black circle sorcerer in bat form

GONAR (imposter)

Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human, Stygian (Hyborian Era); magic user

Occupation: Sorcerer, assassin

Group Membership: Black Circle

Affiliations: Set, Thoth-Amon, two jackal-men, three crocodile-men, the man-tiger

Enemies: Bêlit, Conan, Ibis, King Kull and Brule, Karanthes, Red Sonja, unnamed old man

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Messantia;
    formerly Keshatta (Stygia)

First Appearance: Marvel Feature II#6 (September, 1976)

Powers/Abilities: The sorcerer's magic powers enabled him to mutate men into man-beasts, shoot arrows of fire, shapeshift and control his own density, as well as project illusions. He read ancient dead languages and invoked dark gods.

head shots

History:

(Conan the Barbarian I#68 (fb) - BTS) - Being part of the Black Circle and worshiper of Set, the dark sorcerer was chosen by Thoth-Amon, leader of the Cult of Set, to retrieve a page of his own Book of Skelos. The page had been stolen and had been found in Messantia, kept in the Temple of a Thousand Gods. Thoth-Amon knew that Karanthes, of the hated enemy Cult of Ibis, wanted the page as well, and knew that his enemy would have hired Red Sonja, a Hyrkanian mercenary, to steal the page. So he sent the dark sorcerer as his emissary in Argos to vanquish Karanthes' plans.

(Marvel Feature II#6 - BTS) - The hooded emissary used his dark arts to transform two followers of Set into jackal-men, and sent them to murder Red Sonja. The two beasts were fierce, but not deadly enough to kill the Hyrkanian She-Devil, who slew them. Shortly after, Red Sonja met Karanthes and accepted the mission of stealing the page of the Book of Skelos.

    Chasing the red-haired warrior in Messantia, the hooded Stygian spied on her while she went in the sewers under the Temple. Three lackeys were sent after her, and, soon after, three albino crocodile-men rose from the stinky waters to try and kill Red Sonja. But again, the female warrior's prowess was superior to the bestiality of the three pale pawns.

(Conan the Barbarian I#67) - Red Sonja managed to steal the page under Conan and Bêlit's noses. In the ensuing pursuit, the black-robed Stygian intervened again. This time he spied on Conan, waited for him to sneak into the prisons under King Tanalos' castle and, at the right moment, transformed one of the jailers into the man-tiger, who then attacked Conan. The fight was hard, but eventually the barbarian killed the beast-man and freed Yusef. Fortunately, in prison, Yusef had spoken with an old man, the one who had stolen the page of the book. Before the old man died, he told Yusef that the page revealed something about the Black Legions of Valusia, a kingdom long gone from thousands of years before.

black circle sorcerer invoking his gods(Marvel Feature II#7) - Later, near the town gates, Red Sonja avoided Conan and Bêlit, and rode out of Messantia, eventually reaching Karanthes at the Nest of Ibis where his temple was. The diabolical emissary saw the three adventurers leave the city and swiftly reached his quarters to perform a foul rite. Invoking dark gods like Yuggoth and Set, he cast an incantation upon himself. He was transformed into a bat-like being and flew north to the Nest of Ibis. Entering the Temple through the circular hole in the roof, the hooded bat-man surprised Karanthes, Red Sonja and Conan.

(Conan the Barbarian I#68) - The two warriors' blades passed through his ethereal skin, yet his blows were hard and heavy. He grasped the page from Karanthes' hands and flew away.

(Conan the Barbarian I#68 (fb) - BTS) - Soon after, the sorcerer read the page and cast a powerful enchantment which transported a whole city from the past. From the ancient era of Atlantis and Valusia, the City of Wonders materialized in the plains of Argos along with King Kull the Black Legions.

(Conan the Barbarian I#68) - However, the dark sorcerer's escape was not complete. Karanthes cast a spell upon a red gem, the Fire-Jewel, which he gave to Conan to be used at the right moment. Moreover, because of one of Karanthes' spells, the bat-man's flight was not great enough to outdistance his pursuers: Conan, Red Sonja and Bêlit.

(Conan the Barbarian I#68 (fb) - BTS) - While being hunted, dark thoughts formed in the emissary's mind. With the page of the Book of Skelos, he could control the Black Legions and conquer Argos for himself, if not for his master Thoth-Amon. After that, he planned to spread an unnamed plague over his enemies. At dawn, the emissary reached the City of Wonders. He cast an illusion over his body, taking on the appearance of Gonar the druid, King Kull's ally, and began to advise Kull to conquer Argos with his Black Legions.

(Conan the Barbarian I#68) - When the pursuers reached the City of Wonders, Gonar, the imposter, encouraged King Kull to execute them. But the King and his soldiers were still astonished from their situation, lost in a unknown land, and the false Gonar's suggestions were not taken into consideration. A fight arose between the Atlantean king and the Cimmerian barbarian. Both their deaths would have been welcomed by the Stygian. However, when Conan gave the Fire-Jewel to Kull, and the king carved the red gem into his crown, the illusion dissipated and the false Gonar was seen as he really was: a Stygian sorcerer. He ran atop one of the towers, shooting fire arrows at his pursuers and mocking them, yet also revealing his plans of conquest. But his master was listening, and Thoth-Amon's face appeared in the air to menace the traitor. Knowing that he could not fight the entire city without his master's help, the Stygian started the transformation into the black-winged form that made him untouchable. This time, Conan was faster and flung an arrow into the sorcerer's body before he could complete the transformation. The Stygian fell from the tower and the page of Skelos burnt in his hand. The City of Wonders and its inhabitants then faded back from whence they came.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas (writer) and Frank Thorne (artist).

