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AMAZONS

Membership: Lyta, Queen Nzinga, Princess Nzinga, Tuta

Purpose: Tribe of warrior women

Affiliations: Conan, Conn, Ghanatans, King MBega, Trocero

Enemies: Anya, Chabela, Juma, Lesuthi Pa, Serpent Men, Thoth-Amon;
    formerly Conan

Base of Operations: Gamburu, the Black Kingdoms of the Hyborian Age

First Appearance: (referenced): The Phantagraph (Donald A. Wollheim, October-November, 1936);
    (full): Conan the Buccaneer (Lancer Books, 1971);
    (in Marvel Comics): Savage Sword of Conan I#41 (June, 1979)

History: (Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#41 - BTS) - The Amazons of Gamburu were physically tall and strong warrior women. The men of their civilization were deliberately kept in position of weakness, used to perform tasks of drudgery and father children but not permitted to lead. The ruler of the Amazons of Gamburu was Queen Nzinga. The Amazons' war-making ways made them enemies of the nearby Kushite tribe led by Juma. The Amazons used feathered quills as their currency.

(Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#42 - BTS) - The Amazons had an amphitheathre built in the middle of Gamburu where resided a grove of Kulamtu trees. These man-eating plants were used by the Amazons as a means to perform acts of human sacrifice. In time, the Amazons grew to revere the Kulamtu-like deities.

(Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#41) - Slavers from Ghanata brought a band of captured people to sell in Gamburu, among them the pirate Conan and Chabela, errant princess of Zingara. Queen Nzinga observed the auction from behind a veiled litter. When Chabela was brought up, the queen bought her for five quills; although it was less than the other Amazons were offering, the Ghanatans dared not refuse her. Next, Conan was placed on the auction block. When he fought back against his captors, it impressed Queen Nzinga and she bought him for ten quills. Queen Nzinga also wound up with the Cobra Crown, although she had no idea what the object was and simply placed it in her treasury. Chabela was put to work performing menial tasks for the Amazons under the watchful eye of Tuta. Conan, however, was brought to Queen Nzinga's bedchamber for a session of passionate love-making with the queen. Queen Nzinga suspected that Conan and Chabela knew each other but Conan attempted to behave as though he didn't know or care about what happened to Chabela, knowing that if the queen were jealous it would end badly for Chabela.

Queen Nzinga arranged for a feast and while Chabela served wine to the Amazons, the queen arranged to have Chabela tripped so she would spill wine on Tuta. Furious at Chabela, Tuta drew her knife to kill her, but Conan intervened and fought off Tuta. Nzinga used this as proof of Conan's affections for Chabela, but Conan claimed he was merely preventing the destruction of useful property. Still unconvinced, Nzinga had Conan's wine drugged to incapacitate him and had Chabela bound up.

(Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#42) - Queen Nzinga chained up Chabela in her torture chamber and began lashing her with a whip. Nzinga admitted she was jealous of Conan's affection for her and was determined Chabela would admit they were lovers, but Chabela had nothing to confess and simply endured the beating. Suddenly, the sorcerer Thoth-Amon appeared in the room, having brought himself there through magic to obtain the Cobra Crown. Thoth-Amon fired a mystical bolt at Nzinga to knock her unconscious then he took up the Cobra Crown and teleported away. Chabela used the opportunity to get out of her manacles and locate Conan's cell, liberating him.

However, Conan and Chabela were met by a force of Amazon warriors before they could escape the dungeons and a revived Nzinga caught Chabela and threatened to slit her throat unless Conan surrendered. "You're a treacherous bitch, Nzinga," Conan fumed as he surrendered. Chabela and Conan were then bound up and placed by the Kulamtu trees, horrific carnivorous plants. However, as the plants' acid leaves began to try and dissolve Conan's flesh, it first burned through his bonds enabling him to fight his way out of the Kulamtu's grip and rescue Chabela. The Amazons prepared to attack them but Conan uprooted an entire Kulamtu from the ground and waved it at the warrior women, terrifying them. Using it as a battering ram, Conan forced his way through Gamuru until he and Chabela were joined by the warriors of Juma, a Kushite chief. A considerable amount of archery from Juma's men helped cover Conan and Chabela's escape from Gamburu.

