Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?

by Patrick Bain

Kull-300x157 Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?Well, it’s like this.  I spent $12.50 plus five bucks shipping on a bound collection of Kull the Destroyer 20-29.  Sure, even with tax, I paid less than twenty bucks.  Certainly, I paid less than the original owner spent on binding costs.  But, was it really worth it?  So, I said to myself, Pat, consider the enthusiasm generated by researching a topic for a blog.  Could I develop a passion for Marvel’s number 2, probably number 3, Barbarian?  Could Robert E. Howard’s 1929 pre-cursor to Conan excite my collector juices?  Will I need to watch Kevin Sorbo’s 1997 film Kull the Conqueror to fully embrace this purchase?

Kull-the-Conqueror-1-Marvel-1971-198x300 Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?Before He Was Kull the Destroyer

Kull of Atlantis debuted in the 1929 Weird Tales pulp story by Robert E. Howard called The Shadow Kingdom.  Heritage Auctions sold a G/VG copy for $384 last December.  Conan the Cimmerian appeared first in The Phoenix on the Sword published in December 1932.  A similar grade copy of Weird Tales sold last December for $3,120.  More evidence of the relative importance of the two characters.

Kull the Conqueror #1 debuted in 1971 with top Marvel talent like Roy Thomas, Ross Andru, Wally Wood, and Marie Severin.  GoCollect FMV for issue 1 is $300 in CGC 9.8.  Two sales from roughly fifteen years ago averaged $455.  Meanwhile, Conan the Barbarian #1 CGC 9.8 FMV tops at $6,750, no doubt because of the appearance of Kull(?)!

Kull’s Warrior Artists

Kull-the-Destroyer-21-by-Gil-Kane-200x300 Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?Like warriors standing above the savage hordes, Kull’s artists boast glorious renown in their field.  Besides those previously mentioned, Gil Kane, Ernie Chan, and Mike Ploog all have battle-tested illustrating skills.  Each worked on the 1970s Kull the Conqueror, later Kull the Destroyer, series.

Kull-the-Destroyer-27-by-Ernie-Chan-198x300 Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?Gil Kane’s cover for issue 21 sold for $4,332 in 2014.  The owner recently rejected an offer of $8,000.  Other cover sales from the series are not too recent.  Marie and John Severin’s issue 9 cover raised over $10K.  Other covers by Chan and Kane sold for under $5K five to seven years ago.

Several interior pages by Chan, Ploog, and Ed Hannigan each sold through HA in the last two years.  Spectacular action pages have ranged from about $250 to a splash from Ploog for over $2,000.

Kull also has 35 Cent Variants

Kull-the-Destroyer-22-35-cent-variant-187x300 Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?Everyone loves the minor variants, and King Kull hasn’t been shut out in that area.  Issues 21 through 23 each exist in a limited distribution 35 cent variant form.  As an example, on sale as I write this article: two CGC 9.8 copies offered on eBay for the $0.30 version average $100 but a CGC 8.5 $0.35 version asks $168.  Even more exciting, the 35 cent variant of issue 21 sold for over $800 in 2017 but the GoCollect 9.8 FMV is only $65 on the standard priced issue.  It’s fair to say Kull isn’t a HOT character and his comics could end up in bargain bins.  So, keep your eyes open for those 35 cent variants!

Passion for Kull the Destroyer

Kull-bound-comic-264x300 Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?If my article whets your appetite for Robert E. Howard’s first barbarian, you won’t have to spend much to get some nice readers.  I found a complete 29-issue set in mid to high grades for under $100 on eBay.  The set did NOT include any 35 cent variants!  But, unless covers and interiors were photoshopped, the buyer will receive some excellent art by notable artists and many stories by legendary barbarian Roy Thomas.

To end on a high note, my inexpensive bound comic purchase is contrary to my observations on the market for Bound Comics, check out my update.  Most bound comics are selling for a premium right now, this book represented a happy exception.
Kull-the-Conqueror-9-Color-Guide-207x300 Kull the Destroyer: Reaching for a Barbarian?
Color guides offer an interesting and unique collectible.  This set from Kull the Conqueror #9 by Marie and John Severin sold as a group for $251 last year.  Pages are hand-colored using colored pencils and watercolor.  The industry recognizes Marie Severin as one of the top all-time colorists.  And speaking of low distribution, like original art, hand-painted color guides are one of a kind.  Modern computer coloring also makes hand-colored pages a thing of the past.

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Ron Gorup April 10, 2021 - 2:14 pm

Fans of Kull the Destroyer should consider this little tidbit: Kull and the Barbarians #3 is an overlooked Marvel key issue. It contains the first telling of Red Sonja’s origin. As if that’s not enough, Kull goes up against Thulsa Doom and it also contains a brief history of Solomon Kan. Published under Marvel’s Curtis label it lacked the Comics Code Authority oversight to be marketed for adult readers and is relatively graphic. Red Sonja’s origin portrays some fairly disturbing panels of Red Sonja’s assault. Kull and the Barbarians was only published for 3 issues.

Patrick Bain April 10, 2021 - 4:43 pm

Good tip for Kull and Red Sonja fans, Ron!

Matt Ames April 11, 2021 - 9:36 am

The art alone is enough. Just phenomenal.

Patrick Bain April 11, 2021 - 10:32 am

For me, growing up on Ernie Chan a.k.a. Ernie Chua Batman stories, King Kull with art by Chan is an easy read. Thanks for your input, Matt!


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