Monday, March 21, 2011

Kull's relationship status? Single. And probably gonna stay that way...

The last time we did a post on Robert E. Howard's Kull the Conqueror (or, at least, Marvel's rendition of him) we mentioned Kull didn't have Conan's luck with the ladies. For example, in "The Blood of Kings," Kull meets the love of his life in an arranged royal marriage, only to lose her on their wedding day. She was stabbed to death by a werewolf, then Kull had to stab her again when she came back as a werewolf...and that still went better than Kull's next attempt at dating.

Attending a royal wedding with his advisor Tu and sidekick Brule the Spear-slayer; Kull is almost enjoying himself. Then the Atlantean contingent arrives, including Ku-var, "a man legendary for cruelty," and a smoking hot babe, Iraina.
Big John Buscema, just killing it.
More after the break!

Tu drops the exposition; that Iraina was of a rival tribe, but sold out her people to Ku-var. Later that evening, as a sparring tournament goes on, Kull picks Brule as his champion. Ku-var picks Iraina as Brule's opponent, but Brule refuses to fight a woman. Even a woman that cuts him. Repeatedly. Humiliated, Brule sulks off; and one of Ku-var's slaves approaches Kull. It's Ram-os, shaman of Kull's old tribe, and he warns Kull of Iraina.

Returning home to Valusia, Kull gets back to the work of king; but Brule plans on quitting. Kull tries to talk him out of it, when a torn and bleeding Ram-os stumbles in. He tells of Ku-var's return to his kingdom, and how Ku-var had decided it was time to take his relationship with Iraina to the next level. It didn't go as well as he might have hoped:
Admittedly, that's a hell of an entrance.
Ram-os says Iraina killed most, if not all of Ku-var's men, and now has an army of women. Kull has a pretty good laugh about that, but Ram-os warns that Iraina has the same totem as Kull, the tiger. Iraina's army proves to be quite effective, especially since the women can turn into tigers, and they maul several opposing armies, as Kull inexplicably sees in his nightmares; but they leave no living witnesses.
This reminds me of the illustrations in the old Conan paperbacks, for some reason.
A traitorous nobleman (like nine out of ten noblemen in Kull stories) approaches Iraina, to arrange a meeting between her and Kull. Before the meet, Brule follows Ram-os out to a ceremony with Iraina's army. Afterwards, Brule catches the old man, who drops some backstory: years ago, he predicted a child would be born during the full moon, and would grow up to rule the whole continent. The chief at the time wasn't having that, and ordered any children born at the time sacrificed to the tigers. One child, of course, was Kull, who would be raised by the tigers for some years; the other was Iraina, who Ram-os raised on black magic and tiger milk. While Kull would meet Ram-os later, he would end up leaving the tribe; and Iraina would eventually become a complete psycho, but maybe a ruling psycho.
John Buscema should've painted that on a van, or an album cover. That tiger is pissed...
Iraina and Kull are twins, and convinced only one can rule, Ram-os had been sending Kull the nightmares. Brule goes to warn his king of not only the danger, but also that he's about to try and bust a move on his sister. Kull is regretting not implementing any leash laws as he's attacked by Iraina's tiger; but Brule arrives in time to help kill her pet. Wait, not pet, mate. This just gets more awkward...

As Iraina's tiger army blitzes the city, Kull is forced to fight his sister to the death. Snapping her neck, Iraina's tiger army turns back into women (and Kull's army thankfully doesn't simply murder them at that point) and Ram-os explains it was always Kull's destiny to rule, the old shaman dying without Iraina's vitality to keep him going. The tale ends, as many Kull stories do, with a gloomy, sullen Kull on his throne; which is fair enough considering this one.

From Kull the Conqueror #1, "Eye of the Tigress" Written by Bruce Jones and April Campbell, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Bob Wiacek and Dan Green. This was Kull volume three, cover-dated May 1983. And I'm absolutely sure this had nothing at all to do with the title, from the year prior:


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