Showcase #66, featuring B’wana Beast (DC, Feb. 1967)

“The Birth of B’wana Beast”

Written by Bob Haney? Pencils by Mike Sekowsky. Inks by George Roussos. Cover by Sekowsky and Joe Giella. Edited by George Kashdan.

The setting is a new country in East Africa. The Zambesi tribe are holding a celebration. They have new copper mines and the first loads of ore are about to be trucked to the coast. The ore is the tribe’s hope for a better future.

Rupert Kenboya has returned to the village to escort the ore by helicopter. He is the National Police Commissioner and the son of the tribe’s chief, Kilo. He is modern-minded, and sees the old ways as superstitious. His father considers his visit a good omen. Getting the trucks to the coast will not be easy.

The witch doctor, Mondoko, casts bones to determine if the trucks will reach the coast. He predicts two giant beasts will fight after they pass Zambesi Falls and there will be danger. Rupert kicks dirt over the bones and sets the convoy going. His father taps him with his golden spear for good luck.

Some miles ahead Mike Maxwell, a white(1) game warden, sights something that spurs him to action. (We’re supposed to think it’s the convoy.) He gets in his helicopter and races to Mt Kilimanjaro. A shaggy gorilla(2) on the peak spots him and joins him as he lands in the crater, running down a flight of steps. (Outside the crater is depicted as snowy but inside the crater is not.)

Mike calls the gorilla Djuba. At his command it gives him a goblet from which he drinks a liquid that makes him bigger and stronger. Then it places a helmet on his head. When he has completed his change to B’wana Beast he utters a cry, “ki-ki-kuuuuuueeeee!” Then, bidding Djuba farewell, he races off “with a strength and speed only the jungle animals themselves possess”. From the splash page we know that he’s both an outlaw and a hero.

As the convoy reaches Zambesi Falls(3) someone flashes an SOS from the top of the falls. The helicopter leaves the convoy to investigate. As the trucks round a bend in the trail B’wana Beast shows himself and utters his cry. An elephant appears and blocks the road with a tree. Then the convoy is charged from other directions by a buffalo and B’wana Beast riding a rhinoceros. They overturn one of the trucks and the Zambesi flee. (The Zambesi are armed and shoot at them, and it makes no sense at all that B’wana Beast and his animals don’t all get shot.)

At B’wana Beast’s direction the elephant, Tembo,(4) rips off the cargo hold from the toppled truck, places it on its own back, and reloads it. (B’wana Beast says they have little time, but I think that would take forever.) Then they head off into the jungle.

Meanwhile, the helicopter has reached the falls. Whoever sent the S.O.S. has gone. Rupert realises it was a phoney and directs the pilot to hurry back to the trucks.

The Zambesi return to their trucks. Suddenly the head and shoulders of a giant in Arab headdress with an inhuman face appear in the jungle. The Zambesi recognise the figure as “He Who Never Dies”. Their rifles have no effect and they flee again.

A giant mechanical crocodile on caterpillar tracks emerges from the jungle. We see it is being driven by “He Who Never Dies”, Hamid Ali. He says he has lived a thousand years and panicked the Zambesi with an illusion of his face.

Ali has a gang of international scum with him in the crocodile. He orders a black giant with an eyepatch called Tonka to “read the signs”. Tonka examines the ground and tells Ali that B’wana Beast was there. Ali calls B’wana Beast his “greatest enemy” and deduces has taken part of the ore. He knocks the trucks off a cliff with his crocodile and heads into the jungle after him.

Rupert’s helicopter lands and the Zambesi tell him what’s happened. Rupert doesn’t believe Ali is immortal and chastises the Zambesi for thinking so. He and his pilot head off after B’wana Beast and Ali.

By this point B’wana Beast and his animals are crossing barren ground. Ali’s crocodile emerges from the jungle. B’wana Beast tells Tembo to continue ahead while he, “Rhino” and “Old Shatterhorns”(5) delay their pursuers. B’wana Beast, his rhino mount and the buffalo commence a charge. As they charge B’wana Beast places his hands on the sides of his helmet and starts making his strange cry, and in the issue’s most striking moment the “fabulous powers of the helmet” emanate into the charging animals and cause them to merge into a giant beast with characteristics of both. With B’wana Beast riding the rhinuffalo rams the crocodile.

As the helicopter arrives Rupert’s pilot says the clash was what Mondoko’s bones predicted. Rupert dismisses the idea and orders him to take them lower. The rhinuffalo has gotten in under the head of the crocodile and Ali can’t use his cannon on it. But he spots Rupert (his “other greatest enemy”) and tries to shoot him down. B’wana Beast sees the danger and has the rhinuffalo knock the crocodile so he misses. Rupert’s pilot tries to drop a grenade on B’wana Beast, but Rupert shifts the stick as he lets go and he misses too.

With the fight still raging, the story segues into an account of B’wana Beast’s origin. Mike and Rupert are pals from university. As athletes and scholars they always tied. When they graduated Rupert asked Mike to come with him to Africa to be a game ranger, “head of all our new national animal preserves”. They flew to Africa in a small plane provided by Mike’s father - he is a millionaire - with Mike piloting. But as they neared Zambesi country the plane was struck by lightning and crashed on Mt Kilimanjaro. A shaggy gorilla approached the wreck.

Rupert got Mike out of the burning wreck and took him into a defile on the rim of the crater in an attempt to escape the gorilla. He found a cave which appeared to be inhabited and gave Mike a drink from a cup filled with water (“must be rainwater in it from the dripping cave walls”). The gorilla entered and made sounds like speech. (“The gorilla…it talks! But…how? Must be some weird mutant-species!”) Rupert attacked it to protect Mike, but the gorilla quickly got the better of him. Then Mike, recovered and transformed, took over. After a terrific battle he defeated it with a wrestling hold and gave his cry for the first time, pounding his chest.

Mike told Rupert that the drink had improved his senses. It was as if he had become part animal, with “animal strength, cunning and reflexes”. Rupert observed he now prowled instead of walking. The gorilla fetched a strange helmet and placed it on Mike, “like a servant offering a king a crown”. Mike found it attuned him to the gorilla’s mind so he could understand its feelings and direct its actions. He said its name was Djuba and demonstrated he now had the power to command it.

Mike speculated the helmet was a product of an ancient civilisation “with knowledge and science beyond ours”, and that his transformation was due to minerals from the rock. Rupert suggested that Mike’s new power could be used to help Rupert’s people, and between them they hatched the plan of Mike’s taking on a second identity to fight evil and do good. They set out for Rupert’s village.

