaronn contained within a large bowl. Seeking to slay the Karanthes, a priest of Set's enemy, Ibis, the priests sent the bowl to him in his temple in Numalia, claiming it to be a gift.
(Conan the Barbarian I#7) - Word of the treasure in the bowl spread throughout Numalia, and it became sought by many. The wealthy lady Aztrias sent Conan to steal the contents of the bowl. Inside the temple, Conan found the bowl empty and the its watchman, Kallian, dead from strangling. The other guards, Arus and Dionus, discovered Conan and Kallian's corpse and summoned the city's guard, including Demetrio and others to arrest Conan. Aztrias traveled to the site of the commotion and denounced Conan, accusing him of murdering Kallian out of spite. Suddenly, Arus, who had been searching the hall of relics for potential allies of Conan, was hear to shriek, and then he came crawling back into the room, hissing his last words, " The God--has a long neck--oh, a--cursed--long--neck..." As the others searched for the cause of his death, Sschaaronn managed to entrance Aztrias and draw her towards him. Demetrius saw the face of Sschaaronn and fired an arrow at it, which missed, and the Man-Serpent then burst through the wall, attacking all present. Sschaaronn slaughtered all present, except Conan, who managed to drive his sword up to the hilt in Sschaaron's long neck and then battered the Man-Serpent's face repeatedly with fist and anything else he could find, until it finally succumbed to its wounds.
(Conan the Barbarian I#89) - Seeking to impress "King" Ctesphon the III,
Thoth-Amon sent an unidentified Man-Serpent and several Serpent Men to slay Belit, Conan,
The Man-Serpent dulled the senses of the three warriors, and then
entranced Belit, and drawing her into his clutches. Zula, who had had some
experience with sorcery, resisted the mesmerization and pushed Belit out
of the way of the Man-Serpent's strike.
The Man-Serpent then attacked Zula,
wrapping him in its massive coils and crushing him while staying out of reach of his sword strikes.
It likely would overcome him, had not it been distracted by Conan, who
had joined the scene once the Man-Serpent had stopped focusing its mental
powers to dull his senses.
The distraction allowed Zula to catch it off guard, slicing off its head.
The beheaded creature
made no sound, not a word nor a sibiliant hiss...it simply perished
after thousands of years of obscene, unnatural life.
(Savage Sword of Conan#191) - A Stygian soldier discovered the "living" skull of Thulsa Doom and brought it to Thoth-Amon's temple in Khemi. Ssarbaarix discovered the soldier, blocked his passage, and nearly slew him before learning that he had the skull. Ssarbaarix brought the soldier to Thoth-Amon, who confronted Thulsa Doom's weakened form and slew the soldier when he requested payment.
Meanwhile Conan and Li-Zya--from whose father the skull had been stolen--brought a squad of Khitan soldiers to the Temple. Thoth-Amon informed Ssarbaarix that it was Conan who had slain his brother, Sschaaronn, in Numalia a few decades ago. Ssarbaarix mesmerized the group and began to crush them en masse, but Conan's experiences had taught him how to resist the control, and he sliced off Ssarbaarix's tail, filling the Man-Serpent with pain and enabling the others to escape. Thoth-Amon then summoned four other Man-Serpents--Mehennassar, Nuunissat, Hotephaaph, and Thefertaash (actually, a fifth one can be seen, but that could be Ssarbaarix's face--at the risk of seeming anti-Setic, all Man-Serpents look the same to me!). Conan and his allies managed to slay these, and Ssarbaarix sacrificed his life, throwing himself in front of Conan's hurled sword to block its path to Thoth-Amon. Conan grabbed the skull and fled with Li-Zya and the remaining soldiers, as still more Man-Serpents, and a veritable legion of true serpents pursued them.
Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard. Adapted
to the Marvel Universe by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith.
Before the age of Conan, circa 10000 BC, Stygia and its sister nation of Acheron, ruled much of the Earth, from15000 - 13000 BC. While it's likely that either or both Man-Serpents and Serpent Men were active during those periods, it is as yet unconfirmed.
I thought that the Man-Serpents and Serpent Men were actual
spawn of Set, but I can't recall any specific documentation of this. Thulsa
Doom refers to them as "both types of Set's offspring," but this could be
figurative, I guess.
The God in the Bowl was reprinted in Gnome Press's "The
Coming of Conan," 1953.
Thanks to the Continental Op for pointing out the Man-Serpents'
The Man-Serpents should be distinguished from:
One of Ishiti's forms was very similar to that of the Man-Serpents. She is thought to be another descendent of Set, but whether there are any other connections is unknown. The form taken by the demon Xka-Ahk was also similar, though it had arms.
Conan the Barbarian I#7 cover (main)
Conan the Barbarian I#89, pg. 8, panel 1 (entrancing Belit);
pg. 10, panel 1 (coiled around Zula);
panel 3 (beheaded by Zula);
Savage Sword of Conan#19_
Conan the Barbarian I#7 (July, 1971) - Roy Thomas (writer), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), Sal Buscema & Dan Adkins (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#89 (August, 1978) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (pencils), Ernie Chan (inks), Jim Shooter (editor)
Savage Sword of Conan#191-192 (November-December, 1991) - Dann & Roy Thomas (writers), John Buscema (pencils), Ernie Chan & Tony DeZuniga (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
First Posted: 01/09/2003
Last updated: 11/05/2023
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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