The first character called "Ka-Zar" came from the pulps, but when Martin Goodman decided to publish comic books, he moved that character over to his very first, Marvel Comics #1. The first Ka-zar was a boy whose parents' plane crashed in the African jungle when the boy, David Rand, was only three years old. His mother, Constance, died shortly after of the fever, but his father, John, lived until he was killed by hostile natives when David was about 12 or 13. He learned to communicate with the animals and blah, blah, blah... When Lee and Kirby revived the character in 1965 it was a complete reboot, but it was the pulp adventures of Ka-Zar which inspired young Kevin Plumber to... but wait. I'm getting ahead of myself.

There has been talk on this board, from time to time, of someone starting a Ka-Zar discussion for as long as I have been a member. The 80th anniversary of the first appearance of the comic book version of the first Ka-Zar seems as good of a time as any to finally do so. Some of the earliest comics I acquired as backissues were the "King-Size" Ka-Zar reprint series and the issues of Marvel Tales reprinting the issues of Spider-Man in which Spidey met Ka-zar. when I was in high school I read Ka-Zar the Savage, and when I was in college I began collecting his early appearances, previous series and reprints via backissues. One of the latest of the early appearances I acquired was his very first from X-Men #10. Up until that time I had been pronouncing his name as I had since I was a child: Kuh-ZAR.

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I’ve spent a good deal of time this year reading Daredevil, from the beginning up through the Frank Miller run (so far). Easily, my least favorite run has been the Steve Gerber issues. It has been only two months since I last read those issues (from Daredevil’s point of view) and deemed them “a slog.” Sometimes reading a run of issues from another character’s POV makes a difference, and I think that’s definitely the case with reading Daredevil #110-112 from Shanna O’Hara’s POV. Gerber wrote the last two issues of Shanna the She-Devil, but when the series was canceled with #5 he obviously had more stories about her to tell, so he moved them over to Daredevil (and Marvel Two-in-One). Although Shanna isn’t the main character (and isn’t even shown on the cover of any of these issues), these are still very much her stories.

DAREDEVIL #110: The Thing drops Daredevil off in midtown Manhattan where he is promptly attacked by two of the Mandrill’s women soldiers. He takes them to the nearest police precinct house and calls Shanna and her uncle (San Francisco police commissioner Robert “Iron Guts” O’Hara) to meet him there, but the women “self destruct.” Nekra and the Black Widow report to the Mandrill, and the Widow tells him Daredevil’s identity. When Daredevil returns to Matt Murdock’s hotel room he finds the Mandrill there waiting for him. The Mandrill relates his and Nekra’s origins.

Years ago, a white male scientist and a black cleaning lady were working late one night at an atomic research facility. There is an explosion. A year later, the Mandrill was born to the scientist and his wife. Two years later, Nekra was born to the cleaning lady and her husband. The baby boy was hairy and had black skin, the baby girls was chalky white and had fangs. Essentially, they were a black white boy and a white black girl. As such, both were ostracized by their peers. By the time the Mandrill was 10, his facial features had begun to change to resemble those of the primate from whom he takes his name. His father drove him far into the desert and left him there to die.

Determined to have revenge, he tracked across the endless wastes and met an albino girl who was running away from home. They bonded and began travelling together. Six years later, they were attacked by an angry mod and their mutant powers emerged. Nekra becomes invulnerable when fueled by hatred, and the Mandrill, in addition to great natural strength, has control over women (except, for some reason, Shanna). His plan is to overthrown the U.S. government. He and Daredevil tussle at that point, but the Mandrill escapes.

DAREDEVIL #111: Daredevil rushes to Shanna’s hotel room to fill her in. After he leaves, he is attacked by the Silver Samurai. Hearing the scuffle, Shanna and Ina and Biri come to Daredevil’s aid and drive the Silver Samurai away. The next morning, Daredevil and shanna and “Iron Guts” get together with Foggy on the grounds of the hospital where he has been recuperating since Black spectre attacked him, and they discuss everything that has happened since Marvel Two-in-One #3. Shanna relates the events of #4-5 of her title, Ka-Zar #1-2, plus what happened between Shanna #5 and Ka-Zar #1. We learn that game warden Patrick McShane has been killed and how Mandrill escaped from SHIELD custody after Shanna #4.