Rupert was appointed National Police Commissioner and Mike became a naturalist and game ranger.
The natives named Mike’s other identity B’wana Beast. He broke up Hamid Ali’s poaching network. But the President ordered Rupert to arrest him due to many reports he had committed crimes. (Rupert attributed the crimes to Ali, but the President refused to accept this.) Mike thought of quitting superheroing, but Rupert told him he needed him to continue, and that he’d use his position to protect him.

I have this story in an Australian comic from the 80s called Savage Tales #7.(6) The final page is a condensation of the final two pages of the original story, so I don’t actually know how exactly it ended. The last two panels in my edition return to the present. One shows Tembo continuing its mission. The other shows B’wana Beast and the rhinuffalo fighting the crocodile, but the image looks truncated and was possibly altered or supplied by an Australian artist.(7) There’s can’t have been room to wrap things up, so apparently the issue ended with the fight still in progress.

The feature’s Showcase try-out lasted two issues, and the second reportedly ended on a cliffhanger too. Cliffhanger endings were unusual in Showcase. The issues appeared during a period (#60-#71) when the try-outs were mostly three issues long with the third one separated from the first two. The pattern suggests the “Binky” try-out in #70, made up of reprints, took B’wana Beast’s third place, and the cliffhanger ending of the second issue supports this.

There’s a story that Sekowsky wasn’t willing to draw the third part as he thought the feature racist. I think this mostly a bum rap. I can see three issues: the use of “b’wana” in the name; the portrayals of the Zambesi and Hamid Ali; and B’wana Beast’s character as a white jungle lord. I’ll discuss these in turn. The Tarzan parody in Inferior Five #3, which Sekowsky also drew, appeared the same month as Showcase #69.

“Bwana” means “master” or “sir” in Swahili. (Apparently the transliteration “b’wana” is not correct.) In older movies and books it appears as a term of deference black Africans use when speaking to whites.(8) So using it in the name of a white superhero in Africa feels dubious, although it apparently doesn't have that racial connotation in Swahili. It was probably chosen as redolent of Africa, and for the alliteration. But the character's name also reminds me of the title of Bwana Devil (1952), which was a hit in its day as it was the first of the 1950s wave of 3-D features.(9)

The story's attitudes aren't colonialist. It's emphatically set in post-colonial Africa, and reflects the hopes of the period that the post-colonial governments would work for and achieve the modernisation of their nations. The unnamed nation was possibly modelled after Tanzania or Kenya.(10) It’s depicted as a nation where black people are running affairs. (The only white official we see is Mike, a field worker who apparently works alone and has his appointment from the black government.) The most prominent black character is Rupert, who is depicted as a modern man determined to modernise his country.

 Still, calling a white character “B’wana Beast” is a bit on the nose. For English speakers it's too much like calling him “White Jungle Lord”, although in Swahili the term is apparently racially neutral

The Zambesi are depicted as premodern, but there were (and are) such people in Africa. They’re not unaware of the modern world. The copper mine is apparently the tribe’s project, not something operated by people from elsewhere, and they drive the trucks themselves.

Rupert is intolerant of what he sees as their superstitions, but I thought that believable characterisation, the flipside of his desire for progress. No-one gets angry when he kicks dirt over the bones Mondoko is casting. Perhaps this is acceptable behaviour in the son of a chief. The writing doesn’t wholly take his side: despite his dismissal of it Mondoko did predict the fight, and the Zambesi who tells him that he’s wrong to disbelieve in Hamid Ali’s immortality is right too.

Unfortunately the story twice has the Zambesi run away. I don’t think it means to portray them as cowardly. When he attacks the convoy they fight back until he overturns the truck, at which point they flee. One can’t really evaluate their behaviour here as the sequence cheats and depicts their guns as ineffective when there’s no reason they should be. The second time they flee after their guns prove ineffective against the giant Hamid Ali. In their defence, they know he’s capable of murder and never learn the giant head is only a projection.

Hamid Ali is an evil Arab, but a criminal mastermind, not a Muslim extremist. His gang consists of outcasts from all over. His face is slightly monkey-like, as if whatever gave him immortality has also left him not quite human. He apparently has vast scientific knowledge and a criminal network, and he has plagued the Zambesi for a long time.

B’wana Beast is really a Super-Tarzan. My guess is the strip started with the idea of upgrading that kind of character for the new age, so they gave him superpowers and put him into the real, modern Africa. The GCD points out that the cover and splash logos have the sub-title “The Jungle Master”. It amazes me that I’ve looked at the cover many times without noticing that. According to the cover “His very name invokes terror”, but he’s shown defending an injured Rupert from a gorilla, and with his bare chest and spotted shorts he looks enough like Tarzan for it to be obvious he’s a hero.

My defence of white jungle lord characters is they’re fantasy projection figures originally created for white audiences. The jungle provides the environment in which adventure can occur, and the audience-member projects himself into that environment as a superhuman by identifying with the hero.(11) In this case, though, there’s the wrinkle that Rupert, much more than Mike, is the character the reader follows the story through. The story starts with Rupert, and Mike’s motives are concealed from the reader when he switches to B’wana Beast and attacks the convoy. We’re supposed to initially think he’s attacked it for the purpose of stealing the ore. While Mike is B’wana Beast we’re not made privy to his thoughts, so when he charges the crocodile uttering his cry we don’t know what he’s up to. In the crash sequence it’s Rupert we identify with as he rescues the unconscious Mike and tries to escape Djuba.

In his superhero identity B’wana Beast’s outside society; an outlaw, although Rupert and Mike didn’t plan it that way. I suppose the natives might think him someone who lives in the woods with the animals, like Tarzan, and not suspect he has a second identity; especially since, according to the flashback, he’s animal-like when he’s B’wana Beast. In the flashback we see him taking on a gang of poachers which has just killed an elephant for its tusks. It’s interesting that poaching was already viewed as a serious concern in this period. One can imagine the locals thinking he fights it because he identifies with animals rather than humans.

According to the origin sequence he communicates with animals telepathically, although he also gives them orders verbally. In the origin sequence when he first commands Djuba he uses animal-speak (“Djuba… alemb alemb…”). At other times he uses English. During the fights he directs them with his cries.

The most interesting of his powers is his ability to merge animals. I suppose if he’d won a series he could have done this with different animal combinations. I don’t know how long that would have stayed fresh.

Apparently after a while the drink wears off and Mike returns to normal, although we don’t see this happen. There’s no reason why Rupert shouldn’t try it. Possibly Djuba wouldn’t be happy with his trying the helmet.

