SAVAGE TALES #6 KA-ZAR

“The Damnation Plague”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema and Tony deZuniga

A plague is infecting the people of the Savage land. It turns them into homicidal maniacs. The plague was brought by those from our world who for centuries have been immune. The natives of the Savage Land have no such immunity. A rumor that there is a cure in the Mountains of Darkness of an ancient race that discovered it leads Ka-zar, Zabu and a young woman named Rhyla take off. They come upon a Tyrannosaurus Rex that Zabu attacks and now endangers them all. Meanwhile Ka-zar’s cousin has come to the Savage Land to seek out Ka-zar.

“Walk The Savage Land”
By Roy Thomas

An editorial on Ka-zar and his history. He started out in the thirties first in pulp stories then in the comics in 1939. Interesting to find out that Ka-zar has been around for so long.

“The Sword and The Road: The Saga of Brak the Barbarian”
By Fred Brosser

A chronological history of the John Jakes character Brak the Barbarian. He starts out being banished from his northern tribe for mocking their gods. He is traveling to the southern kingdom of Khurdistan and along the way battles various demons, sorcerers and men. Next issue has the first story and it sounds like an intriguing character.

“Jan—With One—N A Review of Otis Adelbert Kline’s Jungle Hero.”
By Fred Blosser

An article on the 1930’s character Jan of the Jungle. Jan was reared by wild animals in the jungles of South America. His second book takes him to India and the wild adventures he has. Another old character that sounds interesting.

“Fangs of the Black Orchid!”
Writer: Unknown
Artists: Al Williamson and Ralph Mayo

Jann of the Jungle has to rescue her boyfriend Pat Mahoney from the Black Orchid. He has heard about it and wants a picture of it. Some unscrupulous white men overhear and think they could get rich by possessing the orchid. So they follow and one gets a poison thorn shot at him and almost dies. The other almost gets eaten by a carnivorous plant and luckily Jann and Pat save him in time. Nice of them to save such scallywags.

“Dragonseed”
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Steve Gan

Marlok the Merciless is in a foul mood. His entire army was slaughtered and now poor old Marlok can’t conquer. So he goes to a wizard for help. The wizard has dragon teeth that when planted will sprout warriors that will follow Marlok. The wizard doesn’t want to give it but before he can tell the reason Marlok just takes the dragon’s teeth. He grows his warriors and they follow him to the first village. Only they then decide to kill Marlok instead. Marlok manages to cause an avalanche and destroy his new army. He goes to the wizard for revenge but the wizard does point out that Marlok wouldn’t listen to him. Also the owner of the teeth has come back a real large dragon.

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

A reprint of Astonishing Tales #14

So the first issue with Ka-zar in the lead. Sadly it didn’t turn out as planned. The Damnation Plague was a full length story but the artist got a kidney infection so the full story was never submitted in time. So we just get a partial story and some reprints. Now the partial story was excellent and shows that Ka-zar translates well into this new format. I expectantly look forward to the conclusion. Its an interesting story with beautiful artwork so it is worth the wait.

The articles were also interesting on old pulp characters. Quite informative and I am interested in checking out some of John Jakes Brak books.

Dragonseed was a solid story. A kooky barbarian who gets his comeuppance.

Otherwise it was reprints. The Jann story was kind of hokey and very similar to past Jann stories that were reprinted. Whoever wrote her stories had a thing for orchids.

The Night of the Looter is a great story but has been reprinted twice so nothing new. Still there is great potential in the series with the conclusion to the Damnation Plague and a new Brak adaptation in the future.

SAVAGE TALES #5 CONAN THE BARBARIAN

“The Secret of Skull River!”
Writers: Roy Thomas & John Jakes
Artists: Jim Starlin & Al Milgrom

Conan is traveling Zamora and looking for water. A blind man directs him ahead to a valley with a river but warns him that the water is unsafe. Later Conan is attacked by a giant named Hanuman who Conan manages to kill. He gets to the river and starts to drink when he notices that it looks wrong. He passes out and wakes up in a village. A beautiful woman named Naia has been looking after him. Her father the mayor comes and has a job for Conan. The village has been in a sorry state since the local warlord Sophos hired a wizard named Anaximander. The wizards experiments have been dumping waste into the river their only source of water. The waste has been turning the people to disfigured horrors that shun the light.

Conan decides to help and when he sneaks into the castle is captured. Another giant Grandall tries to kill him. Conan defeats him and finds out that the giant and his brother were turned this way by the wizard. He agrees to help and leads Conan to their lab. There the wizard has succeeded in finding a formula for turning iron into gold. The giant overhears the wizard say he has no plans for turning him back to normal. Thus the two come in and slay the warlord and wizard. The giant dies and Conan gets a new horse out of the deal to continue on his way.

