Real Name: James Allison
Identity/Class: Human (unidentified quasi-mystic
psychic abilities derived from a magical
active circa approximately the first third of the 20th century (apparently died circa 1936 A.D. , active presumably at least three decades before that, likely into the latter 19th century).
Group Membership: None;
his past incarnations were Aesir, Bison People, Crusaders, Germanic, Norsemen, Senones, Vanir, Visigoths, and others
Affiliations: Conan the Cimmerian, Dark Agnes
(Agnes de Chastillon), "Ishtar of
Lemuria & Khemu," Solomon
Moon Knight (Marc Spector), Satyne,
his past incarnations, including Bane the Reaver, Bragi, Bran, Eric, Hialmar, Horsa, John, Niord, Tyr;
additionally, his past incarnations were allied with Alaric and the Goths, Aluna, Asgrimm of the Aesir, Brennus, Brill, Godfrey of Bouillon, Gorm, Gudrun, Hengist, Kelka of the Picts, Leif the Lucky (presumably Leif Erickson), Mungar, Wolfgang the One-Eyed, and others;
possibly Kull of Valusia
his past incarnations were enemies of Akkheba and the people of Khemu, Gol-Gorath, Heimdul of the Aesir, Koth-Serapis, Satha, Yabikasha the Undying One, and the British, Fatimids, Picts, River People, Romans, Stygians, Turks, carnivorous fish, unidentified bat-winged, ebony-skinned man, unidentified bestial black magic-wielding guardian of the idol of the River People, and others
Known Relatives: Unidentified
(presumed paternal) great-grandfather
unidentified (presumed paternal) grandfather (deceased);
unidentified father (almost certainly deceased);
unidentified eldest brother (deceased);
unidentified older/middle brother (deceased);
Aliases: Bane the Reaver, Brachan the Kelt, Bragi,
Bran, Eric, Ghor, Gorm
of the Bison People, Hengibar
the Wanderer (aka Hengibar the Mighty and Hengibar of the Dawn),
Hialmar, Horsa, Hrunwulf the
Wanderer, John, Niord, numerous others (all past
Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
at least formerly Cross Plains, Texas
First Appearance: "The
Valley of the Worm" in Weird Tales (February, 1934);
(Marvel) Supernatural Thrillers#3 (April, 1973);
Powers/Abilities: James Allison can recall the past lives of his various previous incarnations, some of which date back to 10,000 B.C.
Augmented/guided by the
Wyrm, he could transport people across time and communicate
telepathically with those people and/or speak through various magical
artifacts and/or corpses.
He is a skilled speaker,
able to provide convincing and compelling discussions/arguments and to
speak in prosaic and poetic fashion.
He lost his right leg at the knee level, although he did use a wooden leg for a time to regain an ambulatory status.
He was bedridden for
much of his life, and toward the end, he was physically infirm
and suffering from some wasting disease.
(Black Eons) - Cursed by the Stygian priest
Koth Serapis, Bane the Reaver and his reincarnations recalled their
Eons, Fantasy Book anthology, June 1985) – during a riding accident…
of Valhalla, Marchers of Valhalla 1972) – and crushed his leg so badly
that it had to be amputated. Though he was still able to limp around
with a prosthetic replacement, Allison grew up bitter, feeling he had no
future. Additionally, sometimes he dreamed of drowning, and woke up
gasping and strangling.
after he had grown to adulthood he went for a walk in the barren hills
near his home, and when he paused for a rest on a ridge he was
discovered by a beautiful woman who seemed to recognize him, calling him
Hialmar. As she began to talk of the ancient past of what was now Texas,
vividly describing the land and an ancient city that once stood near
their current location and insisting he should be able to see it,
Allison suddenly found himself experiencing the life of the Aesir
Hialmar, who who had grown from a boy to a man on a long trek undertaken
by his tribe from Nordheim under the leadership of Asgrimm; during their
wanderings their numbers had been whittled down from over a thousand to
just five hundred as they slaughtered their way across continents, but
they had also gained allies, such as Hialmar’s Pictish blood brother
Kelka. Now the group had found their way to the city of Khemu, and,
after a battle in which they slew the defenders who came out to meet
them, the rulers offered a compromise; if the Aesir tried to storm the
city the defenders would destroy it and themselves first, denying the
Aesir any prizes, but if they spared the city then the rulers would send
out gold, food, wine and women. The city’s ruler, Akkheba, then brokered
a deal with the Aesir. Recently a new war leader had united the nearby
tribes and the king feared this new alliance would soon attack the city,
so Akkheba convinced Asgrimm’s Aesir to become its defenders.
waiting for this attack, Hialmar grew attracted to Aluna, a slave from a
distant land who was now a handmaiden of Ishtar, the city’s goddess.