On the splash Rupert speaks of the story as “the greatest adventure safari of them all, from Kilimanjaro to the Mountains of the Moon”. I take this to be a way of saying “from one end of Africa to the other”, but actually the Rewenzori Mountains, if they're the ones he means, aren’t that far away.

The opening caption on p.2 calls Africa “mother of man-- continent of fantastic mysteries, last home of high adventure”. But there are wild places elsewhere: what about the Amazon?

On p.3 Rupert refers to his “professors at Harvard”, but on the splash he speaks of “State University”. The caption at the start of the flashback speaks of “a great American university”. Although the flashback speaks of Rupert and Mike as having tied academically they likely took different courses as Mike’s specialty is zoology.

There are women background characters in some panels, but none that plays a role in the story or has any lines.

Bob Haney is commonly identified as the writer. I haven’t read if there’s a foundation for this other than the issue’s zanier elements. The GCD’s page on #66 tentatively suggests Haney or Sekowsky due to an Amazing World of DC Comics reference to “Mike Sekowsky’s B’wana Beast”, but its page on #67 just says Haney. The dialogue doesn’t have the hip excesses that were showing up in Haney’s work by that point. (The issue went on sale Nov. 1966, the same month as Blackhawk #228, Metamorpho #10, Teen Titans #7.) On p.12, as the crocodile enters the barren area, there’s a caption that refers to it as “an area of volcanic “badlands””. I don’t associate Haney with that kind of attention to scientific detail, but perhaps wrongly: I’ll have to look for it in future. It reminded me of Gardner Fox, but it doesn’t appear from the GCD he wrote for Kashdan in the period. Here’s an exchange from p.16:

Mike: Yeah, Ken…Dad’s not such a bad guy--for a millionaire! Ha! Ha! But then, your father’s a pretty big man himself!
Rupert: Sure, pal--he’s loaded! He’s got more leopard claws than anybody in Africa… Ha! Ha! Ha!

That could be Haney, but perhaps also Arnold Drake. The dialogue is a bit flipper in the final chapter: “that weird gorilla”, “that bozo is still on our tails” (p.18), “some weird mutant-species” (p.19), “that big buster” (p.20).

The issue is glaringly badly-structured. On p.15 the story we’ve been following suddenly stops and the origin takes up almost all the rest of its length. But it looks like a feature the creators were invested in, not something just tossed off. The African details haven’t just been faked. Kilmanjaro is a real location (and an extinct volcano), throwing the bones is a real practice, the story is set in the right region of Africa for Swahili words. Rupert’s and Mike’s partnership is interesting. Sekowsky does a good job depicting the more authentic Africa. As jungle adventure goes, it’s a pretty good comic.

My hat-tip to Wikipedia, from which I drew all the geographical information. Date information from DC Indexes.

Update July 2016: Haney called B'wana Beast one of his "failures" in his interview with The Comics Journal, which can be read here (see part four).

(1) The flashback establishes Mike as American.

(2) My copy of the story is B&W. Djuba is twice shown in Kilimanjaro’s snows and I wondered if it was intended as an African version of the Abominable Snowman. But a caption in pt. 3 calls the gorilla red.

(3) Possibly modelled after Victoria Falls, which is on the Zambezi River, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The river is obviously where the author got the tribe’s name.

(4) “Elephant” in Swahili.

(5) The name seems to echo that of Karl May’s hero Old Shatterhand.

(6) The cover shows a mostly-naked woman riding a giant turtle underwater and brandishing a ceremonial sceptre. This gives me hope for mankind.

(7) Older Australian reprints of DC comics often extended the art on pages with advertisement or fill-in tiers. Savage Tales is from a later period, but it may have reprinted an old reprint of the story, and the part-page conclusions of parts 1 and 2 are both extended this way. On the splash Rupert refers to “State University 75’” instead of “‘61”, as originally. The splash omits the “Showcase presents…” logo. Surprisingly, it also omits the border around B’wana Beast and the caption on the bottom left, from which I’ve taken the title of this thread. (And there's a little redrawing of the dust on the left.)

(8) Not all Africans speak Swahili, of course. Wikipedia has a map of where it’s used here.

(9) Bwana Devil was written and directed by Arch Oboler, the man behind the Giant Chicken Heart. The film is based on the true story of the Man-Eaters of Tsavo, which is fascinating.

(10) Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, but close enough to the country’s north-eastern border that the Zambesi’s territory could be in Kenya. The President is balding, like Tanzania’s contemporary leader, Julius Nyerere. But he lacks his moustache and his face is a fairly standard Sekowsky one. The Zambezi River is quite distant from Tanzania, to its south-west and south.

(11) Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli is Indian, but the male young reader has a different basis on which to identify with him: he’s another boy.

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Jungle Comics #1 (Fiction House, Jan. 1940) part one


According to DC Indexes the issue appeared in Oct. 1939. It was Fiction House’s second comics title. An advertisement showing Jumbo Comics #11 and the first issues of Fight Comics and Planet Comics appeared on the back cover. Sheena had acquired her leopard-skin costume but was not yet Jumbo Comics’s superstar.


Jungle Comics had a particularly attractive logo. The lettering was backed by an image of a jungle coloured a single colour. It uses fine-line drawing and chiaroscuro, and the effect is as if the logo were backed by a B&W photograph. Presumably the art was by Lou Fine, as the lion on the right looks like the one he drew in the cover's main image. I think it one of the best logos of the Golden Age.


The cover shows Kaänga saving a woman from a lion while some guy shoots at him from behind. The GCD attributes it to Lou Fine. It’s better-drawn than any of the interior features. The Kaänga figure is attractively-done but when I look at it closely I think his anatomy is off in places. Isn’t his head too low?

The issue has nine features. All the stories are set in Africa.

1."Kaänga"

Kaänga was a blond Tarzan clone. He starred in the title to the end. According to the GCD this first instalment was drawn by Alex Blum.

Kaänga’s origin is given in a flashback. When he was a child his father and his party were killed by natives. He fled into the jungle, and was taken in and raised by a village of ape men. They’re only called ape men at the climax, and if that term had not been used in the narration I don’t know I would have guessed that’s what they are supposed to be. They’re small, slight and bald, with big ears. (But all Blum’s Africans are bald.) Possibly Blum was going for a monkey look, but they look more human than anything else. In the flashback they’re coloured white, and in the splash and at the climax brown.

On the cover Kaänga has leopard-skin trunks (like the newspaper strip Tarzan), inside ripped blue shorts. These must be the ones he was wearing when his father was killed. They’re long and baggy in the flashback, so I guess there was room to grow into them.

