Friday, April 12, 2019

By Drox! It's You-Know-Who, The Barbarian!


Name This Marvel Villain??

You'd have to squint very hard to find our featured villain in the Marvel universe, since he and his world exist in our sub-microcosm--a realm where the incredible Hulk plunges into after being shrunken in size to save the life of Glenn Talbot from an inoperable brain blockage. At first glance, however, you might think that the Hulk is battling a far more familiar figure, thanks to a bit of shamless promotion on Marvel's part:

And after that, what's left but a play on words: meet Kronak the Barbarian, a savage despot who has usurped the rule of Terragonia and holds the throne with an iron fist, facts the Hulk becomes aware of when he materializes in the midst of a caveful of peasants who have taken refuge to escape Kronak's tyranny and who now appeal to the Hulk for help.

Thanks to a little unintentional psychology from one of the peasants, the Hulk angrily heads to the castle to confront Kronak; yet he's intercepted by the warlock, Dragonus, whose sorcerous fumes have the unexpected effect of reverting the Hulk to Bruce Banner, who's taken away to Kronak to answer for the behemoth's attack on the castle.

Kronak, as you might expect, is furious at this attempt to depose him, and decides to make an example of Banner. Under the circumstances, one can't help but notice that the odds appear to be slightly in Kronak's favor.

Banner's warnings to Kronak to back off have fallen on deaf ears--and inevitably, the odds quickly shift as a shocked Kronak sees for the first time who and what he's dealing with. But this barbarian has a trick up his sleeve--or, in this case, around his neck.

Which doesn't get him very far.

Kronak's luck is lousy all around, as the people of Terragonia, sensing their time has come, burst through the gates, with Kronak's guards unable to contain what has now become an uprising. Dragonus, for his part, has had the good sense to flee; but as for Kronak, who fights a losing battle against the raging Hulk, his fate is evident when the vengeance the peasants cry out for is literally delivered to them.

Old Shamu-Shan vows to have Dragonus pursued and dealt with--yet the peasants' champion will not be there to see it, as he begins to shrink once more until he quickly disappears from their sight, on his way to a most tragic end to his journey.

Come now, you didn't expect the Marvel checklist to fail to capitalize on this exposure, did you?


Anonymous said...

Gosh, Kronak is almost like AN EVIL CONAN !!!

Well, Ka-Zar was already a shameless rip-off of Tarzan...

Comicsfan said...

I wouldn't try suggesting to Kronak that he's a rip-off of anybody, Colin. ;)

Big Murr said...

Only a few special Conan Annuals and the like ever featured him as King of Aquilonia. Every issue of Kull the Conqueror featured with that barbarian on the throne. So, a hearty helping of Conan with a heavy dash of Kull is the recipe I'm seeing.

In both of those cases, the barbarian usurper was a blast of cold wind in a decadent and corrupt system. Seems this story is not too respectful to that trope, making the freebooting barbarian as a truly miserable freebooting barbarian.

Anonymous said...

I loved those Mighty Marvel Checklists!
They'd have a couple shots of the best covers that month, with a brief, exiting description. They were entertaining to read just by themselves.
The sheer bombast of it. You always felt like you were missing something earth-shattering, if you didn't get a copy of those mags!
Talk about a hard sell...


Comicsfan said...

Murray, perhaps the decadence and corruption in Terragonia can be found in Dragonus, who cannily hitched his wagon to Kronak while acting behind the scenes to cement his rule and, in so doing, assure the continuance of his own status as advisor (and no doubt instigator). The two certainly seem to be made for each other--while Dragonus seems perfectly content to have Kronak take the brunt of the blame for the plight of his subjects.

M.P., I enjoyed those checklists, as well, though I can't say they ever motivated me to pick up other titles that I wasn't yet reading; honestly, browsing the spinner rack was more of a factor for me in that regard!