Real Name: Issus
Identity/Class: Elder God
Occupation: Her domain is unrevealed
Group Membership: Elder Gods of Earth
possibly Sabbatha, Stornella, and Valxavier
she may have aided those who were unfavored by Set;
Known Relatives: Demiurge (father);
Gaea, Oshtur (sisters); Chthon, Set (brothers), Hyppus (brother, deceased), other Elder Gods (siblings, deceased);
massive extended family via Chthon, Gaea, Oshtur, and Set
Aliases: Isuus (see comments)
Base of Operations: Unrevealed
First Appearance: Savage Sword of Conan#216 (December, 1993)
Powers/Abilities: Issus presumably had great superhuman powers including superhuman strength, durability, longevity (presumably she was immune to aging), and energy-manipulation powers.
She can apparently grant various mystical powers to those who invoke her name and/or utilize items of power associated with her, such as the Crystal Conclave and the Tear of Nitocris.
Height: Unrevealed (she was never pictured)
(Savage Sword of Conan#216 - BTS) - Issus is the sister of the Elder God Set.
(Savage Sword of Conan#216 (fb) - BTS) <Several hundred years before the main story> - The Stygian king was slain by Set-followers led by the priest Kha Semblor for crimes in vengefully desecrating Set's temples and denying Set's rituals after his efforts to build a bridge across the river Styx failed.
Kha Semblor and the other priests of Set declared it "the will of Set" that the king's apparently pious sister, Nitocris, become the new ruler of Stygia. Though she kept her thoughts to herself, Nitocris prayed to Issus to grant her power to avenge her brother's death upon those who had killed him.
Throughout the winter, Nitocris sent large numbers of non-Stygian speaking slaves from the far south Black Kingdoms down the river where they constructed the instrument of her vengeance.
Later in the spring, Nitocris announced that a new temple to Set had been built to atone for her brother's sacrilege. She invited all of the nobles and high priests to the temple's dedication in the subterranean temple, during which she waited until all of them were intoxicated, after which she silently exited and had the temple's massive stone lid shut them in before opening a portal into the river Styx, which poured in and drowned them all.
After returning to Luxur, Nitocris -- knowing that she was doomed once the people learned what had happened -- had her servants fill her boudoir with certain hot and smoking ashes and then lock the door. Overcome by the fumes, Nitocris perished, and the angry mob found only her dead body.
(Savage Sword of Conan#216 (fb) - BTS) - Apparently via a spell voiced by her dying body, Nitocris' spirit was trapped within the Teardrop Diamond, also know as the Tear of Nitocris.
Whether via Nitocris' machinations or not, crystal figurines of Kha Semblor and the other Stygian priests and nobles who fell via her trap were constructed by unidentified parties, and they become known as the Crystal Conclave. These apparently designed such that, within the Temple of Issus in Luxur, a magic spell could link the figurines with the spirits of their counterparts, allowing these spirits to animate the figurines.
(Savage Sword of Conan#216 - BTS) <10,000 BC> - Issus had a temple in Luxur, Stygia.
(Savage Sword of Conan#216 (fb) - BTS) - Ctesphon III, the female king of Stygia (having undergone religious ceremonies that made her a man in the eyes of the gods), who had been transformed into a death-like state by the sorcererous siblings Stornella and Valxavier, was entombed in a frosted coffin in the Temple of Issus.
(Savage Sword of Conan#216 (fb) - BTS) - The witch Sabbatha inherited the Crystal Conclave and the Tear of Nitocris from her father.
(Savage Sword of Conan#216 (fb) - BTS) - Stornella and Valxavier plotted to use the Crystal Conclave and the Tear of Nitocris to revive Ctesphon III while replacing Ctesphon's spirit with Stornella, allowing her and her brother to rule Stygia.
Sword of Conan#216 - BTS) - Stornella and Valxavier utilized
Simianthros (half-human, half-ape creatures magically bred by the Cult
of Luxur) to steal the Crystal Conclave and Tear of Nitocris (while at
the same time abducting Sabbatha's daughter, Rosina), which they then
transported to the Temple of Issus in Luxur.
Sabbatha enlisted Conan of Cimmeria to retrieve the stolen articles and her daughter.
En route, Stornella sensed Conan's presence, and she and Valxavier
magically sent a giant iguanosaurus to attack him; Conan slew it, but
not before it slew his camel, leaving him to pursue the siblings on
Nonetheless, desiring Conan, Stornella visited and romanced him in a dream.
