Classification: Elder Race (Distant Past, Hyborian Era)

Location/Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
    the corpse of a single Giant-King was found in a subterranean cavern not too far the Stygian city of Khemi circa 10, 000 BC, and the Diadem of a Giant-King was present in Nemedia around the same time.

Known Members: One unidentified

Affiliations: Unrevealed.

First Appearance: (Referenced) "The God in the Bowl," Space Science Fiction (September, 1952);
    (Referenced in Marvel Comics) Conan the Barbarian I#7 (July, 1971);
    (Appearance) Conan the Barbarian I#90 (September, 1978).

Powers/Abilities: Approximately 15' tall, the Giant-Kings were superhumanly strong (enhanced human) and durable. Though pained by sword slashes from mortal men, the only observed giant-king seemed relatively unaffected, though his eye was apparently destroyed by a normal sword/ In addition, they could devour a human in seconds, and it seemed as if they might grow in power by consuming others.

Traits: Little is known of the Giant-Kings living existence and behavior, but the revived Giant-King was voraciously and relentlessly hungry, devouring humans by the dozen. They speak a dialect from which the Stygian language was apparently derived.

(Conan the Barbarian I#90 (fb) - BTS) - The Giant-Kings were beings from Earth's grim dawn.

(Conan the Barbarian I#90 (fb) - BTS) <110, 000 BC> - The Giant-King was a monarch of lesser beings (presumably pre-humanity). He eventually perished in battle with another of his race, losing his right leg and right eye (via a blow that caved in that side of his skull) in the process. His diadem was placed inside a stone chest within a cavern (in what would become Stygia) in which his remains were entombed.

(Conan the Barbarian I#90 (fb) - BTS) - The tombs of the Giant-Kings were said to be cursed.

(Conan the Barbarian I#7 (fb) - BTS) <10, 000 BC> - In Nemedia, Aztrias told Conan "Kallian Publico believed that it (the bowl) contained the diadem of the giant-kings, of the people who dwelt in that dark land before the ancestors of the Stygians came there. He showed me a design carved on the lid, which he swore was the shape of the diadem that legends tell us the monster-kings wore."
    The bowl actually contained one of the Man-Serpents.

(Conan the Barbarian I#90 (fb) - BTS) <10, 000 BC> - When Bêlit, pirate queen and lover of Conan, cursed Set, an earthquake occurred, opening a chasm into a subterranean chamber, in which some of their conquered Stygian party fell. While retrieving them, Bêlit found the great stone chest and the giant-king's skeleton. Opening the chest (with Zula's aid), Conan recognized the bejeweled diadem of the Giant-Kings from Aztrias' descriptions. While Conan and Bêlit searched the cavern for more treasure (finding only thousands of sleeping bats), the Stygians ambushed Zula (Conan's ally, a warrior and novice sorcerer) and then tried to steal the diadem for themselves. As they removed the diadem from the chest, flesh regrew on the bones of the Giant-King, though his lost leg (from the knee down) and eye were still missing. As the Stygians fled, the Giant-King scooped up Zula, intending to devour him, but Conan -- shouting in Stygian -- told the Giant-King that Zula's black flesh was poison; Stygian was close enough to its own language that the Giant-King got Conan's meaning and tossed Zula away rather than risk death again.
    At Conan's instruction, Zula climbed the rope to escape the cavern, though Conan, Bêlit, and the rest of the crew remained trapped. The Giant-King reclaimed his diadem, feeling again like a monarch among lesser beings, then, recalling his hunger, began to devour the Stygians within the cavern. As the Giant-King turned towards Conan and Bêlit, the two attacked him with their swords, but he swatted them away and turned back to the Stygians, who proved to be easier prey. Recognizing that it was nearly dusk, Conan encouraged to Bêlit to evade the Giant-King for a while longer, than commanded her to drop to the ground as the cavern was suddenly swarmed with bats. As the Giant-King was overwhelmed by the thousands of careening and clawing bats, Conan had Zula drop the rope down anew, and the second the flow of bats began to diminish they scaled the rope, carrying the last surviving Stygian. The Giant-King grabbed Conan's leg before he could exit, but Conan hurled his sword into the Giant-King's remaining eye, blinding him and causing him to release Conan's leg. Withdrawing the rope, Conan and his allies left the blind and partially crippled Giant-King trapped within the cavern.

Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard.
    Adapted to the Marvel Universe by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Ernie Chan.

    An on-line discussion of the Elder Race notes that Acheron was founded by the Giant-Kings.

    The God in the Bowl was written by Robert E. Howard but not published for over two decades after his death; it was rejected by Weird Tales, and it was eventually published in Space Science Fiction after slight editing by L. Sprague de Camp.

    As noted in Conan the Barbarian I#90, the Giant-Kings were mentioned by Howard in his story the God in the Bowl. When this story was adapted for  CTB I#7, Roy Thomas omitted this mention, but in CTB I#90, Thomas has the Cimmerian recall seeing the diadem of the Giant-Kings in an off-panel event taking place during the story in #7.

    Rippke postulates that the Giant-Kings were of the race of Thuron from the story the Altar and the Scorpion, one of the Elder Race. Further, it would seem that Xaltotun was also of Elder Race descent.
--John McDonagh
    I think the Giant-Kings were but one of the Elder Races that dwelled on Earth in the past (like 100, 000 BC or so). Tuzun Thune and Thulsa Doom were specifically of the Elder Race, and they were not giants. Xaltotun is not a 15' tall giant, either, though I personally haven't read (or at least don't recall) anything identifying him as one of the Elder Race.

Profile by Snood.

The Giant-Kings have no known connections to:


Diadem of the Giant-Kings

    A crown worn by a Giant-King when he ruled over lesser beings, it was stored inside a stone chamber near that Giant-King's corpse. It was a legendary item of great value, though cursed, and was known by many Stygians. It was found by Conan, who initially mistook it for a belt due to its size. Having seen the corpse of the giant, Bêlit recognized it as a diadem rather than a belt, and Conan recalled hearing of the Diadem of the Giant-Kings years before. When a group of Stygians removed the diadem from the chamber, intending to steal it, the Giant-King was restored to life. He placed the diadem back on his brow and then returned to consuming the mortals around him. The Giant-King was last seen wearing the diadem, though he was blinded and left trapped in the cave 10, 000 BC.

--"The God in the Bowl," Space Science Fiction; Conan the Barbarian I#7; Conan the Barbarian I#90 (90 (fb) - BTS, 90

images: (without ads)
Conan the Barbarian I#90, p8, panel 4 (giant-king skeleton)
        p10, panel 4 (diadem)
        p11, panel 4 (giant-king)

Conan the Barbarian I#90 (September, 1978) - by Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (penciler), Ernie Chan (inker), Jim Shooter (consulting editor)

Last updated: 08/24/07

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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