Kull of Atlantis

Real Name


First Appearance

Weird Tales (Aug. 1929)

Created by

Robert E. Howard

Kull of Atlantis, also known as Kull the Conqueror, is a fictional character created by American writer Robert E. Howard, also creator of Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn. The character was more introspective than the subsequent Conan, whose first appearance was in a re-write of a rejected Kull story. His first published appearance was "The Shadow Kingdom" in Weird Tales (August, 1929).

Fictional biography

Kull was born in pre-cataclysmic Atlantis c. 100,000 BC. At the time, the "Lost Continent" was ruled by barbarian tribes, one of which had settled in an area known as the Tiger Valley. Both the valley and tribe were destroyed by a flood while Kull was still a toddler, leaving the boy to live as a feral child for many years. Kull was captured by the Sea-Mountain tribe and eventually adopted by them. In "Exile of Atlantis", an adolescent Kull grants a woman a quick death so that she would not be burned to death by a mob; for this he is exiled from Atlantis.

Kull made his way to the mainland (Thuria), joining the army of Valusia as a mercenary. Pursuing elevation through the ranks, he distinguished himself through various feats of combat until appointed to a command of his own. Respected by both the military and the general population, he led a revolution against the Valusian tyrant King Borna, supported by a number of influential Aristocrats. The coup ended with Borna's execution on the steps of his own throne; Kull strangled the despot with his bare hands and seized the crown while still in his early thirties.

Kull soon discovers that taking power was far easier than securing it; his entire reign is marked with conspiracies and insurrections as ambitious noblemen plotted to usurp his position. Worse still, it swiftly becomes apparent that Valusia is overrun by various supernatural beings, mostly working behind the scenes to control the Court. Within six months of his accession, Kull is targeted for assassination by The Serpent Men (see: The Shadow Kingdom, 1929). Barely surviving the first attack, Kull is subsequently forced to deal with constant threats to both life and kingdom as the years take their toll. The aging King is ever more aware that he has inherited the Sword of Damocles along with the crown.

The finale of the series, The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune (1929), finds Kull reaching his middle-forties and becoming progressively more introspective. Narrowly avoiding death at the hands of a beguiling sorcerer, the former barbarian is left contemplating the transient nature of life and the inevitable approach of his own demise. Kull's fate is left uncertain, although he makes an important crossover appearance in the 1930 Bran Mak Morn novella, "Kings of the Night," where he is named as one of the greatest rulers of the "Purple Kingdom."

Public domain appearances

Only three Kull stories were published before Howard's premature death in 1936. These were:

  • "The Shadow Kingdom" (First published in Weird Tales, August 1929)
  • "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" (First published in Weird Tales, September 1929)
  • "Kings of the Night" (First published in Weird Tales, November 1930)

Howard wrote nine other short pieces featuring the character; however, these remained unpublished until the 1960s, and are considered copyrighted material, along with all other versions including the 1970s comic series by Marvel and the 1997 movie adaptation, Kull the Conquerer.