Suddenly, they are attacked by the Silver Samurai, Nekra and the Mandrill’s female army. Ina and Biri are stunned with energy weapons, and the Silver Samurai abducts Shanna. The Mandrill wants to know how Shanna is able to resist his power, and is willing to vivisect her to find out. Daredevil is left behind, but later his radar sense detects the Mandrill’s “dirigible” hovering above the Empire State Building. The Silver Samurai leads a mission to destroy all communications. Daredevil leaps to a dangling rope ladder and climbs up for a final confrontation with the Mandrill.

DAREDEVIL #112: Daredevil’s first obstacle is to fight his way past Nekra on the rope ladder, while the Empire State Building’s communications tower falls to the street below. Once aboard, he engages Mandrill in combat, but is felled by Nekra from behind. Black Spectre’s attack is multi-pronged, not just NYC. The terrorist organization is attacking mass communications facilities throughout the country. The Fantastic Four and Avengers, as well as the troops guarding a now-evacuated White House, are immobilized by the threat of an A-bomb.

With Daredevil and Shanna captured, Mandrill transports his huge Mandrill idol to the White House lawn and occupies the oval office. With the Mandrill gone, Daredevil is able to shock the Black Widow back to her senses. DD, Black Widow and Shanna set the ship to self-destruct and jetpack down to the White House. The explosion startles Nekra and she loses concentration. Unable to maintain her hatred, she loses her invulnerability and the Black Widow is able to take her out with a sting. Daredevil chases Mandrill to the roof, where they fight and Mandrill falls to his supposed death. But when they go to retrieve the body, it is gone.

KA-ZAR #3:

[NOTE: This story has a lot of plot jholes and inconsistencies. If something seems to be missing or doesn't make sense, it's not necessarily the fault of my summary.]

Maa-Gor wanders into the “mystic mists” which keep Zabu young and make Ka-Zar strong and is transformed into Man-God. [See what I mean? Right off the bat.] He then mentally summons old X-Men villain El Tigre from South America. [How did he know about El Tigre or, for that matter, South America?] Time passes. Marvel Team-Up #19 (already covered above) occurs between pages. In the ancient ruins of the Savage Land, Ka-Zar is attacked by Man-God and El Tigre. Ka-Zar is knocked unconscious and Zabu is placed under El Tigre’s mental control.

Ka-Zar awakens to find Bobbi Morse leaning over him. As a SHIELD agent, she was investigating El Tigre and followed him to the Savage Land. Ka-zar follows the trail and fights Man-God, whose mind, but not body, reverts to savagery [for some reason]. El Tigre sets Zabu against Ka-Zar. Bobbi joins the fray and knocks El Tigre out, which snaps Zabu out of his trance. Then both Ka-Zar and Zabu leap to the attack.

This issue also has a double-page map of the Savage Land which reveals that dinosaurs of the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic ages exist in concentric bands. [What keeps the dinsaurs in their respective zones I have no idea.]

One quick note about Daredevil #111 was that Shanna took the Black Widow's spot on the cover, something unheard of by a guest star. 

The only other time that I can remember it happening was in Captain America #216 with the Human Torch but that was a reprint of a Torch story!

'Shanna isn’t the main character (and isn’t even shown on the cover of any of these issues)"

"Shanna took the Black Widow's spot on the cover..."

Oh! I didn't even notice that.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

KA-ZAR #3:

The cover shows Bobbi Morse in the damsel-in-distress pose. Since she is Bobbi, they gave her an angry expression. I’m not sure how often they have shown Ka-Zar holding a knife in a stabbing position like on this cover, but I’d be surprised if he ever stabbed anyone in a Code-approved book.

This issue also has a double-page map of the Savage Land which reveals that dinosaurs of the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic ages exist in concentric bands. [What keeps the dinsaurs in their respective zones I have no idea.]

Some reader must have complained that the dinosaurs didn’t all exist in the same time periods. Never mind the cavemen, mammoths, etc.

KA-ZAR #4:

[NOTE: This issue makes no more sense than the last.]