“Savage Tales is Dead! Long Live Savage Tales”
By Roy Thomas
Art by Roy Krenkel

An editorial on the state of Savage Tales. Conan is so successful that it it getting its own title “The Savage Sword of Conan.” Ka-zar will be the new main feature.

“The Legacy of Greenberg”
By Roy Thomas
Art by Tony DeZuniga & Roy Krenkel

The second part of the Gnome press article from last issue. It tells of the success and failures in reprinting the Conan stories. It then tells how L. Sprague deCamp was hired to rewrite non-Conan Howard stories into Conan. Later a Scandinavian named Bjorn Nyberg submits some stories. An interesting article.

“Spell of the Dragon!”
Writer: John Jakes
Artists: Val Mayerik & Joe Sinott

Brak the Barbarian has been hired by a village to slay a dragon. He goes to a witch for magic. She agrees but there is a catch. He must kill the dragon at the sun’s zenith and can not look at anyone for an hour or he will kill that person. Brak then kills the dragon and the beautiful daughter of the village headman comes. Luckily Brak is blinded by the sun and manages to grab a sash to tie around his eyes. The old witch sent the girl out there saying Brak was injured and needed help. She hates the beautiful woman and wanted her dead. Brak instead kills the old hag.

“The Legend of the Lizard Men!”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

A reprint from Astonishing Tales #9.

So the big news is that Conan is moving on to his own magazine and Ka-zar will be taking over. This is a transition issue. Now its interesting that two of the stories were by John Jakes a writer known more for his epic historical novels that were turned into mini-series back in the ’70s & ’80s. Apparently he also created his own barbarian hero in Brak. Brak is going to be a fixture of this new Savage Tales. Ka-zar was a good choice. The story in this was a reprint. Apparently it was written for the second issue but found its way into Astonishing Tales after the series first cancellation. A good story and actually looks better in the larger black and white format.

So Ka-zar and Brak are two welcome additions to this series.

SAVAGE TALES #1

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on story written by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith

Conan is fighting the last survivor of the Vanir that attacked the Aesir he was with and kills him. Conan is seriously tired and falls into the snow. He is later awakened by a beautiful woman naked except for a thin gossamer veil. She taunts Conan who finds the strength to get up and chase after her. The woman leads him into an ambush. Two giants that are her brothers are waiting to kill him for sport. Conan isn’t one to go out meekly and kills both the giants. The girl panics and after Conan grabs her veil she calls on her father Ymir to rescue her. She is transported away in a beam of light and Conan passes out.

The Aesir find him and he thinks its a dream. An old man named Gorm tells that he saw the woman when he was young. She is Atali the Frost Giant’s daughter and she likes to lure men for her brothers to ambush. Everyone thinks its just a myth but Conan is grasping the gossamer veil.

“Fury of the Femizons”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita

It is the 23rd century and woman rule after some sort of apocalypse. The United Sisterhood Alliance and its creed of Sexuality! Solidarity! Superiority! are enforced in the New USA. Men are meek and subservient. Lyra the queen’s sister is approached by a man named Mogon who is from a tribe of men still free. He discovers that Lyra has forbidden history tapes and the two join forces to overthrow the Sisterhood. The evil Syrani who heads the secret police discovers the plot and Lyra is forced to kill Mogon to keep it from being exposed.

“…Man-Thing!”
Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
Artist: Gray Morrow

Ted Sallis is a chemist who is working for the Army to perfect a super-soldier serum. Unfortunately his girlfriend sells him out and he finds some thugs that are there to take his serum. He escapes and injects it into himself to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. His car goes into the swamp and this turns him into the Man-Thing. The Man-Thing gets revenge on those who were after him.

“Black Brother!”
Writer: Sergius O’Shaughnessy
Artists: Gene Colan & Tom Palmer

A woman is being sold for money by her father. This is stopped by the arrival of Joshua who is governor of Potonga a province of the newly independent nation of Orbia. Joshua is a real hands on governor who opposes the central governments plan to sell out his province to foreign interests. These interests manage to have a reporter try to seduce him and they get pictures of it. The pictures of him with a white woman cause outrage among his people and force him to flee.

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

A Ka-zar story reprinted in Astonishing Tales #14.

This is the first of the black and white magazines that Marvel started publishing in the seventies and as such is rare. I just spent $172 bucks for it but figured it was my birthday and it would complete my collection. It didn’t succeed because an editor didn’t want to get into this market and let it fail. Fortunately Roy Thomas manged to resurrect the idea when the editor left and so we are blessed with the many magazines that came out.

It starts with a Conan story written by Robert E. Howard and this was in the early days when Conan was already becoming a runaway success so its not surprising that Conan was chosen to be the main feature for this series. He was so successful that he moved on to his own magazine The Savage Sword of Conan. It features the original team of Thomas and Smith who made the Conan character the success it is today.

