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The Better Man Featuring Weird Tales

The Outrider battling Cthulhu with his mystical juju staff
The Outrider battling Cthulhu with his mystical juju staff in 'The Better Man.'

solomon kane cover 150What I love about The Venture Bros. are the pop culture references that spring up unexpectedly in each episode. From comic books, music and film to viral videos and video games; these often obscure references are what make this animated series a gem!

In the latest episode entitled ‘The Better man,’ a hell beast is unleashed upon The Triad and they are soon aided by a shadowy character on a flying hoarse. The giant beast that The Triad battle is none other than Cthulhu, a cosmic entity created by author H.P. Lovecraft for pulp comics, Weird Tales. The cloaked figure that came to the Triad’s aid is The Outrider, a character that parodies Soloman Kane, created by writer Robert E. Howard, who is also noted for creating Conan The Barbarian.

the better man setting

the outriderSolomon Kane is a somber-looking man who wanders the world with no apparent goal other than to vanquish evil in all its forms. His adventures, published mostly in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, often take him from Europe to the jungles of Africa and back. Howard described him as a somber and gloomy man of pale face and cold eyes, all of it shadowed by a slouch hat. He is dressed entirely in black and his weaponry consists of a rapier, a dagger, and a couple of flintlock pistols. During one of his latter adventures his friend N’Longa, an African shaman, gave him a juju staff that served as a protection against evil, but could easily be wielded as an effective weapon. It is revealed in another story, “The Footfalls Within,” that this is the mythical Staff of Solomon, a talisman older than the Earth and unimaginably powerful, much more so than even N’Longa knew. In the same adventure with N’Longa, Kane is seen using a musket as well.

cthulhu art 500

cthulhuCthulhu first appeared in the short story “The Call of Cthulhu” when it was published in Weird Tales in 1928. Cthulhu is one of the central Great Old Ones of the Lovecraft Mythos. It is often cited for the extreme descriptions given of its hideous appearance, its gargantuan size, and the abject terror that it evokes. Cthulhu is often referred to in science fiction and fantasy circles as a tongue-in-cheek shorthand for extreme horror or evil. After its first appearance in “The Call of Cthulhu,” Cthulhu makes a few minor appearances in other Lovecraft stories. August Derleth, a correspondent of Lovecraft’s, used the creature’s name to identify the system of lore employed by Lovecraft and his literary successors, the Cthulhu Mythos.

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