ASTONISHING TALES #20 KA-ZAR

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“The Final Battle!”
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Artists: Marie Severin & Werner Roth

Ka-zar still has to fight a revived Victorius. He gets knocked out and Victorius plans to execute our savage hero. Meanwhile Bobbie Morse meets up with Zabu who tracked Ka-zar all the way from New York. The two take out the AIM guards and assault Victorius dungeon. Victorius uses knock out gas on the two. The distraction is enough for Ka-zar to revive. He uses his natural strength to overcome Victorius and escape with Zabu and Bobbie Morse. It ends with Ka-zar kissing Bobbi goodbye and boarding a jet for the Savage Land.

Well this is the last appearance of Ka-zar in Astonishing Tales. That is because he will now get his very own title. So this issue was a good ending to the super soldier formula saga. It tied up the plot and has Ka-zar going back to the Savage Land were he belongs. Ka-zar and Bobbie Morse have strong feelings for each other but come from two different worlds so that romance is not meant to be. Looking forward to reading Ka-zar’s new series.

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ASTONISHING TALES#19 KA-ZAR

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“….And Men Shall Name Him….Victorius!”
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Artist: Dan Adkins

The AIM scientist who took the super soldier serum now calls himself Victorius and has taken control of AIM. He kidnaps agent Bobbi Morse and takes her to an AIM castle in upstate New York. Ka-zar enlists the aid of Nick Fury to find the location of the castle and get a jet ride to the location. Fury also gives Ka-zar their own super soldier serum to use in defeating Victorius. Now Ka-zar doesn’t like the idea of the serum and decides to throw it away and rely on his own formidable strength.

This proves a wise move since Ka-zar easily beats up the guards and his brother the Plunderer. Then he smacks down Gemini and finally the big man himself Victorius. He frees agent Morse who runs out to recover the discarded serum. Ka-zar seems confident that its over but Victorius is shown as far from being done.

The Ka-zar New York/AIM adventure is coming to a close. The next issue hints at an action packed conclusion. An enjoyable story. Ka-zar is his blustery self who shows off his “mightier than the mastodon. Swifter than the Cheetah.” The romance between Ka-zar and Bobbi Morse seems to be ending. There is a strong attraction but the differences are too great. Ka-zar hates the city and Bobbi is a city girl. Looking forward to the conclusion.

ASTONISHING TALES #18 KA-ZAR

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“Gog Cometh!”
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Artist: Dan Adkins

Ka-zar is now confronted by his brother and the giant alien Gog. While he is able to smack down Gemini, Gog is just too powerful for him. Bobbie Morse arrives and tries to negotiate with the Plunderer to buy back the super-soldier serum. He decides to decline and has Gog use his alien technology to teleport them to an AIM base in England. But Gog decides to rebel. He transports them instead to the Statue Of Liberty. After tearing off the statue’s arm Gog then teleports to the top of the World Trade Center and then disappears probably returning to his home world. Ka-zar is able to beat up Gemini and the Plunder and take back the super-serum. Meanwhile in England at the AIM base a Shield agent attempts to steal their super-soldier serum. He fails and the lab blows up. The scientist takes the serum to survive and now has special powers.

Well this was a fun and fast paced adventure. Ka-zar manages to foil the plot of his brother and Gemini. The two villains didn’t like each other and had plans to betray each other. The alien Gog desertion was what threw a monkey wrench into the whole plan. This was kind of too easy a plot device so I just give this story an OK instead of an excellent. It ends with the AIM scientist now a super-soldier who will more than likely cause problems in the next issue.

ASTONISHING TALES #17 KA-ZAR

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“Target: Ka-zar!”
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Artist: Dan Adkins

Ka-zar is once again all dressed up and out at dinner with Bobbie Morse. A robbery is foiled by Ka-zar but Bobbie and Ka-zar get in an argument. She thinks that Ka-zar was irresponsible to put the lives of the restaurants patrons by confronting the robbers. The argument is interrupted when a call comes from Nick Fury to attend a meeting on the heli-carrier. Dr. Calvin has perfected the super-soldier serum. During the meeting the criminal Gemini rushes in and steals the formula.

Now Gemini is the criminal Josh Link who can merge and take over his brother Damien Link the NYPD liaison with Shield. Gemini manages to make it to a jet but not before Ka-zar manages to grab on to the landing gear. The plane lands in New Jersey and Ka-zar finds out who Gemini is working for. It is none other than his brother the Plunderer and an alien named Gog.

