By Jim Beard
Kulan Gath is the Energizer Bunny of evil sorcerers. Never quite down for the count, Gath has plagued champions of good and justice for millennia, re-imagining himself and his diabolic schemes across the centuries.
First rearing his ugly countenance in 1972's CONAN THE BARBARIAN #14-#15, Gath was determined to foment trouble throughout the ancient Hyborian Age. He was terrifyingly strong with dark magic and crazed with power, creating enemies wherever he turned. Rubbing elbows with witches, life-draining mutates and other powerful magic-users, Gath would lose his physical form on numerous occasions, only to be reborn time after time and once again firmly on track to domination and destruction.
Gath had the unfortunate (for him) happenstance to run afoul of a certain Cimmerian barbarian, Conan by name. Along with the scarlet-tressed She-Devil With a Sword--Red Sonja--Kulan Gath would find a formidable foe in Conan and their earth-shaking encounters would inevitably lead to the sorcerer's defeat...and frequent decapitation. Gath was a sly schemer though, and his contingency plans would make even Dr. Doom blush with envy. Hiding his life energies in a mystical amulet, he planted the seeds of life eternal with the hope of bedeviling future opponents.
In MARVEL TEAM-UP #79, Kulan Gath arose yet again, this time in the modern world. A hapless museum guard placed a necklace with the sorcerer's amulet around his neck and was magically transformed into Gath himself. In a weird and wonderful twist of events that could only happen in a Marvel comic, Spider-Man's then-girlfriend Mary Jane Watson was temporarily replaced body and soul with the ancient female warrior Red Sonja. Being an eternal foe of Gath's, Red Sonja, side-by-side with Spider-Man, threw herself once again into conflict with the sorcerer and together the curiously dynamic duo kicked Hyborian butt and took a few names. Gath's defeat wasn't destined to last long, though. His next return would be perhaps the most chilling, the most diabolic, the most titanic of all.
The magical amulet containing Kulan Gath's eternal soul soon fell into the hands of a simple mugger, and, you guessed it, evil was renewed. This time, all of Manhattan Island would suffer the consequences, as seen in UNCANNY X-MEN #190-#191. Gath transformed the entire city into a twisted version of his original era, the Hyborian Age, and along with it the minds and bodies of its inhabitants. The Avengers, the X-Men, the New Mutants and the Morlocks all believed the new primitive Manhattan was all that had ever been and in their service to Kulan Gath hunted down and captured the hated "Spider," Peter Parker. But in a dazzling display of magic and heroics, Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange and Magik of the New Mutants put everything to right, wiping away Gath's evil timeline and setting his energies once again back into the amulet.
It won't surprise anyone in the least to learn that Kulan Gath's lifeforce is nothing if not persistent, as he managed yet another rebirth in AVENGERS VOL. 3, #28-#30. Attempting once again to subjugate the land as well as the people on it, this time in the country of Costa Verde, he was delivered another spectacular beat-down at the hands of the Avengers and new hero Silverclaw. For a time, his energies would lay fallow.
Now, fresh from his appearances in the current RED SONJA comic, this evil, this demonic force for darkness and demolition, ascends once more to the land of the living. In a jumpin' joint effort between Marvel Comics and Dynamite Entertainment, Spider-Man will be reunited with one of the most intriguing characters he's ever teamed with, the one and only Red Sonja.
If anyone, anyone
, can defeat sorcerer Kulan Gath, perhaps for good this time, it is these two champions. They know his mind, his tactics, his weaknesses, but whether or not they can pull together as partners to square off against this level of evil is a question that can only be answered beginning in this August's SPIDER-MAN/RED SONJA #1
The five-issue mini-series is written by Michael Avon Oeming, pencilled by Mel Rubi and features covers by superstar Michael Turner. Your pals at Marvel.com have seen what Kulan Gath has in store for Our Heroes. We've seen what part the villainous Venom will play. We've seen the initial friction between Spider-Man and Red Sonja. Who's gonna win? Well, you may want to consider putting your money on the evil magician in the funky hat, 'cause this one's a killer, True Believers.
RED SONJA TM & © 2007 RED SONJA LLC. DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT TM & © 2007 DFI. www.dynamiteentertainment.com