In the Temple of Luxur, Stornella and Valxavier began the spell to revive Ctesphon and transfer the spirits. When Conan arrived, Stornella continued the incantation while Valxavier voiced a spell that slowed down time for Conan while Valxavier engaged him in a swordfight. When the fight knocked over and shattered one of the Crystal Conclave, the spell was broken, and Conan slew Valxavier, although the dying sorcerer summoned the Simianthros to attack Conan. After Conan destroyed the creatures, Stornella revived in Ctesphon's form and summoned the guards to slay him when Conan refused to serve her.
However, Sabbatha then inhabited Stornella's form, and she voiced a spell while touching the Conclave, transforming the figurines into full-sized crystal-people possessed by those after whom they were patterned and commanding them to attack the guards.
After the crystal men had slain the Stygian warriors and Ctesphon/Stornella, they then confronted Rosina, seeking the Tear of Nitocris, but Rosina then voiced a spell she had learned from her mother, and the Tear was transformed into a crystalline figure animated by Nitocris' spirit. Nitocris' and Kha Semblor's crystal forms battled, hurling forgotten magicks at each (the other crystal forms were immobilized by the mystico-technic display), until both their forms and all of the other crystalline forms were shattered into tiny shards.
of Stornella was left inhabited by a combination of Sabbatha,
Stornella, Ctesphon, and Nitocris, somewhat unhinged by the experience.
While Rosina thought to reassemble the shards, Conan headed out to find
someone who would take in, care for, and/or employ Rosina and the
multiple-spirited Stornella, neither of whom could fend for themselves.
Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, based on "The Vengeance of Nitocris"by Thomas Lanier Williams (later known as "Tennessee" Williams)
In the Swords and Scrolls feature of Savage Sword of Conan#216, Roy
discusses how, in 1928, the teenaged Williams sold his first story --
"The Vengeance of Nitocris" -- to Weird Tales (which had already
published stories by H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard), inspired by
reading of similar events in the work of the Greek historian Herodotus.
Intrigued after reading Williams' story in 1970's "The Pulps: Fifty Years of American Pop Culture," Roy considered adapting it to Conan (with Egypt becoming Stygia (and presumably Seth and Isis becoming Set and Issus) and eventually did the in story in Savage Sword of Conan#216. Williams' story was the 10 page prologue, ending with Nitocris' apparent suicide.
Roy further notes that in the main story, "Stornella" and "Sabbatha" are taken from Tennessee Williams' works, while Rosina was named after Williams' tragic sister, Rose. Roy used the main story to give a tip of the hat to various Williams dramatic themes.
Issus has been identified as "Isuus" in multiple profiles of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, including Chthon, Demons, Gaea, and Set, written by...me. Is it an alternate spelling or error...the truth is out there...
So, that's a
LOT of information considering Issus appeared in none of it, but it did
seem that her magics were involved, so I detailed everything
potentially affected by her magics. Stornella specifically invoked
Issus during the revival of Ctesphon's form and the transferring of her
own spirit into that form.
They also invoked "jackal-faced Nubis -- and Osiris, who is brother and sister combined in one."
Obviously Nubis is to Anubis as Issus is to Isis and Set is to Seth, but it's interesting information about Osiris. While Bast and Sekhmet-Hathor have male and female forms, I'm not aware of that being the case. Regardless, while Issus is clearly referenced as the sister of Set, we have no such descriptions for "Nubis" or "Osiris," who may or may not be Elder Gods or something else, altogether.
Set had consumed most of the other Elder Gods long before the Hyborian era, but it is anyone's guess how Issus survived.
This profile was completed 8/1/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.
Issus was the Goddess of Death of Barsoom (Mars) in the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. She was first mentioned in The Gods of Mars (1913) by Burroughs, and in Marvel Comics first mentioned in John Carter, Warlord of Mars#1 (June, 1977), but never appeared. In the Burroughs novels, she was eventually revealed to be an extremely ancient black Martian, and controlled the entirety of Martian religion. She was worshipped by the First Born and the therns, but eventually died when torn apart by her followers.
Profile by Snood.
Issus should be distinguished from:
Savage Sword of Conan#216 (December, 1993) - Roy Thomas (writer), Alfredo Alcala (penciler), E.R. Cruz (inker), Michael Kraiger (assistant editor), Richard Ashford (editor)
First posted: 09/12/2021
Last updated: 10/08/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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