From Marvel Comics, Bruce Jones (script), Bob Hall & Armando Gil (pencils), Armando Gil (inks), Janice Chiang (letters), George Roussos (colors), Louise Jones & Danny Fingeroth (editors), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief).
When last we saw Ka-Zar he was crossing the desert with his captor/unwanted love interest – Ramona Starr. Suddenly they are besieged by gunfire from the group trying to steal the explosive plant extract from them. It’s comics, go with it.
There was so much in the previous issue that this one feels like filler. Which is a ridiculous thought because it is a necessary issue to tie up certain ends before the main tale culminates in the next issue. Within these pages, Ka-Zar takes out two warring factions, ensures no one gets their hands on the explosive plant again, and apparently has Ramona’s plan figured out.
Ramona meanwhile, destroys tanks with one shot from her high tech gun, manipulates everyone like a seasoned SHIELD spy (which to my knowledge she isn’t, but would totally be one now), lusts after Ka-Zar, and is consistently just one moment away from being a great comic character but there is one tiny unknown piece missing.
Oh, she also reveals that Ka-Zar’s electronic implant is slowly killing him and his wife Shanna’s is not healed but instead falling victim to a slow release poison that will eventually kill her. Shanna is under the care of Spider-Man/Peter Parker who would love for Shanna to forget about Ka-Zar, who they still believe to be dead, and move on. She’s already staying in Parker’s affordable high rise apartment but the reader definitely gets the feeling he would like to leave the confines of the couch.
It’s such an interesting issue, skirting the line between a comic for a kid or an adult. On the one hand, the enemy agents refrain from being too crass and even censor themselves from saying “ass”. Which I would place on the lower end of the swear chart. On the other side, Peter Parker and Shanna leave a late night showing of E.T. and cut through 1980’s sleazy grindhouse movie district in all it’s glory.
One of the more interesting parts of this vintage comic was seeing how far we haven’t come. Geek fans had letters pages and home made magazines to voice their dislike of any aspect in comics, movies, and so on. Geeks are always early adopters of new technology and thus this same snark and attitude came to the internet, but now without a filter. Everyone feels entitled and emboldened to voice their unsubstantiated opinions as loud as possible without proof or merit. Or, most importantly, any editing.
That attitude is present in the letters page for Ka-Zar’s comic:
Please register my vote to strike the words, “The Savage,” from the Ka-Zar logo. It is too misleading. Readers who desire pure savage action tales are sure to be disappointed, while potential readers who would enjoy the thoughtful characterizations of Ka-Zar may be deterred from even opening the cover because of the title… To me, the word “savage” is simply highly inappropriate for the kind of stories you are presenting.
I think that Marvel Comics name guarantees it’s not going as far as this person hopes, or wants. Yes, Marvel had their over sized, magazine size, black and white Conan comics for adults at the time. Also they have experimented over the years with ”mature readers” comics like the Max line. But this Marvel comic, sold in comic shops in 1983, all bright and bold, and with Spider-Man is in no way confused for whatever “savage” action this guy is looking for. The comic is not called Ka-Zar the rape and pillager. Which I kind of think is what this guy was looking for. This reader wanted a comic with more violence, more sex, more savagery and the fault is not on him for looking at a product before buying it, it is on Marvel Comics for not fulfilling his single mental expectations. Thank God the internet is here to take us away from such mindsets.
While watching Hundra was overall a waste of time, these Ka-Zar comics have been loads of fun and I’ll be trying to complete the series in quarter and dollar bins for the near future. Between these two stories, Conan, the movie Deathslayer, there was a small window of popularity in the early 1980’s where loincloths loomed large. My best guess is the dirty R and harder rated theaters then the introduction of the VCR required cheap but attention getting content. Hot actors and actresses in little clothing fighting monsters and/or occult is an easily made solution.
My current plan is to continue looking at these parallels of popularity through the rest of the 1983 project.