KULL THE VALE OF SHADOW

“The Vale of Shadow”
Writer: Alan Zelenetz
Artist: Tony DeZuniga

Kull has been wounded in battle and lies near death. His friends Brule, Tu, Ridondo and Bora Ballin stand around as Kull mumbles in a delirious state. In fact he is visited by the spirit of death who is a beautiful naked green-skinned woman. While standing around his friends tell stories from Kull’s live. Brule tells of how as a young man of the Sea-Mountain tribe he was on a fishing expedition when a Pict Whaler attacked his boat. It was sunk and all thought killed but Kull survived. He managed to cling to a net and later kill two boats full of Picts.

Then Bora Ballin tells how as a gladiator Kull kills a bull with his bare hands. Then he has to fight a young gladiator who entered the games to impress his girlfriend. Kull spares his life but the king wants blood and orders Kull be shot down with arrows. Bora intervenes and buys Kull’s freedom for 2000 gold.

Ridondo then tells of how as a conspirator they convinced Kull that King Bora was going to abolish the Black Legion. This sends Kull to confront Bora which leads to a fight and Kull kills the king. Only instead of stepping aside he seizes the crown and declares himself king.

Tu has a story of how Kull was touring a villa with frescoes. One has lovers separated by a chasm. Kull magically enters the frescoe and chop down a tree that the woman can use to cross to her lover. The painting now shows the two lovers embracing with the fallen tree in the background.

Finally Kull manages to charm death enough to leave him alone and rejoins the world of the living.

So this is the only Kull graphic novel ever made. Unfortunately it isn’t very good. The artwork is mediocre and the colors are not very good. Zelenetz has written some brilliant stories for Kull but this is not one of them. It is dull with narrated stories that have already been done or just not that exciting. You expect more from a graphic novel and this just did not deliver.

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BIZARRE ADVENTURES #26

“Demon in a Silvered Glass”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: John Bolton

Kull is bored with the uneventful peace and prosperity of the kingdom. When he hears of reports of the dead coming back at the royal crypts he now has some chance at excitement. Kull and Brule arrive at the crypt and are confronted with the walking zombie corpse of King Borna the tyrant that Kull slew to be king. Kull manages to push a heavy stone column on the corpse crushing it. He then goes to a local wizard named Sekhmet. While there he gets bewitched by a mirror and falls under the control of Sekhmet’s beautiful daughter Jeesala.

Kull takes Jeesala as his mistress and soon starts to become a tyrant. His Red Slayers discipline starts to collapse. Kull decides to arrest the minstrel Ridondo and have him executed. The people break him out and march on the palace to overthrow Kull. His Red Slayers decide not to get involved. Brule manages at the last moment to break the mirror that has been bewitching Kull. He finds out that Jeesala is a serpent-man as is Sekhmet. They wanted to weaken the kingdom. Then their army of undead royals would take over.

Kull manages to rally his Red Slayers and the angry mob for an epic battle with the undead. Then a Kraken comes to destroy the city. Kull goes to Sekhmet and has to fight a bestial image of himself. He defeats the mirror image and breaks all of the wizard’s magic mirrors. Then kills Sekhmet and the Kraken goes away and the city is saved.

I have to say that this is probably the finest Kull story I have ever seen. Not only is the story so beautifully written but John Bolton’s artwork is awesome. He is perfect for sword and sorcery. This was a full length story and was just exciting from beginning to end. It really allows the story to develop.

MONSTERS ON THE PROWL #16

“The Forbidden Swamp”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Marie and John Severin

Kull with Brule and his Red Slayers are pushing into a swamp. They are heading for the serpent-men’s temple. When they start to cross the river the serpent-men priests call up a swamp dragon to attack Kull. But Kull and Brule prove too bad-ass and kill the dragon. The serpent-priests then try a red liquid that kills men but has no affect on Kull. So after the priests are killed Kull goes into the temple alone. He finds a man who can speak the words that no serpent-man can. The man is Thulsa Doom and claims to be from Grondar. He arrived to rescue his betrothed but was too later. Kull sets the temple on fire but doesn’t notice that Doom takes a gem from the body of his dead betrothed. Kull then goes back to the City of Wonders in triumph while Brule has reservations about their new companion.

“Where Walks The Ghost”
Writer & Artist: uncredited.

Big Monk McGak is facing 99 years in prison. He escapes and makes it to his stolen loot. His plan is to don a fake beard and buy a haunted house to hold up in. The milquetoast of a real estate agent that is showing him the house recognizes him when a bat knocks Monk’s fake beard off. When Monk tries to grab the real estate agent, he turns into a ghost. This scares Monk who runs to the police begging them to put him in prison.

“Mister Morgan’s Monster”
Writer & Artist: uncredited.

A scientist in 2090 named Philip Morgan creates the perfect robot. It can do all the menial jobs but is kind of a big ugly looking thing. This disturbs people and they feel the robots are dangerous and could turn on people. So Morgan is ordered to destroy all his robots which he does by ordering them to walk off a cliff. But he keeps one in his basement with strict orders never to leave.

Unknown to him aliens are watching. They come to steal the robot so they can build thousands and conquer the Earth. Using hypno-gas they knock out all the people in the city and go to the basement. The robot refuses to disobey his orders and is forcefully dragged from the basement. It takes so long the people are starting to wake up. The aliens destroy themselves and their ship to avoid detection. Morgan finds the robot out and figures it disobeyed orders and was a danger after all. The end shows the robot shedding a tear.

So there was a gap of a year between the second and third issue of Kull. The powers that be decided to put a story in their monster anthology book. So we get this excellent issue of Kull and Brule going into this dark swamp to confront the serpent-men in their temple. The notable thing that occurred is the introduction of Thulsa Doom. Doom will be Kull’s most deadly adversary. Now the reader gets a premonition of evil from him but he is an unknown at this early stage. Luckily Kull was continued and we will get many more future issues of the Barbarian King’s adventures.

The two other stories were some old reprints from the fifties. They were kind of hokey but they were also fun. A ghost scares a big bad criminal into a sobbing baby. The second one was just kind of funny. What kind of aliens need a human made robot to conquer the Earth. You would think such an advanced species could build their own robot. They are also bumbling in the inept way they carry out the abduction and their suicide to cover their identity from the Earthmen. A rare story where the robots aren’t evil but actually good loyal servants. You kind of feel sorry for the big ugly robot.