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.

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.

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.

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.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #22

“Shanna the Savage!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Fon Frenz & Mel Candido

Ka-zar is dead and Shanna is mourning. Peter Parker takes her back home to look after her. It is here that she receives the news that Zabu is dead. Shanna goes nuts and hijacks a taxi and drives to the zoo with the police in hot pursuit. At the zoo she learns that Ramona Cortland is responsible for killing Zabu and releases the animals in the cages. The police manage to subdue her and lock her up in a straight jacket at Bellvue.

Spider-man breaks her out and takes her back to Peter’s place. When he changes back to Peter he finds out that Shanna has taken off again. She goes to the apartment of the Cortlands so she can kill Ramona. She tries to kill Ramona but its an impostor in a wig. Dr. Cortland comes back and shoots Shanna. They leave the apartment with Shanna apparently shot dead.

“Freefall”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Val Mayerik

Zabu and Ka-zar are falling from the cliff of the pterandon. They go into the river and Zabu drags the unconscious Ka-zar out. Zabu steps into a trap that pins his paw to the ground. It was set by Maa-gor and he is there ready to spear the pinned Zabu.

So this issue is all about Shanna. She even gets the title changed to her name with the caption that Ka-zar is dead. We get to see a grieving Shanna and the emotions displayed from anger to sadness is quite realistic and genuine. Peter Parker/Spider-man does a good job of being a friend to Shanna in her time of need. Shanna’s anger is indeed savage as she takes her anger out on the city. Some humor as a frightened taxi cab driver tells the police when they arrive that it only takes one wheel to take a corner.

It ends with the attempted assassination of Ramona who is replaced by an impostor and Dr. Cortland shooting her dead. There is something definitely off about the Cortlands. So all the main characters Ka-zar, Shanna and Zabu are dead. There is a next issue but they won’t show the upcoming cover so it does leave one wondering what is next. I kind of doubt anyone is dead but this is an excellent way to continue the suspense.

The Tales of Zabu was another short installment but very effective. Another cliffhanger for our heroes to get out of. This has been a good little backup feature. Short and to the point with an ending that leaves the reader wanting more.

SAVAGE TALES #10 KA-ZAR

“Requiem for a Haunted Man!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Russ Heath & The Crusty Bunkers

Ka-zar and Zabu are surrounded by crocodiles. To make matters worse Ka-zar is wounded and one arm is in a sling. Things look grim when a mysterious stranger comes to their aid. He then leaves as quickly as he arrived. Later Ka-zar notices the men from villages marching off to what looks like war. They meet a group of horse mounted barbarians and are clearly outclassed but the barbarians have their women so they attack. Suddenly a horde of stampeding dinosaurs come and pound the barbarians into the ground. Ka-zar notices its the mysterious man who is responsible. When he tries to talk to him he finds that he is very adamant about his privacy.

Later at a dinner of the River-Forest people he finds out the man’s story. He is Edward Culhaney and was an IRA terrorist. He ran when this men were ambushed and on a ship going around South America jumps off to commit suicide. Instead he drifts into the Savage Land. Now he makes up for his past by helping people. Later that night the barbarians attack the village and Culhaney sacrifices his life to save Ka-zar.

The Running of Ladyhound”
By John Jakes
Illustrated by Mike Whelan and rick Bryant

Duncan is a traveling minstrel who seeks shelter in the castle of King Lor. Lor is at war with the neighboring king and is in a foul mood. He has a greyhound named Ladyhound that he takes sadistic pleasure in tormenting. His necromancer is a fat slug named Magid and has it in for Duncan as does the kings right-hand man Rol. The king does have a beautiful daughter Mylinda who he has a romance with. One night he has a dream that the king is eaten by a worm and shouts it out loud. Now the king is obsessed with Duncan explaining his dream. He later finds that Ladyhound is the kings wife who he had turned into a dog. It all ends with an assault by King Gonwyr and the death of practically everyone involved.

“Blood Purge!”
Writer: Carla Conway
Artists: Ross Andry and Vinnie Colleta

Shanna the She-Devil is pursuing Raga-Shah in the Himalayan mountains. She comes on a fight and saves Prince Tehmah. Tehmah was in the outside world studying. When he came back he found that his father died and his evil uncle now rules. What’s worse is he married his mother and practices blood sacrifices. When Shanna hears that Raga-Shah is his guest she agrees to help. While sneaking into the palace they are ambushed and caught. Shanna and Tehmah are condemned to die like in Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum. Shanna is able to use the swinging pendulum to sever her bonds and start taking out the kings soldiers. She kills the king but not before he unleashed the lava from a volcano that destroys the city. She then leaves to continue her quest for vengeance leaving Tehmah to rebuild his kingdom.

The Ka-zar story was an excellent one. A mysterious man who turns out to be an IRA man now trying to redeem himself. Once again this format allows a more adult story for Ka-zar. Beautiful artwork and a sad ending make this a very good entry.

The John Jakes story is actually a prose story with illustrations. Jakes has a strong writing style and this story has a fascinating mystery and an enjoyable cast of characters. I would like to check out his S&S writing some time. I think I would enjoy them.

Finally the Shanna story was the best. I get to see her in her quest for Raga-Shan. I know how it ends but she is such a beautiful woman and one kickass chick. She practically takes on the entire army by herself and actually wins. I can see why Ka-zar fell for this girl.

KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE #21

“It’s a Jungle Out There!”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Ron Frenz

Kraven is jumping on the roof where Ka-zar is when Ramona Cortland shoots out a chunk of the edge with her rifle. This forces Kraven to fall and Ka-zar being the hero jumps forward to grab him and stop him from falling. Only he is weak from his wound. Shanna has also arrived and grabs Ka-zar. Unfortunately neither of the two can pull up Kraven and the three go falling down. A sure death is adverted by the timely intervention of Spider-man. He spins a web to catch them.

Well Ka-zar is on the verge of dying and the two enemies put aside their differences to save Ka-zar in time for the ambulance. Kraven and Spider-man part ways with the vow to continue their fight some other time. At the hospital Shanna is joined by Peter Parker who is their for his friend Spider-man. The two go for a walk in Central Park and we get the story about how Ka-zar and Shanna met and fell in love. At the end the two come back to the hospital and find out that Ka-zar has just died.

“Obstacle Course”
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Val Mayerik

Zabu has climbed the mountain just in time to rescue the young Ka-zar from getting fed to recently hatched pterandon chicks. He manages to not go over the edge but the pterandon knocks them both over and they start to fall.

Wow so this is a fun issue. We get a guest appearance by none other than Spider-man. Kraven shows he has a sense of honor by helping the man that saved his life. What follows later is a truly touching tale of how Ka-zar and Shanna first fell in love. Then it leaves us with the cliffhanger that Ka-zar is dead. A real surprise and hard to believe since what would happen to the title. Obviously he isn’t dead but it makes the reader curious to see how this is resolved.

The Tales of Zabu was short but effective. Zabu is shown to have great courage and determination in saving the young Ka-zar. This also ends with a cliffhanger that piques one’s curiosity on how our heroes are saved.

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.

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.

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.