From her he learned that Khemu’s people were descendants of Lemurians
who had escaped that continent’s destruction, and that Ishtar herself
allegedly dwelled in a chamber within the city’s temple. Soon enough the
attack came, and after a pitched battle Hialmar personally slew the
enemy leader, who proved to be a Vanir warrior. Afterwards the city
threw a victory feast for its defenders, but Hialmar was more interested
in locating Aluna. Interrogating a priest he discovered to his horror
that she was about to be sacrificed to the goddess, so he rampaged
through the temple to save her, only to arrive too late. When she died
in his arms he swore vengeance against Ishtar herself, but entering the
goddess’ chamber he discovered Ishtar was a captive herself. Explaining
she had once been a mortal Lemurian princess, she had been given
immortality by Poseidon after being offered to him as a bride, and thus
had survived the subsequent Cataclysm that sank the continent. However,
when she had eventually made her way to Khemu she had been imprisoned, a
goddess to the people but slave to the priests, locked away so she could
not see the sea and appeal for help from her divine husband.
Her explanation was interrupted by screams and the sound of clashing swords, as the city had betrayed its foreign defenders now they were no longer needed, poisoning the wine at the feast and using womanly wiles to separate the Aesir from their swords and armor. Returning to the feast hall Hialmar and a dying Kelka slew Akkheba, moments before Ishtar managed to call on Poseidon, who drowned the city, creating what would one day be the Gulf of Mexico.
(Conan: Serpent War#1 (fb) - BTS) - In days
of better health, Allison recorded his thoughts dashing them down on
paper in what he would later consider to be a misguided attempt to
immortalize the placed he had seen and the deeds he had accomplished.
of Time) – Allison recalled not only the men he had once been, but
even the beasts that he had been before men existed, including primal,
bestial anthropoids covered in shaggy fur that alternated between
walking on two legs and all fours through primordial forests. And he
also remembered being one of the first true men, Hengibar the
Wanderer, also known as Hengibar the Mighty, and Hengibar of the Dawn,
who possessed sun-bronzed skin overlaid atop a giant frame of hardened
muscles, Arctic blue eyes and golden blond hair. An orphan, he had
been discovered as an infant by the roving Vanir tribe of Wolfgang the
One-Eyed, who found the naked babe sitting bloodstained atop a bear
cub it had strangled and then began to devour raw. Deciding the child
must have wolf-blood in him, Wolfgang decided to adopt him into the
tribe rather than slay him, believing the foundling would grow up to
be a mighty warrior and asset to their clan. Many times over this
decision paid dividends; raised alongside Wolfgang’s son, Mungar,
Hengibar slew swamp dragons and proved himself repeatedly battling the
tribe’s foes even before he reached adulthood.
("The Garden of Fear) - Allison recalled a past life as the Aesir warrior Hrunwulf, "the Wanderer." Having fallen in love with Gudrun, a woman his tribe had given to the hunter Heimdul, Hrunwulf slew his rival and fled with Gudrun into exile. Fleeing pursuers, they found their way into a strange valley where they encountered a bat-winged, ebony skinned man, whom Hrunwulf ultimately killed in defense of his love.
the Kelt) – Allison recalled being Brachan of Amelia, a
blond-haired, blue-eyed, “mighty thewed” swordsman from the dawn of
(Genseric’s Fifth Born Son) – Allison remembered being Ghor, the fifth born son of Genseric and his wife Gudrun, a hero of the Hyborian age, and the progenitor of the legends of Romulus and Remus.
("The Valley of the
Worm" / Supernatural Thrillers#3) - Circa 1934,
the bedridden James Allison -- who at least believed that he was dying
-- recalled the Hyborian era Aesir Niord as a past
incarnation, and he was reminded of the battle between Niord and the
forces of the Worm.
He further noted that the legends of Perseus battling a sea serpent to save Andromeda; Beowulf slaying a fire-monster; St. George slaying a mighty dragon in the wilds of Asia Minor; and Siegfried slaying Fafnir were all racial memories/echoes of Niord slaying the worm.
