Friday, November 8, 2019

The Chronicles of Kull volume 2

The Chronicles of Kull
Volume 2
The Hell Beneath Atlantis and Other Stories
By Roy Thomas et al.
Dark Horse Books, April 2010

This Dark Horse trade paperback (206 pp) was published in April 2010. It compiles the Marvel comic series Kull the Conqueror No. 10 (September 1973) and (following a change to the title as a marketing move) Kull the Destroyer Nos. 11 - 20 (November 1973 - April 1977).

[All of the Marvel color comics featuring Kull from the 1970s and 1980s have been compiled into a five-volume set from Dark Horse, titled The Chronicles of Kull. ]

[It should be noted that the black-and-white Kull comics that served as the backup features in issues of The Savage Sword of Conan magazine were packaged by Dark Horse into two trade paperback compilations, The Savage Sword of Kull Volume 1 (2009) and The Savage Sword of Kull Volume 2 (2011).]

Marvel never pretended that its Kull comics were top-tier, trading on the 'from the Creator of Conan !' association to drive consumer interest. 

Marvel chose to assign a revolving door of writers and artists to each issue on an ad-hoc basis. Of course, during the 70s the company's entire output had a frenetic quality, and perhaps because they received reduced editorial oversight, the Kull comics weren't as bad as they could have been. Or, maybe they were as bad as they could have been..........?!

With only 15 pages devoted to the Kull story in each issue, and most issues considered to be standalone storylines, the plots were inevitably overwritten and the panels overwhelmed by speech balloons and narrative boxes.

Gauging by the quality of the reproductions in this Dark Horse volume, scans of printed comics were used rather than the original artwork. This is unfortunate, as the color separations are awful, and the artwork (by veterans such as Alfredo Alcala and Mike Ploog) suffers as a result.

Of the 11 stories in this volume only one, 'By This Axe I Rule', from issue 11 of Kull the Destroyer, is based on an actual Kull tale by Robert E. Howard. The remaining stories all are in-house creations written by Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Doug Moench, and Gerry Conway.

While these stories vary in quality, it's perhaps only fair to acknowledge that all of these writers had other assignments at the time they were tasked with writing for 'Kull'. 

The verdict ? The relatively low asking prices for these Dark Horse compilations signal that they are not much sought-after, so if you are a dedicated Robert E. Howard or Kull fan, then getting a copy of any of the volumes shouldn't be that difficult. 

Given that the Kull the Conqueror comics of the early 80s featured art by such talents as John Bolton and John Buscema, I would say that volume 4 and 5 of these Dark Horse compilations are the more desirable entries.

No comments: