TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #1

“Untitled”
Writers: Tim Seeley and David Walker
Artist: Fernando Dagnino

2016 North America. Gorillas are hunting humans when Tarzan attacks them.
1902 Equatorial West Africa. A young Tarzan and Milo are playing when they are almost run over by a herd of Triceratops that then go through a white light. They go back to the village of the Mangani and tell their parents Zira and Cornelius. We then learn the brief history of how they got here. When they escaped the future instead of the 1970’s they ended up in nineteenth century Africa. They found the Mangani and taught them how to build a village. They also adopted an orphan human who they name Tarzan.

The boys take Cornelius to the place where the dinosaurs appeared. They then run into a party of white men capturing Kerchak the disagreeable bull ape. The party is lead by Tarzan’s cousin. Tarzan is knocked unconscious and Cornelius is shot. It ends back in 2016 with Tarzan being captured by the gorillas.

You know comics have really starting getting some cool crossovers. This has to be one of the coolest. The writers did an excellent job of sticking to the mythology of both stories. This is actually a plausible alternate story where Cornelius and Zira shoot back another hundred years. They find the race of intelligent Mangani and organize them into a semblance of civilization. Tarzan is raised by apes but intelligent apes so is not so uncivilized. He learned English and at the same time also learns the ape language. Milo grows up knowing his parents and has an adopted brother and the two are great friends. The ape dominated future portents that history has been somewhat altered. I recommend for any fan of either Tarzan or Planet of the Apes and lets face it who isn’t.

THE WARLORD #61

“The Talisman”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Jan Duursema

Tara is talking with the elder councilman about the recent events to take over the government. She looks outside and sees that Morgan and Graemore are dueling with swords. The fight is a friendly one but gets Tara upset nevertheless. So after Morgan and Graemore unwind with some drinks, Morgan gets the story of how he knows Tara. He and his parents were exiled after the relationship he developed with Tara. He tried to come back but was caught and whipped with the threat of execution for him and his parents if he ever came back.

Meanwhile Darvin is scheming to use the watch he got from Tinder to pass off one of his boys as the true heir to the throne. After delivering the message one of the boys on guard gets careless smoking and sets the place on fire killing Darvin. Morgan comes and finds the watch in the charred ruins which he give back to Tara. Tinder sees this and when he can’t get back the watch gets a place on a caravan heading out of the city.

“Moon Fall”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

The small globe of light that burst out of the surface has driven Garn Danuth away but has the opposite affect on Arion. It comforts him and claims that Arion is its son. Garn figures that Arion was killed and so goes to where his corporeal body lies. He occupies it and takes care of the sub-men that are attacking Chian and Wyynde. Choloh also decides to not sit by and defies the balance to go off and rescue Arion.

This issue was one to sort of tie up loose ends from the conspiracy story. Morgan gets to know Graemore and finds that he still loves Tara. Graemore seems to know that he doesn’t have a chance against Morgan but rightly surmises that Morgan will leave her and he will be there. Darvin had a somewhat quick and surprising ending. I thought there would be more with him but you have to hand it to Grell that when he wants to end something it gets ended fast and efficiently. I was originally disappointed on not having Tinder reunite with his parents but in hindsight that was a good move. It wasn’t the right time and would have complicated Morgan’s story. So we will have to wait for the big reunion in some far future issue.

Arion is shaping up to be interesting. What is this glowing orb? Is it really Arion’s mother? It was hinted at that Arion was born of the cosmos. Garn Danuth has stolen Arion’s body so that will have to be resolved. It is announced that Arion has graduated from backup to having its own comic. So its appearance in Warlord is coming to an end for a well deserved promotion to its own series. Something that will be reviewed in the future.