(Conan: Serpent War#4 (fb) - BTS) - The Wyrm (see comments) connected to all of Niord's reincarnations, including writer James Allison, whom he cursed with a wasting disease; via this disease, the Wyrm was spiritually connected to and controlled Allison.
the Idol, Weird Tales#3, Fall 1981) – While suffering from an
undiagnosed malady and believing himself dying (see comments), Allison
recalled a past live as the gray-eyed, tawny haired Gorm of the Bison
People, an account that began with Gorm a prisoner of the rival River
People that had recently invaded the Bison People’s lands, and now
awaiting sacrifice to his captors’ god. He watched as another of the
Bison People was ritually slain first, and this prior offering
inadvertently provided Gorm the opportunity to escape; celebrating
their victim’s demise, the River People cavorted in joy, and one
unwittingly kicked a burning brand close enough to Gorm for him to
partially burn through his bindings. Breaking free, Gorm leapt into
the nearby river to evade the pursuing enemy, and, narrowly avoiding
being eaten by the carnivorous fish he now learned dwelled there, swam
to the opposite bank. Fleeing into the jungle, Gorm spent several days
healing and plotting revenge, determined to ensure no more of his own
people would be sacrificed to the River People’s god.
Having learned during his captivity that the River People worshipped a wooden idol that they believed stored the souls of their dead, Gorm decided to destroy it. However the River People had stored that idol in a valley that Bison People legends identified as the home of a terrifying creature they believed was the last of the Old Ones. Despite this danger Gorm ventured to the Canyon of the Old One, where he played a game of cat and mouse with the bestial, black magic-wielding defender before eventually slaying it. He then burned the idol, sparing only its head, which he carried back to the River People’s village. Coming upon them just after they had sacrificed another of the Bison People, Gorm slew their priest with a thrown spear and displayed the remains of their holy idol. Reacting in abject fear and horror, the River People all fled; whether the loss of their god had rendered them suicidal or merely forgetful of the danger, all of them threw themselves into the river, and were swiftly devoured by its flesh-eating inhabitants.
(Conan: Serpent War#1 (fb) - BTS) - Circa 1936, in Cross Plains, Texas, Allison found his body to be withering, wracked by a sickness he did not understand; considering that this felt different than other times, he could sense the grim reaper encroaching upon his immortal soul. Presumably due to the Wyrm's influence, Allison saw the reaper with serpent eyes that pierced the veil of both gods and men.
(Conan: Serpent War#1) - Circa 1936, in Cross Plains, Texas, the Wyrm contacted James Allison, reviewing his time as Niord and revealing that Satha had been an aspect of Set.
Distracting Allison from recalling the struggle after Satha, the Wyrm had Allison contact various warriors across time (none of whom were past incarnations of Allison) and show them visions of Set to unite them against the great serpent: The modern Moon Knight (Marc Spector) in West Chester, New York; 1584's Solomon Kane; 1522's Dark Agnes; and 10,000 B.C.'s Conan the Cimmerian.
As each encountered
Men or Man-Serpents,
Moon Knight was transported to join Kane at Dunbar Castle,
Northumberland, England; and Dark Agnes was brought to join Conan in
the Karpash mountains in western Corinthia.
In this process, the Wyrm began to wrap its tendrils around Allison, progressively gaining power and influence over him.
(Conan: Serpent War#2 - BTS) - Set warned his Hyborian-era priestess Satyne that a pair of warriors would be coming to destroy the bracelet, and that she must protect it all costs, body or soul.
(Conan: Serpent War#2) - The Worm continued to influence James Allison, forcing him -- via speaking through a mask of a deceased Man-Serpent and the head of a deceased Set-transformed human -- to warn Conan and Dark Agnes, and Solomon Kane and Moon Knight of various threats from Set. Allison also showed the heroes visions of their fates if Set's power spread across Earth (see comments).
The Wyrm subsequently complimented James on his use of literary skills to influence them.
(Conan: Serpent War#2 - BTS) - A pair of giant snakes attacked Conan and Dark Agnes as they crossed the Karuman desert. From one of the snakes, Conan recovered Set's Aventurine Stone, and the Wyrm, via James Allison instructed them to feed the stone to flame under the light of the moon and he would do the rest.
Back in 1584, Moon Knight and Solomon Kane sensed a power burst, which Allison/Wyrm explained to be a result one of Set's objects of power being cleansed by their allies in another time. Allison/Wyrm then warned that their next objective was close just before the ship of Kane's ally Basso fired on them. The crew, under the influence of Set, apparently perished when Moon Knight destroyed their ship, but not before one of them told him that the "Wyrm" had his (Moon Knight's) soul and only death could set him free.
(Conan: Serpent War#2) - Back in 1936, in James Allison's cabin, Allison was struck by hearing the name of the Wyrm, and wondered if it was involved with Niord. The Wyrm told him to ignore the past that was and to focus on "the past that issss..together we can slay the snake...there is nothing else." Allison asked what about the Wyrm, and the Wyrm, who had the sleeping Allison completely wrapped in its coils, told him, "There is no Wyrm."
(Conan: Serpent War#3) - The Wyrm advised James Allison that they must destroy Set's tethers and establish their own power within the land and people of the Hyborian era. They watched across time and space as Conan and Dark Agnes slew a nest of Serpent Men and destroyed a number of urns holding the hearts of the masters of those Serpent Men, extinguishing their immortality and slaying them.
