KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #24

“On Death and Dying…!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bob Hall & Armando Gil

Ka-zar, Zabu and Ramona Starr are ambushed by Jeremy Schreiber and his men in the deserts of Morocco. After the camels are shot out from under them they take shelter in a cave. When Schreiber sends a tank to get them Ramona pulls out her C-37 anti-armament Luger and destroys it. The plan is that these three are to distract Schreiber while the main A.I.M. forces attacks. Ka-zar isn’t one to be cooped up so sneaks out and attacks the group watching over them. Ramona and Zabu make a break for it but are captured by Schreiber. He has Zabu shot and takes Ramona back to his base.

Ka-zar follows them back and is also captured while sneaking in. So Schreiber like any megalomaniacal would be world ruler explains his plan. He has managed to grow the plant that produces the powerful explosive. To prevent anyone else from gaining the plant he plans to launch a missile to destroy the Savage Land. This sets off Ka-zar and he attacks. This breaks the protective glass barrier and releases toxic fumes from the plants. As the men flee in panic they run into the A.I.M. forces that have arrived. Ka-zar knocks out Schreiber and carries him out. Zabu has also survived and rescues Ramona. The A.I.M think they have won but Ka-zar has set off the self-destruct and blown up the base denying it to A.I.M. Meanwhile back in New York Shanna is staying with Peter Parker and slowly going insane over the death of Ka-zar.

“A Savage is Born!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Val Mayerik

Maa-gor is teaching his new adopted son Ka-zar how to hunt antelope. Ka-zar manages to bring one down to the delight of Maa-gor. Young Ka-zar is in shock from the past events and not really with it. When they return they find the tribe has captured someone from a rival tribe. Maa-gor has Ka-zar throw the spear into the captive which the dazed boy does. Zabu has survived and is recovering from his wounds as a pair of sinister eyes watch him.

This was a fun and action packed issue. Ka-zar is forced to help A.I.M. because they have the device implanted in his head and they threaten Shanna. In reality Shanna is back in New York and going bonkers. Its revealed that A.I.M. is responsible by shooting her with a chemical that’s slowly driving her insane. Ramona looks real hot in her spandex uniform with the big C-37 Luger that can take out a tank. Yet she still is a moonbat. Ka-zar gets the last laugh with destroying Schreiber’s base and stopping both him and A.I.M from getting the explosive. He walks away at the end finished with being Ramona’s lackey. You are left wondering how he will get out of this situation.

The Tales of Zabu back-up continues with its interesting story. Young Ka-zar is in a dazed way as he seems to go along with Maa-gor including killing a defenseless captive. Zabu is still alive so a big rematch is in the making between him and Maa-gor. A very excellent issue.

GROO PLAY OF THE GODS #1

“Play of the Gods Part I”
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones

Groo and Rufferto come to the kingdom of Isaisa. The kingdom is going through changes. People are flooding in that don’t believe in the one true god Diothos. The priests get permission from the queen to have an inquisition to torture and slay those who don’t accept Diothos message of love and compassion. They run into a problem with Groo coming and starting to attack their soldiers. A wise priest manages to put up signs showing the way to cheese dip and getting Groo to go around in circles.

Ahax meanwhile has come back from his explorations and reports a new land filled with gold. Naturally the queen wants this land and hires Taranto and his mercenaries to claim it. The priests are interested in converts. Taranto gets permission to recruit prisoners from the dungeon to fill in his mercenary troop. Thus Groo who wanders into the dungeon looking for cheese dip is recruited for the voyage to the new world. While all this is going on the gods are angry with Diothos who they blame for tacitly approving his followers inquisition.

A new Groo series and you can see where its going. Nice to see Taranto back who is scheming to get all that gold and poor ole Ahax who thought he was free of Groo. Should be an interesting reaction when they find out their favorite barbarian is along for the ride. And of course the gods are once again fighting and will probably draw Groo into the whole mess. The start of another great Groo mini-series.

THE WARLORD #66

“Wizardwar”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Dan Jurgens

Morgan and Jennifer arrive through the mirror just in time to save Rostov from getting his brains smashed out by Machiste. After things settle down the group gets down to the serious business of defeating the Evil One. Jennifer has a plan that requires the help of all the surviving wizards. So later the Evil One is gloating over his treasure and notices that the wizards have put all their gold in a pyramid. He’s elated since the gold is now in one place but it turns to horror when he realizes the power of the spell. He quickly transports there and finds out even his power can’t break through the magic barrier.

