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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

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One Man's Views: Ka-Zar The Savage Notes #2 of 3 — As I explained in the first of these summaries, way back in the late 1990's, I was asked to review/ summarize Ka-Zar's previous appearances. I realized I never published those notes anywhere and figured I would fix that. And so, here they are, very brief, very rough, but always fun. These summaries are for the Lord of the Hidden Jungle series. Hope you enjoy them!

By the way, as I've written elsewhere, these aren't real reviews. And, considering they're over 30 years old now, I won't worry about spoilers. Let it be known, I'll be spilling the beans on all the storylines!! :)

Ka-Zar Lord of the Hidden Jungle

#1 - Jan 74. W-Mike Friedrich A-Paul Reinman I-Mike Royer

Continues where Astonishing Tales leaves off, with Ka-Zar and Zabu parachuting back into The Savage Land. As he gets back into the swing of things by confronting various beasts, Malgato The Red Wizard watches with Maa-Gor by his side. We are given a tale of how The Savage Land evolved and then brought to speed with a quick re-telling of what's come before in past issues of Astonishing Tales which dealt with The Savage Land (ignoring all that super-soldier stuff). Malgato speaks of a legend whereby the blood of a man and woman of heroic stature be willingly shed to appease the Sun-God every thousand years otherwise the cold of the Antarctic would overtake The Savage Land. Ka-Zar refuses and battles Maa-Gor (but loses). The last page leaves us with Ka-Zar tied to a post and next to him... "A Girl!" Who replies: "The name's Shanna, blue-eyes. Shanna The She-Devil, as they call me back home in Africa. It seems I'm the lady that's supposed to fulfill this nut's ritual requirements! Looks like he's got us dead to rights and pretty soon we'll be just plain dead"

#2 - Mar 74. W-Mike Friedrich A-Don Heck I-Jack Abel

Zabu breaks in and frees Ka-Zar. Ka-Zar jumps to attack the wizard while Shanna yells at him to free her first. His reply? "NO! You are but a frail WOMAN -- while Ka-Zar is MIGHTY!" :) Makes you wonder where his intellect went to all of a sudden. He bests Maa-Gor and then the Wizard makes them fall away into a river. Ka-Zar is surprised that Shanna could keep up with him while they swam away and thus "Your Deeds have proven your ability -- that is enough for Ka-Zar!" Shanna's responce? "Y'know -- you're pretty direct! Rather refreshing -- and I like it! And the names, Shanna, please!" She continues, telling us of how she beat Nekra when suddenly a pair of Pterodactyls flew down and brought her to the Wizard. They make their way back to the Fall People (Tongah's tribe) and Shanna convinces Ka-Zar to go back to the Wizard and pretend to be his sacrifice. There, she uncovers that he was a fraud but we don't find out who (only that he was wearing a mask). Ka-Zar asks if she will stay since they have much in common. Her reply: "We Do -- But I've also got a missing Father -- and I've sworn to find him. Your offer's tempting, though... you're my Type, Ka-Zar -- free and wild!"

#3 - May 74. W-Mike Friedrich A-Don Heck I-Mike Royer

Maa-Gor walks into "The Terrifying Mystic Mists" and they change him, evolve him, make him more powerful and incredibly intelligent. Obviously, he goes after Ka-Zar and beats him. With the help of Bobbi Morse who's come to the Land looking for Maa-Gor's new partner, they attack. Ka-Zar manages to free Zabu from whatever hypnotic spell he was under, and together, they jump at us, heading towards their foes.

#4 - Jul 74. Plotted by Bullpen West W-Mike Friedrich A-Don Heck I-Mike Royer

One big fight and the bad guys win and take over the village of the Fall People. Man-God (Maa-Gor) uses his mind to hook into the world's communication systems to demand their surrender. Ka-Zar finally breaks free and goes off to find him.

#5 - Sep 74. Plotted by Bullpen West W-Mike Friedrich A-Don Heck I-Mike Esposito

Basically, the Fall People beat on Man-God's partner while Ka-Zar faces off against a band of Ape-Men to free Bobbi Morse. Man-God walks back into the Mists, and fades away, returning to his original form.

#6 - Nov 74. W-Gerry Conway A-John Buscema I-Alfredo Alcala

It's a much more intelligent sounding Ka-Zar under Gerry's guidance. And the art is really something, too, even though this issue almost feels like a Conan story (especially artwise) as Ka-Zar joins a band of rivermen to defeat a "Behemoth" monster. An interesting tale of vengeance almost along the lines of Moby Dick, with Ka-Zar being the one to finally defeat and kill the water-creature.

#7 - Jan 75. W-Gerry Conway A-John Buscema I-Bob McLeod

Again, feeling like a Conan story, as Ka-Zar takes a young man (and the only other survivor of last issue's monster chase) back to his city and gets imprisoned by pirate-like bad-guys. Ka-Zar defeats them, of course, and then goes searching for Zabu.

(You know, I hadn't realized until I started going back over these stories just *how much* they can easily be translated into Conan stories. Things to think about...)

