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.

TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #5

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

So we are back in the far future just before the Omega bomb went off. Caesar is working with his parents on how to save the world when General Ursus comes. He needs Zira to help interrogate another talking human. She finds out that its Tarzan. Tarzan attacks Ursus when he threatens Zira and Caesar also comes to the rescue. Dr. Milo meets his alternate self. He apparently has done this many times and all have ended the same. He decides to kill his alternate self and then kill Zira and Cornelius.

So Tarzan, Caesar, Zira and Cornelius flee into the forbidden zone. Coming on is Ursus and the gorilla army. Tarzan and Caesar attack and are joined by humans. Dr. Milo is dragged up after being captured in his failed assassination attempt and talks of how both humans and apes are beasts destined to destroy themselves. Tarzan and Caesar disagree and believe that because of their strong bond they can avert the destruction of Earth. They may be right for at the end the mutants in New York are viewing this and are moved enough not to launch the bomb.

So the final ending and the story comes full circle. They are back in the far future and this time manage to save the world. A very optimistic outcome to a Planet of the Apes story. They usually end in the opposite. So time has finally found a combination that averts the destruction of the planet. This was a very enjoyable story. I didn’t know what to expect from this wild combination of characters but it was handled well. It stayed true to both creations and came to a happy ending.

THE WARLORD #64

“Elsewhen”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Dan Jurgens

The Kaash’ban have opened a portal in time and sent Rostov through it. Morgan reacts by swinging from a vine into the portal after him. Shakira comes along and once the two enter the portal Shakira continues through while Morgan is spit back out. Shakira meets up with Rostov and finds out that he agreed to be sent back. When he finds out that it is where he wanted to go he is elated. Unfortunately the two have to deal with a fire-breathing dragon that wants to make them a meal. They are saved by a centaur named Erin Shadowstorm. He agrees to take the two with him. In the present Morgan finds out that Rostov was on a medallion showing him fighting the Evil One. He continues on to his daughters castle.

“The Long Trek”
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall

Five survivors are all that is left of the expedition to get the old garrisons ready on Earth. Now the group heads out for a city they saw while coming down. The group gets killed by an underground creature and a giant hermit crab. The final two are attacked by a tree with mouths for branches. Jinal Ne Comarr a minor member of the expedition is the only survivor and is confronted by a horde of giant salamander riding nomads.

The Warlord story is establishing that the action will take place back in Wizard World. Already Shakira and Rostov have a run in with its inhabitants. Erin Shadowstorm looks like a real interesting character and the revelation of Rostov destined to be a major player in defeating the Evil One point to an exciting story ahead.

The Barren Earth story was well done. It starts out with five characters and you never have any idea how it will end. Indeed the revelation that Jinal is the main protagonist was handled quite well. We establish that this future Earth is indeed one filled with danger. A short scene shows members from the garrison arriving at the abandoned ship and stripping it. They are not very civilized or friendly. It foreshadows that the garrisons left two thousand years ago may have fallen back to barbarism. This is the best back up story that appeared in Warlord.

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.

GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #2

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

King Cuffi is shocked to find out that the screams of pain are not the peasants being put down by his army but his army being slaughtered by Groo. Indeed the rightful king Saffi is put back on the throne. He exiles his brother and gives Groo a feast for his help.

Well cleaver Cuffi manages to steal the treasury and buy the army off so he comes out not too bad. Meanwhile the people are celebrating that they will no longer have to slave over the temple. Groo makes a casual observation that the temple would make a great tomb for the current king Saffi. Saffi thinks that’s a great idea and re-enslaves the people to finish the temple which does not endear Groo to the people.

Cuffi finds another village and uses his wealth to buy the worship of its inhabitants. The Star God is back among the gods. Yet the gods can see that the belief in the Star God is fragile. Soon his people will see through the sham and abandon him. Whats worse is Groo has arrived sent by Saffi to get back the stolen treasury. Cuffi decides to use Groo to his own ends which bring endless mirth from the other gods for they know that using Groo will end in disaster.

