KULL THE DESTROYER #15

“Wings of the Night-Beast!”
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Mike Ploog & Ernie Chua

Kull and Brule confront Sarkoz and his priests on losing their companion Ridondo to a dragon. Sarkoz and his men try to kill Kull and after he shatters his sword on the tower is forced to flee. Outside the village they meet Santha the former woman of Sarkoz. Later at night Kull and Santha get romantic until Kull notices a wound on Santha’s back that looks just like the one he gave the dragon last night. Santha then turns into a dragon and carries Kull off to a cave.

When Kull wakes he is tied up with Ridondo. Santha then explains how she became a dragon. A priest came to the village and she tried to seduce him. The priest had a vow of celibacy and cursed her so she would turn into a dragon and eat people. Sarkoz and his men loved her so much they converted to the priest’s religion in the hopes of appeasing his god. They also periodically sacrifice themselves to her. Sarkoz and his men decide they had enough and attack her cave. Ridondo manages to free himself and Kull. Kull goes out and slays Santha.

“Help!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

A man answers the phone and finds out it is a call for help. Someone claims to be from another world and pleads for the man to set him free. The man thinks its a joke but hesitates to hang up because the voice sounds so sincere. The voice is trapped in darkness and convinced only the man can set him free. The man gets angry and slams down the receiver. He slammed it so hard that it breaks. This frees a tiny spaceship that was trapped in the phone. The man wonders about the big insect he sees.

So Kull is once again being cancelled but was to continue in a new black and white magazine devoted to him. They decided to tie up this story and it has a lot of things that make no sense. Why does Kull shatter his sword on the tower. You’d think that hitting a stone wall is a dumb idea. Also the men really love this woman so much they become celibate priests and sacrifice themselves to be eaten. Personally she didn’t seem that worth it. Not the best Kull story and a poor one for the series to end on.

The reprint suffered some gaps of logic just as the main story. How did this little advanced spaceship get trapped in a telephone. How can he not know anything but still manage to figure out how to work the phone. Still I kind of liked it. A bit offbeat but has a certain charm.

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KA-ZAR #4

“The Concrete Jungle”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Andy Kubert

Parnival Plunder thinks he is safe in his office surrounded by security personal. Ka-zar manages to evade all the security and come crashing through the window. He picks up Parnival and tosses him out. Parnival lands in a net that Ka-zar set and forces him to tell why he wants him dead. Now Parnival did not fall through the ice, that was some other flunky. He did get serious frostbite in trekking back to civilization hence the cybernetics. His motives are to be declared the sole inheritor of their fathers estate. The medallion that the two inherited leads to some invention that will make Parnival a god.

The security men arrive and chase Ka-zar from the building. The men are not too careful about who they hit so Ka-zar leads them to Central Park where he has room to maneuver. Shanna meets him at the park and they manage to defeat Parnival’s men. Parnival meanwhile is in communication with a mysterious figure that is trapped in another dimension.

This was a real excellent issue. First there was lots of action. Also we find out how Parnival survived the Antarctic. What his motives are is also revealed. Yet enough is held back to keep the reader curious. What is this super invention that their father created? Who is the mysterious being in the dimensional closet and what part does he play in Parnival’s scheme?

Parnival himself seems to be a germophobe. He was more upset about being outside with all the unsanitary germs then actually falling. He is becoming a real good villain for Ka-zar in this series. Also Ka-zar and Shanna are making the first steps to reconcile their relationship. This adventure in New York is turning quite interesting.

KULL AND THE BARBARIANS #1

“Hail The Barbarians!”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on what this magazine is about. That thanks to Roy leaving the editor in chief position he has more time to directly edit comics and managed to sell a title dedicated to Robert E. Howard’s other creations. Kull will be the main lead with Red Sonja, Solomon Kane etc.

“A King Comes Riding!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Ross Andru and Wally Wood

A reprint of Kull the Conqueror #1

“The Shadow Kingdom”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Marie and John Severin

A reprint of Kull the Conqueror #2

“The Valley of the Worm!”
Writer: Roy Thomas and Garry Conway based on adaptation of Robert E Howard story.
Artists: Gil Kane and Ernie Chua

James Allison lies dying on his death bed. He tells of his past life as Niord. Niord was leading the Aesgard south after some great cataclysm before recorded history. They fight a battle with the Picts and Niord knocks a brave warrior out that he spares. This warrior named Gorm manages to make peace between the tribes and becomes Niord’s friend. A group of the Aesgard decides to go set up a village in a valley that the Picts say is inhabited by a beast. Niord goes to visit this village and finds its people massacred. He vows revenge. First he kills a giant snake and takes its venom to coat his arrows. Then he confronts the creature which turns out to be a giant worm. He slays it at the cost of his own life.