SAVAGE TALES #7 KA-ZAR

“Stalker In A Savage Land”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga

Ka-zar and Zabu continue their fight with the T-rex from last issue. Ka-zar manages to impale it with a tree and the group moves on to the Mountain of Darkness. There they are attacked and captured by warriors and taken to the city of Sylanda. A city made of glass and located inside the mountain. There Ka-zar and his companions are sentenced to death by the fop of a leader the city has. Ka-zar finds a group of outsiders are also prisoner. So Ka-zar then finds out the city does have water with healing powers but its ruler will not share. Indeed he forces Ka-zar to fight his best man who Ka-zar makes short work of. This then devolves to a free for all fight that sees the leader killed. Just then the T-rex that Ka-zar thought he killed comes looking for revenge and in the process tears apart the whole city. Ka-zar and the others escape with the water to cure the plague.

“The Unspeakable Shrine”
Writer: Doug Moench based on book by John Jakes
Artist: Steve Gan

Brak has just been exiled from his tribe and his heading to the southern land of Khurdistan. His first stop is the city of Kamda Kai. He finds it a squalid place filled with painted strumpets and weird cultists. He runs afoul of the worshipers of Yob-Haggoth. They need a third sacrifice one who doesn’t believe and Brak fits the bill. The Blind acolytes are young children with silver eyes, filed teeth and silver claws. They have power to shoot lightning which knocks him out.

“Creating A Fantasy Hero”
by Lin Carter

An article by Lin Carter on how he created the Jandar of Callisto series. He is quite open in that he used Burrough’s Martian series as an inspiration. It is about an American pilot in Cambodia who finds a temple that transports him to a moon of Jupiter and the wild adventures he has. This sounds interesting and I would like to check these books out in the future.

“The Dream-Temple of Kandu Ra!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema & Crusty Bunkers

Ka-zar is at the village celebrating the success of his mission to find a cure. He falls for a woman named Myrain. Unfortunately she is soon kidnapped by the cult of Kandu Ra. Ka-zar tracks them to their temple and tries to put a stop to the ritual. Then Kandu Ra shows up and it is a giant Komono Lizard. Ka-zar frees Myrain but she runs toward the beast and is killed by it. Ka-zar and Zabu then kill the creature. He finds out that the smoke the cultists were burning had a drug. This drug made its victim want to be sacrificed which is why Myrain ran to the creature. Ka-zar gets angry and throws the priest into the burning alter.

So this second issue of the new Ka-zar lead Savage Tales was an all original edition and I loved it. The stories were of a much more savage Ka-zar which is consistent with the title. Here you see a Ka-zar without the self aggrandizing statements of “Mighty as the Mastodon” schtick. He is a man of few words and all action. He drives a tree trunk through a T-rex and throws one of the cultists into the fire in anger. The Savage Land is portrayed as a place with monsters and strange lost tribes which is what it was meant to be. I think these were some of the finest Ka-zar stories I have ever read.

The Brak backup was also quite interesting. A new barbarian and a whole new savage world to explore. I am intrigued by John Jakes character and would also like to check out his books sometime. This was a great idea for the magazine. Look forward to more of both next issue.

GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #11

“The Minstrel”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

The Minstrel is singing as he usually does when he is arrested by the king’s men. In this kingdom it is a crime to sing or play music. The Minstrel gets off with a warning and wanders depressed that he can no longer sing. He makes his way just outside the kingdom and finds fellow musicians. They are depressed they can no longer play in their own land. The Minstrel has a plan when he hears Groo is in the kingdom. They get him and teach him to play the drums. So Groo goes around and bangs on the drum which brings the king’s soldiers who get immediately wiped out in a fray.

The king struggles to find a way to save face and his prime minister suggests that he take his army on a crusade. Thus when he leaves with his army the people can once again play music and have a great celebration. The king hears about this but can’t do anything while Groo is around. His prime minister takes care of it by inviting Groo and Rufferto to a sumptuous feast. Then the king arrives and arrests the musicians and the Minstrel is scheduled to be executed. This is sad since Kayli has finally found her father and it is the Minstrel. Now she needs Groo but finds that Groo has just died.

