What’s that sound? It’s a blood-curdling battle cry torn from my throat as I leap into my summer vacation, broadsword and axe in my fists, reaving my way through a sea of enemies, calling upon my Tiger Totem and the mystical ferocity of my Atlantean forebears.

Well, most of that applies to Robert E. Howard’s KULL, not me…but I AM on summer vacation starting tomorrow, so I am metaphorically screaming with blood-curdling glee.

Today I picked up a couple of trade paperbacks that are worth shouting about: Dark Horse’s THE CHRONICLES OF KULL Volumes 1 and 2. These books collect the splendid Marvel Comics KULL series from the 1970s, beginning with KULL’s first comics appearance in CREATURES ON THE LOOSE #10 (1970), “The Skull of Silence,” by Roy Thomas and the great Berni Wrightson. That story was so well-received it led to the launch of KULL THE CONQUEROR (which ran for 10 issues then was re-titled KULL THE DESTROYER, running for 19 more issues).

Dark Horse has done a tremendous job with their CHRONICLES OF CONAN trades, and KULL receives the same loving treatment here. The color is restored and the original covers are included (which were the only things lacking from the CONAN reprints). Stellar talents on these books include the amazing team of Marie and John Severin, Ross Andru, Wally Wood (Vol. 1) and Mike Ploog, Sal Buscema, Ernie Chan, Alfredo Alcala, and a host of others (Vol. 2.) The Mike Ploog run is legendary–as are all his Marvel runs (MAN-THING, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, PLANET OF THE APES, GHOST RIDER, etc.). However, the Severins were the team that really established this series as a jewel in Marvel’s crown during the Bronze Age of Comics. They were the only team that could rival Barry Windsor-Smith’s run on CONAN (which was one of Marvel’s top-selling books at the time).

These collections are a particular joy to me for a few reasons:

KULL THE DESTROYER #12 holds a special place in my heart. I've had a crumpled copy of this classic Mike Ploog issue since I was a wee lad. Now that the classic KULL comics are collected, the legendary Ploog and Severins runs are preserved for posterity.

1) Since boyhood I’ve had a single Mike Ploog issue of KULL THE CONQUERER and always wanted to see more of them. The original issues are extremely rare and pricey. Same goes for the Severins’ run. Many of these issues have NEVER been reprinted and it’s about time these forgotten treasures of the Bronze Age were given their due.

2) Dark Horse relaunched a new KULL comic not long ago and did a terrific job. I hope to see more from them. The new series was written by Arvid Nelson with lush art by Will Conrad and Jose Villarrubia.

3) As great as Howard’s original CONAN tales are, I prefer his KULL stories.

Howard scholars will tell you how Kull preceded Conan in Howard’s imagination and output. His writing of these tales reeks of his Shakespearean influence. The KULL tales are more lyrical and poetic than the Conan tales…more steeped in the mists of primeval mystery.

KULL: EXILE OF ATLANTIS collects all of Robert E. Howard's lyrical, evocative, and savagely brilliant Kull tales. Howard at his very best.

The Conan tales are straight-forward adventure tales with moments of brilliant poetic imagery, but the Kull stories are far more idiosyncratic in theme. In addition to serpent-men and other monstrous threates, Kull battles his own depression, a barbarian king weary of a throne and its many responsibilities. He is the iconic Noble Savage who has conquered civilization, but ironically has been conquered by it as well. There’s a terrific collection of all Howard’s KULL yarns called KULL: EXILE OF ATLANTIS. I highly recommend it for those who want to go straight to the source.

The KULL comics that Dark Horse has collected in these “chronicles” are classic examples of 1970s comic book brilliance. I can’t wait to tear into them. There is a Volume 3 coming in September, but those later issues have never been that hard to find.

The first two years of KULL THE CONQUEROR are finally available in lovingly restored editions, and any fan of Bronze Age comics and/or Howard’s Kull tales should be leaping for joy.

Long Live the King!

Peace,

John

Page 1 of KULL THE CONQUEROR #1 (1971)

Page 2 of KULL THE CONQUEROR #1 (1971)

Page 3 of KULL THE CONQUEROR #1 (1971)