    Conan and Bêlit looked for the page of the Book of Skelos and worked for Publio, a merchant, who was only an intermediary for someone else. Could this unrevealed person have been the hooded Stygian? The Stygian could not enter the temple, probably because of its protective enchantments that Conan and Bêlit had defeated. So, by sending crocodile-men after Red Sonja, he could ensure their success in stealing the page. But he tried to kill Conan using the man-tiger, so he probably saw Conan as an enemy and this leads me to think that there was a third person looking for the page.

I'd consider the jailer, who was later transformed into the man-tiger, as one of the sorcerer's lackeys. Why? Two hints:

  1. The men who became beasts willingly underwent the transformation (and retained their intelligence or part of it). Otherwise, the sorcerer could have transformed anyone to suit his purposes, including Red Sonja, Conan or Bêlit;
  2. The jailer was very near to the old man who had stolen the page of the book of Skelos. Maybe he had been paid to kill the prisoner, or to torture him to glean any knowledge about the page.
My guess is that the old man was a member of the Black Circle; alternatively, he had to have been an extremely skilled burglar to steal the page from Thoth-Amon's house!

Profile by Spidermay.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Gonar imposter has no known connections to

The jackal-men have no known connections to

The crocodile-men have no known connections to 

The man-tiger has no known connections to


a jackal-man

Jackal-Men

The two jackal-men, both unnamed, were probably human beings who had been transformed by magic into humanoid jackals. They never spoke, but their gaze was intelligent. They were covered with hair, just like jackals, and had sharp talons and jackal heads. They were quite agile and savage. 

    The jackal-men, also called Sons of Set, were transformed by the hooded Stygian sorcerer with the order to kill Red Sonja. They were then sent on the road for Venzia. They hid behind some rocks  when the Hyrkanian arrived before attacking her. The She-Devil with the sword slew both of them.

 

 --Marvel Feature II#6


Crocodile-Men

The crocodile-men were human beings transformed by sorcery into humanoid crocodiles. The crocodiles did not speak but only growled. They were covered with pale scales all over their bodies. They walked semi-erect on two legs, had a long tail, clawed fingers and a crocodile head.

    Three servants of the cult of Set were sent by the Stygian sorcerer into the sewers under Messantia. They had to find and murder Red Sonja, and probably also steal the page of the Book of Skelos. The Stygian picked up a tiny, young crocodile, and used it and his sorcery to transform his men into deadly beasts. However, the beasts were not very agile. The first one was soon impaled on Red Sonja's sword while the second was thrown into a water whirlpool. The third was stabbed by Red Sonja's knife.


--Marvel Feature II#6 (Conan the Barbarian I#67 (fb)

Man-Tiger

Man-Tiger

Originally a jailer, the man-tiger was a normal human transformed by sorcery. After the transformation, his muscles and agility were enhanced. His face seemed like a wild cat, and his skin was furred with his hands and feet gaining sharpened talons stronger than stone. His endurance was likewise increased.

    A jailer of the prisons of Messantia, under the castle of King Tanalos, had among his prisoners a young man named Yusef as well as an old man, a burglar. One of the old man's colleagues had promised that he would have his duties changed, but he was killed by Yusef before he could help the jailer, so the jailer was very angry at Yusef. One night, the jailer was before Yusef's door when Conan appeared. He was surprised, but for not for very long. The Stygian sorcerer, with a young tiger-like cat in his hand, cast his spell, and the jailer was transformed into a man-tiger. Conan was felled by his first attack, but succeeded in stabbing him. Yet even with a sword in his chest, the man-tiger again attacked. Only Conan's strength saved him; he crushed the feline man's ribs with a deadly hug.

 --Conan the Barbarian I#67


old-man

Unnamed Old Man

The imprisoned old man had stolen a page from Thoth-Amon's personal copy of the Book of Skelos. He read the page that told of the Black Legions of Valusia. He fled until he arrived at Messantia.There he was imprisoned and the page he had stolen was placed in the Temple of a Thousand Gods. After an unknown period of time later, probably many years spent in prison, his health was gone. Close to dying, one night he received a visit from Yusef, who was a young man trying to escape from the prisons and had managed to carve a block of stone and pass into another cell. The old man, near death, decided to confess his secret and told him about the page before dying.

--Conan the Barbarian I#67


images: (without ads)
Marvel Feature II#7, p17, pan2/3 (Black Circle sorcerer in bat form)
Marvel Feature II#7, p4, pan6 (Black Circle sorcerer during casting)
Conan the Barbarian I#68, p15, pans 1,2,3 (Gonar imposter)
Marvel Feature II#6, p2, pan3 (jackal-man)
Marvel Feature II#6, p12, pan3 (albino crocodile-men)
Conan the Barbarian I#67, p12, pan5 (man-tiger)
Conan the Barbarian I#67, p17, pan3 (old man)


Appearances:
Marvel Feature II#6 (September, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer), Frank Thorne (artist), Roy Thomas (editor) 
Conan the Barbarian I#67 (October, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (pencils), The Tribe (inks), Roy Thomas (editor) 
Marvel Feature II#7 (November, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer), Frank Thorne (artist), Roy Thomas (editor) 
Conan the Barbarian I#68 (November, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (artist), Roy Thomas (editor) 


Last updated: 09/06/09

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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