("Shadows in the Skull"/King Conan I#4 - BTS) - Not long after Conan's departure from Gamburu, Nzinga gave birth to a daughter whom she named Nzinga, as per Amazon tradition of passing on her name to her successor.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#97) - A force of Amazons riding astride zebras went north into Darfar, looking for mates and human sacrifices. Their war party encountered Conan and his allies Anya (an errant princess of Luxor) and Lesuthi Pa (one of the Wongolo). Taking the trio as prisoners, Queen Nzinga had Conan brought to her so she could make love to him but Conan refused to pleasure her and killed her pet panthers when she sicced them against him. Holding the queen as his hostage, Conan forced the Amazons to release his friends. The departing prisoners took three zebras to make their escape.

("Shadows in the Skull"/King Conan I#4) - About 20 years after Conan's first encounter with the Amazons and having now become king of Aquilonia, Conan attended the coronation of King MBega of Zembabwei. The 20-year old Princess Nzinga was also present at the coronation. When the princess learned of Conan's impending expedition to find Thoth-Amon, she insisted on accompanying Conan alongside her fellow Amazons. Riding upon Wyverns, Conan, his son Conn, MBega's warriors and the Amazons journeyed to "the Land of No Return" but were surprised to be met by a castle full of beautiful women, which were actually Thoth-Amon's Serpent Men, lulling the warriors into their trap. While the men fell under the Serpent Men's spell, the Amazons were not fazed and arrived in time to help save most of MBega's men from being slaughtered. While the Amazons helped fight off the Serpent Men, Conan faced Thoth-Amon and slew him.

Comments: First referenced by Robert E. Howard; fully created in prose by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. Adapted to Marvel Comics by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga.

The Amazons were first referenced in Robert E. Howard's essay "Hyborian Age," originally serialized in Donald A. Wollheim's fanzine Phantagraph in 1936. All it amounted to was Howard mentioning in passing "the vast Black Kingdoms of the Amazons" (The essay was also serialized in Savage Sword of Conan I#7-8, 12, 15-17). You can see the "Black Kingdoms" marked on virtually every map of the Hyborian lands. From that, De Camp and Carter developed the Amazons seen in their novel Conan the Buccaneer and their short story "Shadows in the Skull" (first published in Fantastic Magazine, February, 1975).

The Amazons appeared as an index entry in "A Gazeteer of the Hyborian World of Conan" in Savage Sword of Conan I#30 (June, 1978).

Deities of the Amazons include Mamajambo, referenced in "Shadows in the Skull"/King Conan #4: "By Mamajambo's war club!" and Ajuju, referenced in Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#42: "Eyes of Ajuju!" Both are corruptions of Vodu terms.

Conan the Buccaneer is the epitome of pulp garbage but the adaptation by Thomas and Buscema grants the story a lot of dignity. It's hard to dislike anything Big John Buscema drew!

I became interested in the Amazons because Nzinga is named after the historical figure Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba, a significant female African leader in the 17th century who successfully negotiated against Portugal in what is now Angola. Following Portugal's withdraw from Angola in 1975, Nzinga was adopted as a hero of African independence; a statue of her can be found in Luanda, capital of Angola.

Similarly, virtually every place name in the Hyborian version of Africa is named for something in contemporary Africa; Gamburu is named after the Gambia. Ghanata = Ghana; Darfar = Darfur; Zembabwei = Zimbabwe.

Historically, the Greek myths around the Amazons frequently placed them on the African continent (usually north Africa, however) which is why Robert E. Howard placed his Amazons there.