Ka-Zar and Zabu attac. When Man-God gets angry he mentally reverts to Maa-Gor, but he calms down and subdues Ka-Zar with… judo? (Where did he learn that?) With Ka-Zar unconscious, Zabu again falls under El Tigre’s mental control. They take Ka-Zar (and Bobbi) to the village of the Fall People to gloat. Ka-Zar awakens to find himself and Tongah tied to crossed stakes. El Tigre plans to exploit the Savage Lands natural resources. Ka-Zar distracts him with tales of “vibranium.”

Meanwhile, Man-God feels the urge to mate with Bobbi. (Ick.) But first he uses his mental energy to broadcast an extortion threat on every TV and radio in the world (?), threatening “horrible hardships” (?) if his terms are not met. (It’s not made clear what exactly his “terms” are.) With Ka-Zar awake, Zabu comes to himself due to their “mental bond.” (?) Zabu attacks El Tigre while Ka-Zar frees himself. Ka-Zar then follows Man-God’s track to a “colorless” area of the Savage Land. Man-God has absorbed all life-force (?), even color (!), and uses it to restore the man-ape tribe to life. (!?)

NEXT: The End (Thank Man-God)

KA-ZAR #5:

Bobbi rejects Man-God and he throws her to the resurrected Man-Apes with Ka-Zar. Meanwhile, in the village of the Fall People, Zabu slinks off leaving El Tigre unguarded. He attempts to take a hostage and is mercilessly beaten by the fall People. Man-God’s threat is specified as control of the planet’s energy resources unless he is worshipped as a god. El Tigre wanders into the mists and physically devolves. He fires a ray from his hand which turns a rock into a reflective surface. He sees his reflection and jumps to his death from a cliff.

Zabu arrives to aid Ka-Zar and Bobbi. The Man-God stumbles upon El Tigre’s corpse and somehow mysteriously concludes that he himself must re-enter the mists. (!) An alien machine splits him into “Man-God Red” and “Man-God Blue,” the red one ruled by anger and the blue ruled by logic.
Red” kills “Blue.” Then, in order to restore “balance,” the alien machine kills “Red.” The Man-Apes disappear and Maa-Gor in his original form staggers from the mists. Bobbi then leaves the Savage Land. The “next issue” blurd promises, “A new writer! A new artist! You’ve made Ka-Zar a hit, people—and he’s taking off!” frankly, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Well, mabey three issues earlier. These are some of the worst Marvel comic books of the ‘70s.

That’s the end of MMW Ka-Zar v2. Actually, the volume ends with the Shanna/Daredevil stories, and I now wish I had read/presented them in that order. First of all, they “read” better that way. Second, Ka-Zar #3 takes place immediately after #2, whereas some time has passed between #2 and Shanna’s next appearance in Daredevil #109. I was thinking Daredevil #109-112 would read better immediately following Ka-Zar #2, but that is not the case. Plus, ending the discussion of MMW Ka-Zar v2 with Daredevil #112 would have flowed better into what I have planned next (which is my way of saying this is not the end of this discussion… not yet).

I had been considering continuing this discussion by reading the originals rather than waiting for the next MMW (which, as of this post, has not been solicited yet), but those last three issues of Ka-Zar were, quite honestly, just plain stupid. I had remembered that Astonishing Tales and Ka-Zar weren’t very good, but this reading project has brought to light that my perception was governed by the recency of Ka-Zar, not the primacy of Astonishing Tales. those early stories, especially with the Barry Smith art, were quite good.
We’ve looked at the solo adventures of Ka-Zar’s future wife; now let’s look at the solo adventures of his former girlfriend.

