Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human (Norse and possibly Roman citizen, 3rd Century A.D.)

Occupation: Legionnaire

Group Membership: Roman Legions

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Bran Mak Morn, Gonar, Morgain, Picts

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations

First Appearance: (Historical) "Men of Shadows," Always Comes Evening (1957);
Savage Sword of Conan I#102/2 (July, 1984)

Powers/Abilities: The Norseman was a large, strong man, and an exceptional swordsman. He was capable of entering a berserker rage in battle.

Height: 6'5"
Weight: 215 lbs. (by estimation)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Blond

Savage Sword of Conan I#102/2 (fb) - BTS) - The Norseman was a blond warrior who towered more than 6'5". He was once a Nordic savage before joining the Roman service and adopting Roman culture and manners.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#103/2 (fb) - BTS) - After being deployed to the Roman frontier in the north of Britannia he often saw a taller man (Bran Mak Morn) leading his Picts in the forefront of battle.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#102/2) - In 205 AD, the Norseman was one of a legion of 500 Roman soldiers who arrogantly march northward of Hadrian's Wall to search of a Pictish priest and to engage the tribal barbarians. Against those blood frenzied hordes, attrition gradually wore the Romans' number down to thirty, with the Norseman surviving only because he reverted to the savage he had once been before adopting Roman ways. After another battle only five remained, two Romans, a Briton, an Irishman and himself. To his delight he discovered a Norse sword, much larger and more to his suiting than the short swords the Romans had issued him, in the possession of a slain Pict, and took it for himself. The five survivors fled southwards, taking a perilous route over high mountains, but on their way over they were attacked by Picts, who slew the Briton before they were themselves killed by the Norsemen and his allies. Back down the other side in the valley beyond they lost the Irishman when he impetuously attacked a band of Picts solo rather than staying hidden like his fellows until they had passed by.

   After traveling through the night narrowly avoiding bands of Picts, the surviving trio reached a lake early in the morning and decided to rest there, only for the two Romans to suddenly fall dead, impaled by spears that seemed to materialize out of nowhere. Desperately scanning around for any sign of his assailant, the Norseman finally spotted a lone reed swaying, and swiftly struck dead the Pict lurking beneath the water's surface.

  Deciding to rid himself of all unnecessary accoutrements save his sword, dagger and armor, the Norseman continued his way south feeling exulted to put aside the dross of Roman civilization and embrace his primitive side, promising to Thor and Woden that he would teach the Picts how a Norseman died, recalling the ancient enmity between his people and that race. Scorning concealment now and ready to die as a warrior, he began singing as he marched the next few miles, until he rounded a low hill to see over a hundred armed Picts charging him.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#103/2) - Neither slowing nor speeding up his gait, the Norseman strode into battle and began cleaving at the Picts even as they swarmed around him. Despite his superior strength and skill however, their numbers began to overwhelm him, until the wounded Norseman went into a berserker rage. His vision turned red, and all he later recalled was the desire to take as many of the enemy as he could with him into the afterlife. Though knocked down several times, he kept getting back up, until eventually the Picts had him surrounded at spearpoint. The Norseman expected to die, but a shout from an approaching figure taller and nobler-looking than the Picts he had been fighting told the Norseman's assailants that their foe was to be spared. The Norseman asked who he was, but before he could get an answer he collapsed, faint from his injuries; his last conscious memory before he succumbed to sleep were of the man telling the Picts to staunch his wounds and give him food and drink.

   The Norseman woke to find himself a captive, stripped of his armor and weapons. The Picts led him to a gathering atop a high bare hill where the chief he had seen earlier was waiting. After questioning the Norseman to discern his identity, the chief revealed he was Bran Mak Morn, and explained his people's history to the prisoner. They were soon joined by Bran's younger sister Morgain and the Pictish shaman Gonar, the latter of whom decried Bran, claiming he had displeased the old gods, and demanding that they sacrifice the Norseman to appease them. Morgain however then requested that Bran show mercy and free the Norseman. Gonar was enraged, but Bran, who was attempting to end human sacrifices among the Picts, stood firm that he would honor his sister's request, challenging anyone who disagreed to fight him. Gonar took him up on this, and the Norseman watched as the pair began an arcane battle of wills...

(Savage Sword of Conan I#104/2) - which Bran won. Accepting Bran's authority, Gonar began telling a tale, asking the Norseman what lay beyond the isles to the west of Caledon, and then proceeding to weave a tale informing all present, the Norseman included, about the origins of the Pictish race.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#106/2) - The Norseman watched as Gonar concluded his tale with a prophecy that Rome would eventually fall to the barbarians.
(Savage Sword of Conan I#106/2 - BTS) - The Norseman's subsequent fate was unrevealed, but presumably as a man of honor, Bran kept his word and ensured him safe passage back to Roman-held territory.

Comments: Created by Robert Ervin Howard, and first illustrated by Jayem Wilcox.

     Adapted for Marvel Comics by Roy Thomas and Gene Day.

     Men of the Shadows was first offered to Weird Tales back in 1926, and was the first Bran Mak Morn story written, but it was rejected and so not the first published.

     This profile was completed 09/03/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Wolfram Bane and Loki.

The Norseman has no known connections to:

images: (without ads)
Savage Sword of Conan I#103/2, page 1, panel 1  (main image)
Savage Sword of Conan I#102/2, p2, pan2 (headshot, wearing Roman helmet)
Savage Sword of Conan I#102/2, p4, pan3 (wearing Roman armor)
Savage Sword of Conan I#102/2, p9, pan4 (unencumbered by Rome's trappings)

Savage Sword of Conan I#102/2 (July, 1984) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation, editor), Gene Day (pencils, inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#103/2 (August, 1984) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation, editor), Gene Day (pencils, inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#104/2 (September, 1984) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation, editor), Gene Day (pencils, inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#106/2 (November, 1984) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation, editor), Gene Day (pencils, inks)

First Posted: 09/06/2021
Last updated:

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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