GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #1

“Fray of the Gods”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

Groo and Rufferto are wandering as they always do when they come upon a village. This village has no men. They are fighting over the hill. So Groo jumps into that fray with wild abandon. One of the fighters asks which side is he on. For the two sides are fighting over their one true god. The fighting stops because monks have come to pray. Groo then chases them off so the fray can continue. Unfortunately the soldiers have also had enough of Groo and run away.

So Groo finds another village. This one the men are building a temple to their new god. The new king Cuffi has declared himself a god and forces his subjects to build the temple. When the men find out they have Groo they convince him to fight the king’s army which Groo is very enthusiastic about. So the mob marches on the king and Groo lays waste to the army. Meanwhile Cuffi who calls himself the Star God has come among the other gods in the clouds. He wants to be accepted but the other gods just laugh. They point out that nobody truly believes in him and anyway Groo is wiping out his army so he has no way to compel belief from his subjects.

The new Groo series takes on religion in a whimsical and funny way. All the gods exist because of belief in them by people so in some way they owe their existence to the common people. Anyway the gods are probably in for a surprise since I doubt that even they will come out unscathed by Groo.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #20

“New York, New York”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Writer: Ron Frenz

Ka-zar is still wandering New York and fighting off punk hoodlums. Ramona Cortland breaks out Kraven to track down Ka-zar but Kraven goes rogue and decides to kill not capture him. Ramona had the good sense to put a tracker on him so she follows him with a rifle. Shanna has no luck with the police and goes out to search herself. Zabu pretends that the drugs given him are working. Then he strikes and manages to lock his captors in the cage as he goes free to find Ka-zar. Kraven finds Ka-zar and chases him all over the place. Ka-zar is too weak and knows the bullet in his head could easily shift. The story ends with Kraven, Shanna, Zabu and Ramona all converging on the roof that Ka-zar is on.

This was a fun story. Ka-zar gets some of his memory back. Kraven is not a reliable team player. Zabu is one smart kitty who turns the tables on the dumb zoologist giving a tour to a group of reporters. There is a lot of humor in the issue. They crash into a comic book convention and we get a cameo of the writer and artist. Some other incidents are a 3-D movie screening that has Zabu jump out of the screen and the policeman who really wants a ham on rye. There is some truly touching moments as Shanna reflects on her relationship with Ka-zar. A great story with a cool cliffhanger ending.

TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #3

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

The humans and apes are attacked by raptors and now both Caesar and Tarzan fight together. They defeat them but not without losses including Tarzan’s cousin William. They come back to the Mangani city and find it in ruins. Mahars have come and killed Zira. The apes abandon the city in search of their new enemy. They find a group of men at a campfire. It is David Innes and some cavemen from Pellucidar. Suddenly the group is attacked by Mahars and Tarzan and Caesar’s apes come to the rescue.

They are also joined by another ape in an astronaut suit. This is Milo only a Milo from an alternate reality. He tells how the trips through time have opened portals in Pellucidar to other dimensions. The Mahars are going to use these portals to kidnap others for hosts to their offspring. Thus he leads the group through a portal back to Pellucidar to stop the Mahars plans.

So the third issue really took a wild turn that was unexpected. Mahars from Pellucidar and David Innes are introduced. Zira is killed and both Tarzan and Caesar have reconciled. That the story goes to Pellucidar shows that the writers are really imaginative. All the alternate realities open whole new possibilities of story ideas. This is one cool concept and I am loving this series.

THE WARLORD #62

“Cry Wolf!”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Jan Duursema

It is the aftermath of the conspiracy. Morgan is trying to adjust to his freedom by throwing himself into training the troops. The brief affair between Tara and Graemore seems to be over for now but the gossip about it continues. Tara decides not to tell Morgan. It is here Graemore has an idea. He has heard that a wolf pack is terrorizing farmers. He suggests a royal hunt. Something to get Morgan away from the pressures of the court.

So a hunt is formed and tracks are found. A small group has broken away and has a human with the pack. Morgan takes Graemore along to track this pack. They find Rostov running with this pack. He is knocked unconscious. Later with Rostov back to his senses we get the story. Rostove found that after the moon left while reverting to human form he still retained the wolf personality. Morgan suggest going to his daughter Jennifer. This drives a wedge between him and Tara because he is once again going off on adventures.

“Madmen and Mages”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Jan Duursema

Cachulha is heading off to rescue Arion from the sphere that holds him prisoner. He is attacked by Chaon the lord of chaos. Chaon reveals in madness and chaos and doesn’t want Arion to be rescued. After all Arion is fated to save the world. Cachulha is too powerful and a demon he created eats Chaon.

