“A King Comes Riding!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on stories by Robert E. Howard.
Artists: Ross Andru and Wally Wood
King Kull is riding to his palace when the mad minstrel Redondo starts sing a song that could be construed as critical of the barbarian king. Kull intervenes and stops an overzealous member of his Red Slayers from killing the minstrel. Later at the palace he receives an envoy from the ambassador of the Picts. Brule the Spear Slayer has come with a message for Kull to meet the ambassador at his camp alone. The two test each others courage and come to a grudging respect for each other.
As Kull contemplates his upcoming meeting we get a flashback on his life. As a youth he was raised by tigers and was later adopted by the Sea-Mountain tribe. On returning to the village one day there is to be a public burning. A young woman of the tribe is to be burned alive for mating with a Lemurian pirate. Kull in an act of mercy throws his knife killing her. Then he flees his enraged tribesmen and jumps into the sea where he is captured by pirates. Later he escapes to Valusia. First a brigand. Then a gladiator and later a soldier. He makes it to the commander of the Black Legion.
There is a conspiracy that Redondo is part of. They plan to use Kull to get him into a fight with the mad king Borna. Then Kaanub would seize the throne. The first part goes off like they plan but Kull has other ideas. He seizes the crown and proclaims himself king with the support of the Red Slayers. Now he wears an uneasy crown ruling a decadent kingdom.
Before there was Conan there was Kull. By at least 8000 years. He was Robert E. Howard’s first sword and sorcery hero. Indeed the first Conan story was a rewritten Kull story that was rejected. While never achieving the popularity of Conan, Kull is still pure Howard. A barbarian king who usurps a throne of a power decadent kingdom. Then has to fight conspiracies and supernatural threats. The first issue under the skilled writing of Roy Thomas do a great job of introducing this character to comics. We are introduced to a well established world that is as exciting as the Hyborian age. We are introduced to Kull’s greatest friend Brule the Spear Slayer, his councilor Tu and the conspirators of Mad Ridondo and Baron Kaanub. This was a first rate sword and sorcery comic.