So a lot of stuff is finally revealed in this issue. The main AIM agent behind all the trouble is Ka-zar’s brother. Its also nice to see they remember the Link brothers from a story back in issue #8. I liked how they brought back these characters and created the villain Gemini. It also looks like the romance between Ka-zar and Bobbie Morse is running into a snag. There is friction over their lifestyle. She loves the city and Ka-zar has nothing but contempt for it.

So the cliffhanger ending sets up a real epic battle in the next issue.

ASTONISHING TALES #16 KA-ZAR

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“To Stalk a City!”
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Artist: Rich Buckler

Ka-zar is back in the loincloth as he stalks the city at night with Zabu. He is looking to finish his fight with the Pusher. The Pusher has the same idea. He uses Vinnie who was let out of jail as bait to lure Ka-zar so he can finish him. He successfully ambushes him but the timely intervention of Vinnie who gains a conscious distracts the Pusher. Vinnie suffers a good beating but gives Ka-zar time to recuperate so he can give the Pusher a big can of whup-ass. The Pusher goes off to jail and Dr. Calvin is reunited with her son.

Round two of the Ka-zar/Pusher fight. Ka-zar has ditched the clothes in favor of his trusty loincloth. The Pusher is shirt and shoes challenged also. Another fun ’70s action filled issue. The Pusher was working for AIM who want Dr. Calvin so the danger from AIM is probably not over. My guess is some more formidable foe will appear next issue.

ASTONISHING TALES #15 KA-ZAR

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“…And Who Will Call Him Savage?”
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Artist: Gil Kane

Ka-zar and Zabu are taking a walk at night in New York when they hear cries for help. Responding they rescue a drug dealer from getting killed by thugs. After rescuing the man he gets into a fight with the police and has to flee. Picked up by Barbara Morse the two head over to Dr. Calvin’s apartment and find that the thug he confronted is taking Dr. Calvin in a fake ambulance. After rescuing Dr. Calvin and getting her safely to the hospital Ka-zar then turns his attention on his captive Vinnie. Allowing him to escape he tracks him to the headquarters of his boss known as The Pusher. The Pusher is a karate expert and gives Ka-zar a good fight but still not good enough to take him.

Wow. Ka-zar in pants! And a shirt! Shoes and socks! He’s dressed for a night on the town. Still Ka-zar is Ka-zar and manages to kick ass all over the place. I love his adventures in ’70s New York. This is sort of like Tarzan meets Shaft. Its revealed at the end that the thug Vinnie is actually Dr. Calvin’s son which brings up some interesting potential. Also The Pusher was attempting to kidnap Dr. Calvin for someone. AIM? Some other sinister organization? The New York adventure is off to a good start.

ASTOUNISHING TALES #14 KA-ZAR

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

A tank is rolling through the Savage Land. A guy named Ralph and his wife Carla are there to find Vibranium. The tank is followed by the Swamp Men who worship the tank as a god. Carla the wife has married Ralph solely for his money and lets him know it. Ralph is somewhat of a wuss and desperate to prove to Carla that he is a man. Ka-zar is not happy with the intruders who have invade his realm to steal his Vibranium. Carla has plans to get rid of Ralph so she can have the Vibranium all to herself. Eventually the two find the Vibranium but that is their undoing because Vibranium melts metal and it melts their tank. The Swamp Men are angered and take out their wrath on Carla who inadvertently sealed her fate when she replace the bullets in her husbands gun with blanks so he would get killed.

“Jungle Fever!”
Writer & Artist: Unknown.

Jann the jungle girl has gone deep into the swamp to retrieve a rare red orchid for her boyfriend. The red orchid thought has a deadly effect on the native population. Only the rarer black orchid can cure the natives. Now Jann must go deeper into the swamp and fight dinosaurs to retrieve the black orchid.

Another filler story due to deadlines. This was a fun story. Carla the gold-digger wife was just over the top. She didn’t even pretend to like her husband. The husband Ralph was also over the top as a wimpy guy desperate to please his wife. Throw in Swamp Men, dinosaurs and a tank and you have a great mix. I wonder where you can buy a tank and have it shipped to Antarctica.

