Doc’s Reviews for the Week of 9/07/2021

September 8, 2021 Docs Corner, Reviews

KA-ZAR, LORD OF THE SAVAGE LAND #1     MARVEL COMICS

Welcome to Comics 101, I’m your instructor Doc Schaefer and today we’ll be looking at what a mess the character of Ka-zar has become. Ka-Zar the Great (his first official title) first appeared at Marvel in Marvel Comics #1 in 1939. He was a wonderful blend of standard jungle adventure pulp heroes such as Tarzan and the Phantom. Written by Martin Goodman (under the pen name of Bob Byrd), the character stared out in a pulp magazine under the same name in 1936. Goodman transfered the character over to a comic format. Ka-Zar is in reality young David Rand who is ophaned in the jungle but survived with the help of Chaka the ape, Trajah the elephant, and Zar the lion. A nice little 12 page filler but truth be told writer Martin Goodman did very little to make the character unique.

Jump ahead to March of 1965, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby needed a character to interact with the X-men as they visited the Savage Land in X-Men #10. Unfortunately, Lee had never read any of the original pulps and so he and Kirby made up a new identity and origin story for Ka-Zar Mark II. This is the Ka-Zar that most people are familiar with. This Ka-zar has had 5 seperate self titled series and had numerous other adventure in such Marvel Magazines as Savage Tales and had a run in Astonishing Tales. He has also shown up in most of the Marvel crossover events up til the current day. And here in lies the problem. Taken at his base level, Ka-Zar is a fun nostalgic character that ends up playing a role in just about everything because of his connection to the Savage Land. No longer just an African jungle but a hidden under the ice cap lost land populated by species of dinosaurs, mists that can mutate people and animals, crashed alien spacecrafts, etc., etc. So over the decades, creative teams have civilized Ka-Zar, mutated Ka-Zar, gave him a girlfriend whom he married, seperated from, got back together with, and had a son with. He returned to England to reclaim his fortune but didn’t do very much with it. And finally kill him off (actually this was threated multiple times). And now a new Ka-Zar #1, this time bearing the title Lord of the Savage Land returns him from the afterlife in a story swiped direct from Giant Size Avengers #4. We’ve got biotech dinosaurs now, plant based sentient clothes, vegan diet, and it turns out that Ka-Zar’s kid is a jerk. And while German Garcia’s almost sketch like artwork is amazing to look at (especially the close ups)  this is still just a continuation of a completely out of wack history. It’s almost as if years of creative teams decided how cool it was to include the jungle man in their comic but then figure out … he doesn’t do much. He swings on vines, he stabs with his knife, he gets to hang with a sabertooth tiger. So, lets monkey (pun totally meant!) with him so he can fit in with the stories. So by the time poor Zac Thompson gets a crack at it, he’s given a reborn from the jungle (Holy Allan Quartermain!) hero with steampunk dinosaurs, and a reborn hippie wife. No wonder Ka-Zar’s kid has problems. Ka-Zar and Shanna should have been left to the Savage Land three series and umpteen mini-series crossovers ago.

Well, that’s the bell and class is over with. And at the end of the day, we are left with a hodge-podge of confusing concepts and uninteresting mysteries. I give it a 3 out of 10 Grahams.

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