Friday, February 16, 2018

Reader's Diary #1735- Brian Jones (writer), Brent Anderson (artist): Ka-zar Savage Dawn

I'd say that Ka-Zar was Marvel's answer to Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian, but I'm not sure they needed an answer, having owned both of those properties at some point (Conan again as of recently), and I don't guess the world was clamouring for yet another loin-clothed, muscled-bound white male hero, but nonetheless I'm a student of Marvel and so, I had to finally get my hands on a collection. This one is from the early 80s written by Brian Jones and Brent Anderson.

A few positive observations if one was to compare to Tarzan and Conan, downplayed is the racism and hyper-violence of those other characters. (Downplayed, not entirely void.) While he makes a lot of meat-head wisecracks, Ka-Zar is, at the very least, a romantic. That said, the romance isn't exactly handled greatly either. He falls in love seemingly at the drop of a hat. Worse, he falls for two women who seem content to let him choose (a la Betty and Veronica). On that note, one of his main interests is Shanna, who, despite her scantily clad presentation, is shown at first with a bit more individuality, self-respect, and strength than I was expecting of Marvel from that time. Alas, that didn't last and before long she was reduced to a lovestruck damsel in distress persona.

A final thought/question regards the fictional Savage Land in which this story is set. There's little indication in this volume of when and where it is, though there are references to tall New York buildings, so it's clearly meant to be modern times and on Earth. A Google search reveals that Savage Land is supposed to be underneath Antarctica (complete with tropical vegetation, breathable air, fictional creatures and dinosaurs, and even a sky). I'd say I don't know how well this would hold up to modern readers, but hey, most are willing to accept Wakanda and even Themyscira, so I guess some people can suspend their beliefs. Personally, I'd like a bit more "acceptable" explanation in this time of smart phones, satellites, etc. Maybe there's a portal underneath Antarctica that transports visitors to an Earth-like planet or alternate universe? Yeah, let's go with that.

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