In the story a safari under the leadership of a Professor Mason is attacked a white slaver called Blacton and a band of Africans (described as "terror ruled"). Blacton shoots Mason. Mason’s daughter Ann flees, and Kaänga rescues her. She teaches him to speak in broken English and he tells her his origin. She wants to take him to civilisation, but when they reach a town Blacton is there and has them seized. He keeps Ann for himself and auctions Kaänga as a slave. The bidders are all whites. My inference is this part of Africa has slave plantations. Kaänga escapes and rescues Ann. Blacton and the other whites pursue him, and he lures them into an ambush by the ape men. There is a big fight, and Kaänga and the ape men are victorious. (The story is discreet about what happens to the evil whites. Presumably they’re all killed.) Kaänga and Ann part, as he wants to stay in the jungle and she feels obliged to continue her father’s work. But he secretly keeps watch over her, “for danger still threatens and is imminent…”.

The use of white slavers as villains, the slave auction, and the kindly ape men are interesting elements in this story. I don’t know if the ape men were ever seen again. Blum’s art is in an early Golden Age style and varies between competent and weak. There are a couple of large action panels.

Kaänga swings through trees, but he isn’t depicted as able to talk to animals. He gets off a one-liner at the climax. When Blacton seems to have Kaänga cornered he says “Don’t shoot! He’s worth more to me alive!” When Kaänga socks him in the big battle he crows “Kaänga no disappoint you, Blacton. Kaänga very much alive!”

I called Kaänga a blond, but in the scans of this story at Comic Book Plus his heir looks ginger. I assume it’s meant to be blond. It is on the cover.

2."White Panther"

This character is an out-and-out superhero. He wears a bone white body stocking, has a face of the same colour, and wears a mask, winged cap, cape, and winged shoes. (Or is he naked from the belt up, with a bone white torso and arms?) He comes from a “ruined city deep in the jungle” which was apparently inhabited by a white (that is, pink) race. Only his father and himself are left. His powers are moderate super speed (he’s called “swifter than any man on Earth”) and an ability to know the future (which he doesn't obviously use). According to DC Indexes Jungle Comics #1 came out one month before the Flash’s debut in Flash Comics #1.

The White Phantom’s father commissions him to protect a Doctor White, who with his daughter is searching for “rare stones that possess a healing power for the sick”. An evil Professor Zaroff overhears White and his daughter talking about it and decides to trail their expedition and steal the discovery. The White Phantom warns the Whites they’re in danger. Zaroff shoots an associate who has refused to take part in his plans, and he manages to reach the Whites' camp and warn them before he dies. Just after they break camp a tribe of cannibals discover their traces. The White Phantom uses his super speed to lure them away, but after a while they give up chasing him and turn back. White and his party find mine with the stones. Zaroff and his mean appear and hold the Whites’ party at gunpoint. The Whites' guide, a native, bravely tackles Zaroff’s scout, and the latter fires a shot that causes the roof to collapse. Only the Whites, Zaroff, and one his men survive. Zaroff and his man are about to shoot the whites when the White Phantom arrives and stops them. The cannibals arrive. Zaroff’s man is speared but the others flee on a handy raft. Zaroff decides to swim for it but the river is full of alligators. The net tells me that should be crocodiles.) The White Phantom bids farewell to the Whites and they return to civilisation with knowledge of the healing stones.

As in the Kaänga story the main villain is a European, but this time we also have black cannibals. I consider the bit where the Whites' guide tackles the scout a hero moment, even though the result is a cave in. It’s good to see a black character used that way.

The fun element here is the story’s ruthlessness at killing off characters. I don't think the White Phantom did a particularly good job all told. The Whites survived: but no-one else.

Most of the stories in this issue are signed, but not always with real names. For example, the Kaänga story is signed “by Alex Boon”. This one is signed “by Taylor Martin”, but the GCD has no other credits for him. The action is mostly in the middle distance and there are a lot of small panels, but it’s a solid job with decent detail, albeit in an early Golden Age style. So it may be by someone who made a career in the industry.

Next: Fletcher Hanks! Immortal Norsemen! Casual genocide! And the original Captain Thunder!

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Jungle Comics #10 part two

4.“Wambi the Jungle Boy”

There is a killer in Wambi’s jungle. It kills the Zari the zebra and Lia the deer. Wambi and Ogg are fortuitously present when the killer, a black panther, attacks Lia’s mate. Ogg and the black panther fight, but the cat gets away.

The animals are unable to find the black panther. Wambi talks with the owl Oger, who suggests a plan. He has the animals prepare black juice from berries and uses it to dye a female leopard called Kira black. She sits on the council rock and lures the panther into the open. Tawn and Ogg capture him and Wambi delivers an ultimatum: live at peace with us or die. In the final panel we see the panther has become Kira’s mate.

Here we have the animals living in peace again: what are the big cats supposed to live on? But the instalment has interesting real-world details about the behaviour of hornbills and moves further in the direction of developing a cast of animal characters.

Although Wambi communicates with the animals, we only ever see them talk to him: they don’t talk back in dialogue balloons. Here’s Oger relating his plan:

African black panthers are leopards, so the stranger's becoming Kira's mate makes sense.

I think the “deer” are impalas:

5.“Camilla Queen of the Lost Empire”

Hitlo, the ruler of Cartho, is looking for peoples to conquer. On a scouting expedition he spots Camilla visiting the beach of “the great inland sea”, and his men take her captive.

Sir Champion is in time to see them depart. He organises the quick (!) construction of a navy, using the ancient plans of Sir Nepturn. The fleet sails for Cartho.

In Cartho Camilla refuses to reveal the Lost Empire’s military secrets. Hitlo sends her to be tortured.

The Lost Empire’s fleet anchors out of sight of the city and Sir Champion and a few other men enter it disguised as fishermen. At a tavern they drink with the assistant torturer, who reveals he’s been assigned to torture Camilla. Sir Champion KOs him and uses his clothing to impersonate him.

Sir Champion releases Camila. (It’s not clear if she’s already had a torture session.) During their escape they find Chrisa, the former ruler Hitlo deposed, and release him too. He has a Christ-like demeanour.

The the trio reach the Lost Empire’s ships, with the Carthonian fleet pursuing them. When they see it the Carthonians attempt to flee. Camilla gives chase and there is a battle. Hitlo is killed when Sir Champion and Camilla board his ship, but a caption describes him as accidentally killing himself:

The Carthonians want Camilla to rule them, but she tells them to accept Chrisa back. He promises their kingdoms will live and trade in peace, and the Lost Empire ships sail for home.