Well this issue is basically getting back to what the Warlord is all about. That is exploring and adventuring in the lost world of Skartaris. Rostov the Russian werewolf is introduced to give Morgan the reason to go off and escape the stifling life of the royal court. Naturally Tara can’t go because of her duties. This is a real relationship that these two have. They are so different and such different personalities seem to have broken them up from good. At the end as Morgan leaves he passes Graemore and both share a silent look. Its obvious that its Graemore conveying he told him so. So will Morgan lose Tara forever. I suppose time will tell but lets face it, Morgan has to be Morgan if we are to have an interesting story.

The Arion backup is sort of a filler. It shows a minor tussle between old Cachula and Chaon. This is because Arion will be getting his own title and this is the last installment for the Warlord backup. A great character and well deserved promotion. Someday this site will explore that title. So what replaces it? Probably the best backup this title has ever had.

SAVAGE TALES #9 KA-ZAR

“Dark Island of Doom”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Steve Gan

Ka-zar and Zabu are hunting a T-Rex that killed eleven people. They finally catch it and kill it. Afterwards they notice the trek has taken them to a new area of the Savage Land that they have never been to. Just then they come upon a woman being attacked by bat-winged lizard-men. Ka-zar and Zabu save the beautiful woman of course. She is Omell and she is the Queen of Palandor. It seems that this kingdom has a problem with poverty. Most of the people live in squalor and a few nobles in luxury. Omell decided to impose a tax to help the poor. Thus her evil brother Sann conspired to overthrow her. Naturally Ka-zar will help because she’s the good queen and really hot.

So leaving Zabu outside they ambush some nobles and take their clothes. Omell leads Ka-zar to a tavern and the queen talks to the tavern-keeper. Suddenly Ka-zar is ambushed and knocked unconscious. He wakes up in the dungeon with Sann. He now learns that its the queen who is the evil one and the brother the just. Of course evil queen Omell plans to execute her brother to a mutant brontosaurus. She already loves to feed the random slave girl to it. When Ka-zar rejects her love well then Ka-zar is also slated to be a meal. Ka-zar is not one to submit meekly and kills the brontosaurus. It falls on the queen killing her and freeing the city.

“The Golden Blood-Beasts of Daka-Jur!”
Writer: Carla Conway and Gerry Conway
Artist: The Tribe

Shanna the She-Devil is fighting a giant gold elephant that has come to life. She is in India and fighting the evil Raga-Shah and his bloodthirsty cult of Kali. We then flash back to how she got here. In Africa she comes on a safari being slaughtered. She defeats the men with her leopards Biri and Ina. The survivor is her friend Jakuna Singh the SHIELD agent. He tells her to go to India and seek out her sister. Then a giant bull comes and kills him.

So in India when Shanna goes to his sisters place she is attacked by the followers of Raga-Shah. Her two leopards she brought along come in handy in defeating them. Unfortunately she chooses the wrong boat to hire for she is knocked out and captured. She wakes up and finds herself a prisoner in the temple of Kali. Jakuna’s sister is there and tells of the man Raga-Shah. He is her husband and she has found out he has plans to kill the world for the death goddess. So Shanna breaks free but Raga-Shah uses the life energy from her leopards to bring to live the golden elephant.

So now we are caught up on why she is in this predicament. Shanna being the clever badass blinds the elephant and it goes on a rampage and destroys the temple. Raga-Shah vows revenge has he takes his wife away. Shanna is left mourning Ira and Bini.

Now this is an excellent issue. The Ka-zar story was full length and full of twists and turns. It uses the old beautiful woman turns out to be bad. Oh well Ka-zar is a man so you can’t blame him for falling for the beautiful girl. He still manages to defeat her and save the city. Another great story that showcases the mysteriousness of the Savage Land and the savage badass that is Ka-zar.

The Shanna story was also excellent. The story was ended in Rampaging Hulk #9 so it was nice to get the beginning of the story. We get to see how she lost her leopard friends Ina and Biri and who actually this Raga-Shah was. Shanna is just beautiful in black and white format. I have never seen her sexier than these stories. So this was an excellent character for a backup in Savage Tales.

GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #12

“Kayli”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

Groo is dead. Kayli has finally found her father the Minstrel but he is scheduled to be executed by the King of Debar. Kayli finds the Sage and he recommends that Chakaal help her. Meanwhile the word spreads that Groo is dead. Everyone that he has met in this series converges on Debar. Pal ‘N’ Drumm take the dead body of Groo and charge for people to slap it. Grooella decides its time to conquer the kingdom. Taranto comes to loot it. Granny Groo and her gypsies are there to rescue the Minstrel. So there is a big free for all in the kingdom. The Sage decides to test if Groo is really dead by holding up a bowl of cheese dip in front of his face. This wakes Groo up who then joins the fray.

Well the dumb king is deposed and forced to listen to music in the dungeon. The Minstrel is reunited with his daughter. He was separated from his family when drafted. After the war he found his home in ruins because of the war. Now reunited with his daughter they both go off to search for his wife.

The final issue in this epic twelve issue series. A very satisfying ending. Kayli was reunited with her father. Groo is not dead to the joy of Rufferto but the disappointment to everyone else. It brings back everyone that was in the series and gives them the ending they deserve. If has been a few years since Groo was published and this story was an excellent way to reintroduce the characters that populate this universe. There are two more series in the works and one will be explored next week. Hopefully Groo is here to stay.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #19

“I’ll Take Manhattan”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Brent Anderson & Armando Gil

Ka-zar is being taken to New York after getting shot in the head. Miraculously he still tries to walk around but nobody is home upstairs. After the plane lands Ka-zar manages to get off and jump a train. It takes him into Manhattan where he rescues a couple from a gang that was mugging them. Then he saves a little girl from a fire. Meanwhile Shanna has trouble with the NYPD. They have taken Zabu the only one who can track Ka-zar and locked him up. Ramona Cortland the one who is responsible for shooting Ka-zar has plans of her own. She manages to break into prison and free Kraven the Hunter in helping her track down Ka-zar.

“Fly Now, Pay Later part II”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Val Mayerik

Zabu goes after the pterodactyl that carried off the young Ka-zar. He comes to a cliff and climbs the sheer side. Now he reaches the top and sees the pterodactyl about to feed Ka-zar to its young.

So the action moves to New York. This was a fun issue. Ka-zar is tough and even with a bullet in the head can still keep going. He manages to help people along the way. Shanna has to deal with the police bureaucracy and gets a tasteful dress. Ramona is a bit of a mystery. She has some very advanced skills in the way she manages to infiltrate the prison posing as a reporter. She uses some venom ring to knock out the warden and guards. There is more than meets the eye with her. So Kraven is back and we’ll get another confrontation with him.

The Tales of Zabu continues its story in an entertaining way. I love how Zabu’s thoughts are described. They are so funny and humanizing of the sabretooth. It’s a short story but packs a lot in. Really shows the determination and worry that Zabu is going through.

TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #2

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

London 1907 and the bobbies are once again having to drag Tarzan from climbing the trees in the park. They take him to his cousin William Clayton. After some pleasantries with the ape servant he then has to talk to his angry cousin. Tarzan and William argue about taking apes as slaves. William is making a lot of money from this trade but also has trouble in fighting the apes. Milo who now calls himself Caesar is leading the fight against the humans in Africa. William wants Tarzan to go with him and negotiate some settlement.

So the two with an expedition head off to Africa. There they are ambushed and captured by Caesar and his Mangani. He gets into a fight with Tarzan about bring humans to his jungle. He is also still angry at his father being killed and takes it out on his foster brother. At the end both sides are attacked by a herd of raptors.

So it skips five years into the future. The writers did an excellent job of showing what happened in these years without all the exposition. Since last issue apes are now being used as slaves. At least in Britain. Milo has adopted the name Caesar just like in the movies. It ends with both humans and apes attacked by raptors so we are left with another cliffhanger mystery ending.

THE WARLORD ANNUAL #1

“Gateway To Doom”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell

The Princess Alisandre of Kalabas is on her way to meet her future husband the king of Groniko. Savages attack and only Alisandre and her minstrel Tristan are left. Luckily for them Morgan was around and decides to rescue them. He takes care of the attacking savages and offers to escort the princess. Now Alisandre is a self-centered spoiled brat and show little appreciation for her life being saved. She actually tries to knife Morgan in the back but Shakira intervenes. He continues to help her because he likes Tristan who is obviously in love with the princess. At a rest they try to bring the princess into Tristan’s arms by scaring her while she baths in a stream with a little lizard. The little lizard attracts a big one which Morgan then has to kill.

