KULL THE CONQUEROR #2

“The Blood of Kings!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Bolton

Kull wanders through his city in disguise. He is disgusted at how decadent the people have become. After a robbery attempt he goes back to his palace. Tu suggests that Valusia needs fresh blood and suggests a marriage with the Atlantean chief’s daughter. Kull is not interested but Tu goes ahead and invites the daughter. Sareena arrives and Kull is instantly smitten. Sareena is not only beautiful but compassionate and intelligent. So Kull is engaged to be married. Only there is opposition to this marriage.

At the wedding an Atlantean stabs Sareena. Kull then breaks the assassins neck. This causes the Atlanteans to go to war. The Picts are also going to attack since they saw the wedding as a threat to their alliance. The invading Atlantean and Picts attack but Kull is nowhere to be found. He is in a depression over the loss. Only with Brule’s urging does he rouse himself and lead his troops. He hears a wolf cry and goes to investigate. He finds the assassin was actually a wolf-man. He kills him with his silver sword and then leads the army to where the Picts and Atlanteans meet. He confronts the two leaders and convinces them that the wolf-men are responsible. The three monarchs go through the catacombs and find wolf-men in the throne room. Their leader was masquerading as Tu and the three leaders slaughter the wolf-men. Sareena is then brought out as a wolf-woman and Kull is forced to kill her. Then the big final battle with the wolf-man leader. At the end the three leaders agree to live in peace and fight their common enemy.

I have to say that this is the finest Kull comic I have ever read. Beautiful art and an excellent story. Kull is at his finest. A truly tragic figure who loses the love of his life. Epic battles and a formidable foe in the wolf-men. I really feel for Kull and his loss. The decadence of Valusia and its description is so close to the real world that we live in now. This was a two issue run to test the waters for a return of Kull. It succeeded and next year the series would return once again.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #1

“The Power and the Kingdom”
Writer: Alan Zelenetz
Artist: John Buscema

An earthquake devastates the City of Wonders. Kull decides to rebuild the city with a massive public works project as a legacy to his kingship. So on the first day the workers uncover the door to a tomb. They are superstitious but Kull isn’t. He sees the door is decorated with images of snake-men and busts it open. Nothing inside but musty old tombs. Later that night at a celebration two men go insane. Later there is an epidemic of people going mad. A fugitive poet is granted asylum from the emperor of Zarfhaana which is bound to cause war.

Scholars determine that the tomb was of the first true men. Those that defeated the demons of old. Only in doing so they were driven insane. Now their spirits are free. One of his Red Slayers has a wife that is a witch. Kull consults her but she tries to take Kull’s spirit totem powers and she is kicked out. The wife tells her husband that Kull tried to rape her and he convinces other Red Slayers to turn on Kull.

So the Zarfhaanan army invades. The witch wife turns the Zarfhaanan soldiers into antlered beasts. The husband starts his revolt. Kull is attacked from both within and without. Luckily his councilor Tu has found his own sorcerer. This sorcerer turns the witch into a mouse and her magic is broken. Kull captures the emperor and wins the war. At the end with the sorcerer’s help he goes into the opened tomb and fights the spirits and drives them back into their bodies. The tomb is sealed and his public work project is put on hold.

You can’t keep a good barbarian king down. Kull is back and reverted back to conqueror. Once again he is the tragic brooding figure beset by all sorts of enemies plotting against him. Probably a good thing the evil spirits happened. Kull sounded like he was going on a spending spree and would have bankrupted the kingdom. A beautiful first issue with no ads,bright colors and art by Buscema who knows how to do Howard characters. A great start for the rebirth of this character.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #10

“Swords of the White Queen!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Marie Severin & Frank Chiaramonte

Kull is leading an army to lift the seige of the city of Kamula by Queen Veria of Zarfhaana. There is a plot by Baron Kaanub to depose Kull. He has been secretly in liege with Veria. He has been using the drugs she has supplied to drug Kull. So when he goes into battle he has hallucinations. This makes it easy for the Zarfhaanans to capture him. Veria has been lied to by Kaanub that Kull killed her lover Zarkus from back in issue 5. She plans to have Kull killed with a battle with a large ape. Kull snaps its back. So Veria decides to finish off Kull herself. But Kull is still too powerful and captures her. Just then Brule and his army comes to the rescue. Kull lets Veria go and returns to the grateful city of Kamula. Of course Baron Kaanub makes sure that his henchmen die so they can’t reveal his part in the plot.

The tenth issue of the series and it is going strong. After several Howard adapted stories we get an original one and Conway shows he can write. He brings Kull a formidable foe in Queen Veria. A beautiful warrior queen. Baron Kaanub is still actively plotting against Kull. Kull is shown to be one bad ass barbarian. Even drugged he snaps an apes back and knocks Veria off her war stallion. This is what Howard had in mind with this character. A barbarian who is strong and direct. Yet noble and whose greatest enemy is not an armed opponent but the plotting of the decadent nobles. It leaves open more trouble with the conspiracy and I do get the feeling that we haven’t seen the last of Veria.

