For years now, we’ve heard about the Reptoid Conspiracy, the crux of which is that key figures in the places of power within human society have either been replaced by or have always been extra-terrestrial reptilians in the guise of humans who almost certainly do not have our best interests at heart.
Most people think of the Reptoids as a relatively recent tin-foil hat conspiracy associated with David Icke, but the modern origins of this 20th century myth go back at least a bit further than most realize to Robert E Howard’s first Kull story, The Shadow Kingdom.
Not only are we introduced for the first time to Howard’s proto-Conan Kull and his Pictish blade-bro Brule, but we are plunged into a world of mystery, conspiracy and paranoia. There is a plot against Kull’s life by the shape-shifting Serpent men who have secretly been ruling Valusia for thousands of years. Kull can trust no one, as his closest advisers and councilmen have either been replaced by these ancient monsters from the stars or were never human to begin with.
The eye-opening revelation about the reptoid impostors who have been ruling by means of murder and deceit becomes the driving motivation behind Kull. Brule explains that “…the true men [in politics/statecraft] know that among them glide the spies of the serpent, and the men who are the Serpent’s allies – such as Kaanuub, baron of Blaal – yet no man dares seek unmask a suspect lest vengeance befall him. No man trusts his fellow and the true statesmen dare not speak to each other what is in the minds of all.” The only way to stop the snakemen would be expose one before a great number of people, because only then would people believe of the danger in their midst. But one had to be certain that one’s foe was indeed a snakeman. And even then, what if you were the only one who was not a snakeman?
This conundrum threatens to send Kull spiraling into existential madness, “for all men wore masks, and many a different mask with each different man or woman; and Kull wondered if a serpent did not lurk under every mask.”
Eventually Kull is able to succeed in exposing this global reptilian conspiracy against mankind, though it almost costs him his life, by escaping an ambush just in time to make it to the council hall to strike down his own double. This experience and the paranoia it made him feel is what prompts Kull’s crusade against the pre-human races and informs his every action. While it leads to the various missteps he makes, it is also what pushes him to fight for the good of all mankind.
We see similar themes of distrust come into play in the later story Black Abyss. There, notable artists, poets and nobles of a town Kull is visiting are secretly worshipers of an evil immortal slug-worm. What disturbs Kull most is that these are people he had talked with, dined with, and enjoyed the company of who turned out to be wild and murderous zealots. And yes, it ends with Kull killing a lot of chubby naked people in the middle of a human sacrifice rite. But it doesn’t quite grip the imagination in the way that wondering if your closest adviser had ALWAYS been a reptoid does. So it is that which has lingered on in the public subconscious of the conspiracy minded and the perfectly rational alike.
Whether or not Serpent men, reptoids or whatever you wish to call them are metaphors for the treacherous and duplicitous nature of men in positions of power or if they are indeed literal space reptiles, you can be sure and tell your friends that reptoids have a much cooler origin than some boggle-eyed Green Party New Ager.
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