In last issue’s “Wambi” story we had Nat Zittler. I didn’t interpret the story as a political allegory, but it may have been intended as one: Zittler uses fraud to manipulate the Orkas into war; his goal is the theft of the Agandis’ land; he approaches the Agandi chief pretending friendship and shoots him.

This issue we get Hitlo, a ruler with designs for conquest and enslavement. He even has a moustache, but it’s a pencil one, not toothbrush. DC Indexes says the issue came out in August, so at this point the Germans had completed their conquest of Western Europe and were bombing Britain.

I think the artist was the same person who drew the strip last time, as it has a similar slight naiveté. The GCD tentatively suggests Jim Chambers as the artist, and the indexer suggests Jim Mooney as “another possibility for pencils credit”.

As in the previous issue Sir Champion does most of the hero stuff. Camilla is shown commanding her ships during the sea battle and boards Hitlo’s ship sword in hand.

From the art one might suppose Hitlo was stabbed by Sir Champion or Camilla. The script’s avoidance of this outcome surprised me. Perhaps the editor or writer thought if they just killed him it would be too much like an execution. Compare the story in #8, where Camilla’s pursuit of Tah-Kee ends in his accidental death.

I don’t know I would have guessed Camilla was the frolicking in the waves type.

This might be a case of the artist not understanding the script. Are the Carthonians supposed to be covered in congealed lead? Standing stock still to avoid stepping in it? Caught by the lead as it congeals?

6.“Roy Lance”

Aliens from a “foreign solar system” decide to invade ours. They prepare an attack fleet and surround Earth with their planets, which they can move through space.


Roy Lance has forsaken the jungle and now an astronomer of the future. He sees the arrival of the planets and warns the authorities. An Earth fleet rises to meet the attackers, but the alien fleet is superior and wipes it out.

Before the week is out Earth has been conquered. Lance is made a ruling alien's house slave.

The invaders begin to die from a malady. Lance learns water is poison to them as “they can’t stand hydrogen”. He escapes and tells the other slaves.

The slaves test this by poisoning their masters’ wine and spilling water. Once sure they launch “a liquid revolution”.

Lance invents a “water ray-gun” that uses a ray to blast a hole and follows it by a stream of water. He orders his cronies to open “the dam”. Soon “the entire country-side is flooded” and “orders go out to all points of the Earth to follow Roy’s example”. The aliens flee Earth in their ships. Lance pursues them and brings some down with his ray. (For how water behaves in a vacuum see here.)

Lance calls up his former master on the tele-radio to gloat. As he’s gloating his bunkmate jokingly responds to what he’s saying and he wakes up. It’s all been a dream! They chat about his dream. Lance suggests it was “a glimpse into the future” but his friend is sceptical. Lance proposes they crash a “witch doctor voo-doo shindig going on to-night”.

This story is pretty dire, in writing and art. But the panels showing the opening of the dam are surprisingly good:

It’s interesting to the trope of water being poisonous to aliens this early. I remember seeing comparisons made when Signs came out, but I didn’t realise it went back so far. (And I don’t suppose this was its first appearance.)

The names of the alien planets are anagrams of the names of planets from our system:

The issues “Red Panther” story shows the Red Panther all the way through, but it has no sequence that could not have originated in a “Flint Baker” tale. In contrast, this one has a splash panel and final page showing Roy Lance in a jungle setting. The splash panel shows Lance swing-kicking an alien. It could be a replacement for the original, or the original with the logo replaced, the hero’s clothes redrawn, and a jungle background added. But the panels on the last page where Lance discusses his dream with his friend must have been created for the present issue.

The thing is the splash panel and final page look like they were drawn by the same artist or artists as the rest of the story. So are they evidence this story was created for this issue, not a repurposed Planet Comics one? The answer, I believe, is no. This profile of Lily Renée indicates at least some of Fiction House’s artists worked at the publisher’s offices. If that was true of this story’s artist or artists a new splash panel and final page would’ve been easy to arrange. The story needn’t even have been finished when the decision to change the end was made, and the weaknesses of its art could be partly due to its having been finished in a hurry.

The GCD tentatively attributes the art to John Celardo. He was the initial artist of “Rip Regan the Power-Man” in Fight Comics, and was credited there.(1) The GCD also credits him with the pencils of the “Don Granval” story in Planet Comics #8, and it’s my guess the present story started out as a “Don Granval” tale. Granval was a scientist of the future. Future-Lance dresses comparably to Granval in Planet Comics #8 and is depicted as a scientist and inventor.

Lance in Jungle Comics #10 and Granval in Planet Comics #8

Several of the pages on “Power-Man” stories note the possible presence of Sid Greene on inks, and the GCD tentatively attributes to Greene the inks on the Planet Comics #8 story and another Granval tale, in #10. It tentatively attributes to him the pencils and inks of the one in #7. If I’ve understood correctly what the Greene look was like it could be he inked or co-inked the Lance story too.

Celardo had a long run as the artist of the Tarzan newspaper strips (dailies and Sundays) in the 50s/60s. Greene inked and sometimes pencilled for DC's Julie Schwartz in the Silver Age.

(1) The instalments were attributed to Celardo from the character's debut in #3 to #11. Herman Bolstein, the writer, was also credited up to #9 (sometimes first and sometimes second; Golden Age comics don't always credit the writer first). The GCD questions Celardo’s involvement with the instalments in #9-#11.

Next: the menace of the flaming claws! Simba vs Mogah! And the debut of Anderson the Arab!

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Jungle Comics #10 part three

7.“Fantomah”

The people and animals of the jungle are being slaughtered by giant flaming purple claws. They are artificial beings created from chemicals by Angel Eyes, a scientist who wants revenge on the jungle for the deaths of his parents.

Fantomah arranges for him to meet a HORRIBLE FATE at the hands of his creations. Then she destroys them.

The claw creatures have bodies, but they’re “transparent and colorless, reflecting no light and casting no shadow”. We don’t get to see what they look like made visible. They are referred to as “chemical men”.

Angel Eyes’s motivation doesn’t make the story different to those where Fantomah deals with power-seekers. She briefly tries to talk him down by telling him his parents died in an accident, and gives up when he says he can’t control the creatures anyway. The imagery of the flaming claws is the main thrill the story has to offer.

I'm a sucker for a good vista.

8.“Simba, King of the Beasts”

A gorilla called Mogah challenges Simba. While they are fighting a forest fire traps two young gorillas.

Simba breaks off the fight to help them, but Mogah sabotages Simba’s rescue attempt so he can be the hero. But when he gets to them he panics and flees without them.