The Femizon story was a fun story. I always love these futuristic post-apocalypse stories. I read somewhere that this is being considered as a possible movie to be developed. Nothing probably will come of it but you never know.

The Man-Thing story was the first one and has his origin. Now Man-Thing has gone on to be a successful second tier character in the Marvel universe.

Black Brother was an interesting idea. Sort of like Shaft as a governor of a province in Africa. A bit dark but this magazine didn’t have the comic code so it could explore more mature themes. This and the Femizons looked like they were meant to be regular features for this series. To my knowledge nothing further was done with either stories.

Ka-zar was reprinted in Astonishing Tales and you can follow the link above to read that. Ka-zar would replace Conan as the main feature for this series when Conan moved on.

I definitely loved this series. A great mix of adventure stories and R rated in showing nudity and violence. Set the stage for all the magazines to come later.

KA-ZAR #20

comics

“Assault On a Cold Fortress!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Val Mayerik

Ka-zar takes Tandy Snow and with his gnome pal steal a flying shark. After Ka-zar downs a few of the Quarlians with a crossbox who are pursuing they make a clean getaway. They come upon a war party marching on the Sheenarians. These warriors are the old people of the lost city. They stole the life energy from Tongah, Kloss and Zabu. Ka-zar doesn’t know what happened to his friends or otherwise wouldn’t decide to join forces with the warriors. Meanwhile the Sheenarians discover a problem. Seems their messing with dimensional travel has caused a problem. Parts of their planet are transported to Earth and vise-versa. Klaw decides to abandon his Sheenarian allies to pursue a more lucrative life of crime. It ends with Ka-zar being attacked by Sheenarian ships while assaulting the rejuvenation center.

So this is the last issue of this Ka-zar series and it ends on a cliffhanger. It promises to continue on in the future in some other Marvel title. I do not know what that was or if they ever did finish the story. Ka-zar and Zabu went on to other adventures so I know they made it back. I think that Moench did a good job of trying to finish the story but there is too much going on to finish it properly. I would like to find out if it was completed somewhere else. Sadly for now I have to move on and remain left wondering to the outcome of this exciting story.

KA-ZAR #19

comics

“Raknor the Slayer!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Val Mayerik

So Ka-zar confronts Raknor coming back from his trip. He is angry to hear that Ka-zar killed his son. Ka-zar manages to get in some good punches but his bragging makes him overconfident. Raknor knocks him out and takes him back to the city of Quarl. There Queen Tandylla is starting to overcome the Fires of Submission and assert her old persona of Tandy Snow. So much that her advisers want her to undergo another session in the Fires. So Raknor brings Ka-zar and wants to kill him which Tandylla still won’t allow. Ka-zar comes to and the second round he soundly defeats Raknor. Then he takes Tandylla and with his new found gnome friend attempts to flee the city.

So more drama with Ka-zar and the fearsome fish-men of Quarl. Tandy Snow seems to be coming out of her mind control. Some other threads flouting around are the invasion of the Savage Land. The Zebra men are mounting a resistance and Tongah’s wife has escaped. Tongah, Kloss and Zabu are succumbing to the mysterious old people who are stealing their live force. And Klaw and the green skinned invaders are plotting to re-invade the Earth. One more issue to the end of this Ka-zar series so stuff is coming to a head.

KA-ZAR #18

comics

“The Gnome, The Queen and The Savage!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Val Mayerik

Ka-zar is sentenced to die in the arena for refusing to be Tandylla’s king. So together with a fellow gnome prisoner the two are commanded to fight each other to the death which Ka-zar refuses. So he has to fight Makrum. Ka-zar makes short work of him and with his new gnome friend fight their way to freedom. After leaving the city Ka-zar finds out that Tandy Snow is under the influence of The Fires of Submission. Ka-zar starts to go back but the father of Makrum a real tough dude named Raknor has found them. Meanwhile Marston makes a deal with the mysterious old people in the ruins. He gets immunity from whatever fate his companions Tongah and Kloss are about to suffer.

The action is really heating up in the story. I figured that Tandy was under some kind of spell or mind control. It was just too weird for her to start acting so goofy otherwise. I really enjoy this alien world that Ka-zar finds himself in. The Quarlians the shark riders. The strange invaders are still up to no good. And the mysterious old people and their mysterious secret. The possibilities for stories are endless.

KA-ZAR #17

comics

“A Shark on the Wind!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Val Mayerik

Ka-zar and his gang are through the dimensional portal and in the world of the invaders. Before they are attacked by the green-skinned aliens another group attacks. Fish-men riding on flying sharks attack the invaders and destroy their portal opening beam. Ka-zar and company find themselves in a three-way fight except Marston who runs away. Ka-zar manages to capture a flying shark and with Tandy Snow flies off to the fish-men’s home.