Learning of the location of a great vault in Stygia holding more such hearts, Conan and Agnes traveled to and destroyed the vault, along the way locating caches of snake-spawned treasures and shattering the bonds between Set and Earth.
The Wyrm praised James for gathering and manipulating the warriors.
In 1584, Solomon Kane and Moon Knight similarly slew Set agents and relics in Rotterdam, Luxembourg, Novara, and Italy, where the Wyrm spoke via James Allison, telling the heroes they must destroy the bracelet relic of Set "simultaneously" while its twin in the Hyborian era was destroyed. When James Allison noted that Moon Knight worried that Khonshu had forsaken him, the Wyrm told him that Khonshu was too weak to face it (the Wyrm) and that Set's power waned.
In Tezunar, Stygia, the Wyrm, via Allison, told Conan and Agnes to destroy the bracelet within a nearby temple. When Allison discussed Agnes' faith, the Wyrm noted that all gods and creatures would bow to the Wyrm, the mention of which gained Allison's attention, although the Wyrm swiftly re-directed him to focus on the task at hand.
Across time, both teams of heroes faced Serpent Men, but Satyne, priestess of Set, used her bracelet to cause a Set-powered snake to bite Conan.
(Conan: Serpent War#3) - Meanwhile, in 1936, the Wyrm noted that Set would fall, and it departed to face Set in Hyborian Stygia. As it vanished, it told James Allison that he had served it well and advised him that when next they met, when the Wyrm was all-powerful in that realm, that he should pray that the Wyrm would choose to be merciful for Niord's past transgressions.
(Conan: Serpent War#3 - BTS) - His mind clear, James Allison realized that the Wyrm had used him to build its kingdom. He then contacted Moon Knight, telling him that they had been used and that he could achieve victory by donning the bracelet, which allowed him to commune with Set (with Conan and Khonshu apparently in Set's or some other astral realm).
(Conan: Serpent War#4 - BTS) - Khonshu absorbed the power of the weakened Set to use it to mount a defense against the Wyrm.
Via Khonshu's power Moon Knight transported himself and Solomon Kane to Stygia, where they joined with Satyne, Conan and Agnes. Moon Knight explained how they had manipulated by James Allison who in turn had been a pawn of the Wyrm. By following Allison's quest, the heroes had weakened Set and given the Wyrm a foothold to invade their reality.
Satyne further explained that if left unchecked, the Wyrm's influence would overwhelm all other gods and energies: Its kingdom would lead to unfettered madness and decay.
When Satyne further noted that the gods would bless them as they fought to force the Wyrm back beyond the veil, Conan and Agnes countered that they needed no more blessings or curses from their gods or monsters.
(Conan: Serpent War#4) - Satyne then told the warriors to steel their souls and ready their weapons, and they entered the realm of the Wyrm, where any further words were drowned out by its screeching cry.
The Wyrm -- trapped between life and death, reality and spirit -- was both at its most powerful and most vulnerable.
As Satyne knelt and presumably invoked whatever magic she could, the four warriors engaged the Wyrm, attacking it with sword and bullet, and fist and faith.
Khonshu then granted to Moon Knight the power of "a piece of the moon that is and every moon that shall ever be" and told him to use it to strike the Wyrm.
At the same time, James Allison used his powers, the power of words and the spirit of ancient Niord to drive back the Wyrm as it struggled to enter the physical world, denying it their world and their souls.
(Conan: Serpent War#4 - BTS) - With the Wyrm destroyed, the heroes were returned to their own times and realms, although Satyne was fatally injured by the power that she had channeled.
Khonshu restored Set to existence, noting that his presence was needed as a balance to prevent the Wyrm from returning to their realm.
(Conan: Serpent War#4) - <18,500 B.C.> - A man named Jamus of Lemuria appeared in Valusia and delivered the a white crown (reminiscent of the Serpent Crown) to King Kull, telling him "Together, the Wyrm and Valusia shall build an age undreamed of..."
(Untitled fragment, Howard Collector#9, Spring 1967) - Reading Von Junzt's Nameless Cults, Allison learned the theory that after a great Cataclysm had destroyed Atlantis and Lemuria a race of savages had escaped the volcanic destruction by fleeing north to the Arctic Circle, eventually becoming a new race called the Hyborians, who went on to dominate Europe, but failed to defeat the Stygians who ruled what would become Egypt, and who were responsible for building both the pyramids and the Sphinx. Nordic barbarians ultimately destroyed first the Hyborians and then the Stygians.