#8 - Mar 75. W-Gerry Conway A-John Buscema I-Alfredo Alcala

Ka-Zar follows the men who've captured Zabu back to their city (Gondora) where he is to be sacrified to their Gods. Ka-Zar makes his way in, and soon learns all about the city and its ruler (who turns out to be another lunatic "outsider" ie; someone from the outside world). He saves Zabu and manages to free some of the villagers/prisoners. The wife of the man he was helping to escape, doesn't make it, as she looks back while fleeing and her body gets turned to ash.

(Yes, you got it right. It almost read like a different kind of take on 'Soddom and Gommorah' as well as a Conan tale.)

#9 - Jun 75. W-Gerry Conway A-John Buscema I-Sonny Trinidad

Another strange story that feels like a re-telling of a biblical tale. Ka-Zar battles for survival against some dinosaurs. At the same time we're introduced to a man who's been hunting dinosaurs to take trophies from them to bring to his father to show how much of a man he is. The father is upset because this man and his brother aren't getting along. Ka-Zar follows the tracks of the hunter to confront him but he is too late. The hunter, in blind fury at being rejected by his father, kills his own brother. When the realization of his actions sink in, he runs from the village and is attacked by the mate of the first dinosaur he's killed. He doesn't resist and dies.

#10 - Aug 75. Plot-Gerry Conway W-Doug Moench A-John Buscema I-Fred Kida

Ka-Zar and Zabu battle a giant ape. Zabu is knocked out and Ka-Zar falls just seconds after he defeats the ape. He wakes to find himself on an elephant, having been picked up by a woman referring to herself only Illyana. Her entourage are making their way to Tordon-Na, a great golden city hidden in The Savage Land. He's treated quite well and gets to stay in a palace, until some men come to kill him! He fights them off, but we find out one of them was a minor priest who wanted him eliminated. He lies to a high priest, saying that Ka-Zar attacked him and they bring him to their "god" (a buddah-like image) for punishment. The Idol speaks and blames the high priest for allowing Ka-Zar into the city, and orders that the high-priest's son is sacrificed!

#11 - Oct 75. W-Doug Moench A-Don Heck I-Frank Springer

I'm sure you can guess the rest? Ka-Zar escapes with Zabu and Illyana, and break back into the castle as the high-priest, trembling and praying, prepares to sacrifice his own son. Ka-Zar and a herd of elephants come trampling in and confronts everyone, telling them how the minor-priest had everyone drugged and implanted the suggestions their "god" had spoken to them. The priest falls under his own devices and basically dies from fright when he believes the giant idol falls over and kills him. Everyone is happy and reunited and Ka-Zar is asked to stay. "I could not stay in this place of madness... where men worship fat lumps of STONE" and walks away.And this is also a little like a biblical parable, isn't it?

#12 - Nov 75. W-Doug Moench A-Russ Heath Cover by Jack Kirby

2 Zebra Tribesman from the Swamp Tribe come to Ka-Zar and Tongah for help against a despot ruler. On their way back to the village, they're attacked by and fight off a band of Lizard-Men. They sneak into the village and free the prisoners and then go off to attack Zaurai (the ruler). They find that he's in league with the Lizard-Men and, as defeat seems inevitable, Zaurai's woman Sheesa m anages to wrest power from him and raises an army of the dead.

#13 - Dec 75. W-Doug Moench A-Larry Hama I-Fred Kida

Ka-Zar joins Sheesa's army in order to get inside long enough to find out about her plans and a way to defeat her. With the help of the Fall People, he beat them back and after defeating Sheesa, her dead army falls apart, and the remaining Lizard-Men join the Swamp Tribe.

#14 - Feb 76. W-Doug Moench A-Larry Hama I-Jack Abel/Mike Esposito

Tongah seems to have developed some form of radiation poisoning/sickness due (apparently) to vibranium. So, Ka-Zar journeys to London to see if someone can help him study Vibranium. During a press conference, he's attacked by Klaw: Master of Sound. Ka-Zar defeats him and damages his weapon but one of the reporters (Tandy Snow) is injured during the battle and Klaw's partner rescues him.

#15 - Apr 76. W-Doug Moench A-Val Mayerick

Klaw sends another sonic creature to attack Ka-Zar and Zabu. We learn that Klaw is in league with some other-dimensional aliens who (obviously) want to conquer the earth. Klaw helps open a gateway in The Savage Land (using the Vibranium) and a conquering army steps through. Ka-Zar comes back to The Savage Land in time to see the aliens take the first step in beating the Fall People (as they attack The Savage Land in large numbers)

#16 - Jun 76. W-Doug Moench A-Val Mayerick

Ka-Zar attacks the aliens and as he and his comrades seem to be gaining the upper hand, Klaw arrives and forces them to surrender. Ka-Zar escapes and eventually comes back to free the captives. Then, he forces Klaw to open up the gateway and he, Klaw, Tongah, Zabu, and a few others, step through to the other side (after smashing Klaw's device so he can't re-open the gateway).

