SUTRO

Real Name: Sutro

Identity/Class: immortal line of sorcerers/"life-aura" entity.

Occupation: Master Mage of the Zamoran Wastes

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Presumably other Zamoran sorcerers, the Pterrons and the River-Demon (hench-beasts)

Enemies: Conan the Barbarian, other deceased would-be protectors and rescuers of his daughter.

Known Relatives: Norda (daughter), other unnamed sorcerous ancestors bearing the name/title Sutro

Aliases: Silver-Eyes (as Conan called him) and likely, before he became the current Sutro, Norda's father had a name of his own, but it is unknown.

Base of Operations: a mist shrouded castle in the Zamoran Wastes

First Appearance: Conan the Barbarian newspaper strip (Sept.-Oct., 1978, reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition#23)

Powers: Sutro possessed various sorcerous abilities typical of mages of the Hyborian Era. Sutro was capable of telekinetically levitating multiple medium sized objects and hurling them at opponents, commanding a variety of monstrous creatures, remotely observing events via an enchanted mirror, transforming into a giant carnivorous ape, and projecting mystical force capable of paralyzing a strong man. Sutro could also perform other feats of wizardry including altering the terrain around his castle (either through illusion or actual physical transformation), animating plant life, and likely some form of teleportation.

Upon the current Sutro's death, the "life-aura" leaves their body and seeks out their inheritor, possessing them and turning their hair and eyes silver colored, as well as turning their skin a dusky color and their voice into a sibilant whisper. Most likely the memories, power, and mystical knowledge of the previous Sutros accompanies the life-aura.

History: (Marvel Treasury Edition#23)- After leaving Shadizar the Wicked, capitol of Zamora, Conan rode for destinations unknown, but his trip was interrupted when his stolen horse was bitten by a venomous snake and died. Setting out on foot across the Zamoran badlands beneath the deadly sun, Conan heard the sound of approaching footfalls and hid behind an outcropping of rock, dagger drawn. A beautiful young girl ran into his view, and Conan quickly grabb her (heh, good ol' Conan). Conan tried to calm the wench to no effect. She pointed in terror to what she was fleeing from: two bat-winged horrors descending from the sky! Conan swiftly defeated the first with his sword. However, caught from behind by the second, Conan was disarmed and broke the creature's neck with his bare hands.

The woman the creatures were after praised "holy Ishtar" for Conan's victory and said she had found the champion she was looking for. Conan said that just because he saved her from being devoured by flying monsters, it doesn't mean he is a champion. The unnamed woman quickly pointed out that the monsters sought not to devour her, but to bring her back to a mist shrouded castle in the distance. Conan tried to offer the "little slave-girl" some advice only to be met with anger, and was told her name is Norda and that she is no runaway slave. Conan's advice was the same: head in the opposite direction from the castle. The flying lizard-things are dead and he sees no riders coming after her. Norda replied that no riders will come after her, but that it will not be as easy as Conan thinks to escape the castle and its owner, Sutro. She pointed out that it was growing unnaturally dark in the middle of the day.

Suddenly, they ran afoul of weird plants and boulders across their trail. Norda revealed this was due to Sutro, attempting to trick them and thwart her escape. Conan inquired as to why he was after her, and when told that she cannot tell him, he stalked off in anger, saying she had best return and beg his mercy then-- he doesn't risk his life to protect the secrets of others. Before he got very far, a magically animated plant attacked Conan, until he dutifully hacked it apart with his sword. (As an aside what the hell is Sutro thinking here? If he hadn't sent the plants to attack Conan he would have left the girl and she could have been easily captured. See comments.)

As they attempted to get further from the castle of Sutro, Conan finally understood why Norda said it would not be easy to escape. The castle is suddenly there before them again! Realizing they had been traveling in circles, an idea occurred to Conan: he had heard wizards cannot cross water, and so they attempted to ford a nearby stream. However, either their crossing or Sutro's magic awoke the reptilian River-Demon, and they found themselves assaulted. Conan slew the beast, but not before Norda was knocked senseless by the monster's lashing tail. Seeing that she was still breathing, Conan realized she would live, and climbed from the river, only to discover the castle was before them AGAIN!

Having had enough of the cat-and-mouse routine, Conan carried Norda up to the front gate and demanded entrance. The doors opened by themselves, and Conan entered the courtyard. From a window high up in a tower, Sutro commanded Conan to drop Norda and depart. Conan being Conan determined he would instead climb the tower with Norda thrown over his shoulder, and tackle Sutro directly. Climbing in through the window, Conan confronted Sutro while laying the still-unconscious Norda upon a divan. Angered by his obstinance, Sutro telekinetically hurled skulls, iron bound books, stools, and so forth at the barbarian. Conan easily swatted the items aside, causing Sutro to fall back upon "the approach of pure sorcery!" Conan suddenly found himself paralyzed. Sutro said he sensed power in Conan such as he had never felt before. With a tremendous surge of strength, Conan broke free of the enchantment, and attacked Sutro once more!

Just as he was about to put Sutro to the sword, Norda awakened and beseeched Conan to not kill him-- he's her father! But of course. Conan was incredulous-- The wizard who tossed demons at them all day is her father? Norda did not tell him because she was afraid he wouldn't understand, and she is right. Norda told Conan he wouldn't let her go because he sought to make her accept her heritage of sorcery. Sutro explained that since time out of mind there has been a Sutro, a master sorcerer of that particular part of Zamora. His own father had taken the name when he assumed the mantle, just as his father had before him. Norda wished to break the chain of wizardry, and Conan intends to help her.