(Black Eons) - Replacing his lost leg with a wooden prosthetic, Allison committed himself to a regimen of physical training to rebuild his strength and resumed his adventure-seeking lifestyle.
(Untitled fragment) - While working as an archeologist in Egypt, Allison shared Von Junzt's theory with his colleague Brill.
(Black Eons) - The pair and their native diggers uncovered a tomb that Allison was sure was not Egyptian, within which lay a sarcophagus. That night Allison dreamed of a past life as Bane the Reaver, a marauding Vanir, who had raided a Stygian temple during the Hyborian age that was located where the tomb was in the modern day. There Bane had battled an avatar of the temple's "god," the Great Old One Gol-Goroth, and slain the temple's priest Koth-Serapis, but not before the Stygian sorcerer had cursed him: "For you may take my life, but I shall take your death. The ages will hold no rest for you, poor savage. Your brutish soul will wander up and down the corridors of time, toiling from life to life till I come to take my vengeance upon you."
Allison awoke to find himself within the tomb, which he now recognized as the crypt of the ancient temple, with the sarcophagus having been Koth-Serapis' resting place. Just as he spotted that the sarcophagus was now open he was attacked by a possessed Brill, and was forced to slay his friend. Taking the dagger the man had been wielding, Allison went to the open sarcophagus and stabbed the mummified remains of Koth-Serapis in the neck, finally severing the dead sorcerer's connection to the living world, and also breaking the curse laid on himself. "Allison drifted into a sleep from which he would never wake, ending a life no future self would remember."
Comments: Created by Robert Erwin Howard;
Adapted for Marvel by Roy Thomas & Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, and Ernie Chua.
Texan man living contemporaneously to Robert E. Howard, James Allison
has an extensive recollection of his past lives, some of which he
narrates over the course of seven stories.
Only two of these stories (Valley of the Worm and Garden of Fear) were published. A third, Marchers of Valhalla, was completed but not published during his lifetime. The remaining four -- Tower of Time, Guardian of the Idol, Brachan the Kelt, and Genseric’s Fifth Born Son -- were incomplete fragments that were finished by other writers and published decades after his death.
Valley of the Worm notes
recalled being Niord, an Aesir born in Nordheim, but whose clan had
joined others of their kind in spreading out across the continent
after their people fought a terrible battle on the field of Jotunheim,
a conflict that proved to be the Armageddon of the Aesir and which by
the modern day is vaguely recalled as Ragnarok. Only an infant at the
time of this, Niord grew up on the move.
Garden of Fear notes:
public domain, and you can read the whole thing here: https://freeread.com.au/.../REH-Allison/TheGardenOfFear.html
Marchers of Valhalla notes:
The novella Marchers
of Valhalla was completed by Howard but went unsold, and so
didn’t get released until 1972 in an anthology also called Marchers of
Valhalla, which was published by arrangement with Glenn Lord, the
agent to the Howard heirs.
In the unsold version the past life Allison recalls is called Niord, but since it couldn’t be the same Niord who appeared in Valley of the Worm, given that each tale concludes with the death of the past incarnation, Lord opted to rename the past incarnation Hialmar.
Per Marchers of Valhalla, the Aesir and Vanir both come from Nordheim, but the Aesir are blond and the Vanir are red-heads.
We were the traveling of years from our northern
homeland. Lands and seas lay between. ... It led us round the
world...through eastern lands...across a frozen arm of the sea -
then down through the snow clad wastes, where squat blubber-eating
men fled squalling from our swords; southward and eastward through
gigantic mountains and titanic forest"
So they went via Asia, across the icy but then-passable landbridge to Alaska, across the Rockies and down to Texas.
In Marchers in Valhalla Allison might be mobile, but he's already complaining that he is suffering from an incurable malady that is slowly creeping over him. So he's in the early stages of his illness.
In Marchers of Valhalla Ishtar claims she was Ishtar of the Assyrians, Ashteroth of the Phoenicians, Mylitta and Belit of the Babylonians, Derketo of the Philistines, Isis of Egypt, Astarte of Carthage, Freya of the Saxons, Aphrodite of the Grecians and Venus of the Romans. Since in the Marvel universe all those goddesses aren’t just one person, and the Ishtar that Hialmar met started out as a mortal, presumably she just got mistaken for all those goddesses over her long life, rather than actually being all of them.
Most of the Hyborian era stories took place in what
would be “Euro-Afro-Asia.”
The Vanir were ancestors of the Danes.
The region that is now North America was known as Novum Terra in the Hyborian era and was minimally referenced in the Conan stories.
As Stuart noted, Hrunwulf's tale noted that the Aesir and the Vanir were now venturing out across the continents, and Hialmar noted how they had traveled to get there, so there's no conflict.
