KULL AND THE BARBARIANS #3

“The Omen in the Skull”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Vicente Alcazar

Kull and Ridondo are heading toward Atlantis where Kull hopes to raise an army. He draws his sword and it bursts into flames leaving runes on the blade. Kull stops at an island inhabited by the witch Kareesha. He gets a vision of a future when Atlantians invade the Thurian mainland. They are lead by a member of the Sea-Mountain tribe. So Kull thinks it is his destiny and continues on. Arriving in Atlantis Kull has a vision of a huge skull. Then his friends appear and turn into skeletons. He saves a girl from a battling tiger and snake. The snake wins but Kull kill the snake. The woman says it represents the battle between him and Thulsa Doom. This is all an illusion and the two continue on and find a city has been build in the ten years that Kull has been absent from his tribe.

“An Informal History of Solomon Kane”
By Fred Blosser

A biography of the fiction character. An English Puritan who has a wanderlust that takes him throughout Europe and Africa where he battles supernatural creatures and evil men.

“The Day of the Sword”
Writer: Roy Thomas & Doug Moench
Artist: Howard Chaykin

Red Sonja comes on a group of robbers torturing one of their victims. Sonja confronts them and naturally because she is a woman they don’t take her seriously. That is until she cuts the hand off of one. Then she kills the others and finds out their victim is know to Sonja. A flashback to when Sonja was a young girl living with her family in Hyrkania. Her father a wounded former mercenary. One day a group of mercenaries come lead by a former comrade. This man kills Sonja’s family and rapes her. As she escapes the burning house an image of a goddess comes and promises to give Sonja skills. She must never love a man unless he has defeated her in a fair fight. A straggler from the mercenaries finds her and she uses her new skills to defeat him. In the present she rides away after realizing that the nameless mercenary’s mind is gone from the torture.

“Into the Silent City”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Alan Weiss and Pablo Marcos

Solomon has agreed to help destroy the vampires infesting this African land. First he sleeps with the ju-ju staff and communicates with N’Longa. He informs Kane that he should have the girl bring her lover back and grasp the staff. She does this and N’Longa takes over the body. They then go to a ruined city and are attacked by the hordes of vampires. Kane fights them until N’Longa can finish his spell. Flocks of vultures come and eat the vampires. Another spell sets the city on fire destroying all the vampires left.

The final issue in the short lived series. Apparently distribution problems plagued this series and it was cancelled. As this issue came out they still must of had confidence that it would continue. An advertisement for the next issue was at the end and the subscription pages still offered it. Too bad because I really enjoyed this concept. A great place for the three other characters of Howard to be showcases. Still Kull would eventually get his series reinstated and Red Sonja and Solomon Kane would have their own limited series. All three would also have appearances in the Savage Sword of Conan.

So the Kull story was okay. A little weird with all the weird visions. It did hint at Kull being the leader of an Atlantean invasion. The end also had a mystery in that a city is now on Atlantis where there was none. Will be continued in Conan which will be explored sometime in the future.

The Red Sonja story was an origin story so that was important. A very intriguing story that would set the motivation for this character decades in the future including the present.

Finally the Solomon Kane story was also just okay. He seemed to be more of a spectator than one who actually did anything. The Fred Blosser biography was very interesting and helpful in tracking the chronology of his adventures.

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KULL AND THE BARBARIANS #2

“Of Swords, Sorcery- and Science”
By Roy Thomas

A short article on the history of Kull and the other characters that appear in this issue. Also includes a map of the Thurian continent.

“Teeth of the Dragon”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Jess Jodloman

Kull, Brule and Ridondo are attacked by members of the Black Legion. A wounded survivor tells how Ardyon threatened the Legion’s families to get them to cooperate. Kull and companions then meet up with Ka-nu who arranges passage to the Pict islands where Kull hopes to recruit an army. Along the way they fight a sea serpent. They eventually reach the island that is home to Brule’s tribe. On arrival they are attacked by the tribe and taken prisoner. A shaman named Teyanoga has taken over the tribe. He starts a ritual that merges a man with a snake to create a snake-man. He then decapitates this creature.(No reason given why?) While doing that Kull gets free and frees his companions. They not only fight the warriors but Kull must fight the headless snake-man. Ridondo manages to push Teyanoga into the fire. This just makes the shaman mad and the three are forced to flee. At the end Brule stays behind to free his people while Kull and Ridondo continue on to find help in retaking the throne of Valusia.

“The Hills of the Dead”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Alan Weiss and Neal Adams

Solomon Kane is in Africa. He gets a juju staff from a shaman he saved which Kane reluctantly accepts. As he wanders he saves a fleeing girl from a lion. The two set up camp in a cave for the night. Two zombies attack. The juju staff kills one and turns it to dust. The other can’t be killed by bullets and eventually snapping its neck does the trick.

“The Swordwoman and the Scribe Or, Red Sonja Revealed- and Why Not?”
By Roy Thomas

A short article on Roy Thomas time at Comic Con in ’74 and his judging of a costume contest. The winner is Dawn Greil in her Red Sonja costume. Includes a picture of winner with Roy.

“Red Sonja She-Devil with a Sword”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artist: Howard Chaykin

Red Sonja is traveling through the Nemedian forest known as Darkwoods. She comes on a family and asks about a castle. This freaks the family out and they flee when a mysterious man arrives. The man Ghunthar gives Sonja a casket with instruction to give to the lady of the castle. Later Sonja meets a masked man who is curious about the casket. Sonja threatens him and he goes away. Later she arrives at the castle and finds to woman dead. The masked man comes and is revealed to be a werewolf. He opens the casket and is covered in silver dust. This weakens him enough for Sonja to kill. At the end a servant tells how the son was turned into a werewolf and wanted to be destroyed which is why he gave Sonja the casket.

“Blackmark Versus the Mind Demons”
Writer and artist: Gil Kane

The first part of the story was reprinted in Marvel Preview 17.

The second issue is for the most part new material. It continues the story from the recently cancelled Kull color comic. A great idea to continue this story. Kull is still searching for a way to regain his throne. The adventure on the Pictish island was weird and filled with action. Kull loses his friend Brule as he must stay behind to free his people. Obviously another setup for a future adventure. Also Ridondo shows that he is a loyal companion in this story and quite brave. A major rehabilitation from what this character was originally.

The Soloman Kane story is also another excellent adaptation of a Howard story. His adventures in Africa are my favorite and this one with the zombies is creepy and enjoyable. Also hints at a continuation with next issue having Kane explore the origins of these zombies.

The Red Sonja story was ok. It just seems that Sonja was more a spectator in the story than a participant. Somehow it just didn’t click with me.

And the Blackmark was continuing adapting Gil Kane’s second book in the series from the Savage Sword of Conan. It would of course later appear in a Marvel Preview in its entirety. A good choice for this series since in spite of its futuristic sci-fi it has a feel of a Howard story. The second issue shows great potential for what this series could have been.

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.