So with the Evil One out the group transports to his lair in the Great Fire Mountain volcano. They find the Book of the Dead but the Evil One returns before they can seize it. The Evil One imprisons them all in bubbles of force and implants the thought of dying in our heroes. When they think they die then in real life they will. Only Rostov changes to a werewolf and being a brainless animal breaks free and attacks the Evil One. This is enough of a distraction for Jennifer to break free and attack the Evil One. While distracted Morgan with the help of Mongo Ironhand knock the book into the volcano. The Evil One loses his power and turns back to the harmless little toad guy he originally was. The group escapes as the volcano blows.

So we get the big confrontation with the Evil One and its a fun story. The backup story is sacrificed for this extra long special story. It moves fast and has all sort of humor. Mongo is a great comic relief. Rostov and Mariah finally reunite and he finds out that she has moved on with Machiste. Rostov doesn’t seem to take the news well and the tension between him and Machiste is handled well. Definitely an unresolved issue for the future.

The big part of this story is the introduction of Jennifer and her powers. We get to see that she has in a short time become very adept at magic and holds her own against such a powerful being as the Evil One. We also get to see the origin of the pyramid and its curse from an issue years ago. Grell is great at keeping such events and integrating them into the story at a much later date. Indeed the whole Evil One character comes to a final end after hinted at much earlier in this series. All in all a great issue.

SAVAGE TALES ANNUAL #1 KA-ZAR

“A Day of Tigers!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Gil Kane & Frank Giacola

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #11.

“Dragonseed”
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Steve Gan

Reprint from Savage Tales #6.

“Back to the Savage Land”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Barry Smith & Sam Grainger

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #3.

“The Sun God!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Barry Smith & Sam Grainger

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #4.

“Rampage!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Barry Smith & Frank Giacoia

Reprint from Astonishing Tales #5.

“Dark Tomorrow”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Gray Morrow

Reprint from Savage Tales #2.

So here is the final Savage Tales and they made it an annual. They also didn’t bother writing anything new but printed reprints. Good stories and they look great in a larger black and white format but still reprints.

Not going out on a high note unfortunately but this was a series with great potential. The Ka-zar stories were more adult and darker than what was appearing in the color comics. It introduced such interesting characters as John Jake’s Brak the Barbarian and continued the Shanna saga. It also introduced the most popular character Conan the Barbarian into his wildly successful title. Plus there is just something cool about the title. The concept would get a makeover in the eighties but that will be for the future.

GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #4

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

The Sage and Minstrel are traveling and notice that there are a lot of people on the move. They find out about the Star God and decide to visit. So at Ombolo Groo is once again eating everyone out of their home. But King Cuffi has to keep feeding Groo otherwise he starts to slay his army. King Saffi decides to quit waiting around for Groo to bring back his treasury and marches the army on Ombolo to recover it himself. This allows his subjects to quit building his tomb. They decide to tear it down and go home to their families.

So Saffi’s army is attacked by Groo but Saffi manages to convince Groo to instead attack King Cuffi’s army. When Cuffi hears this he decides to mobilize more men so goes to the canyon so his amplified voice will carry to his subjects. The gods meanwhile are in an uproar. The Star God is becoming all powerful and the older gods are fading. It is hear that Groo comes to the valley to fight that echo that was mocking him. He gets into an argument with Cuffi who in an angry outburst calls Groo dumb just like his followers for believing in the made up Star God. His followers hear and in anger revolt and tear down the Star God temples. The Star God fades because nobody believes in him anymore and the other gods are back to normal. Cuffi and Saffi get into a fist fight as their armies decide to call it quits and go home. The Sage manages after only fifteen times to explain an echo to Groo and the world goes on as normal.

So Cuffi found out as many others have that you can’t use Groo without serious consequences. The old gods are now safe and everybody except the two brothers are going on with their lives. It this case Groo was responsible although he was also responsible for all the trouble so I guess it evens out. This was another enjoyable Groo series with plenty of humor and social commentary. I do love Groo and look forward to the next series.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #23

“Resurrection!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Bob Hall & Armando Gil

Ka-zar and Zabu are in Casablanca and stalking a man with a bag. There is a voice in Ka-zar’s head telling him what to do. If he gets out of line an electric shock happens. The fugitive is intercepted by some thugs and Ka-zar has to rescue the man. The man is killed but the bag he was carrying is saved. So Ka-zar is ordered to Rick’s Bar to meet his contact. The man takes the bag which has a green gel that is highly explosive. It belongs to a man named Schreiber who got the gel from a plant in the Savage Land. He runs a criminal organization that has plans to overthrow the U.S. government.