In the 1984 motion picture Conan the Destroyer, Grace Jones portrayed an Amazon warrior woman called "Zula" which is, strangely, the name of one of Conan's male companions. I theorize that Jones was supposed to be playing Nzinga but perhaps the producers feared there would be problems pronouncing her name. My only evidence to this theory is that same year TSR released Conan Against Darkness, a role-playing game module to tie in with the film. In the game, Nzinga is one of Conan's adventuring companions.

The Nzinga in Savage Sword of Conan I#97 doesn't seem to know Conan - she greets him saying "It is as I was told! You will make a desirable stud indeed for as long as your energies last!" It could be that they are two different women but she identifies herself as the Queen of Gamburu and we know the Nzinga ruling Gamburu 20 years after Conan's first encounter with the Amazons is the same Nzinga he made love to during Conan the Buccaneer.

Perhaps as a sign of changing standards at Marvel, while the adaptation of Conan the Buccaneer in Savage Sword of Conan had plenty of upper female nudity, the story in Savage Sword of Conan I#97 shows nude women but they... well, to put it flatly, they have no nipples. Like, Nzinga looks as though someone held a belt sander to her chest. It's fine if Marvel didn't want to depict nipples at that time but one wonders why they didn't simply conceal it with the art (Austin Powers style?) rather than give Nzinga the body of a Barbie doll.

The Amazons in Savage Sword of Conan I#97 rode on domesticated zebras. Quite a feat! In the real world, zebras are stubbornly unwilling to be domesticated.

Conan the Buccaneer was pretty sexist even by the standards of 1971. Savage Sword of Conan I#97 seemed to be a tribute to that novel but author Michael Fleisher was... well, to put it delicately, problematic. For the less-delicate version, look up his failed libel suit against Harlan Ellison and Gary Groth (in which his work on Conan hurt his case against the defendants).

"My name's Nzinga. This is my sister, Nzinga. This is my other sister, Nzinga."

The creators took the name of Queen Nzinga from a real person. There is a comic about her by Pat Masioni, a comic artist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the story was published by Unesco.
The writer Charles R. Saunders wrote the essay To Kush and Beyond: The Black Kingdoms of the Hyborian Age, published in Savage Sword of Conan I#56 (September, 1980), in his old blog, Saunders mentioned that Thomas wanted him to write for a Zula comic book, but it ended up not being made.
Saunders created the series Imaro and Dossouye, inspired by Africa, creating a subgenre called sword and soul, sword and sorcery with African inspiration. He said he was already interested in exploring the Black Kingdoms. Dossouye was inspired by the Amazons of Daohmey or Ahosi, which would have inspired the Dora Milaje, in Wikipedia they suggest that the Amazons of the Hyborian Era could also be inspired by them, but I found nothing about it.
Imaro started to be published in the fanzine Dark Fantasy by Gene Day. Day helped him publish an essay, which had drawings by Day and John Buscema.
Kush was inspired by the Kingdom of Cush, which had relations with Egypt, even had a dynasty of Black Pharaohs (25th Dynasty).
--Quiof Thrul

Profile by Prime Eternal.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Amazons of the Hyborian Age should not be confused with:


Lyta

Lyta was one of Queen Nzinga's Amazons. She witnessed the attempt to feed Conan and Chabela to the Kulamtu and took a wager with another Amazon who bet a new assegai that Conan would be consumed before Chabela. Considering neither was consumed, the outcome of the wager is anyone's guess.






--Savage Sword of Conan I#42

                                            Princess Nzinga

Princess Nzinga was the daughter of the Queen of the Amazons and was given the same name as her mother so that when she became queen, the Amazons would still be ruled by "Nzinga." At the age of 20, she journeyed to Zembabwei to attend King MBega's coronation. When she learned of Conan's impending strike against her mother's foe Thoth-Amon, she insisted to accompany the party. Nzinga's presence proved invaluable to Conan's adventure as she saw through the Serpent Men's illusions and rallied her Amazons to battle them.

