DWELLERS IN DARKNESS
Classification: Semi-humanoid terrestrial race ("Hidden race");
possible Elderspawn (offspring/creations of the true Elder Gods);
pre-Cataclysmic era, Hyborian era (and possibly the Distant Past)
Location/Base of Operations: Subterranean caverns beneath the Lair of Lions
Known Members: None identified (likely no names, as they don't speak)
Affiliations: Makeda released them from their imprisonment, but they were too savage to be grateful
Enemies: Amra the Lion-Lord, Belit, Conan the Cimmerian, Makeda, Sholo and the other lions of the Lair of Lions, Watambis (Anaki and two others);
whoever imprisoned them in the first place
Known Relatives: Possibly the direct or distant descendants of Gaea
Aliases: Dark-dwellers, demon-dwarves, Earthspawn, Hellspawn, shadowy horrors, six-limbed spidery gnomes, spider-things, unbound ones
First Appearance: (Partial, unidentified) Conan the Barbarian I#62 (May, 1976);
(fully seen, with various descriptions/nicknames) Conan the Barbarian I#63 (June, 1976)
Powers/Abilities: The creatures are savage, hungry creatures, ambushing and swarming over larger foes, even full grown male lions.
They have two sets of arms, one atop the other, with the lower sets emerging from the upper arms' axilla ("armpits").
They consume human flesh by choice, although, if hungry enough, they would attack other creatures, even full grown male lions.
The fingers and toes ended in sharp talons, and they have razor-sharp fangs, which they would use to deadly effect.
The were described as having no voice, meaning
the were presumably mute. They were not shown making any sounds, which
enhanced their ability to surprise others while approaching from the
They could be mystically bound
(trapped in a location) by a certain ritual, and they could be unbound
(freed) by another mystic ritual.
Traits: The creatures are savage creatures who seek to consume human or other mammalian flesh, using their strength in numbers and their teeth and claws to make up for their relatively small size.
They tend to suddenly emerge from shadows or via dropping out a panel above a cavern, etc.
Type: Bilaterally symmetric semi-humanoid bipeds
Eyes: Two (on head; red irides, with no visible sclera, or possibly red sclera with no clear division between the two)
Fingers: Four (plus opposing thumb)
Toes: Apparently two
Skin color: Gray to light brown
Average height: Approximately 3-4'?
Other distinguishing features: Two sets of arms, pointed ears
(Conan the Barbarian I#62 (fb) - BTS) <100,000 BC> - The creatures were imprisoned in the subterranean realm beneath what would later become known as the Lair of the Lions; mystically bound there, they awaited their freedom in darkness.
(Conan the Barbarian I#62 (fb) - BTS) - Lion-raised Amra explored this Lair of Lions, finding a great tomb-like wall on which were symbols he could not read (and he believed no man now living could read); Amra felt the symbols carried the secrets of some unknown mystery.
(Conan the Barbarian I#62 (fb) - BTS) - One of Amra's brides, Makeda, former princess of the Moonhawk tribe, learned how to read the writings on the ancient tomb wall.
(Conan the Barbarian I#62 (fb))
- After being banished from the Lair of the Lions by Amra, a vengeful
Makeda rushed to the tomb-wall.
There she performed a spell to awaken and release the monstrous beings imprisoned below the city for allegedly a million years.
(Conan the Barbarian I#63 (fb)) - As the shadowy horrors issued forth, Makeda fled.
(Conan the Barbarian I#63) -
As Amra tried to conduct a wedding ceremony with Belit atop the
Lion-Altar, witnessed by Sholo and other male lions, the dwellers in
darkness pulled a slab out from under Belit, pulling her down into the
hands of the monstrous horde.
Amra immediately engaged the six-limbed spidery gnomes, and as he slashed at them with his dagger, he he snarled with pleasure to learn, at least, that they were flesh and blood.
Many creatures continued to pour out through the portal. So hungry were they for the creatures for long-denied human flesh that they had no fear, and they swarmed out and even over the lions (including the mighty Sholo), who fought back with teeth and claws to slay their attackers.
After cutting himself free, Amra dove through the opening from which the creatures issued, urging Sholo and the others to follow him to recover his chosen mate.
(Conan the Barbarian I#63 - BTS) - The lions apparently could not (or refused to) fit through the passageway to follow their master.
(Conan the Barbarian I#63 -
BTS) - When Conan noted the uproar atop the great altar, Makeda advised
him that it must be the beings she had loosed from their age old spell.
Although Makeda became fearful and wished to flee, Conan forced her to
lead him down a passage that led to directly beneath the Lion-Altar.
(Conan the Barbarian I#63) - A group of "unbound ones" swarmed
over Conan, Makeda, and the Watambis, who fought back fiercely and slew
them, although at one of the Watambi perished in the struggle.
Comments: Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Steve Gan.
The creatures were never given an
official name, as most were just descriptions, but they were called the
Dwellers in Darkness on the cover of Conan#63, so I went with that as
the profile title. The Marvel Comics Index to Conan only goes up to
Conan the Barbarian I#61, so that's no help...
is at least implied that the creatures were the spawn of
the Earth mother, Gaea. Specifically, the creatures caused Conan to think
back on of all the loathsome , time-lost, horrors he had battled in
his nigh-score of years..."and how many of them were birthed by the
fearsome Earth-mother herself."
Despite having six limbs, they were called "spidery," so perhaps they were spawn of Omm or an offshoot of the Spider-People (who have four to eight limbs (with two to six arms)?
How long were they imprisoned under what would become the Lair of the Lions?
Profile by Snood.
The Dwellers in Darkness should be distinguished from:
ritual of unbinding
(Conan the Barbarian I#62 (fb) - BTS) - The ritual of binding was apparently detailed on the tomb-wall in the depths of the Lair of Lions, under which the "Dwellers in Darkness" were mystically bound.
(Conan the Barbarian I#62
(fb)) - After being exiled from the Lair of the Lions by her former
lover Amra (in favor of his newest infatuation, Belit), Makeda rushed
to the tomb-wall.
There she performed a spell to awaken and
release the monstrous beings imprisoned below the city.
--Conan the Barbarian I#62
The author(s) of the spell of binding is unrevealed, although it is
presumably the same being(s) who first imprisoned the "Dwellers in
images: (without ads)
Conan the Barbarian I#62, last page, panel 4-5 (Makeda reading the writings and performing the ritual)
panel 7 (creatures emerging through ground);
#63, pg. 7, panel 4 (emerging onto Lion-Altar);
panel 5 (vs. Sholo and other lions);
pg. 8, panel 4 (mostly full);
pg. 10, panel 2 (carrying Belit);
pg. 11, panel 4 (frontal close-up, stabbed);
pg. 12, panel 2 (retreating)
Conan the Barbarian I#62-63 (May-June, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (penciler), Steve Gan (inker)
First posted: 09/02/2020
Last updated: 10/03/2020
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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