“King Kull A Retrospective”
By Fred Blosser
Art by Roy G. Krenkel

A review of the lance paperback that came out in the sixties. It collected all of Howard’s Kull stories plus some finished by Lin Carter.

So this short lived magazine had great potential. Anything with Robert E. Howard is bound to be interesting. Add to that Roy Thomas being in charge. He has a great love for Howard’s works. Sadly this first issue was mainly reprints. Good reprints but still reprints from the color comics which I would assume any fan would already have.

The third story appeared in some issue I never read so it was new to me. It is considered to be Howard’s best work and I enjoyed it. Niord was typical Howard barbarian. A brave warrior who takes on both hordes of savage men and beasts. Definitely top quality work.

Thankfully the next issue would have more original content.

KULL THE DESTROYER #14

“The Black Belfry!”
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Mike Ploog

Kull with Brule and Ridondo leave the village they were staying at. Kull is going to a secret valley he knows of from his time as a bandit. He wants to recruit an army to take back his kingdom. They reach the valley and first Kull has to fight a man-ogre guarding the passage. He then meets up with a woman from his past named Santha. He finds out that the chieftain Sarkoz has become a priest. He banished his woman and they now build a mysterious black tower.

Kull finds that all the old outlaws are now some religious fanatics. They are not interested in joining Kull’s army but allow him and his companions to stay the night. During a heavy rainstorm the three are attacked by a dragon. Kull manages to fight it off but is knocked unconscious. He wakes and finds Brule was wounded in the leg. Ridondo was carried off by the dragon. Kull vows to hunt it down.

“My Name Is Death!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Joe Mannelly

A woman narrates how she came into the world. She only has a father one Sigmund Graasp. During the Spanish Inquisition he takes his daughter to the governor. The governor is skeptical but has an enemy kiss the daughter. It is so effective the governor decides to take her and get rid of Graasp. He has her daughter embrace her father. It is revealed that the daughter is an iron maiden.

Well Kull is now a fugitive and has decided that the only way to take back his throne is with an army. So this brings him to the bandit valley. An interesting idea for the bandits to be under sway of some religious cult. Also we get a glimpse of Thulsa Doom and find out he has some nefarious plan that goes beyond just being king. It was announced that this title was being cancelled again after the next issue due to sales and the scarcity of paper. It is fascinating that a 5 cent raise in price was such a big deal. Prices have gone up from those golden days.

The reprint filler was a fascinating little story. I don’t know if it is the real story behind the iron maiden or just made up but a very well done story.

KA-ZAR MINUS 1

“Life Lessons & Lies”
Writers: Mark Waid & Todd Dezago and Andy Jozefowicz
Artist: John Cassaday

A teenage Ka-zar visits his friend Benaza chief of the Waidia. The friendly chief talks about how everyone in the tribe is self sufficient. He seems to hint that Ka-zar may be relying too much on the aid of another. Ka-zar interprets this to mean that he is too dependent on Zabu for help. He storms away in a huff and decides to prove Benaza wrong. He is attacked by a pack of wolves and insists on fighting them off himself. Zabu does help him at the end. He goes back to the village and finds out Benaza died. Now he knows that Benaza was talking about himself and Ka-zar learns a valuable lesson.

Meanwhile in New York Parnival Plunder is living with the butler Willis who was entrusted to watch over him. Wills complains that Parnival’s father is not paying them enough money to survive. He tries to convince Parnival that this father loves his younger brother more than he does him. Willis is secretly withholding most of the remittance that the father had arranged to be sent each month. Parnival finds this out and hires some thugs to help him steal the money and beat up Willis.

So during this time Marvel was running these flashback issues for their titles. It would explore the characters younger lives. Ka-zar got his issue and it is well done. The Ka-zar as a teen had a good story. The real gem is the backstory for Parnival. This is the first we get a glimpse of his early life. The butler Willis was a real tool and he probably did feel abandoned by his father. So we get an understanding of why he has such an animosity toward his brother. A timely story since we will be introduced to the adult Parnival as a major antagonist in the current issues of the series. Plus we get a nice little recap to the origin of Ka-zar and Stan the Man himself narrating the opening in a caveman outfit.

MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #15 STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE

“Star Trek The Motion Picture”
Writer: Marv Wolfman based on screenplay by Harold Livingston. Story by Alan Dean Foster & Gene Roddenberry.
Artists: Dave Cockrum & Klaus Janson

A mysterious alien craft appears in the Klingon sector and destroys three cruisers. It is headed toward Earth and Starfleet assigns the Enterprise to investigate. Admiral James T. Kirk manages to get command of the ship which causes some resentment from its current captain Decker who is reduced to executive officer. The ship meets up with the alien ship which is called V’ger. It is from an alien civilization of sentient machines. V’ger is going to Earth to meet up with its creator. It views carbon based life as some sort of infestation and plans to destroy it. Now Kirk and the crew must stop V’ger.

“Star Trek the Phenomenon”
By Tom Rogers

An article of the popularity of the series. An interesting fact is that the series was to be cancelled after the second but a massive write in campaign forced the network to renew for a third season to stop having to deal with all the mail. Of course the executives put it at a time that guaranteed its failure. Luckily syndication kept the series alive. Interesting to read this article since it was before all the spin-off series and movies.

“Touching Base with Reality An Interview with Jesco Von Puttkamer”

Puttkamer was the science adviser to the movie and a scientist from NASA. He talks about the future of NASA and its new shuttle program. Sad because of the tragic fate of two of the four shuttles. Also sad that America has no active space program these days.

“Star Trek The Motion Picture Glossary”
By Tom Rogers

A glossary of the people and terms from the new movie. A useful glossary.

So this adaptation was a good faithful adaptation to the movie. Now I haven’t seen this movie since it first came out 38 years ago. I remember I was impressed with the visuals but the story seemed lacking. It was basically recycling a mediocre episode from the old series. Of course its main appeal was the nostalgia for this series which I loved and still do. Reading this I have a new appreciation for the movie and will have to seek it out and watch again. After all while the movie itself was so-so it did set the stage for The Wrath of Khan which is probably one of the finest movies of all time. Not to mention all the spin-offs and other cool movies.

KULL THE DESTROYER #13

“Torches from Hell!”
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Mike Ploog

A mysterious figure approaches the sleeping figure of Kull with a knife. This would be assassin is surprised that Kull is awake and ready for him. The assassin turns out to be Ridondo the mad minstrel. One of the plotters that overthrew Kull. Ridondo is not there to kill Kull but to join him. After he recovered from his wounds he tells how he was able to see that Ardyon is really Thulsa Doom. Ardyon is becoming a cruel tyrant who is demanding more and more tribute from the kingdom.

Kull and Brule go back to the palace and use a secret entrance to the throne room. Kull feels he can kill Thulsa Doom and attacks but Doom conjures up a flaming spirit to defend him. Brule manages to douse it with perfume from the large pile of tribute and burn out the spirit. Unfortunately the Black Legion arrives and attacks. Kull and Brule are forced to flee the city.

“He Fled in the Night”
Writer & Artist: Unknown

A man in 1717 York, England dreams of adventure. He is stuck in his boring clerk job. One day his daydreams get out of hand and he starts to act them out at work. The laughter of his coworkers drive him to quit. He breaks off his engagement with his fiancee and signs on as a sailor for a ship heading to the Pacific Ocean. He has plans to carve out an empire and obtain riches. At the end he is revealed to be Robinson Crusoe.

So Ridondo is now being set up as an ally of Kull. Strange thing to do since he was set up as a kind of mad villain so far. This issue also showed Kull that he couldn’t gain back the throne by his usual direct approach and must now come up with a new strategy.

The reprint story added for filler was ok. The only big surprise was the reveal that the man was Robinson Crusoe. Otherwise was nothing special.

KA-ZAR #3

“Exposed”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Andy Kubert

Ka-zar and Shanna have left the warmth of the Savage Land to trek out into the Antarctic wastes. They are tracking Gregor and their son Matthew. In addition to the cold they have to fight leopard seals. They find what looks like their son’s skeleton but it was a penguin’s wrapped in their son’s blanket. They finally find their son and Ka-zar fights Gregor. He manages to subdue him and drag him back home. There they find out from Gregory that Parnival Plunder is still alive and was the one who wants Ka-zar dead. Ka-zar and Shanna decide to go to New York to confront him.

