Thursday, February 21, 2008
Discount Bin Finds -- Kull The Conqueror #3
Kull The Conqueror #3
Thought I'd start dipping into the large pile of non-superhero comics I have picked up in the last month with this little beauty from '72. I don't know how long it had been sitting in that Discount Bin at Borderlands, but it's in pretty decent shape considering.
Our story opens, as is appropriate for Kull, at the court of Valusia, with the barbarian King engaged in a sparring match with his close friend Brule, the Pict. After Kull wins the fight, he returns to his throne to think about his recent adventure, where he obtained a powerful gem, the Eye of stone Serpent Idol, which grants it's holder invulnerability, and how the other Eye was missing. His revelrie is disturbed by the arrival of a guest at his court, Thulsa Doom.
That night, Kull's consort Shiva, seduces and then murders the sentry outside the King's bedchamber, then sneaks in to steal the Eye. When Kull discovers this, she transforms into a harpie and tries to escape! But Kull is too crafty for her, and grabs ahold of her, grabbing the gem and escaping in time to find Doom, his true skeletal face revealed! Recovering his wits, Kull sets out to give the Eye to his trusted friend, the King of the Picts, Ka-Nu. But he is assaulted by Thulsa's illusions again and again, until finally Kull hands the Eye over to the sorcerer, who has taken the form of Ka-Nu! Thulsa, possessing both Eyes, is now powerful beyond all belief. Needless to say, our hero wakes up the next morning, chained in his own court, and Thulsa Doom plans to achieve ultimate power by combining the two Eyes. But has ole Skull-head bitten off more than he can chew? And can Kull save Valusia from the wrath of the ancient sorcerer?
The script is Roy Thomas all the way, filled with his usual Hyborean Age flourishes. It still reads well enough, but it's a little over the top taken in the modern context. I can't hold it at too much fault, though, since I am a big proponent of a genre having a distinctive voice, and that certainly is the case here. Speaking of distinctive, the artwork by Marie and John Severin looks like something of a mix between Barry Windsor-Smith and Joe Kubert, and it looks absolutely fantastic. I mean, the sinewy, muscled look of Kull is masculine without being outrageous, and the bizarre illusions cast by Thulsa Doom -- heck, even Doom himself -- are of the best type of fantasy illustration for the medium.
Thomas does a good job of differentiating Kull from the more well-known and popular Conan, making sure to include scenes of the barbarian king brooding over his fate and his station. There's plenty of action to go along with the thoughtful stuff, and the story has a definite beginning, middle, and end -- always a plus. These sword-and-sorcery comics are not for everyone, but if you enjoy a good hack-n'-slash adventure from time to time, you should take a break from Conan and check out a Kull now and again.
(Thanks to the awesome Appendix to the Marvel Universe for the picture of Thulsa Doom!)