Simba reaches them and carries them to safety. The animals praise Simba and Mogah sneaks away.

This is the last instalment with art by William M. Allison. It’s an all-animal one, but more anthropomorphic in its depiction of the animals than I prefer. The bit where Mogah panics struck me as true to animal behaviour, though:

The posture of the young gorillas here looks based on observation, perhaps of some other kind of ape:

The story opens with a depiction of Mogah on a rampage. People used to think of gorillas as violent animals. Here we have Mogah being pointlessly destructive:

9.“Terry Thunder”

Kismet gets lost in a sandstorm. Against the protestations of his men Thunder heads off to find him. He finds him (impossibly, as there’s no visibility), but doesn’t know how to get back to the fort.

Kismet starts digging and uncovers a door that opens upon a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel they find Anderson the Arab presiding over a game of marbles. (“The losers will die!”) Kismet’s laughing bray provokes him to fury. He subjects the camel to a fiendish torture:

When Thunder tries to intervene he has them both thrown out. A woman explains Anderson is acting this way as he was recently overthrown by Ali Bahd. She asks Thunder to help and he agrees.

Thunder places his men at Anderson’s disposal. The column marches towards Anderson’s town with Anderson at its head. (It's apparently an oasis city, as it has greenery.)

Thunder disguises himself and enters the town with Kismet. He KOs Bahd and then pretends to be the muezzin and calls the men of the town to prayer. When they emerge from the mosque Thunder’s troops take them prisoner. Anderson is restored to his throne and has a gold statue of Kismet made.

With the last instalment I thought this feature was about to get really good, with attractive art married to a nice mix of comedy and adventure. Now I fear it’s going to be unbearable. Anderson is as funny as a brick and we’ll be seeing a lot of him.

The GCD tentatively attributes the art to Al Stahl. This surprised me: I just assumed it was Bossert again, as the cartoony style isn’t that different. But the art is much less attractive this time out.

The issue’s filler page is a fact page about primates.

The text story is “Jitterbug in the Jungle” by Toni Boone. An American has been chased into a swamp by natives. He escapes by disguising himself as a witch doctor and using jitterbug moves when they invite him to dance. Despite the different byline there’s a bit where he reflects on the suffering of the natives at the hands of white men which might indicate the story was written by the same person as last time’s.

The Wambi story is my pick for the best one this time. It's clearly told, starts as a mystery, and has interesting nature details.

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"Tarzan and the Demon Elephant" from Tarzan #197 (Western, 1970)

Three men from an isolated community of desert people called the Jahalla seek Tarzan's help. Their land is threatened by a neighbouring people called the Sab Rigil who worship a savage elephant called Oopal that the men believe to be supernatural. They want Tarzan to kill it as then the Sab Rigil will flee. Tarzan refuses, so when he is away from home the men kidnap Jane to force him to follow them. Alerted by Jane's mental cry for help, Tarzan follows on his elephant friend Tantor. On the way he sees three more Jahalla men following him. When Tarzan arrives at the border of the country of the Sab Rigil they meet him as night falls and offer to guide him through. When the party arrives at the river which is the border between the two lands it is attacked by Oopal, and the guides flee. The two elephants fight. Tantor wins and chases Oopal as he flees. Left alone, Tarzan crosses the river and enters the Jahalla's walled city. He finds and threatens their ruler, but he refuses to tell Tarzan where Jane is as without Tarzan's help the Jahalla are doomed anyway. Respecting his courage, Tarzan spares him and leaves. He locates Jane by her scent and rescues her. Reaching the river, they meet up with Tantor who has been wounded by a javelin, but not seriously. They attempt to return home on Tantor, but dawn is coming and the Sab Rigil are massed along the river, so they return to the walled city to help with its defence. The Sab Rigil approach the city following Oopal, who is now armoured and guided by a rider. The armour protects Oopal from the attacks of the Jahalla as he smashes through the city gates. There he meets Tarzan and Tantor, who together kill him. The men of the Sab Rigil are routed and Jane forgives the Jahalla.

According to the GCD the story was scripted by Gaylord Du Bois, the pencils were by Paul Norris, and the inks were by Mike Royer. With its images of the two elephants fighting, and the Sib Rigil advancing on the walled city led by Oopal, this is pretty much exactly the kind of story I want in a Tarzan comic. The art is similar in approach to Russ Manning's. I think it's not as good, but that's very high bar. The Norris/Royer Tarzan is a little oddly-proportioned at times, but much to be preferred to Jesse Marsh's. A Marvel artist of the era might have made the action sequences more exciting, but I don't know a Marvel writer would have shown as much understanding of how to plot a good story in this genre without spicing it up with fantastic elements.

I have this story in a British Tarzan Annual from the mid-70s, so I can't review the rest of the issue. According to the GCD it also had a one page text story (rather than letters page), and a Du Bois/Manning "Brothers of the Spear" story.

Reposted from here. This post displaced the thread List of Manga That I Own from the home page.

The Ivory Child by H. Rider Haggard

The Ivory Child is one of Haggard's Alan Quartermain books, and references several earlier books in the series. Towards the end it also foreshadows a future one. I listened to the Librivox version of the novel, which is exceedingly well read. A complete synopsis follows.

While in England Alan meets Lord Ragnall and his fiancée, Luna. During a dinner two conjurers of Middle Eastern appearance named Harût and Marût show up at Ragnall's mansion seeking Alan. They are White Kendah, and show him a vision of a giant elephant with a deformed tusk that is doing great harm to their people. They believe it to be a demon, but the other people of their country, the Black Kendah, worship it as a god. They say Alan will one day come to Kendahland and kill it. They also show an interest in Luna. That night they attempt to abduct her, but Alan prevents this.

Some time later Ragnall seeks Alan out in Africa. He tells Alan that after he and Luna married they had a son who was killed by a circus elephant. This caused Lady Ragnall to lose her wits. She insisted on travelling to Egypt, and there went missing. Alan thinks she has likely been abducted by the White Kendah.

Alan and Ragnall travel to Kendahland. They are met at the border by a party of White Kendah led by the magicians, but have to fight the Black Kendah when they try to cross their territory. Alan, Marût and some others are captured. The Black Kendah kill the other captives, but after a monster hailstorm destroys their crops they release Alan and Marût, only in Jana's territory in the hope that he will kill them. Jana kills Marût, but Alan is rescued by a Hottentot named Hans who is devoted to him.