Oh no Groo is dead. Now how will Kayli rescue her father. Well this was a great cliffhanger ending. You don’t get those too often in Groo. So the Minstrel is Kayli’s father. The Minstrel is a guy who goes around and sings in rhyme all the time. He usually sings about the misadventures of Groo to crowds. He has been introducing the stories in this series. An enjoyable character. Now it has not put me in too much suspense that Groo will survive. He has another series after Friends and Foes so I am confident he will live. What is a mystery is how he survives and how will Kayli reunite with her father. The big conclusion next issue.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #17

“Tag You’re It!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Ron Frenz

Ka-zar and Shanna are back home in the Savage Land. The first thing they decide to do is catch up on reading the mail that is dropped to them once a month. Shanna reads the National Geographic and is captivated by the pictures of Africa. Ka-zar gets into his detective magazine and the story of Scott Brannigan and His Detective Dog Rex. They then have a dinner of rabbit stew and mushrooms. After the meal a plane crashes and the pilot is dead. Ka-zar finds a pistol on the pilot and decides to keep it.

So later both Ka-zar and Shanna start to hallucinate. Shanna thinks she is an antelope and Ka-zar is Steve Brannigan and Zabu is his dog Rex. Shanna as an antelope eats a root which counteracts the mushrooms they had in the stew. Now she has to avoid Ka-zar who thinks she is a femme fatale that he is after. Luckily when Shanna is cornered Zabu stops Ka-zar and Shanna is able to force the root into his mouth and bring him back to the real world.

“Of Kith and Kin”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Val Mayerik

Zabu is crossing the river and fights a crocodile that tries to make him a meal. He goes to the cave and finds that young Ka-zar has wandered off. He gets worried and searches for him. He finds him burying his father and saves him in the nick of time from a pterodactyl.

This is a real offbeat story. Ka-zar hallucinating that he is a noir detective. Thus he chases Shanna all over the place and tries to shoot her. Bruce Jones seems to be good at doing these offbeat stories. The last one was also pretty weird. A very creative story. Ka-zar and Shanna seem to be settling in and apparently they get monthly mail service in the Savage Land. I guess the post office will deliver anywhere.

The Tales of Zabu was another find story. It explores Zabu and his reasons for rescuing Ka-zar. He at one time debates the wisdom of saving the young lad since he is so similar to the hated Man-Apes. Luckily he sees that Ka-zar is different and so the beginning of a beautiful relationship is born.

JOHN CARTER THE END #4

“The Old Man On The Ocean Floor”
Writers: Brian Wood and Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman

John Carter is surprised as he is approached by Den Thokar. The real Den Thorkar. Rav Thavas has had him cloned and keeps plopping out a clone when he needs it. Den is actually a decent guy who regrets his actions and wants to atone. Tars Tharkas then has John Carter visit the old man. When he arrives he finds out it is Ulysses Paxton. Talking with him gives John renewed purpose. He then passes out and wakes up. Paxton is a skeleton and has been long dead so he either had some mystical hallucination or a supernatural communion. Either way Carter is ready to fight the final battle. At the end black men come from the ground and silently kneel. Carter joins them.

This issue gives us a big reveal in that Den Thorkar is a clone created by Rav Thavas. The real Den is ready to join Carter. Dejah also learns the truth and does not like it at all. A sort of subdued issue with the mystical meeting with Paxton. The ending with the black men coming out of the ground also had a surreal feel to it but was visually stunning. Very interested to see how this concludes.

THE WARLORD #60

“Death Duel!”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Jan Duursema

The assassins have arrived at the dungeon but find that Morgan is now free. Morgan uses the spikes on his helmet to plunge right into the big assassin. While this is going on Darvin sees Tinder and chases after him. Tinder escapes but not before he loses his watch armband. Morgan then even though weak manages to take out the other assassin with just a knife. Meanwhile at the palace Tara is growing more angry with phony Morgan’s attempts to make her just a figurehead. She plans to divorce him and Graemore confesses his love for her. A love she seems to welcome.