MARVEL SUPER-ACTION #1:

Marvel Super Action #1 was a black and white magazine-sized comic featuring the Punisher, Domenic Fortune and the Huntress. Bobbi Morse is approached by a congressman to investigate rumors of SHIELD corruption from within. She adopts the “Huntress” ID to do so. It really is a decent little espionage yarn for a comic book.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #95:

Peter Parker spots a pretty blonde at JFK. When she is attacked by men in a flying car, Parker changes to Spider-Man and the blonde changes to Mockingbird, the renegade SHIELD agent formerly known as the Huntress. They hijack the SHIELD hover-car and Mockingbird leaves Spidey holding the bag. He is recruited by Delandan, the director of the local branch of SHIELD, to make amends. Delandan has requisitioned a Nick Fury “life model decoy” for Morse to assassinate. She is lured in and Delandon is revealed as the real traitor, but the LMD is revealed as the real Nick Fury. In the battle that follows, Mockingbird is shot, not killed but critically wounded. She leaves this discussion, and next turns up in the Hawkeye limited series, but that’s another discussion for another time.

NEXT: Some stories from 1978 which would not see print until 1993.

I really enjoyed that MTU issue and found myself quite interested in Mockingbird - which was my first encounter - although I later here to loath her in the East Coast Avengers!!

I don’t know for which title these next four stories were originally solicited, but I think of them as Shanna the She-Devil #6-9. All I know is that they were written in 1978 by Steve Gerber and were eventually published by Al Milgrom in 1993. I was ambivalent about Marvel Fanfare as a series. On the one hand, I liked the upscale presentation on slick paper, but on the other, I didn’t like that much of its content was composed of inventory stories, rather than stories commissioned specifically for the title. Some of the stories were quite good, but others smacked of being filler for when the “Dreaded Deadline Doom” struck. Also, at the time these stories saw print, an all-new Shanna story with art by Paul Gulacy was being serialized in Marvel Comics Presents, on newsprint. I would have preferred to see the Gulacy story on slick paper. Without further ado…

MARVEL FANFARE #56 or “SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL” #6):

Written by the character’s previous writer, as I mentioned, with art by Carmine Infantino and Bret Blevins. The story opens at midnight on a beach in Malibu. Shanna is out running when she is accosted by a jock and beats him up, but she does so almost as if in a trance. She makes friends with two girls there, Chris and Deena. They ask if they can visit her at her house sometime (in San Pedro) and she agrees.

When she gets home, she finds an invitation to meet “The Pride” and is intrigued. Then she settles in to sleep with Ananto, and eight foot long python she likes to cuddle with (see cover). The next day she has a session with her psychiatrist, Dr. Dorothy Betz, and tells her about her trance-like state and beating a guy up. That evening, she first meets the other guests of The Pride: Marvin Friend (a television comedy writer), Slam sanders (a millionaire tv cowboy actor) and Kinsey Gardner (a network executive.

Their hosts arrive, two men and one woman dressed as lions. They offer membership in their conclave, In exchange for their service (up to and including murder) the Pride offers power. Shanna tries to leave at this point, but a mental attack by the woman incapacitates her and leaves her helpless.
MARVEL FANFARE #57:

The art this issue is credited to “A. Novice.” Actually, it is Bret Blevins. The work had been commissioned and completed several years prior to publication, Blevins was embarrassed by it now, and asked that his name be removed. Leaving Shanna incapacitated by the mental attack, the Pride and their recruits pair off to commit their murders. (Apparently, the murders are nothing more than an initiation ritual, as Friend, Sanders and Gardner get to choose their own victims.

A maid discovers Shanna and calls an ambulance. She wakes in a hospital with Dr. Betz by her bedside. (Betz’s card was found in Shanna’s possession.) Betz thinks Shanna’s story is part of her delusion. Shanna says something about Ina and Biri being dead. (Did I miss something?) she goes home and cuddles up to sleep with her python. In the morning, Chris and Deena (from last issue) pay a visit. Shanna is able to trace Friend to his agent, a letch named Feingold, when she gets a line on a possible murder victim, a successful former protégé of Friend’s.

Shanna arrives too late to save the woman; Friend has just bashed her head in with a Golden Globe statuette. Shanna beats the crap out of him, and is surprised when the apparently uninjured victim is okay.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I don’t know for which title these next four stories were originally solicited, but I think of them as Shanna the She-Devil #6-9.

Supermegamonkey says Rampaging Hulk: a Shanna story appeared in #9. She also appeared in B&W stories in Savage Tales. Her cat buddies were killed by Raga-Shah in one of the instalments.

John Romita's cover for Ka-Zar #2 is a favourite of mine.

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