--King Conan I#4




King Conan I#4 was an adaptation of L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter's short story "Shadows in the Skull." In the comic version, Conan only briefly alludes to the idea the princess might be his daughter but in the original short story he's almost 100% certain that's who she is.

Somewhere Conan has a mug reading "#1 Deadbeat Dad" --Prime Eternal



Queen Nzinga

Queen Nzinga was the ruler of the Amazon kingdom of Gamburu. She purchased both Conan and Chabela as slaves, forcing Chabella to serve as a domestic maid while employing Conan as her personal stud for long sessions of love-making. Believing Conan was in love with Chabela, Nzinga made various attempts to make him confess his affections for her but each time Conan denied it. Nzinga finally entrapped Chabela in a scenario where she had Chabela trip and spill wine upon Tuta, knowing Tuta would react violently. However, even then Conan defended Chabela. Now inflamed by jealousy, Nzinga began whipping Chabela to force a confession out of her but the torture session ended when Thoth-Amon teleported into the room and blasted Nzinga with his magic so he could claim the Cobra Crown from her. Nzinga subsequently tried to feed Conan and Chabela to the Kulamtu trees but Conan escaped his bonds and, with the arrival of his ally King Juma, was able to escape Gamburu with Chabela.

Within a year of Conan's departure, she gave birth to a daughter. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more)

Some time after their first encounter, Nzinga was travelling within Darfar with a band of Amazons upon zebras when they captured Conan and his allies Anya and Lesuthi Pa. Nzinga had Conan brought to her hut for love-making but he refused to indulge her. She sicced her pet panthers Wzala and Nkramuh upon him but Conan slew both animals then took Nzinga hostage. By threatening the queen's life, Conan forced the Amazons to let he, Anya and Lesuthi Pa depart.

Approximately twenty years after her first encounter with Conan, Queen Nzinga still ruled over Gamburu. Her daughter, whom she named Nzinga, according to her people's traditions, was sent to attend the coronation of King MBega. It was strongly hinted Princess Nzinga had been fathered by Conan.





--Savage Sword of Conan I#41 (42, 97, [King Conan #4]

Tuta

Tuta was one of Queen Nzinga's most fearsome warriors and had a very quick temper. Hoping to expose Conan's feelings for Chabela, Queen Nzinga tripped Chabela when she was near Tuta, causing her to spill wine on Tuta's person. Outraged, Tuta drew a knife and threatened to kill Chabela over the offense but Conan intervened and threw Tuta across the room, knocking her out. Conan justified his actions by claiming Chabela's death would have been a disproportionate response for the crime of spilling wine.






--Savage Sword of Conan I#41

Wzala & Nkrahmu

Wzala and Nkramuh were Queen Nzinga's twin pet panthers. When Conan refused to make love to her, she sent the panthers to kill him but Conan slew them with his bare hands.








--Savage Sword of Conan I#97d

images: (without ads)
Savage Sword of Conan I#97, p29, pan1 (Amazons, main)
Savage Sword of Conan I#41, front cover (Amazons, color image)
Savage Sword of Conan I#42, p21, pan5 (Lyta)
Savage Sword of Conan I#41, p35, pan1 (Queen Nzinga)
King Conan I#4, p6, pan2 (Princess Nzinga)
Savage Sword of Conan I#41, p40, pan4 (Tuta)
Savage Sword of Conan I#97, p31, pan5 (Wzala & Nkrahmu)


Appearances:
Savage Sword of Conan I#41 (June, 1979) - Roy Thomas (writer, editor), John Buscema (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#42 (July, 1979) - Roy Thomas (writer, editor), John Buscema (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
King Conan I#4 (December, 1980) - Roy Thomas (writer, editor), John Buscema (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#97 (February, 1984) - Michael Fleisher (writer), Pablo Marcos (pencils, inks), Larry Hama (editor)


First posted: 05/20/2020
Last updated: 05/20/2020.

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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