The Marchers of Valhalla was loosely adapted in Conan the Barbarian I#70-71 with Conan somewhat replacing Hialmar's role.
Black Eons notes
The untitled fragment published in Howard Collector was an unnamed and
incomplete start to a story. It was subsequently expanded and
completed by Robert M. Price for the anthology magazine Fantasy Book.
While the original fragment didn't make it clear where in Allison's
timeline it took place, Price's expansion reveals that it takes place
at the end of Allison's life, that Allison had replaced his lost leg
with an oak prosthetic, and gives a reason for Allison having dreamed
of various past lives.
Tower of Time notes:
story later dubbed The Tower of Time was another unfinished tale
originally begun in the 1920s, which Howard “set aside after writing
between two-thirds and three-quarters of it.” With Glenn Lord’s
permission it was completed by Lin Carter for the June 1975 issue of
Fantastic (subtitled Sword & Sorcery and Fantasy Stories,
with Stories in more prominent text, so some sources identify the
publication as Fantastic Stories), while the original incomplete
version eventually saw publication in the fanzine The New Howard
Reader#2 in August 1988. Since I don’t have a copy of the incomplete
version, the synopsis of the story used above cannot and does not
split the tale to distinguish which parts originated in the original
component and which in the later addition – however, if I ever do get
hold of that original version, this entry will be revised to reflect
Guardian of the Idol notes:
of the Idol was another tale begun but not completed by Howard;
finished by Gerald W. Page, it saw its initial publication in the Lin
Carter-edited anthology Weird Tales#3 in 1981. The original,
unfinished version was published in The Howard Reader#8 in 2003. Since
I don’t have access to that version, the above history doesn’t
distinguish between what parts of the tale come from the original
manuscript and what parts were added by Page.
Guardian of the Idol, Allison states he is “dying from a malady that
baffles all modern science.” This isn’t the only tale he recounts from
his apparent deathbed, as evidenced by his sole comic outing, but
since Black Eons recounts his actual demise and he is neither sick nor
bedridden in that tale he presumably recovered from his illness,
despite his insisting at the time that he was terminal.
Brachan the Kelt notes
the Kelt was an incomplete tale that was first published in the
anthology The Barbarian Swordsmen in 1981; since then it’s only been
republished in English in limited edition newsletters and one limited
edition anthology, Sword of the North, all released to hardcore R.E.
Howard fans, making them very hard to track down, hence the incomplete
synopsis above for this story.
Genseric’s Fifth Born Son notes:
Fifth Born Son began as an untitled story fragment written by Howard.
In 1977 it was finally published as the first installment in a “round
robin” tale to be continued in subsequent issues by other well known
fantasy authors. However the experiment petered out after eleven
additional episodes. In 1997 those episodes, plus a further five, were
finally published as a complete story in Ghor, Kin-Slayer: The Saga of
Genseric’s Fifth-Born Son. I’ve yet to lay my hands on a copy of
either the initial fragment or the completed tale, but accounts seem
to agree that some of the authors took the tale off into bizarre and
incongruous tangents, making for a disjointed account. The other
authors who contributed were: Karl Edward Wagner, Joseph Payne
Brennan, Richard L. Tierney, Michael Moorcock, Charles Saunders,
Andrew Offutt, Manly Wade Wellman, Darrell Schweitzer, A. E. Van Vogt,
Brian Lumley, Frank Belknap Long, Adrian Cole, Ramsey Campbell, H.
Warner Munn, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Richard A. Lupoff.
The life of James Allison (courtesy of Loki):
His father was still alive as of Marchers of Valhalla: "his
father was crippled by a bullet that broke his leg as he charged up
San Juan Hill, but remained alive sustained by dreams of brave
memories." The Battle of San Juan Hill was in 1898, while his brothers
died in 1917 (Vimy Ridge) and 1918 (Argonne). His grandfather died
while a member of Hood's Brigade (1862-1865), and his
great-grandfather at the Alamo (1836). With the deaths being roughly
thirty years apart, we're looking at them being at youngest thirty
when they died, and that's assuming they all conceived children just
prior to their deaths. So more likely having kids when they were in
their twenties, and dying in their late thirties to early fifties.
James' father might have still been alive well after Marchers of
Valhalla; the family propensity seems to be to die in battle, and
since the elder Allison avoided this, he might have lived to a ripe
None of the other stories provide Allison's age, but given how he
looks in the art I can't see him being too old.
If the gunshot wound that broke his leg spelled the end of James' father's baby-making days, James could not have been born later than 1899, so we're talking minimum 35 in Supernatural Thrillers#3 and 37 in Serpent War. I am certain that merely an inability to walk normally would not stop most men from romancing their wives, so James could have been born later. However, given the medicine at the time and/or the pain from a non-union fracture close to the hips and/or perhaps some sort of infection or even a tangential or ricochet bullet strike, maybe just prior to his father's injury could have been his latest date of birth.
