By Arvid Nelson (writer), Will Conrad (art), Jose Villarrubia (colors)
The Story: Robert E. Howard’s other barbarian makes his home at Dark Horse in this limited series that adapts Howard’s story “The Shadow Kingdom.” In this first issue, Kull of Atlantis seizes the throne of the ancient kingdom of Valusia and attempts to consolidate his power by defeating Count Areyas, a noble from the old regime who refuses to go down without a fight. When his defenses are betrayed from within, Areyas unleashes the monster Etrigor in a desperate bid to destroy the barbarian king.
The Good: Fans of Robert Howard will find this to be a solid, faithful adaptation of Kull. Nelson’s dialogue is every bit as hard edged and spartan as Howard would have written it, while Conrad’s art has a power and detail to it that you don’t see enough of in comics right now; specifically, I’m thinking of a double page spread of Kull in the middle of the comic that I would gladly pay to buy a poster of.
The Not So Good: This was a terrific stand alone issue, but it fails to set up the plot for the rest of the story, or convince me why I even need to buy the next issue. There was one time where a character mentioned a “shadow kingdom” hidden below Valusia, but the reference was never brought up again, and not given enough weight to make me think that this was important.
Conclusion: A solid, if unevenly paced fantasy adventure that is a great addition to the Robert Howard franchise at Dark Horse. If you’re looking for something different, you can pick up and enjoy this issue without feeling obligated to buy the entire series. However, if you want to follow the whole story, you may be better off waiting for the graphic novel instead.
A Second Opinion
This is a solid debut and I had a good time reading it. My problem is that there isn’t anything here that sets this apart from other similarly told stories. Perhaps as the book continues we’ll learn more about why Kull’s such a great character, but from what I gathered the only thing that makes him somewhat interesting is his approach to war. The mishandling of the battle near the end provides a possible setup for consequences down the road, but somehow I don’t see politics playing a big role in the storyline. I don’t think I’d want to see it either.
– J. Montes