Real Name: Xuthl

Identity/Class: demonic entity and demon lord

Occupation: Lord of the Evil Dead, granter of favors

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Devourer of Souls, Thulsa Doom (associates) and the Shedu (demonic servitors), Acheron (the Devourer’s human incarnation)

Enemies: Conan the Barbarian, Sephra the daughter of Count Trocero of Aquilonia (victim of Xuthl’s machinations), Ahkbar the peasant, Anneka, Soldiers of the Kothian army (slain by Xuthl’s Shedu)

Known Relatives: none

Aliases: Lord Xuthl, Lord of the Evil Dead

Base of Operations: an unnamed extradimensional underworld, possibly Arallu

First Appearance: Conan the Barbarian#193 (April, 1987)

Powers/Abilities: Xuthl has demonstrated only a few powers in his handful of appearances, but he is treated with respect by both sorcerers such as Thulsa Doom and demons such as the Devourer of Souls, which should be a good indication of his abilities. A simple ritual and incantation that even a middling sorcerer in the employ of Prince Irham could perform is sufficient to summon the demon lord. The ritual itself involves the combining of blood and some type of root along with the utterance of the phrase "Xuthl comes!" Xuthl appears as a pillar of living flame with an amused face of darker flame within. In at least one instance Xuthl promptly absorbed the sorcerer summoning him, spitting out his blackened bones a moment later. This implies that summoning Xuthl is not the same as commanding him. Xuthl however commands lesser demons such as the Shedu and is not averse to loaning them out to others on "a favor for a favor" basis. Xuthl appears to not require summoning to manifest upon the mortal plane of existence if he wishes and has no trouble blasting ordinary humans into burnt bones and bloody gobbets of meat. Xuthl assisted Thulsa Doom’s scheme to destroy the Devourer of Souls not for a return favor, but because Thulsa Doom thought it was in both their interests to do so and it amused Xuthl to do so.

History: (Conan the Barbarian#193) - In his quest to destroy Conan, crush his spirit, and consume the barbarian’s soul, the Devourer has his lackey Prince Irham command his royal wizard to summon the demon lord Xuthl (something the Devourer cannot do himself apparently). Upon his arrival Xuthl sucked the squealing sorcerer that summoned him into his flaming embrace, and then playfully spat out his burnt bones. The Devourer, unimpressed by Xuthl’s antics, requested a host of Xuthl’s Shedu in return for a favor to be repaid later. After the Devourer concealed the glowing orb containing the Shedu in his cloak he then departed on his mission to destroy Conan.

(Conan the Barbarian#193) - Arriving at Bhoraji, and just prior to attacking Kaleb the Destroyer in an attempt to seize the vast eldritch power of his daughter Solaise, the Devourer loosed the Shedu from their containment in the orb. The creatures streaked off into the sky to locate their quarry, Conan. The Shedu are finally defeated with the help of the Footslave of the Elder Gods, but only after killing one helpless possessed villager, several of Conan’s men, toying with the barbarian by making Anneka threaten to slit her wrists, then assuming the form of a herd of wild boar and later, animating an entire hillock with their essence.

(Conan the Barbarian Annual#12) - Conan, while searching for the Footslave of the Elder Gods, braves a portal to the underworld of Arallu, Land of the Evil Dead. Instead of finding the Footslave, Conan stumbles across Thulsa Doom who was recently released form his shackles by the Devourer in reward for some vital information. Convincing Conan he can help in place of the Footslave, the barbarian fights skeletal warriors to free Thulsa Doom from Arallu. Thulsa Doom’s magic protects Conan and his allies from a death dealing fireball, unleashed upon by the Devourer after he attained the power of the Elder Gods.

(Conan the Barbarian#200) - Summoned by the undead sorcerer Thulsa Doom, Xuthl appears once more upon earth. This is where the first reference to Xuthl as Lord of the Evil Dead occurs. After exchanging pleasantries Thulsa Doom tells Xuthl of his plan to destroy the Devourer of Souls. Xuthl agreed because it amuses him to do so and soon appears to the now god-like Devourer to demand repayment on the debt owed him for the loan of his Shedu. The Devourer asked the demon lord what if he refused and slew him only to have Xuthl reply with amusement that the Devourer’s obstinate sense of honor would not let him.

In order to repair his debt to Xuthl the Devourer is commanded to find the most beautiful and unspoilt maiden in the western kingdoms and sacrifice her unto Xuthl. The catch is first the Devourer must win the girl to himself by love. The Devourer reaches out with his newfound cosmic senses and finds the most perfect and unblemeshed maiden in the land and teleports to Aquilonia to begin his seduction of her. This plan proceeds apace with the girl falling in love with the Devourer’s human guise. However, the Devourer soon discovered himself falling in love with the girl as well. Just as they reveal their feelings to one another Xuthl blasts the girl into a blackened skeleton and charred meat, enraging the Devourer.

The chink in his armor thus created by his tasting of human life and virtue, the mentally unbalanced Devourer and Conan square off in a titanic battle that carries them across worlds. The Devourer wielding his blade and the power of the Elder Gods and Conan using the Sword of the Elder Gods. Ultimately, Conan slew the dread demon with the magical sword in a thunderous explosion of power.

Sometime later, The Devourer’s human incarnation, Acheron, awakens on a beach on one of the Islands of Pearl. Much to his surprise, he is both alive and human. Xuthl appears to Acheron and explains that what destroyed the Devourer also saved him. The humanity the Devourer learned in his walk amongst the mortals was his crippling flaw in the battle with Conan. Using that flaw to destroy him was Xuthl’s plan all along. The Devourer’s demonic shell was destroyed by the magic blade in Conan’s hands thus the only part of the Devourer left for Xuthl to save was his human side! He took the liberty of restoring Acheron to his original form as a matter of professional courtesy. Acheron says he should hate Xuthl for killing Sephra. Xuthl responds that the Devourer killed her when he made his bargain. Xuthl flows into a nearby bottle half buried in the sand which Acheron promptly corks. Acheron wanders away, bottle in hand, telling the demon lord he intends to find a warm place in the sun.

(Conan the Barbarian#270) - Conan and his crew briefly dock at this island, where they encounter Acheron (Conan does not recognize him). Some of Conan's crew figure that Acheron's bottle contains something of value, and so they ambush him and take it. One of the men believes it to hold a type of wine, and so he drinks it down. The man bursts into flames, at which point Conan arrives and tries to put him out of his misery. As Conan skewers the man with his sword, Xuthl is released once more. The demon proceeds to incinerate several of the crewmen, but Acheron raises the bottle into the air, and Xuthl is pulled back into it for some reason. The bottle is corked anew, and under Conan's instruction, it is put in a sack, weighed down with rocks, and dropped into the ocean after they have set sail again.

Comments: Created by James Owsley and Val Semeiks.
James Christopher Owsley legally changed his name to Christopher Priest (the writer of Black Panther--you better be reading it!!!) several years ago (Note, however, that he commonly goes by just "Priest" to avoid confusion witha British writer of the same name).--Mario Di Giacomo

Though he is not referred to by the title of Lord of the Evil Dead until his second appearance, it is obvious Xuthl’s Shedu owe something to the demons from the popular Sam Raimi movies Evil Dead I, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness, starring Bruce Campbell.

In Conan the Barbarian Annual#12, Arallu is referred to as the Land of the Evil Dead. In Conan the Barbarian#200, Thulsa Doom refers to Xuthl as Lord of the Evil Dead. However, I do not believe Xuthl is the Lord of Arallu, although it is certainly possible. The main evidence against it is, aside from no mention of Xuthl in the original Robert E. Howard literature, upon seeing Thulsa Doom, Xuthl says "Aren’t you dead?" To which Thulsa Doom replies, "Very much so, o master. And yet, I have been released form the flame pits." If Xuthl were Lord of Arallu doesn’t it seem likely he would have known Thulsa Doom had escaped. Also, the term ‘o master’ is likely an honorific used to flatter Xuthl on Thulsa Doom’s part. Everyone knows Set is Thulsa Doom’s demonic master.

Xuthl is yet another great character/creature from one of Marvel’s licensed properties comics that needs to be brought back in a current comic - - perhaps something like Defenders since he seems the sort of opponent Dr. Strange would battle. He’s crafty and certainly callous about the value of human life, but his final scene with the Devourer shows he is not totally malevolent. Of course the Devourer was a demon before he became human so that might have something to do with it. Kurt? Anyone?

Profile by Greg O'Driscoll, with an update by Snood

Clarifications: None

The Shedu, pictured here in their most powerful form or a possessed and animated hilltop, were the demonic servitors of Xuthl, but would serve any being their master allowed to command them. The Shedu in their natural state appear to be crackling energy contained in a large globe, but have demonstrated the ability to possess and transform not only humans, but animals, and inanimate objects such as a local hilltop. While under possession by the Shedu people will attack those they once loved or even harm themselves without a moment of doubt. Those possessed also have a corpse-like pallor to their skin and milky white eyes. At least one victim of the Shedu dissolved into a swarm of hungry locusts. The Shedu appear to be able to leap from host to host in the form of lightning-like wisps. At one point they state to Conan, "You can’t kill us, son of Cimmeria! We are Shedu. We can not die! We are not alive!" These demonic creatures were first seen streaking off to attack their given prey, Conan, at the forefront of a powerful storm. It is uncertain whether this is coincidence, their doing, or that of the Devourer who commanded them at the time.







The Devourer refers to the Shedu loaned to him as a ‘host of Shedu’. They refer to themselves as ‘we’ and ‘us’ almost exclusively, but it is uncertain if the Shedu have individual identities and just work in a group or if they are some kind of collective, hive mind.






Ahkbar’s struggles are at last ended! Here we see the wisp form of the Shedu and what it looks like as they possess their host. Incidentally isn’t this a great out-of-context panel? Conan comics always did have a certain sardonic humor in them.








Anneka, possessed by the demonic Shedu. This is basically what humans under their influence look like. Anyone else see the similarity to the possessed humans in Evil Dead I + II?









Conan the Barbarian#193 (April, 1987) - Jim Owsley (Chrisopher Priest; writer), Valdis Semeiks (pencils), Geof Isherwood (inks), Larry Hama (editor)
Conan the Barbarian Annual#12 (1987) - Jim Owsley (writer), Val Semeiks (plot assist), Vince Giarrano (pencils), Ernie Chan (inks), Michael Higgins (editor)
Conan the Barbarian#200 (November, 1987) - Jim Owsley & Mark D. Bright (writers), Valdis Semeiks (pencils), Geof Isherwood (inks), Michael Higgins (editor)
Conan the Barbarian#270 (July, 1993) - Roy Thomas (writer), Mike Docherty (pencils), Ricardo Villagran (inks), Richard Ashford (editor)

Last updated: 08/29/02

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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