Barring volunteers, US Soldiers sent to Europe in 1917 were between 21 and 30, meaning the eldest Allison brother would have been at most 13 and at least 4 when their father was injured in 1898. So with one other older brother to fit in there, and assuming all had the same mother and thus at least minimal gaps between pregnancies, James would be looking at 11 / 2 years old. So earliest DOB for James is 1889, making him at most 45 and 47 respectively in his comic appearances.
So, we don't know for sure how old James Allison was in his stories. Most likely between 35-45 years-old in Supernatural Thrillers, and 37-47 in Serpent War.
Black Eons definitely seems to be intended to be his final story. My
guess, considering how much older he looks in Serpent War compared to
Supernatural Thrillers, is that the "malady" that was killing him was
the Wyrm, hence his rapid aging in the two years he was bedridden, and
its destruction allowed him to recover.
think the running order for Allison (as opposed to his past lives)
- he's physically active, not bedridden, and this seems to be the
first time he dreams of past lives.
of Time, Garden of Fear, Valley of the Worm, Guardian of the Idol -
he's sick and bedridden, believing he's dying. Not sure any further
clues to the order, and presumably fairly close together overall. He
still looks fairly fit in Supernatural Thrillers, so that's not
someone who has been bedridden for years.
Eons - he's back on his feet. Serpent War was 1936 for Allison;
assuming he started recovering afterwards, even if his malady had been
supernatural and thus the recovery was also supernaturally fast, I'd
imagine it's going to take at least a few months to get your strength
back after being bedridden for a minimum of two years. Equally, one
WWII broke out, I can't imagine there'd be people still trying to
discover buried Egyptian tombs. If it wasn't for the dates given in
the two comic stories I'd have placed Black Eons in the 1920s, the
height of tomb exploration, but given those 1930s dates, I'd guess
Black Eons is at earliest 1936, and latest 1939. I like the idea that
Supernatural Thrillers was late 1934, Serpent War very early 1936,
Allison then recovered and went to Egypt almost immediately, only to
die in June 1936, just like RE Howard.
of his past incarnations (courtesy of Loki):
not even really human, past lives mentioned in The Tower of Time
of the Bison People - not yet racial groups such as the Vanir, Aesir,
Stygians and Hyborians, but merely tribes such as River and
of the Dawn - his first "truly human" past life - I'd place this
before Gorm, except that in Hengibar's time the Vanir already
Maybe it's just the precursors of the Vanir--Snood
- during the Hyborian age, and Stygians are still a power to be
- born in Nordheim, people are now wanderers following Ragnarok
- the Aesir and Vanir are now venturing out across continents
Hialmar - the Vanir have reached what is later going to be Texas.
strode red-handed through the deserted streets of Rome behind the
yellow-maned Brennus - circa 393, 390 or 387 B.C. - historical
dating estimates differ (Tyr or Bragi?)
wandered through the violated plantations with Alaric and his Goths -
Alaric sacked Rome in 410 A.D. (Bragi or Bran?)
waded sword in hand through the foaming surf from Hengist's galley to
lay the foundations of England in blood and pillage - 449 A.D. - and
Horsa is the name of Hengist's brother, so that might be the Horsa
listed as one of Allison's incarnations.
the Lucky sighted the broad white beaches of an unguessed world, I
stood beside him in the bows of the dragon-ship - circa 1000 A.D.
(Eric is a Viking name, so maybe?)
Godfrey of Bouillon led his Crusaders over the walls of Jerusalem, I
was among them in steel cap and brigandine - 1099 A.D. (John would be
a suitable name for a Crusader).
Bragi, Bran, Horsa, Eric, John - no solid evidence, but with the names
progressing through cultures I'd assume these are in order, and may
map to the unnamed incarnations whose feats are listed above.
In Valley of the Worm,
James Allison thought thought of the stories of
Perseus, Saint George, and Sigurd as "racial memories" of Niord's
battle. Obviously, that's not the case in the Marvel Universe, so
presumably Allison just makes that assumption and does not really know
In Supernatural Thrillers#3, James
Allison was dying in 1934. The Serpent War series encountered the still
bedridden and dying James Allison in 1936. It's certainly not impossible
that someone was bedridden and dying for over a year or more, and
perhaps the Supernatural Thrillers story occurred in late 1934 while
Serpent War took place in early 1936.
Almost certainly not-coincidentally, Robert E. Howard died in 1936 (June, specifically). Allison's home was further revealed to be in Cross Plains, Texas, also not-coincidentally, where Robert E. Howard had spent most of his life.