Ka-zar then finds out who is in charge of this operation. A Colonel Starr who is Ramona Cortland. Ramona is an agent of A.I.M. She managed to save Ka-zar at a secret hospital and implant a device to control Ka-zar. She also managed to save Zabu. She threatens to hurt Shanna if Ka-zar doesn’t obey. They then go to the base of Schreiber in the desert and are attacked. Meanwhile we learn that Shanna was only grazed by the gunshot and was rescued by Spider-man.

“Good-Bye Forever”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Val Mayerik

Zabu is caught in the bear trap. Maa-Gor then stabs Zabu and leaves him for dead. He then decides to take the young Ka-zar back to his tribe to raise as his own son.

So Ka-zar, Zabu and Shanna are still alive. Not a real surprise but it was to see where Ka-zar ended up. The writers were obviously doing a tribute to the movie Casablanca. They might have overdone it a bit. There were French police which I am sure were no longer around in Morocco in the eighties. We finally find out who Ramona is and her being an A.I.M. agent makes sense. She is also a total moonbat. It is revealed that Ka-zar is dying so it sets up a lot of suspense in how Ka-zar will survive his condition and getting the control device from his brain.

The Tales of Zabu was once again short but effective. It ends a cliffhanger in leaving poor Zabu seemingly dead with a spear. Of course we know he survives but still a very effective ending to a very interesting story.

JOHN CARTER THE END #5

“Onward to New Helium”
Writers: Brian Wood and Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman

The final battle has arrived between the genocidal regime of Ras Thavas and John Carter’s resistance. It is a battle that is taking months but the forces of Carter are winning. So Ras Thavas unleashes his synthetic men, an army of Den Thokar clones. It is not enough for Dejah Thoris manages to kill Ras Thavas. At the end Tars Tarkas emerges from his cocoon. He is a giant with wings. He manages to tear apart New Helium. John Carter reunites with his wife Dejah and their son the real Den Thokar.

Well the end has finally arrived. I was kind of expecting the death of John Carter. Obviously he is still alive so not a permanent end to him. This was a real good ending. The battle was epic with men as far as the eye could see in a mass with explosions and aircraft in the skies. Dejah Thoris gets her revenge and a happy ending with being reunited with her dead son who is actually alive and well. The Tars Tarkas getting huge was a bit weird but a unique idea. I sort of liked the idea of the green men going through a metamorphosis with old age.

So I was expecting the death of John Carter but got a happy ending. I guess we may get a continuation of this far future Barsoom in some future series. I would say its more of a new beginning.

THE WARLORD #65

“Through The Glass”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artists: Dan Jurgens & Mike DeCarlo

Morgan has come back to Castle Deimos. The place holds many bad memories but he needs help from his daughter Jennifer. Jennifer has become a very accomplished sorceress since they last met. With a mirror she manages to view Morgan’s friends in Wizard World. Rostov, Shakira and their newfound centaur friend discuss their plan of action. The Evil One is killing off all the good wizards so they may have to settle for a more inept one. Fortunately Mongo Ironhand is close by.

Mongo with his friends Mariah and Machiste are discussing their plans in regard to the Evil One. They notice the trio approaching and think that they are agents of the Evil One. So they ambush them when they enter the tower. Rostov is distracted by Mariah which allows Machiste to gain the upper hand and he is about to use his spiked mace hand to bash his brains out. Morgan wants Jennifer to bring them back but she insists they go back for they are destined to fight this Evil One.

“Marauders of the Desert”
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall

Jinal Ne’ Comarr is all that remains of the human expedition. After defeating the mouth tree she is confronted by a horde of men wrapped in burnooses and riding giant salamanders. She begs for help and they give it by putting her companion out of his misery. The mouth tree was poisonous and he was going to die a painful death. Its revealed that they are actually lizard men. They refuse to help Jinal and knock her out when she tries to make them.

Jinal then comes around and finds men. Human men but not very good ones. They plan to rape Jinal and make fun of her sword without a blade. They give her the sword back and Jinal then kills the leader. Its an energy blade that only activates to Jinal’s grasp. As she fights the others a burnoosed man on a salamander with a rifle helps her defeat the men. He is a human named Skinner and offers to help as Jinal passes out from her wounds.

So this issue of Warlord is mainly exposition to establish the players in this storyline. It was handled well and we get an understanding of the current state of Wizard World. Rostov finally reunites with Mariah but has no idea she is in a relationship with Machiste. Jennifer is now a very accomplished sorceress and all will finally get together in the next issue for the big battle with the Evil One.