So the real Morgan comes to the palace and confronts the phony Morgan. The two duel and because of his prolonged captivity is on the verge of losing when Tara shows up. She points Morgan’s pistol but can’t tell the real Morgan. So she asks the question who is the King of Swing. The answer Benny Goodman almost gets the real Morgan shot. Then he thinks hard and remembers that the answer she is seeking is Babe Ruth. Tara shoots the impostor and Preador ends up in the dungeon in an iron mask.

“Star Rise”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Arion is battling Garn Daanuth. The magic threatens to cause serious damage to the Earth so Arion also projects his spirit from his physical body. He then leads Garn away from Earth to continue their battle. Chian and Wyynde are left to fight the awakened hordes of sub-men. Choloh the old master of Arion wants to help but is stopped by Tynan the balance because this battle must play out. The two combatants end up on a small red moon. Their fighting is stopped by a globe of light bursting from the surface.

So the conspiracy comes to a conclusion and it is exciting. Morgan manages to get free and even weak is still a fighter to be reckoned with. Tinder loses his armband that proves his heritage to the scheming Darvin. Tara is starting to fall in love with Graemore and now with the real Morgan back things will get complicated. So the conspiracy is exposed but there are still some unresolved issues that will be explored in the next issue.

The Arion backup was also a real action packed story. Arion is fighting the evil Garn Daanuth as disembodied astral projections. His friends are in battles all their own. We learn thousands of years ago that the Earth had a second moon. Ends with a cliffhanger of some mysterious globe appearing. A great issue overall.

SAVAGE TALES #6 KA-ZAR

“The Damnation Plague”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Tony deZuniga

A plague is infecting the people of the Savage land. It turns them into homicidal maniacs. The plague was brought by those from our world who for centuries have been immune. The natives of the Savage Land have no such immunity. A rumor that there is a cure in the Mountains of Darkness of an ancient race that discovered it leads Ka-zar, Zabu and a young woman named Rhyla take off. They come upon a Tyrannosaurus Rex that Zabu attacks and now endangers them all. Meanwhile Ka-zar’s cousin has come to the Savage Land to seek out Ka-zar.

“Walk The Savage Land”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on Ka-zar and his history. He started out in the thirties first in pulp stories then in the comics in 1939. Interesting to find out that Ka-zar has been around for so long.

“The Sword and The Road: The Saga of Brak the Barbarian”
By Fred Brosser

A chronological history of the John Jakes character Brak the Barbarian. He starts out being banished from his northern tribe for mocking their gods. He is traveling to the southern kingdom of Khurdistan and along the way battles various demons, sorcerers and men. Next issue has the first story and it sounds like an intriguing character.

“Jan—With One—N A Review of Otis Adelbert Kline’s Jungle Hero.”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the 1930’s character Jan of the Jungle. Jan was reared by wild animals in the jungles of South America. His second book takes him to India and the wild adventures he has. Another old character that sounds interesting.

“Fangs of the Black Orchid!”
Writer: Unknown
Artists: Al Williamson and Ralph Mayo

Jann of the Jungle has to rescue her boyfriend Pat Mahoney from the Black Orchid. He has heard about it and wants a picture of it. Some unscrupulous white men overhear and think they could get rich by possessing the orchid. So they follow and one gets a poison thorn shot at him and almost dies. The other almost gets eaten by a carnivorous plant and luckily Jann and Pat save him in time. Nice of them to save such scallywags.

“Dragonseed”
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Steve Gan

Marlok the Merciless is in a foul mood. His entire army was slaughtered and now poor old Marlok can’t conquer. So he goes to a wizard for help. The wizard has dragon teeth that when planted will sprout warriors that will follow Marlok. The wizard doesn’t want to give it but before he can tell the reason Marlok just takes the dragon’s teeth. He grows his warriors and they follow him to the first village. Only they then decide to kill Marlok instead. Marlok manages to cause an avalanche and destroy his new army. He goes to the wizard for revenge but the wizard does point out that Marlok wouldn’t listen to him. Also the owner of the teeth has come back a real large dragon.