Of course, Howard did not die of some sort of wasting disease; instead, he committed suicide, shooting himself in the head when he learned that his mother was never going to recover from a coma. He was only 30-years-old.
Earth-20272 Set’s power spread
across Earth; Conan’s soul and land were conquered; Solomon Kane found
his church/faith set aflame; Moon Knight’s mind was fragmented beyond
repair; Dark Agnes was imprisoned and her rebellion crushed; shown as
vision to the above heroes by the Wyrm-influenced James Allison-616.
Conan: Serpent War#2 (2020)
Profile by Snood
(researched all of the original REH stories)
James Allison should be distinguished from:
James Allison's (presumably paternal) great-grandfather died
at the Alamo (circa 1836 A.D.), fighting shoulder to shoulder
with David Crockett.
James Allison's (presumably paternal) grandfather rode with
Jack Hayes and Bigfoot Wallace, and fell with three-quarters of
Hood’s brigade, part of the Confederate Army during the Civil
James Allison's father was crippled by a bullet that broke his
leg as he charged up San Juan Hill circa 1898, but he remained
alive sustained by dreams of brave memories.
James Allison's eldest brother died at Vimy Ridge circa 1917
A.D., fighting alongside the Canadians against the German during
World War I.
James Allison's other brother was slain in the Argonne circa
1918 A.D. during World War I.
"The Valley of the Worm" in Weird Tales (February, 1934)
- Robert Erwin Howard (writer)
"The Garden of Fear" in Marvel Tales (July-August 1934) - Robert Erwin Howard (writer)
"Marchers of Valhalla" (Marchers
of Valhalla, 1972) - Robert Erwin
"The Tower of Time" unfinished
fragment - Robert Erwin
Howard (writer); eventually published in The
New Howard Reader#2 (August, 1988);
completed by Lin Carter and published in Fantastic (June, 1975)
"Black Eons" untitled/unfinished/unpublished
fragment by Robert Erwin
Howard (writer); published in Howard Collector#9
expanded and completed as "Black Eons," Fantasy Book anthology (June 1985)
"The Guardian of the Idol" unfinished/unpublished fragment - Robert
Erwin Howard (writer); eventually published in The New Howard Reader#8 (2003);
expanded and completed by Gerald W. Page (Weird Tales#3, 1981)
"Brachan the Kelt" unfinished fragment - Robert Erwin Howard (writer); eventually finished and published in The Barbarian Swordsmen (1981)
"Genseric’s Fifth Born Son" unfinished fragment - Robert Erwin Howard (writer); eventually published in Swords of the
North (REH Foundation Press, November, 2014);
partially completed and published in Fantasy Crossroads #10/11 (Stygian Isle Press, March 1977);
completed and published as Ghor, Kin-Slayer: The Saga of Genseric's Fifth-Born Son (Necromicon Press; August, 1997) - Karl Edward Wagner, Joseph Payne Brennan, Richard L. Tierney, Michael Moorcock, Charles Saunders, Andrew Offutt, Manly Wade Wellman, Darrell Schweitzer, A. E. Van Vogt, Brian Lumley, Frank Belknap Long, Adrian Cole, Ramsey Campbell, H. Warner Munn, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Richard A. Lupoff (contributing writers)
Supernatural Thrillers#3 (April, 1973) - Roy
Thomas & Gerry Conway (adaptation), Gil Kane (pencils), Ernie Chan
(inker), Roy Thomas (editor)
Conan: Serpent War#1 (February, 2020) - Jim Zub (writer), Vanesa Del Rey (penciler & inker; James Allison sequence), Scot Eaton (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Martin Biro (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Ralph Macchio (consulting editor)
Conan: Serpent War#2 (February, 2020) - Jim Zub (writer), Vanesa Del Rey (penciler & inker; James Allison sequence), Stephen Segovia (penciler, inker), Martin Biro (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Ralph Macchio (consulting editor)
Conan: Serpent War#3 (March, 2020) - Jim Zub (writer), Vanesa Del Rey (penciler & inker; James Allison sequence), Luca Pizzari (penciler, inker), Martin Biro (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Ralph Macchio (consulting editor)
Conan: Serpent War#4 (March, 2020) - Jim Zub (writer), Vanesa Del Rey (penciler & inker; James Allison sequence), Ig Guara (penciler, inker), Martin Biro (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Ralph Macchio (consulting editor)
First posted: 08/25/2023
Last updated: 08/25/2023
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and © 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
Please visit The Marvel Official Site at: http://www.marvel.com
Special Thanks to www.g-mart.com for hosting the Appendix, Master List, etc.!
Back to Characters