The Barren Earth has finally introduced who the main character will be in its third outing. Jinal is a tough woman and shows it when she takes on the rapists. We find out that there are lizard men on this new Earth. There are also humans that are not all that good. But there are also good humans with the introduction of Skinner who seems an honorable warrior. The next installment hints at us seeing the human civilization up close on this future Barren Earth.

Oh and the letters page pointed out something that was very obvious. This cover was for the last issue and vise-versa.

SAVAGE TALES #11 KA-ZAR

“Marauder in a Cage of Time”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artists: Steve Gan & Rico Rival

Ka-zar is capturing a unicorn that he needs to ride. First he has to take out a raptor that wants to eat the unicorn. After he and Zabu kill the raptor Tongah comes riding on a horse. He is searching for Ka-zar because outsiders have arrived in the Savage Land and are up to no good. They are suspected of kidnapping Tongah’s woman Sheesa. As they track the men Ka-zar comes on a dinosaur killed by the men. He then comes on a man tied to a tree with a giant bear about to eat him. After he saves the man and finds out he is a paleontologist named Bernard Kloss. Kloss wants to study the Savage land and hired a mercenary named Greig to lead him here.

Now Greig is not the expert guide he sold himself to be. He tied up Kloss when he threatened to stop his plan to come back and capture the dinosaurs to display in civilization. He has kidnapped Sheesa to guide him out of the Savage Land. Ka-zar manages to kill Greig, free Sheesa and at the end frees his captive unicorn.

“Intruder!”
Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: Russ Heath

A plane fleeing a failed revolution attempt in South America crashes in the Antarctic. A mercenary named Clete Brandon, an ex-Green Beret is the only survivor. He survived by ruthlessly killing the survivors so he could survive. Now he finds himself in the Savage Land and loves it. He is a man who doesn’t like rules and feels free in this new land. Well right off the bat he is attacked by cavemen. He manages to shoot them with his M-16. He then goes to their village and blows it up with explosives to neutralize a threat. There are still survivors of the tribe that continue to track him. He loses his modern weapons and clothes. Finally he comes on a group of baboons feasting on a recent kill. He kills the baboon leader and assumes the leadership role of the tribe. It ends with him feasting on the fresh kill with his new tribe.

This is the end of Savage Tales and it ends with two solid stories. The first was good but not great. Evil bad guy coming to the Savage Land and causing all sorts of trouble is not new and Greig is no unique character. The unicorn thing was also kind of pointless. Still the artwork was beautiful and the story was coherent and an enjoyable read.

The second story was a feature they were going to start called Tales of the Savage Land. Non Ka-zar stories that occur in the Savage Land. This one was excellent. Clete Brandon comes off as a stone cold killer. In flashbacks we see him shooting a game warden that tried to arrest him for pouching and killing a village of innocent Vietnamese in the war. He is a man who is a psychopath and hates the rules. The Savage Land is his perfect place and the ending were he reverts to a beast is fitting and powerful. He is a character that they should have had meet Ka-zar. If would have been interesting.

So this is the last issue except for an annual that we will see next week. The annual was just reprints so this is the final original stuff. Savage Tales with Ka-zar was an enjoyable series. I loved the adult stories and the various backup stories were equally excellent. Unfortunately Ka-zar never seems to connect with a broad audience and this ended as the other incarnations of Ka-zar.

GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #3

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

Tragedy has befallen the village of Ombolo. Groo is eating all the food and now the residents are starving. To make matters worse Groo is wrecking the construction of the temple with his offers to help. Cuffi the Star God is at the moment more worried about increasing his worshipers so he can have more slave labor and taxes. He gets an idea and summons Groo. He convinces Groo to go on a quest for him. Along with an entourage that he provides. The people are overjoyed that Groo is leaving and attribute it to the Star God.

So Groo and his entourage travels far and wide. His emissary who travels with Groo comes to a village and tells them they should go to Ombolo and seek the protection of the Star God because Groo has come to settle forever in their village. Naturally they panic and abandon the village for Ombolo. Now the Star God is becoming more and more powerful much to the fear of the other gods.

The third installment of this mini-series is pretty funny. The Star God seems well on the way toward becoming the only god thanks to Groo. Still this is Groo we are talking about and nobody has ever had much success in using him without it blowing up in their faces. I have no doubt that the final issue will be a fun an enjoyable ending to the rise of the Star God.