Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Kull: The Hate Witch #2

GOOD THING: There have been Kull stories in the past which did little to differentiate him from Howard's other famous barbaric king, Conan. There is no such danger in this tale, where Kull is immediately set apart from the relatively more chivalric Conan as someone who will not come to the aid of a damsel in distress.

BAD THING: Part of the issue is devoted to some random flashbacks of Kull's past that seem to have little relevance to the current story, until we see something of Kull's boyhood encounter with the titular Hate Witch. It's not bad at all but it is still a distraction from the suspense of Kull's entering the wilds of his childhood.

The Final Verdict: Another great issue for a promising mini-series, despite some distracting flashbacks.


  1. Kull is an interesting character, in that he's pretty much exclusively homosocial. He doesn't get all the tail that Conan does- and he's not even tempted, as, say, Solomon Kane is. Which in turn makes for an interesting queer reading, as a lot of the Kull stories are centered around "a woman from such and such tribe has eloped with a dude from such and such clan, and THEY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO TAINT THE BLOODLINE" or something. It's odd.
    Really, one could make an argument of Kull representing a homosocial pre-adolescent, Conan being the lusty teenager, and Solomon Kane being a kind of father figure, if one were to do a study on Howard's work. This, of course, being based on a random idea I had after I picked up a copy of the Kull omnibus for cheap.
    I dunno how Bran Mak Born or El Borak fit in, though.

  2. It is an interesting idea, though I think Kull is more asexual than anything. He was raised by animals, after all, and didn't begin interacting with humans until he was about 9-10, IIRC, and was cast out of his tribe in his mid/late teens. I'm not sure he really qualifies as homosocial so much as anti-social, given how much of his life was devoted toward killing and stealing for the hell of it. He was an outlaw and pirate for far longer than Conan, I think.
    Personally, I think the fact that the Kull stories are lacking in female presence is mostly because all of the sexual content that filled much of Howard's later work (including/especially the Conan stories) was added in mostly out of commercial consideration. Howard was canny enough to realize that he had a better chance of being the cover story of Weird Tales that month (and, consequentially, getting more attention and eventually more money) if he had a good scene for the pin-up minded artists to work with. Something with a blonde warrior-woman being chained naked to an altar or a nude dancing girl whirling between a group of poisonous snakes, perhaps...
    It's not the craziest analysis of Howard's work I've seen, by a long shot, so if you ever do write such a study, let me know. I'll be happy to promote it.
    Fun fact - the radio station KULL is based out of Abilene, Texas... not too far from Cross Plains, Texas where Howard lived. Dunno if they were around back then, but it's still a happy coincidence. :)

  3. I did just realize that the first panel of the first scan DOES seem like an endorsement of same-sex marriage taken out of context... :)