So next issue we get a whole new writing and artistic team. A new direction and a new name.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #9

“The Scorpion God!”
Writer: Gerry Conway based on “Swords of the Purple Kingdom” by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Marie & John Severin

Kull is treacherously lured to the Accursed Gardens and ambushed. He takes a few of his opponents down but sheer numbers overwhelm him. Lord Phondar of Verulia and a mysterious man in a mask called the Scorpion are behind this. They also capture Lady Nalissa who was at the garden to meet her lover. Nalissa manages to cut Kull’s bonds so he can kill his jailer and with a sword take of the Verulians. Kull and Nalissa find themselves on top of a pyramid. Dalgar the lover of Nalissa comes and joins Kull in an epic fight. Just as it seems the two will fall, the Picts come to the rescue. Kull chases the Scorpion to the temple of the Scorpion and finds out that he is Dondal the traitorous nephew of Councilor Tu. A real scorpion bits Dondal and ends his life.

Another adaptation of Howard and this was an exciting story. It had treachery and greed. An epic battle and shows that Kull is one bad ass barbarian. Howard knows how to write a great story. At the end Kull lies to his councilor Tu and paints a picture of his nephew dying bravely and not a traitor. A real poignant moment.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #8

“Wolfshead”
Writer: Len Wein based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Marie & John Severin

Kull is coming back from a raid on the Lemurian pirates when a story blows his ship and another one off course. They land on an unknown island and set up camp. Brule is leading a patrol when they are attacked by the Cult of the Leopard. Fierce men with sharpened teeth and a fanaticism to their cult. A mysterious man saves Brule from the cult. A mercenary named Demontur is in the employ of the ruler of this island.

So he takes Kull to Dom Vinsala who greets Kull with hospitality. He offers to treat Brule and fix their ships. Kull soon finds that the Dom is a tyrant and his people are turning to the cult. Demontur is later found out to be a werewolf. The people revolt against the Dom’s cruelty and siege the castle. Demontur turns into a werewolf and kills the Dom freeing the people of the island and allowing Kull to sail on to Valusia.

Another great story that was adopted from a Howard story. I love the atmosphere of this mysterious island that has a cruel tyrant, a vicious leopard cult and a werewolf. Howard was one of the best and his brilliance shows in this story. Demontur is a tragic figure that you sympathize with that manages to die a hero. Dom Vinsala is a crazy madman and Kull is the stoic barbarian king that is establishing himself as more than just another Conan.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #7

“Delcardes’ Cat”
Writer: Gerry Conway based on story by Robert E. Howard
Artists: Marie & John Severin

Kull comes on a fight at the front gate of the palace. An unruly man named Kulra Thorr from Zarfhanna was attempting to see the lady Delcardes. He has fallen in love with her but Delcardes is of royal blood and no noblewoman may marry a common foreigner. Kull decides not the put Kulra to death and instead banish him from the kingdom. Later an assassination attempt is foiled by a warning from Delcardes. In thanking her Kull learns that she has a talking cat named Saremes. Saremes can predict the future and Kull takes in the cat. Later the cat says that his friend Brule was dragged into the Forbidden Lake and only the king can enter this lake.

Well Kull is off to the lake and jumps in to rescue his friend. He has to fight a giant octopus, giant swimming spider and a gill-man that can disguise itself as a beautiful woman. A giant snake grabs hold and dumps Kull in the land under the lake. Here he finds a sword in a tree and pulls it out. Then he goes to the city and confronts the inhabitants who are walking dead. Because Kull has the sword they believe him a noble man and convince Kull that they do not have Brule.

So Kull goes back to the palace and confronts Saremes. He finds out that it is Saremes servant who was the real voice. This servant is none other than Thulsa Doom. Doom has his laugh then leaves. Delcardes apologizes for being in on the plan because she wants to marry her peasant. Kull decides to waive tradition and allow the marriage. Kull ends up with a pet cat that doesn’t talk.

So this was an adaptation from the master himself and it is one wild ride. Kull is just bombarded with one threat after another and just keeps on going. This was a really cool story that could be ridiculous if anybody but Howard wrote it. It flowed fast paced and you could really believe that the cat could talk. The story also introduces that Thulsa Doom is still lurking about and wanting to cause trouble. He makes a real good villain for this strip. A very enjoyable issue.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #6

“The Lurker Beneath the Earth!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Marie & John Severin

At a gladiatorial game the Count Ducalon the dwarf is knocked into the arena with a giant bear. Kull jumps in to save him. Another man also jumps in and saves Kull from the bear. Zarkus is a wanderer who was delivering scrolls to the royal librarian. The librarian believes he has found the lost city of Qar. It is underneath the City of Wonders. Tu the royal councilor tells how an evil mage used the underground to poison the city’s wells. Kull decides there is no reward to finding the city and refuses to mount an expedition.

The librarian uses a flute to call a giant worm to life. Its presence once again poisons the city’s wells and forces Kull to mount an expedition. So Kull, Brule and the Red Slayers journey into the sewers along with the librarian and Zarkus. They find the city and the giant worm. The worm is killed and set afire. The librarian is killed by Zarkus when he finds the librarian playing the flute. Zarkus is killed by the flowers that destroyed the civilization and Kull wonders what happened to the city and Zarkus.

Another interesting entry in the Kull saga. I loved that they traveled under the city to this old ancient city. They find and kill a giant worm thing. A very fascinating and atmospheric story. Zarkus seemed to be a character with possibilities. The writer though decided to kill him off this issue. The city has the possibilities for unexplored mysteries and adventure so maybe it will be back.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #5

“A Kingdom By the Sea!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Marie and John Severin

A delegation of mysterious dark skinned men arrive at the court of Kull. They bring riches as a gift and have more to offer. They are from the island Demascar and at war with the neighboring island of Rikos. Demascar needs the aid of Kull and his Black Legion. Naturally everyone wants the riches and Kull is moved by their plight so agrees to help. So the next day Kull and his army set sail for Demascar.

When they arrive the island is attacked by flying dragons. This angers Kull for the Demascarians neglected to mention that Rikos was using dark sorcery. Still he agrees to continue on if only for revenge against the Rikovians. Brule meanwhile spys on the Demascarians and finds out their true plans but is discovered and captured. Later Kull is told that his friend was captured by Rikos and the army sets sail. Storm clouds form and an army of the dead sails toward them. They have been tricked because Demascar has called the army. They need sacrifices for their magic to work. Kull and his men are the sacrifices.

Brule manages to escape and throw the sorcerer in a flaming pit. This unleashes the demons on both islands. Kull and his army manage to sail away with loot and the rescued children of Demascar before both islands sink into the sea.

This was an interesting issue. Kull is persuaded to help some people that seem good. You get to see Kull’s disgust with the decadent Valusians he rules as they are eager to sacrifice others for the promised riches. Baron Kaanuub is still plotting against Kull and ends with an exciting battle. Good to see Kull leave Valusia now and then for adventures. Gerry Conway is showing he understands how to write Kull and of course the Severin’s art is excellent.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #4

“Night of the Red Slayers!”
Writers: Gerry Conway & John Jakes
Artists: Marie and John Severin

It is a hot summer in Valusia and the heat brings out tempers. Kull has to break up a fight by his Red Slayers that the minstrel Ridondo started. Ridondo is part of a four man conspiracy to depose Kull. The conspirators make a deal with the mysterious Melkori. The next day Melkori visits the court of Kull with his beautiful daughter. The daughter Jirane persuades Kull to take her on a cruise. So Kull leaves the city and goes off boating.

While away his Red Slayers start to murder innocent citizens and prominent opponents of Kull. The citizens start to openly rebel. Brule manages to inform Kull and he finds out that Jirane is actually an animated wax dummy. He goes to Valusia and rallies his real Red Slayers against the phony wax Red Slayers that Melkori had created. When he defeats them he throws Melkori to the Valusian mob to met out justice.

So Roy Thomas has left the writing to very capable hands. Gerry Conway using a plot by John Jakes tells an exciting story with an evil sorcerer. The conspiracy it shaping up to be a major opponent to Kull’s rule. Kull is shown that Alecto his commander of the Red Slayers and Brule the Spear-Slayer are reliable friends. The series is starting to shape up as a very viable ongoing series.

KULL THE CONQUEROR #3

“The Death-Dance of Thulsa Doom!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Marie & John Severin

Everyone in Valusia is celebrating the defeat of the snake-men. Brule is still uneasy about their guest Thulsa Doom. When a tiger that was given to Kull from Ka-nu as a gift attacks Thulsa Doom it raises further suspicions on the man. They have good reason to distrust him for he is an evil sorcerer with a skull for a head. He hypnotizes Kull’s mistress Shiva to steal the other half of the serpent eye jewel. She does and then turns into a giant bird. Kull manages to stop her but Shiva dies in the incident. Angry he goes to confront Doom and finds him in his true guise. He has the other gem and as long as both have one half the other can’t harm each other. Doom uses his magic to cause hallucinations and Kull goes to see the Pict ambassador.

When he arrives he gives him the gem. It was an illusion and Doom now has both gems. He then puts Kull in chains and transports him to the arena. Doom joins both halves together but the power is too great and wipes him out. One part of the gem falls into Kull’s hand and the other into a bottomless pit in the arena. Later Kull decides to throw his half into the pit and erect a statue over it of his chains being broke.

So Kull has returned to its own series. This is the first battle between Kull and Thulsa Doom. Obviously he is defeated but will be back for more adventures. This was a bit of a weird story. All the hallucinations and such. Kull also didn’t really defeat Doom. Doom was defeated by himself which is a bit anti-climatic. Anyway the serpent eye gem is gone so neither Kull or Doom can use it again.