Well it seems like no matter who is king the people get screwed. I guess some things never change. Anyway this is another wonderful entry in the Groo saga. The Star God Cuffi is heading for disaster. Even the gods can see that for one does say that “If not for Groo, mortals would have far less reason to pray to us.” In my experience even the gods can’t protect anyone from the disaster known as Groo.

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.

TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #4

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

Tarzan, Caesar, Innes, Milo and the other apes and cavemen have been waging a successful war against the Mahars. Now they have one last city with a portal to destroy. So they manage to fight their way to the portal at great cost. Most of the group including Innes doesn’t survive. Caesar is driven through the portal by the Mahars. When Tarzan and Milo arrive they manage to set off dynamite before they also escape through the last portal.

The portal leads to a far future that Caesar’s parents came from. Caesar meets his parents and finds out that Taylor has been dissected already. Tarzan comes out and fights the gorilla soldiers that are killing the humans. Milo comes out and wants to stop the bomb exploding. Finally Dr. Zaius has dreams of the event that destroys the world and goes to Taylor’s ship.

So they manage to destroy the Mahar’s plan to enslave the multi-dimensions. Now Tarzan, Caesar and Milo are back in the future that is ruled by apes. A minor difference is that Taylor is dead. Still it should be fascinating to see how they manage to alter this timeline. I wasn’t expecting such a vast journey from 1907 Earth to Pellucidar and finally the far future of the apes movies. This is a really excellent story going on.

THE WARLORD #63

“The Kaash’ban”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Dan Jurgens

Morgan and Rostov are on the way to visit Morgan’s daughter Jennifer in the hopes for a cure to Rostov’s Lycanthropy. They are passing the kingdom of Kaambuka which is ruled by his friend Ashir. The two get a warm welcome. Morgan is reunited with Shakira who is getting bored with the easy palace life. While there the city is host to the Kaash’ban a secretive religious sect that can talk to animals. The sect senses that Rostov has some wolf in him and convince him to accompany them to some ruins outside the city. Morgan and Shakira follow but are too late as a portal transports Rostov to Wizard World.

“Fate is the Killer”
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artists: Curt Swan & Dave Hunt

Zodac comes to Eternia because he foresees the death of He-Man. Price Adam who is secretly He-Man gets a cryptic warning from the Sorceress. Meanwhile Skeletor with his henchmen Mer-man and Beast-Man go to Earth and retrieve the other half of the power sword. Superman notices this and follows them back. He manages to throw half of the sword away before falling to Skeletor’s magic. He-Man gets the other half and confronts Skeletor. The two throw their halfs and impale each other. Skeletor disappears and He-Man comes back to life.

“Stranded!”
Writer: Gary Cohn
Artist: Ron Randall

It is thousands of years in the future. The sun has grown to a giant red sun and the Earth is a barren wasteland. A human ship comes to reactivate the military bases left over two thousand years ago. The war with the Qlov an alien race the humans have been fighting for centuries is coming back to this area. Before the ship can do anything they are attacked by a Qlov battleglobe. The ship self-destructs to prevent the Qlov from learning their mission and takes the battleglobe with it. A shuttle manages to escape and crash land on the Barren Earth.

So Morgan is back to good old adventuring and he picks up Shakira for company. This story is basically introducing the new storyline which will have Morgan going back to Wizard World. Grell has finally decided to tie up some loose ends with getting Morgan to defeat the Evil One that we have had glimpses of in past issues.

There are also two other stories in this book. The first is a free preview of an upcoming mini-series for The Masters of the Universe. Once again this preview worked because I did check out this mini-series. Will be reviewed sometime in the future.

The other is the new backup The Barren Earth. A real science fiction story with a cool idea. Already it effectively introduces the basic concept without giving away in what direction the story will go. It leaves the reader wanting more about the fascinating history of the Qlov and the futuristic Barren Earth. I will say that this is my favorite of the Warlord Backup series.

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.