Alan and Hans make it to the territory of the White Kendah and are reunited with Ragnall and his manservant, Savage. Ragnall and Savage have a vision indicating that Lady Ragnall is at the shrine of the White Kendah's god, the Child. Ragnall and Savage try to go there but Savage is killed by the monster snake that guards the only passage to it they know of.

Hans poisons the snake, and the trio use the passage to reach the shrine. Through Lady Ragnall, who does not know herself, the White Kendah receive an oracle that the final war between them and the Black Kendah is coming and they should give the visitors what they ask. Alan and co. agree to help the White Kendah defend themselves against the coming attack of the Black Kendah in exchange for the return to them of Lady Ragnall.

A terrible fight follows. Jana comes with the Black Kendah forces. Alan tries to shoot him, but fails. Hans fatally injures him and is fatally injured in turn. Jana snatches the idol of the Child from Lady Ragnall and smashes it before dying. This re-enactment of the death of her child restores Lady Ragnall's mind. Hans dies, and Alan and Lord and Lady Ragnall return to civilisation.

"Tarzan and the Demon Elephant", reviewed above, was clearly partly based on the book. The parallels with the Tarzan story include a rogue elephant with a deformed tusk which one people worships as a god and another regards as a demon, a quest for an abducted woman, the crossing of the hostile people's territory on the way to her location, an encounter with the elephant by night before that location is reached, and its leading the attacking forces, apparelled for war and under the direction of a rider, in the climactic war.

I praised the Tarzan story's creators for knowing how to tell an exciting African adventure story without spicing it up with fantastic elements. Ironically, there's a substantial fantastic element in Haggard's story, its apparent inspiration. (Conclusion spoilers warning.) It involves several visions and prophecies, the hailstorm fulfils a curse, Jana's survival of Alan's attempt to kill him seems supernatural, and Alan is apparently saved by the ghost of a Zulu woman called Mameena at the climax.(1)

The novel is also similar to Haggard's earlier Alan and the Holy Flower, in which Alan leads an expedition to obtain a sample of an orchid unknown to science. I liked The Ivory Child more.

(1) Compare the climax of one of Robert E. Howard's best-known Conan stories, which I don't name here to avoid spoiling it.

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"The Renegades" from Tarzan #216 (DC, 1972 [on sale])

Preview pages from the collections Tarzan Archives: The Joe Kubert Years Volumes 2 and 3 can be read at Google Books, including this complete story.

"The Renegades" is reprinted in Volume 2. My summary - the next three paragraphs - describes the whole story, so spoilers follow.

Five men, apparently African natives, attack an African village with a Catholic mission hospital at night. They slaughter many of the missionaries and natives, start fires, and steal crates of supplies and TNT.(1) The next morning Tarzan sees the smoke from the ruins and investigates. A surviving priest tells him what happened and that they lack the money to rebuild the hospital. Tarzan guesses the point of the attack was the theft of the supplies. He trails the renegades to a river and finds their buried costumes. This has marks from a brown stain, revealing they're really white.

Meanwhile the renegades are travelling upriver in a motorboat. They alight and travel inland to ruins from a dead civilisation where they believe they can find a fortune. They uncover an entrance and dynamite their way inside. The explosion leads Tarzan, who has found their boat, to their location. He secretly watches as they enter a burial chamber with many treasures and a giant idol. (The ruins remind me of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but they might have some other model I don't know about. The idol is of Anubis, but the god is not named.)

Tarzan makes a moaning noise that spooks the renegades. On of them panics, and their leader shoots him. The remaining renegades begin to loot the tomb. One of them spots a giant gem on the idol and fights another to the death for it. When he grabs it the arms of the idol crush him to death. The leader claims the gem, and he and other survivor each fill a sack with loot and begin to leave. Tarzan confronts them, and tells them they will now pay the penalty for their murders (i.e. he is going to kill them). They shoot at him, but he grabs a spear they stripped of jewels and kills them both with a single throw. He dynamites the entrance and presents the missionaries with the gem from the statue so they can rebuild their hospital compound.

The story was written and inked by Joe Kubert and pencilled by Frank Thorne. At this point Thorne's work was not as stylised as it was on Red Sonja, and looked more like Kubert's. This is not just due to Kubert's inks; Thorne's stories from the latter issues of Tomahawk have a similar look. It's my guess Kubert provided breakdowns (see on Volume 3 below).

The story mostly focuses on the renegades. The only action involving Tarzan is at the climax, and is over quickly. The art has an impressionistic look in the Kubert manner but is good, with a particularly nice aerial shot of the lost city. The sequence depicting the attack on the village is effectively-told and brutal. It's largely a visual sequence, with captions but almost no dialogue. But I don't like how the Thorne-Kubert team handled Tarzan's face; it has a weak look to me. Apparently this is due to Kubert, as he has the same look in Kubert-pencilled issues.

The first part of the story - the attack on the village and the renegades' trip upriver - struck me as obviously imitated from the movie Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959). The latter part of the plot reminded me of Tarzan and the Trappers (1958), but there the parallels are much less close and that part of the story might have some other model.(2)

The cover, by Kubert, uses the title "The Renegade!" and doesn't depict a scene from the story. It's at best connected to it by a danger-from-an-idol element. The collection reprints the covers, but without the DC logo.

According to the GCD the original issue also had a "Beyond the Farthest Star" back-up possibly written by Marv Wolfman, with art by Howard Chaykin. Beyond the Farthest Star is a collection of two late novellas by Burroughs. This instalment might be part of an adaptation, but the GCD doesn't say. I infer from the GCD's uncertainty that the instalment didn't have a script credit. The lead story didn't have credits either. The GCD's credits for it are confirmed by Kubert's introduction to the collection.

Snark time! Sealing a building containing untold riches by dynamiting the entrance is a waste of time. In Egypt there are cases where tomb robbers or would-be robbers burrowed through the walls! One imagines the archaelogists who eventually excavated the city wept at the damage to the entrance portal and chamber. And it's not like Tarzan was above looting a lost city himself.

The preview of Volume 2 also has the first 15 pages of the lead story from the previous issue, "The Mine!". This is a mash-up of new pages and art by Kubert and rescripted panels from a Hal Foster Sunday sequence. I don't think the combination works very well. According to the GCD another mash-up like this, from a Burne Hogarth sequence, appeared in #211. Later issues, including the giants, reprinted Russ Manning stories. But apparently these weren't mashups, and Volume 3 skips them (and the other back-ups from the giants, except or the "Korak" story from #230).