So that cyborg guy is Ka-zar’s brother Parnival. Last time he showed up he was frozen into the Antarctic ice so I wonder how he got out and made all that money. There is also some tension between Ka-zar and Shanna. Shanna blames Ka-zar for Matthew getting kidnapped because he brought technology into the Savage Land that Gregor used. A bit unreasonable but Shanna is sure a Luddite in this series. Sets up the series for an adventure in New York.

KA-ZAR GUNS OF THE SAVAGE LAND

“Guns of the Savage Land”
Writers: Chuck Dixon and Timothy Truman
Artist: Gary Kwapisz

A nearly naked man is found wandering out of the Nevada desert. He speaks a language nobody recognizes and has serious radiation poisoning. Dr. Wyatt Wingfoot an anthropologist is called and finds out the man speaks an ancient Paiute language. He theorizes that he came from the world under the Earth that the Paiute legend says the tribe originated from.

So he goes to recruit Ka-zar and his wife Shanna. They are living in England because the Savage Land tribes united and rejected Ka-zar’s rule. Now Ka-zar is estranged from Shanna and slowly going insane from living in civilization. This trip piques his interest and with Shanna they head out to discover this new land. Borrowing the Fantasticar from the Fantastic Four they find a world under the surface filled with dinosaurs. They find the lost tribe but there has already been contact with civilization.

An oil company has set up a base to drill for oil. Lead by an ex-Legionnaire named Lestrade he runs a brutal operation. Some of the mercenaries attack the tribe and Ka-zar with his friends manage to defeat them. Ka-zar decides to arm and teach the tribe to use the guns. They attack the base and destroy it. Shanna leaves Ka-zar and Zabu because of Ka-zar’s erratic behavior.

The only graphic novel of Ka-zar ever done. It was between the third and fourth series. There were a number of differences with the characters that go against what was established in the various series. Shanna seems to want to live in civilization while Ka-zar has a real hatred for it. It seems to be the other way around in the series. Also they have their son named Kyle instead of Mathew. It was never really explains what this world under the Earth was. It seems like some sort of Pellucidar type world. Ka-zar also seems to be a bit unstable with a power mad desire to rule and bloodlust to kill the outsiders. I suppose it could be the effects of his insanity.

Still what is good is the overall story. Truman and Dixon are experts in writing good quality action stories. Kwapisz was some beautiful art. So we get an interesting adventure story. Lots of action and machine guns mounded on dinosaurs attacking the evil oil company. Not sure where this fits into the Ka-zar continuity or even if its supposed to. It seems like a sort of alternate world adventure. Definitely worth the look for the story and artwork.

KULL THE DESTROYER #12

“Moon of Blood!”
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Mike Ploog

Ardyon is now in complete control of Valusia. He is going to have Kull beheaded in front of the public. Narda his former concubine goes to her old tribe and ask Kargan the chief for help. He give her an enchanted necklace that will save him. So she manages to visit Kull and give him the necklace. Next day as he is about to be executed Brule comes back and tries to save Kull. The numbers are too great and when the ax-man strikes his ax turns into a giant snake that kills him. Kull frees himself and together with Brule and Narda flee to Kargan’s tribe.

Kargan is somewhat of a tyrant and he plans to execute an innocent Pict. Brule tries to intervene and is also taken prisoner. Kull seems to not care. This is because the necklace also saps his will making him a slave to Kargan. Kull rebels against this and manages to tear off the necklace. He fights Kargan and cuts off his hand and banishes him. The people are happy and want to make Kull their chief but he is determined to regain his throne.

“The Stoneman”
Writer & Artist: Unknown.

The small village of Oakfest was suffering attacks by barbarians. A hero named Dralla saved the village and in return the people build a stone statue of him. Years later the village is suffering famine. An old man pleads for Dralla to save them. While the old man has a fever the village discovers gold all over the place. The old man recovers but finds out that nobody will help him. He was too sick to gather the gold. Dralla comes to life and is not happy with the village’s treatment of the old man. He makes the gold disappear and takes to old man away leaving the village to suffer famine.

So this series has a new writer and artist and I think both did an excellent job. Clearly the story has a whole new direction. We get a clear understanding that Thulsa Doom has full control of the army and government. Kull does have some friends but is essentially alone in his quest to retake the throne. This sets up a great start to an epic quest for Kull to regain his throne. Now he will have to rely on himself as he has various adventures in his search to overthrow Thulsa Doom.

The second story was a filler and an old reprint from the fifties. A morality play that was a bit goofy but I found it interesting and the moral was a good one. Not sure where Dralla fits in God’s scheme with the universe but happy the old man got rewarded for this selflessness.