Real Name: Arawn

Identity/Class: Celtic God

Occupation: God of Death

Group Membership: Tuatha de Danaan

Affiliations: Cŵn Annwn (Hounds of Annwn), Pwyll, spirit beasts;
   formerly Merya

Enemies: Conan, Hafgan, Merya

Known Relatives: Anpao, Cernunnos (brothers), Bodb Derg (uncle), Queen of Annwn (wife)

Aliases: Lord of the Dark Forest, Lord of Death, Lord of Forests;
Mandrac or Necromon

Base of Operations: Annwn, Otherworld

First Appearance: (historical) First Branch of the Mabinogi (circa 1350 A.D.)
   (Marvel probably) Conan the Barbarian I#135 (June 1982)

Powers/Abilities: One of the Tuatha de Danaan, Arawn is a true immortal who ceased aging upon reaching adulthood, cannot die by conventional means, is immune to all normal terrestrial diseases and is highly durable. His injuries heal at superhuman rates, and given sufficient time he can heal virtually any wound. With denser flesh and bone than humans, he possesses superhuman strength to an unrevealed degree; an average male Tuatha can lift about 35 tons, and Arawn is larger and likely more powerful than the average. He also has superhuman endurance.

   Arawn can create an unrevealed but large number of spirit beasts that mimic normal animals but are larger, smarter, and more malevolent. They (or Arawn) can not only attack people physically, but also haunt their dreams. He can also create an entire forest at will, making it appear and disappear on a whim, or altering its environment to distort distances and the very space within. Some of this may be illusions, but at least part is real. At least when facing Conan, he was weakened considerably by bright lights; whether this remains the case, or was a temporary thing related to either his relative youth twelve thousand years ago or because he may have been manifesting using a human host, remains unrevealed.

Height: 8'8"(by approximation)
Weight: 1160 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Gold
Hair: Black

(Mythology/All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z#13) - One of the Tuatha de Danaan (Celtic gods), Arawn was the ruler of Annwn, the Celtic underworld...

(Thor and Hercules: Encyclopedia Mythologica) - located beneath the island of Tir na nOg in the otherdimensional realm Otherworld.

(Mythology) - Annwn was a paradise under his rule, a place where the death were eternally young and healthy, well fed and allowed to wile away eternity in comfort, without toil. However, it could also be a dangerous place, notably to mortals who entered uninvited or to anyone who offended Arawn.

(Mythology/All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z#13) - Arawn would chase errant souls into his realm using Cŵn Annwn, the Hounds of Annwn. For a time he had rival for Annwn's rule in Hafgan, but Arawn used a disguised mortal pawn, Pwyll, to defeat him, cementing his own rule.

(Conan the Barbarian I#135 (fb)) - Circa 10,000 B.C. in an area known as the Border Kingdom, west of Cimmeria,  Arawn heard the prayers of the beautiful Merya as she stumbled over a cliff to fall to her death while fleeing marauding Picts.

(Conan the Barbarian I#135 (fb) - BTS) - Arawn reached her after she had hit the ocean rocks, leaving her fatally injured, and healed her with his godly powers.

(Conan the Barbarian I#135 (fb)) - Identifying himself as the Lord of the Dark Forest, Arawn told the girl that he intended to carry her to his "dark hell" to be his bride, but when she cried out in horror at this fate, he became angered. To punish her, he trapped her in a manifestation of his forest that would appear only occasionally to mortal travelers. The forest's other inhabitants, his spirit-beasts, were her jailers, and Arawn told her he would leave her to fend for herself for the next seven years.

(Conan the Barbarian I#135 (fb) - BTS) - For seven years Merya sought to enlist the aid of travelers to be her champion and free her from Arawn, sometimes seducing them to her cause. However all were driven into exile or slain by Arawn or his beasts.