“The Night of the Looter!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

A reprint of Astonishing Tales #14

So the first issue with Ka-zar in the lead. Sadly it didn’t turn out as planned. The Damnation Plague was a full length story but the artist got a kidney infection so the full story was never submitted in time. So we just get a partial story and some reprints. Now the partial story was excellent and shows that Ka-zar translates well into this new format. I expectantly look forward to the conclusion. Its an interesting story with beautiful artwork so it is worth the wait.

The articles were also interesting on old pulp characters. Quite informative and I am interested in checking out some of John Jakes Brak books.

Dragonseed was a solid story. A kooky barbarian who gets his comeuppance.

Otherwise it was reprints. The Jann story was kind of hokey and very similar to past Jann stories that were reprinted. Whoever wrote her stories had a thing for orchids.

The Night of the Looter is a great story but has been reprinted twice so nothing new. Still there is great potential in the series with the conclusion to the Damnation Plague and a new Brak adaptation in the future.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #16

“It Creeps!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Ron Frenz

Ka-zar and Shanna decide to go back to the Savage Land. So after working their way through the thorn forest and climbing the cliff they are home. They see a meteor land and go in that direction. They come upon the Awawilius a race of pygmies about to sacrifice a lemur. Just then the branch Shanna is on breaks and she falls right next to the alter and gets her ass stuck in a bowl. Well Ka-zar after getting his laughter under control rescues her and they also rescue the lemur. They set the lemurs broken leg and have to continue fighting off the witch doctor who wants his sacrificial knife back.

The witch doctor dies in a noose trap and they think that’s the end of their troubles. But at night Zabu dies and Ka-zar almost gets killed by falling into a punji pit. Shanna is strangled by a tentacled blob who is all teeth and tentacles. Ka-zar goes insane with grief and kills the blob. It is found out that the lemur is an alien being who arrived to play a game. The game is one alien turns into a creature native to the planet and the other keeps their natural form and tries to kill the one that is masquerading. So now that the game is over the beings turn back time to before they arrived so that everyone is still alive. They grant Ka-zar his memories of what has happened. So he greets Shanna with a newfound happiness.

“Of Kith and Kin”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Val Mayerik

Zabu leaves young Ka-zar sleeping in a cave as he goes in search of Kulu berries. They have healing powers and heal Zabu in no time. Now he just has to fight the crocodile that attacked him.

So Ka-zar and company head back to the Savage Land. I have to say this was a really good story. I was wondering how they would handle the deaths of these beloved major characters. It was a surprise twist to have the lemur an alien and just playing a game. There was plenty of humor in this as well as drama. Ka-zar also realizes that he loves Shanna. Which is good since you wonder with their constant arguing if they will ever get together. It was a good idea to have them return home.

The Tales of Zabu was only three pages so there wasn’t much room to really develop any story. Just a cliffhanger ending with the crocodile dragging Zabu under. Of course we know he’ll win this fight.

JOHN CARTER THE END #3

“I’m Of Your Blood, Yours and the Warlords…”
Writers: Brian Wood & Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman

John Carter is with the resistance outside Helium. He gets mercilessly teased by his old friend Tars Tarkas for being so out of practice with a sword. The resistance then attacks a flying train. They manage to capture it and all the toxic darts that it was carrying. It was also carrying political prisoners. At this time Dejah Thoris is very worried in the direction her son has taken Helium. She goes to explore on her own and doesn’t like what she finds. At the end Ras Thavas is revealed to be the man pulling all the strings.

It was nice to see that John Carter isn’t so perfect as he was in the books. It adds a bit of realism to the triumph when he does show he still has it. So now we are getting a clearer picture of the new regime. Men are sentenced to hard labor for such crimes as not bowing to the Jeddak’s picture or overheard criticizing the government. There are insurrections all over and the Jeddak surrounds himself with sycophants. At the end we find out Ras Thavas the Mastermind of Mars is somehow behind this. That was a good choice since he was always somewhat amoral but brilliant. Another great issue.