Janissa the Widowmaker was a warrior woman who fought against and then later alongside Conan.
Born to a wealthy family, Janissa rebelled against her father and sought out the witch known as the Bone Woman to ask for the strength of a man and deadliness with a blade. The Bone Woman offered her this in exchange for service lasting twice as long as her training would last, and Janissa agreed.
For her training, Janissa was trapped in a stone cave. The Bone Woman gave her a sword to defend herself and left her. That night, she was attacked by a demonic monster that overpowered her, beat her, and raped her (the Bone Woman would later reveal that these demons were manifestations of her own mind). She woke up the next morning to meet the Bone Woman, who told her that the next night there would be two demons, and ever more every night following. This brutal ritual escalated nightly, with Janissa exercising and practicing every day, preparing to fight back. She grew more and more dangerous, but was always overpowered by the demons. As she grew in proficiency, the Bone Woman offered more help, advising her on battle tactics and augmenting her strength with sorcery. Eventually, Janissa grew so deadly that she was able to slay all the demons for a month. At this time, the Bone Woman released her from the cave, and she began her servitude.
Janissa served as the assassin and enforcer for the Bone Woman. She never questioned her orders, reporting on her targets and dealing death without hesitation. The first time she encountered Conan was in a tavern, where she was under instructions to spy on him. Later, the Bone Woman instructed her to protect a priest of Ibis who was opposing Thoth-Amon. Conan was in jail at the time, but bargained his freedom for some assistance to this priest. To test his martial skill, Conan sparred with Janissa, and they developed a healthy respect for each other.
Eventually Janissa learned that she had been offered to Conan as an incentive, but that Conan had refused. This caused her to realize that if Conan could respect himself enough to turn down the Bone Woman she could have the same respect for herself. She rebelled against her teacher, cutting her head off. She travelled as a hired killer for years before meeting Sanna (really a form of the bone woman) and was inspired to ensure no woman was ever kept a slave like she was. She started to raid caravans and recruited followers planning to attack Turan and Shem. This brought her into conflict with Conan and they fought to a draw before the Bone Woman's deception was revealed. The Bone Woman summoned the Elder One Nazu and ordered it to kill them. Conan Janissa Valerius of Khauran and Kerim Shah stormed the Tower of Silence and as Janissa fought her master on the roof Conan and the others tried to activate a chime that could kill Nazu. The Bone Woman gloated that Janissa was merely one of many pawns she had used and discarded over the millennia and that she wouldn't be the last. She also revealed that the demons that raped her had been manifestations of her own mind. As Nazu charged, Conan managed to activate the chime, releasing a wave of energy that killed Nazu. As the Bone Woman stared in shock Janissa decapitated her. She and Conan parted on amicable terms, with Conan's current lover Natala joining Janissa as a healer
Although she is a slight woman, Janissa's strength is impressive for her size. She has dark brown hair and pale skin, marked with scars from her battles. She also has a large V-shaped scar under her eye.
Traits and skills
Janissa is a brutal killer who fights with elegance and grace. She prefers to fight with two curved swords to create a whirlwind of death. She carries a mystical wand that allows her to communicate with the Bone Woman over long distances. She has excellent senses, and is remarkably skilled at stealth. She can also climb walls very well, and has considerable acrobatic skill.
Stories featuring Janissa
- Blood Oasis
- Conan the Avenger #16-19 2015
- "The Hanumar Road"