The Jann of the Jungle story was an old reprint from the forties or fifties. A bit hokey but an interesting read. Still I will prefer a return to current storyline. Looking forward to the adventures in New York.

ASTONISHING TALES #13 KA-ZAR

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“Man-Thing!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema & Rich Buckler

Ka-zar is trapped in a pit with the Man-Thing. While he puts up a good fight the advantage is clearly with the Man-Thing. The AIM agents manage to take down Man-Thing with their lasers and almost capture Ka-zar. Just in the nick of time Zabu comes to the rescue and drives off the AIM agents. After locking up Man-Thing Ka-zar uses Zabu to scare out the location of AIM HQ from a captured agent. Ka-zar, Zabu and Barbara go off to rescue Dr. Carver. The Man-Thing overhears and easily escapes to follow them.

They manage to penetrate the underground HQ and kick some AIM butt. Barbara is captured by her fiancĂ© who turns out to be an AIM agent. The Man-Thing arrives in time to take him out and gives the group time to escape before he sets off the self-destruct and blows the base. Barbara knew that her fiancĂ© was an AIM agent and at the orders of Shield got close to him so she isn’t very upset to lose him. Ka-zar finding out the beautiful scientist is single decides to accompany her to New York.

So concludes the Man-Thing storyline. An announcement stated that Man-Thing was so popular he was going to get his own series so he apparently didn’t perish in the explosion. Man-thing is an interesting character. His adventures in the Everglades have been consistently good thanks to the excellent scripts from Roy Thomas. It looks like Ka-zar might have a love interest as this story ends with them heading off the New York. I’m sure there will be plenty of excitement ahead.

ASTONISHING TALES #12 KA-ZAR

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“Terror Stalks the Everglades!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Ka-zar and Zabu have accompanied Drs. Barbara Morse and Paul Allen back to civilization specifically Florida. After a brief run in with the local authorities the four board a helicopter and take off to a secret installation in the Everglades. Ka-zar finally finds out why they need him. Their colleague Ted Sallis has disappeared and he is needed to complete a super soldier formula that the government is developing. At the same time agents of AIM(Advanced Idea Mechanics) are also stalking the swamps looking for him. AIM soldiers manage to shoot down the helicopter and Ka-zar must battle alligators. Later he tracks down the AIM goons who have captured the Man-Thing in a pit. The fight forces Ka-zar into the pit and he must face the Man-Thing.

“Man-Thing!”
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Neal Adams

Ted Sallis has been changed into the grotesque Man-Thing while evading AIM agents after his super soldier formula.
Now he wanders the swamps. He follows a colleague Dr. Wilma Carver. She in turn along with his other friends are besieged in the compound by locals stirred up by an AIM agent that Carver is a witch. The Man-Thing arrives in time to take care of the mob but can’t save Dr. Carver as the AIM agent shoots her.

This issue is a wild ride. Roy Thomas always an excellent writer gives us a fast paced story with plenty of action. I found it enjoyable that Ka-zar is back in civilization and up against the sinister AIM organization. The Man-Thing story sandwiched in between gave us important background on what is going on. We have a great beginning of a new storyline with monsters, super evil organizations bent on world conquest and a mystery.

ASTONISHING TALES #11 KA-ZAR

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“A Day of Tigers!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Gil Kane

Ka-zar and Zabu are escorting the two lost travelers Paul and Barbara back to civilization. While watching the fire Ka-zar reflects back to how he became Ka-zar. His father had taken him to the Savage Land to escape men that wanted the secret of his Vibranium. While in the Savage Land man-apes lead by Maa-Gor kill his father. Luckily Zabu the last of the sabretooth tigers rescues the young Kevin Plunder. The man-apes had killed all the other sabretooths so the two bonded and became friends.

Kevin grew up and became known as Ka-zar which means son of the tiger. Still Maa-Gor hunted the two because Zabu had tore out his eye in the last encounter. Finally in the hills the two came together. Ka-zar manages to cause an avalanche and destroy the man-apes expect for Maa-Gor. He spares Maa-Gor’s life so he is forced to live alone as the last of his kind.

It is always welcome to get an origin story. I finally now get to see how Ka-zar became Ka-zar. Why he’s friends with Zabu. Its an exciting story and now that the title is dedicated solely to Ka-zar the story has more room to grow.