During this some men from Doomgate kidnap Alisandre to be sacrificed to their god Tarantis. They track the kidnappers to their city and enter posing as entertainers. While Tristan performs his magic, Morgan sneaks away and finds where Alisandre is held. He then has to rescue her from the god Tarantis who happens to be a giant spider. The spider is crushed to green goo by a giant statue and the group escapes. They make it to Groniko and find that it is a squalid kingdom with a very fat old man as its king. Morgan and Tristan have a good laugh at the look on Alisandre’s face.

So this is the first annual in the seven years that Warlord was around. They must have been feeling confident that this title would be around. After this each year would get an annual, that tradition of a super giant special issue to commemorate a yearly anniversary that comics used to do back in the old days. This was a really fun issue. One is that it was written and drawn by Grell. This would be the last time he would do this for the series. It was also welcome in that it brought back the spirit of this series. You had Morgan and Shakira wandering Skartaris saving damsels in distress. Fighting dinosaurs, savages, cultists and a giant spider. That was really welcome after the conspiracy storyline that had been running so far. This annual was awesome and seven years long overdue.

SAVAGE TALES #8 KA-ZAR

“The Billion Year War!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Tony Dezuniga

Ka-zar and Zabu see the Hill-Forrest people worshiping some silver obelisk. After having to kill a guard that attacks Ka-zar decides to not bother this tribe again. Meanwhile in Denmark some object is activated and starts to head toward the Savage Land. Ka-zar later hears that a boat from the outside world has arrived and goes to check it out. It is a SHIELD boat and Bobbi Morse his old flame is leading the expedition. She also has Shanna along since she may need someone who has experience with the jungle. They have come because of the object that is burrowing toward the Savage Land. Ka-zar remembers the obelisk and so the group heads off to the Hill-Forrest people.

Along the way they battle a giant python that Shanna doesn’t want killed but Ka-zar feels no obligation to get eaten so the poor snake is killed. They then fight the Hill-Forrest people and while they are at it the silver obelisk releases a giant lizard man named Grond. Grond seems to recognize Ka-zar. He has been in the obelisk for a billion years waiting to complete the war that was started. The Hill-Forrest people dug up the obelisk and set in off. Ka-zar manages to kill Grond. As the SHIELD expedition leaves they intercept the other obelisk and find inside a body that looks exactly like Ka-zar. So they understand why Grond seemed to recognize Ka-zar but who where the two groups a billion years ago remains a mystery.

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

Brak wakes up to find himself prisoner with two men. One was a follower of Yob-Haggoth who had his eyes sewed shut so he could compose songs. The other is a priest of the Nameless God. Brak is the unbeliever. They are to be sacrificed to Yob-Haggoth by his high priest Septegundis. Just then his daughter Ariane comes and transports Brak in a bubble to her flying chariot. She desires Brak and if he agrees to give her his soul then he will be spared. Brak naturally refuses and Ariane give him a necklace that will summon her if he changes his mind.

So Brak ends up back in front of the giant statue of Yob-Haggoth with the other intended victims. As Septegundis approaches Brak is able to break free of the spell and grab his sword. He then plunges it into the statue that was coming alive killing the earthly manifestation of Yob-Haggoth. Septegundis then magically hurls a knife at Brak who calls forth Ariane. She appears in front of him and takes the knife instead. Septegundis takes his dead daughter and vows to meet Brak at his destination of Khurdistan.

“Ka-zar Of The Pulps”
By Bob Weinberg

An article on the Ka-zar from the pulps from the 1936. He appeared only three times and was the son of a couple that had their plane crash in the jungle. He learned to talk to all animals and became this Tarzan clone. The article was written by the foremost expert on pulp magazines and was quite interesting.

“Jann Of The Jungle”
Writer & Artist: Unknown

Jann and her boyfriend Pat come upon a warrior that is sick. They take him to his village and learn that the tribe is weak from lack of water. The reservoir has been taken over by two men who want the Golden God a statue of solid gold. Jann goes off and defeats the two evil men with a little divine intervention from the Golden God.

So this is the first almost non-reprint issue since Ka-zar took over. The Ka-zar story was an interesting one. It brings back Ka-zar’s old love interest Bobbi Morse and his future wife Shanna. Ka-zar sure does get the beautiful women. So the story was interesting but just fell flat at the end. We never find out why there were these two beings who were still fighting a war from a billion years. I guess that was the point but just didn’t do it for me.

The Brak story was excellent. It was engaging and witty with a cool ending. I will have to explore the writing of Brak in the future.

Jann of the Jungle was surprisingly fairly interesting. This was the first story where Jann didn’t have to save her blundering photographer boyfriend. The artwork is beautiful but the writer just can never write a realistic or engaging story.