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Friday, March 22, 2013

Kull: The Hate Witch. David Lapham (Writer, Gabriel Guzman (Art), Marino Taibo (Inks), Dan Jackson (Colours), Richard Starkings (Letters). Dark Horse Books (2011) (

Enjoyable sword and sorcery story. Kull is visited in Valusia by an old enemy from Atlantis, the Hate Witch. She is the last survivor of an ancient race that ruled in Atlantis and she sees Kull as the key to her revenge on humanity. Kull is forced to chase her back to to Atlantis, where he is a hated enemy and exile, and where the Hate Witch can fulfill her plans. The reveals are smart and the action is fast and sharp.
Sword & sorcery is by its nature a straightforward genre, dealing in big ideas and loud action, it is possible to be too straightforward and this book is an example of that. Kull is a barbarian king of an old empire, ruling a restive population that do not fully accept him and surrounded by the constant possibility of revolt. Diplomacy is not his strong suit and the administrative aspect of ruling bores him. The opening of the book takes advantage of this as the Hate Witch starts to murder people to draw Kull into her plans. The existing fractures in Valusia are put under great pressure forcing Kull to return to Atlantis and deal with the threat.
Once on Atlantis the story looses its nice complexity and become a very straightforward hunt and kill, the return of an exile stirring up memories and more. Unlike the situation in Vaslusia where there is a nicely complex web of loyalties and jealousies simmering all the time, the action in Atlantis is just too simple.
The fact that Kull is exiled from Atlantis does not have enough present significance for the situation in Valusia for it to really matter much, so a story where it is central feels like a detour from the main action. While it does give some background and the Hate Witch is a first rate foe it is just too far from the central premise of the whole Kull saga to have much weight.The art by Gabriel Guzman and Mariano Taibo is lovely throughout the book, action or court dispute are given care and detail that make them a pleasure to read. For a story where physical presence and action is vital the cast move with in the context with force and energy. The facial expressions and the body language are clear and engaging, the cast are individual and feel like they are really on the adventure. The colours by Dan Jackson are superb, they draw out the details of the art without ever drowning it. Richard Starkings provides great sound effects and letters that give the words nuance and tone.
A minor well told Kull story is still a pleasure.

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