Brothers of the Spear Volume 2

Collecting "Brothers of the Spear" stories from Tarzan #68-109 (May 55-Nov 58)

Writer: Gaylord Dubois

Artist: Russ Manning

Dark Horse, $49.99, color, 264 pages

This strip remains remarkable in how modern it is in not only how it regards race, but with this volume, gender as well.

From the get-go, the "Brothers of the Spear" back-ups in Tarzan treated race as a non-issue, with white Dan-El and black Natongo completely loyal to each other, and with adventures that allowed each of them equal amounts of heroism, derring-do, cleverness and other admirable characteristics. With this volume, both are married, and writer Gaylord DuBois continues his ahead-of-its-time liberalism, with the two wives joining the adventures, and proving themselves equally brave, clever and loyal (if not as physically strong).

That's the good news, as even people who don't believe in equality between races and genders would still be gripped by this strip from the past, if only to say rude things about it on the Internet. The bad news is that it's kinda boring and repetitive.

Again and again DuBois sets up the sort of intrigue that marked the Tarzan books, only to have the brothers defuse the situation rather quickly and effortlessly. So not much happens here, and every ending is a happy one.

I hate to say it, but that's why I'm not looking forward to Volume 3, which ought to wrap up this series. Yes, it's a happy discovery that this sort of strip could survive in the Jim Crow era. But it's so boring I don't want to read any more.

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If Gold Key’s editorial philosophy in the 60s was the same as it was in the 70s (according to Don Glut’s introductions to the collections of his series), and there’s no reason to believe it wasn’t, I imagine the bordom and repetition came from the belief that none of their readers ever read consecutive issues. Too bad, really.

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