(Conan the Barbarian I#135 - BTS) - As the seventh year drew to its end, the barbarian Conan came hunting in the forest, slaying one of the stags and so eliciting the anger of the other spirit beasts. Seizing on him as her last hope, Merya approached and seduced him, though Conan was perturbed to wake the next morning and discover not only his lover gone, but the entire forest. Departing back to a frontier outpost, for the next few nights Conan was haunted in his dreams by attacks from stags and owls, and dreams of gods of death and pain, though whether Arawn sent these directly or they were the fault of his spirit beasts acting on their own recognizance remains unrevealed. Either way, they achieved their goal, as Conan returned to the reappeared forest seeking to end the visions that were haunting his sleep. Merya again approached him, this time explaining her predicament, and Conan reluctantly agreed to help her, only to be seemingly slain by one of Arawn's stags moments later. A few moments later Arawn sent a horse to Merya, saddled and ready for her to ride to meet him. Her hopes of freedom crushed with the loss of her final champion, Merya mounted the beast and rode to an altar in the woods to greet her future husband, unaware that Conan, only stunned by the stag, had recovered and was following. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#135) - With the altar forming a gate shape, Arawn opened a portal from his realm and rode through to inform the "ungrateful beauty" that his dark palace awaited her. He paused in the gateway as her steed rode forward, but Conan shot it dead with an arrow, then raced forward, hacking his way through an army of forest creatures which tried to stop him. Demanding to know of Merya if her freedom was worth the life of his children, and since she was not coming to him, he rode forth to take her. She screamed for Conan, but when he tried to run to her Arawn seemed to manipulate the very space of the forest, so that for every step forward Conan found himself further away. Conan refused to give in, and suddenly found himself by Merya's side, deriding Awarn's illusions. In response, Arawn made a giant serpent appear, its coils wrapped around the barbarian. Instructing the beast to crush Conan, Arawn snatched Merya up on to his mount in front of himself, but Conan crushed its skull with his bare hands, and then raced over to grab Arawn's horse by the neck and topple it, dropping Arawn to the ground. Angered at having his finest steed slain, Arawn stood unconcerned as Conan stabbed at the god with his sword, but the weapon passed harmlessly through its target. Boasting that he was not flesh and blood for a mortal to slay, Arawn removed a flint axe that had been strapped to his saddle and attacked the barbarian himself. Though Conan was undaunted at facing a supposed god half again his height, and was able to block or dodge the first several strikes, inevitably Arawn gained the upper hand, slicing clean through the sword and preparing to finish off his downed opponent. Lunging forward as the axe fell, Conan tackled Arawn, who scream in pain as the axe struck a large stone that had been behind Conan and emitted a bright spark. Realizing that it had been the light created by the flint's impact that had hurt the god, Conan took advantage of Arawn's temporary blindness to set fire to Arawn's gateway altar. With the god recoiling from the bright light, Conan snatched up Arawn's own axe and threatened to use it against him. Yielding, Arawn told Conan he could take Merya, but warned the barbarian that he had earned nothing but Arawn's enmity. As he, his animals, and his forest began to fade away, Arawn told Conan he was returning Merya as he had found her, and that some day Conan would face his vengeance.

(Conan the Barbarian I#135 - BTS) - After Arawn departed, the injuries Merya had sustained before he rescued her were reappeared, and she died, telling her savior that at least it was a clean death,

(Thor and Hercules: Encyclopedia Mythologica) - Arawn's current status remains unrevealed, but by the present day Otherworld's "Netherworld was ruled by self-proclaimed Nethergods, including Mandrac and Necromon. It is possible that one of these may be Arawn under a new name and degenerated into being a demon.

Comments: Adapted from mythology into Marvel by Steven Grant, Mark Silvestri, Joe Rubinstein and Danny Bulandi.

   Is the guy in Conan the Barbarian the actual Celtic god Arawn? After all, he got beaten by a mortal in a fight. For my money, I think he is. We know the Celtic gods were around back in Conan's era, because Conan's favorite god to swear by, Crom, is one of them. Arawn was a god of hunting as well as the underworld, and his underworld isn't rocks and burning lava like some others, but an idyllic place that could well resemble a dark forest. This guy is described as ruling hell, the Lord of the Dark Forest, the Lord of Death and the Lord of Forests, he chose as a bride a woman who had died, and controlled a forest and stags, which would fight the hunting remit. Plus he's tall, which fits well with other Tuatha seen in Marvel. And let's face it, it was no average mortal who bested him, but Conan, who has a track record fighting gods. Plus this would have been a much younger Arawn than the one recounted in Celtic mythology, perhaps not yet as powerful as he would later become. Lastly, there's some track records of Celtic gods using mortal hosts as avatars - c.f. Nuada and Nauda, or Bran the Blessed, a deal that lets them have easier access to Earth but at potentially reduced power levels. So this could have been Arawn in a mortal host.

   If Arawn is one of the Nethergods we saw in the Marvel UK Black Knight saga, my money would be on Mandrac - both horse riders and hunters of sorts, and Mandrac has two crows servants he created with the power of his mind, much like Arawn manifested various animals in the Conan story.

   This profile was completed 09/07/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Loki.

Arawn has no known connections to:

Arawn's beasts


Arawn's beasts includes owls, stags, wolves, bears, horses, snakes and falcons. They guarded Merya and kept her trapped in the forest during her seven years imprisonment. After Conan slew one of the stags to eat, and subsequently slept with Merya, he was visited in his dreams first by an owl that burst through the window of his sleeping quarters, then by a gigantic stag that charged him, ramming him into a wall. When Conan returned to the forest he was attacked by the stag again, this time slaying it with an arrow through the eye as it charged him, though its momentum kept it coming, and he survived the impact only by grabbing its antlers at the last second and splitting its skull with sheer brute force. Even so, he was smashed against a tree and both Merya and the other beasts thought him dead. When Conan interrupted the beasts delivering Merya to their master at his altar, they attacked Conan en masse, and he cut a bloody swathe through them. As he did so, Arawn described the beasts as his children; while this was likely figurative, given godly mores, it could have been literal. Arawn subsequently manifested a large python that tried to crush and bite the barbarian, but Conan instead crushed its skull with his bare hands. 


--Conan the Barbarian I#135

images: (without ads)
Conan the Barbarian I#135, p21, pan6 (main image)
Conan the Barbarian I#135, p19, pan1 (headshot)
Conan the Barbarian I#135, p19, pan4 (controlling the forest)
Conan the Barbarian I#135, p20, pan1 (atop his steed, snatching up Merya)
Conan the Barbarian I#135, p18, pan6 (Arawns beasts)

Conan the Barbarian I#135 (June 1982) - Steven Grant (writer), Mark Silvestri (pencils), Joe Rubinstein, Danny Bulandi (inks), Louise Jones (editor)

First Posted: 09/12/2021
Last updated: 09/10/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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