#17 - Aug 76. W-Doug Moench A-Val Mayerick

The Troupe stands before the invading party of Sheenarians and before they can be attacked, ANOTHER race (riding winged sharks!) Or, as the other race says: "You were WARNED, Sheenarians! Warned not to tamper with the Gateway!! But instead of heeding our envoys, you MURDERED them! And now, as a direct result of your 'conquest' you have allowed outsiders to enter our world! If you will not HALT this conquest by your own choice, then we shall REMOVE all choice from your HANDS!" The battle is bloody and brief and at the end, Ka-Zar has captured one of the flying sharks and uses it to get to the city of the Shark-Men. During a night's break, Tandy Snow tries to get intimate with Ka-Zar. She asks if he's ever been close to a woman. "He rises abruptly -- fleeing from the question. But HAS he? Has he ever been CLOSE to a woman? TRULY... CLOSE? Yes... Too MANY women -- Bobbi Morse... Iranda... even Seesha, even the woman who is now Tongah's Wife... and others. Too many others." But he tries to change the subject and she knows she'll have no luck. /// They reach the city and quickly get captured. Ka-Zar is taken to the queen who turns out to be... TANDY! Apparently there were legends which foretold of her coming, and she immediately took the role. Her order to Ka-Zar? To have him share her throne. He refuses, and she condemns him to die.

#18 - Oct 76. W-Doug Moench A-Val Mayerick

Again, the scene of last issue is played out, and Ka-Zar attacks, trying to escape. He doesn't, and is intended to fight in the arena. In the meantime, Tongah and his party of 2, have gone to another village which seems to be filled with very old people. Kirk Marston has actually betrayed Tongah and Kloss to these old people. Ka-Zar bests his opponent (Makrum) and makes his escape. But suddenly, he finds himself facing RAKNOR the SLAYER, the Quarlians' (the shark-people) greatest warrior (and Makrum's dad)!

#19 - Dec 76. W-Doug Moench A-Val Mayerick

Ka-Zar battles Raknor and loses. Raknor brings Ka-Zar back to the city. On earth, the Zebra Men are trying to help gather forces to battle their new oppressors. Raknor brings Ka-Zar to the queen, and demands he let her kill him. She refuses (since the mind control the shark-priests have put her under is beginning to fade) and he freaks out. But it doesn't matter as Ka-Zar breaks free and beats the tar out of him. He grabs Tandy and makes his getaway.

#20 - Feb 77. W-Doug Moench A-Val Mayerick I-Ernie Chan

As Ka-Zar escapes with Tandy and a Gnome, we see that Tongah, Kloss, and Zabu, have had their life energies (and youth) stolen from them by the old people (who have now been returned to the vigors of youth). These men now march against the Sheenarians and Ka-Zar joins them (obviously not knowing what they'd done). They break in, and inevitably, they are attacked by the Sheenarians! To Be Continued... SOMEWHERE?!?! (As this is the last issue of the series!)

The Uncanny X-Men
(Ok, listen carefully, as you'll find this to be as upsetting as I did --even though The X-Men and Ka-Zar have shared adventures since very early times!)

#115 - Nov 78. W-Chris Claremont A-John Byrne I-Terry Austin

I'm not going to concern myself with the X-men. Suffice it to say that they followed an old enemy of theirs (Sauron) into the Savage Land and come face-to-face with Ka-Zar who fills them in on this story: Turns out that Zaladane was still alive, and she was holding another ceremony in order to summon Garrok the Sun-God once more. She had Kirk Marston (from Ka-Zar's book) on a slab and during the ceremony, he was transformed into The Petrified Man! If you remember, Garokk had incredible powers (literally being a God). Zaladane showed him the castles the Sheenarians built in The Savage Land, and he, with the blink of an eye, made the castle disappear!!! As Ka-Zar describes is: "The night he was reborn, I was leading an attack on the city of the Sheenarians. At the time, I thought I and my friends had been transported to the Sheenar dimension. Whereas, in reality, it seems that parts of their world had been transported into ours. Suddenly, in the midst of battle, the city around me --the flying shark beneath me-- faded away. As if they had never existed. Having no wings myself, I fell. Zabu and other friends, had almost died at the hands of the Sheenar Vampire Race. Together Karl Lykos and I nursed them back to health. Lykos told me of Garokk's resurrection. I knew that boded ill for the Savage Land but I could do nothing until my companions had fully recovered. Alas, by then it was too late. Using slave labor, Garokk built a great metropolis in the central lake" Ka-Zar asks for help, but the X-men can't give any. However, it suddenly starts SNOWING!! That's something that CAN'T happen in The Savage Land! "Somehow, the Sun-God has upset the ecological balance of the land. The tropical hothouse effect that has kep the antarctic cold at bay through the aeons." says Ka-Zar.

#116 - Dec 78. W-Chris Claremont A-John Byrne I-Terry Austin

Ka-Zar and the X-men make their way to the City of the Sun-God . Half of them get captured, and the other half sneak in. Garokk and Zaladane have the prisoners (Cyclops, Banshee, Colossus, and Ka-Zar) tied to stakes to execute them. Buth Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Storm help free them. A battle ensues and the domed city breaks apart and Garokk falls through the city's Thermal Shaft.

Next time: The Savage!

(Off The Rack (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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