After crossing a sea of lava Ka-zar and Tandy make it to the fish-men’s village. They are captured and Ka-zar finds himself captive with a bragging gnome. Ka-zar is later taken to meet the queen who now happens to be Tandy. Except now she calls herself Tandylla. She was made queen because of a prophecy and seems to have let it go to her head. She sentences Ka-zar to death after he spurs her romantic advances. Meanwhile Tongah, Zabu and Kloss find the cowardly Marston who leads them to mysterious ruins and some sinister old people. In the Savage land resistance grows against the invaders.

The story is really getting interesting. I love the new alien world with its flying sharks and other strange people. This is a cool idea with great possibilities. I already like the direction. The multiple story lines should keep the action going strong. Ka-zar of course once again has to deal with another woman falling in love with him. The guy has it tough.

KA-ZAR #16

comics

“The Conquest of Klaw!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Val Mayerik

The alien invaders are about to kill Tongah. Ka-zar decides to fight and with Zabu and the others manage to kill a bunch of the aliens. Klaw intervenes with his sonic weapon and forces the group to surrender. Ka-zar with Zabu manages to escape. He traps some of the pursuing aliens than circles back and captures Klaw. He forces Klaw to activate the vibranium mountain so Ka-zar and the others in his group can go to the alien dimension and find some way to stop the invasion.

So there is a lot of escaping and fighting. The aliens seem somewhat incompetent because they have laser guns but still can’t defeat a group of people armed with spears and their bare hands. It ends with the group in the aliens dimension which sounds like one wild place.

KA-ZAR #15

comics

“When Shatters the Gateway to Hell!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Val Mayerik

Ka-zar has just chased off Klaw in the Imperial War Museum. Klaw leaves a parting gift in a flying monster he created with his sound gun. The monster picks up Ka-zar and carries him aloft. Ka-zar manages to cut off its wing and they plunge into the Thames were sound will dissipate the apparition. Ka-zar then visits the reporter Tandy Snow in the hospital. She introduces him to her friend Kirk Marston. He is a radiologist and has a theory about the madness that is effecting the Savage Land. He believes that Klaw irradiated the Vibranium with his sonic weapon and that it’s radiation emissions are causing temporary dementia. He agrees to go to the Savage land and Tandy Snow also accompanies them for the story.

Klaw we find out is working for a race of aliens. They need his sonic weapon to activate the mountain of Vibranium in the Savage Land so it will open a dimensional portal and allow their army to invade. Klaw does this and the alien army arrives and starts to conquer the Savage Land. Ka-zar arrives with his friends at Dr. Kloss’s cave and finds Tongah looking for him to warn of the invasion. A messenger from the Fall People arrives and tells of a massacre before a green beam disintegrates the messenger. The leader then descends on a beam of light to talk to Ka-zar. Tongah is driven mad at the thought of his people being massacred and kills the leader with a spear. It ends with the aliens about to kill Tongah in retribution.

This is an interesting development. Aliens from another dimension invading the Savage Land. It was good that Ka-zar was brought back quickly to the Savage Land since that is where he belongs. I just love all the goofy science they use. They make it sound so real. This invasion should prove to be a real challenge for Ka-zar.

KA-ZAR #14

comics

“Two Worlds in Frenzy!”
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Larry Hama

Ka-zar and Tongah are hunting a T-Rex that has eaten several of the Fall People. Suddenly Tongah goes mad and attacks the T-Rex with only his spear. Luckily Ka-zar is around and manages to subdue Tongah and then kill the T-Rex with Tongah’s spear. He takes Tongah to a scientist studying the Savage land for help. Dr. Bernard Kloss suggests that it may be the Vibranium the rare and valuable metal found in the Savage land. He suggests that Ka-zar go to the outside world for an expert.

So Ka-zar and Zabu head out to a research base in the Antarctic for a ride to London. There as Lord Kevin Plunder he calls a press conference for help. It is here that Ka-zar is attacked by Klaw. Klaw can manipulate sound into solid objects and shoot deadly blasts with his arm gun. Ka-zar is shielded with his Vibranium belt buckle and chases him to the Imperial War Museum. Falling debris knocks out a beautiful report distracting Ka-zar long enough for Klaw to make is getaway in a flying saucer.

Ka-zar is back in civilization. He seems to be more worldly now. He calmly has Zabu put in a cage and seems to understand how civilization works. He doesn’t like it but can function in it. He is one bad-ass since he can kill a T-Rex with a spear and was willing to take it on with a knife. Of course he doesn’t take long to find trouble. Klaw is a formidable opponent and it will be interesting to find out why he attacked Ka-zar. Ka-zar also gets involved with a beautiful reporter named Tandy Snow who was the only smart reporter in the bunch. This guy know how to attract the ladies.