As they fled down the steps, a great carnivorous ape appeared before them. Conan leapt into battle with it, telling Norda to run. The barbarian was overpowered by the creature's greater strength, and the giant beast nearly tore out Conan's throat before his dagger found the ape's heart. Norda suddenly cried out, calling Conan a murderer. While Conan protested that he slew a giant ape and nothing more, an eerie change came over the creature-- it shimmered and melted into Sutro. Sutro asked his daughter if she at last understood why she cannot escape her heritage, and Norda replied that she finally understood. Conan protested, saying that she is at last free of his power, but Norda responded that she could never be free.

The shimmering aura surrounding the dying Sutro exploded upward and outward from his body. The wizard spoke one last time before he died: "You are the offspring of a wizard, and you can no more escape that birthright... than a leopard may turn... into an eagle!" Sutro's life essence became a swirling vapor surrounding Norda. Conan yelled for her to run, but the girl resignedly accepted her fate. The aura of energy coiled around Norda like a serpent, and her hair and eyes turned the same silver color as her father's. Conan told her to fight whatever was being done to her, only for Norda to respond, "Norda... is dead! Long live Sutro - - Master Mage of the Zamoran wastes!" Conan rushed towards her, but was blasted by a bolt of eldritch energy. He was told Norda is dead, and that she died the moment the life-aura fled her father's body and embraced her.

Conan, convinced the spell upon Norda will be broken if he can only get her out of the castle, rushed the new Sutro once more. He was zapped again for his troubles. Conan can be kind of thick-headed sometimes. Norda/Sutro summoned a mystical vapor to strangle Conan, telling him that with the magical power now at her disposal, she could easily slay him. When Conan asked why she doesn't, he is told: "because you strove to save the one called Norda - - it is my wish to be merciful". Norda/Sutro released Conan from the vapor, and told him he is free to go, but if he should take one more step towards her, she will be forced to destroy him.

 

 

Conan realized that she was really Sutro now, and that the girl he sought to rescue had vanished forever: "And I might as well do the same!" Conan stalked off, and did not look back...yet if he did, he might have seen something glimmering in one of those silver eyes; it might have just been a tear! But it was not Conan's way to look back, and so he would never know.

Conan's wisdom: "Some days it doesn't pay to try to help a pretty girl - - especially the daughter of a wizard!"

 

 

 

 

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema.

Unless they were all slain during the Great Cataclysm that ended the Hyborian Age I see no reason why the line of Sutro the Sorcerer could not have extended right up to the present day. In fact, after her possession by the mystical energy that is the true Sutro, the wizard's daughter Norda looked a heck of a lot like Ororo Munroe aka Storm of the X-Men. What is the true origin of Sutro? Why has there always been a Sutro in the wastes of Zamora? I'd say it is likely the Sutros were guarding against some kind of elder horror living beneath the Zamoran badlands. Yet another forgotten creation from a Conan related adventure just begging to be brought back!

Sutro first attacks Conan by flinging things at him without using his hands. Since a moment later he unleashes mystical energy upon Conan calling it "the approach of pure sorcery" I assume the previous attack was telekinetic in nature. In theory the mental disciplining necessary to learn sorcery endows certain psychic gifts that may be called upon in lieu of true eldritch power.

The new "Norda" Sutro seemed much more powerful than the old Sutro. Perhaps Sutro requires a fresh young (and in this instance vivacious!) body in order to fully use his/her/its powers?

When Conan prepares to abandon Norda, after she refuses to tell him why Sutro is after her, one of the weird plants nearby lashes out and attacks Conan. After he hacks it apart Conan says the wizard has angered him by magically ordering plants to attack. Sutro is either pretty damn dumb, since Conan was just about to leave the girl to his mercies, or it was actually Norda who caused the plant to grab Conan. I opt for the latter theory.

Sutro observes Conan and Norda's progress through the Zamoran Wastes via a mirror with twin snakes for a border that causes whatever a nearby reptile sees to be projected into the mirror. I'll go out on a limb and say this likely worked on any reptile. Who knows where this thing might pop up? Such sorcerous artifacts have a way of surviving the worst of cataclysms. Also between the reptilian Pterrons, the snake mirror, and the dinosaur like River-Demon, it is possible Sutro has some sort of connection to the serpent god Set.

Profile by: Greg O'Driscoll

Clarifications: Sutro (especially the female one) should not be confused with:

Norda has no known connection to:

Pterrons should not be confused with:


 

Norda: was the aged Sutro's daughter and tried to escape the sorcerous heritage that was her destiny. It is unknown if she ever had any children to carry on the legacy of the Master Mage of the Zamoran Wastes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Pterrons: At least two Pterrons served the Sutro. Whether they were demonic beings summoned to fetch his daughter or if they were beasts native to the Zamoran Wastes is uncertain, but if I know my Hyborian Era wizards Sutro likely had a small army of these things.


Appearances:
Conan the Barbarian newspaper strip (September-October, 1978) - Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (artist)
Marvel Treasury Edition#23 (1979) - Reprint


Last updated: 08/01/02

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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