The Kubert Tarzan also ran adaptations of Burroughs's stories, much like Roy Thomas's Conan (and the Gold Key Tarzan before them). Google Books's preview of Volume 3 has pages from several issues. The ones on pp.156-158, 172-174 are from Kubert's adaptation of Burroughs's Tarzan and the Lion Man in Tarzan #231-#234. It also has images of two pages of Kubert's breakdowns and the corresponding finished pages for the lead story in #212. These breakdowns include the final dialogue, so I think Kubert likely wrote in that form. The #212 story was incidentally another adaptation, of one of the short stories in The Jungle Tales of Tarzan

(1) I originally wrote 'dynamite', but the boxes say TNT. I must confess I didn't know there was a difference. The confusion is found in the story.

(2) Both films starred Gordon Scott. Tarzan's Greatest Adventure is in colour and features Anthony Quayle as Tarzan's chief opponent and Sean Connery as one of the other villains. Tarzan and the Trappers is B&W and consists of three episodes originally intended for TV and released as a movie. It's in the public domain and can be found online.

The first version of the post displaced the thread Cool stuff out 4/8/15 from the home page.

The preview of Volume 3 at Amazon includes a page which shows Kubert's layouts for the final page of "The Renegades".

Volume 3 is the last one in the Dark Horse Tarzan Archives: The Joe Kubert Years series and stops with the last solo Kubert story, from #235. The GCD informs me there were later issues with stories and layouts by Kubert and finished art by Franc Reyes, Rudy Florese or the Redondo studio. The Dial B for Blog website has examples of Kubert's layouts for and the finished art from one of the Reyes stories here.

Joe Orlando took over editing the title with #250 and brought in Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez as the artist for an adaptation of Tarzan the Untamed, the final part of which was drawn by Florese. The remaining two issues reprinted Kubert-period stories. The last issue reprinted "The Renegades" with a new cover by Alfredo Alcala.

Jumbo Comics #86 (Fiction House, 1946)

The first superstar of American comic books was Superman; but he was preceded by Sheena, since she debuted before him in a British comic called Wags that was produced by the Eisner and Iger Shop. Toonopedia lists her first appearance as 1937, which is when the comic started, but the GCD says she first appeared in Wags #46, dated for Jan. 14 1938.

Fiction House's Jumbo Comics started as a tabloid that reprinted Eisner and Iger material, including features from Wags. Sheena appeared from the first issue, initially in Wags reprints. The title went down to a smaller size with #9, and to the standard Golden Age size with #10.

Kirby worked for Eisner and Iger while Wags was in production, and the GCD ascribes to him stories in Jumbo Comics #1-#3. One of the features he drew was "The Diary of Dr. Hayward."

In #10 Sheena's boyfriend killed a leopard and Sheena had it made into her famous costume. The GCD currently takes the story to be reprinted from Wags, but it doesn't specify the issue and that might be a mistake. The costume made its Jumbo Comics debut on the cover of #9.

The line-ups of Golden Age anthologies were often surprisingly stable, and four of the six features in #86 made their Jumbo Comics debuts in #1: "Sheena",  "ZX-5", "Stuart Taylor" (as "The Diary of Dr. Hayward"), and "The Hawk" (as "Hawks of the Seas").

The cover features Sheena and promises a story called "Witch-Maiden of the Burning Glade". It shows Sheena saving an unconscious woman from a lion while a fire blazes in the background. Sheena's opponent inside is a jungle queen. A character calls her a witch, but she isn't one really, and there's no lion fight or burning glade. A lot of Fiction House comics have this kind of mismatch. My guess is the covers were prepared by Fiction House and the Sheena stories by the Iger Shop, and Fiction House thought it unnecessary to coordinate. The issue also has a Sheena text story, but the cover doesn't match it either. It's a pretty good cover. The GCD doesn't know who drew it.

"Sheena Queen of the Jungle"

Sheena and Bob are catching turtles. They spot a man mounted on an out-of-control zebroid, but before they can help him Sheena has to overcome a hippopotamus that overturns their raft. The zebroid is killed by a leopard. Sheena saves the rider, but he passes out from loss of blood.

When he recovers he explains he came to Africa to rescue his son, who came to Africa to mate zebras and horses. He has fallen under the influence of a "jungle witch" who rules an "ancient village". When he reached him his son didn't recognise him. The queen feigned friendliness, but afterwards attempted to kill him. He was hit by a spear as he fled on the zebroid.

The trio travel to the village. As the women are challenging each other the son makes an appreciative comment about Sheena's looks, so Bob attacks him.(!) The queen orders her guards to seize them, but Sheena seizes the queen's chariot and escapes...

This is a violent jungle adventure, and if you like this kind of thing, the good stuff. Sheena is a true action hero, as fierce as any jungle king. She doesn't talk to animals.

In jungle king stories the heroes calls their women their mates, and that's what Sheena called Bob. Toonopedia describes him as "sort of a male Lois Lane, always needing to be rescued". He needs to be rescued here. The scene where he attacks the son is a male catfight.

The "ancient village" is depicted as a lost civilisation, with substantial stone buildings and an arena. Its ruling caste is white and apparently of Roman descent. This isn't mentioned in the dialogue, but it may have been intended by the writer as the evil queen executes her prisoners in violent ways in an arena, as the Romans did.

The queen's method is to immobilise her prisoners and have riders on zebroids gore them with horns strapped to the animals' muzzles. A black man tied to a water buffalo is executed in this manner. The zebroid is ridden by a rider in late medieval armour, and strikes the water buffalo first. Given how dangerous they're said to be I take it the one in the sequence was drugged.

The GCD ascribes the instalment's art to Robert Webb.

According to the Wikipedia article zorses are immune to nagana pest (sleeping sickness), so breeding them does make sense.

Sheena's feature continued to the final issue, #167, and in fact slightly beyond, as she made further appearances in altered versions of old stories in Jungle Comics #158 and Kaänga Comics #16. She also appeared in her own title and even pulp magazines. A TV series starring Irish McCalla as Sheena appeared in 1955-56, after her comics series had ended.

"ZX-5 Spies in Action"

ZX-5 was initially an agent of a European country called Chesterland, but apparently somewhere along the way he was recast as an American agent. The series continued to #140.

In this instalment the setting is the American sector of post-war Berlin, and the Nazi underground schemes to blow up American officers with mini atomic bombs hidden in pedometers. 

The art is semi-cartoony, but the story is played straight except for a comedy bit p.4 and a crack about overcharging Germans at the start. The GCD ascribes the art to Alex Blum.

"Stuart Taylor Weird Stories of the Supernatural"

"The Diary of Dr. Hayward" from Wags was apparently about the uncanny adventures of a scientist, his protégé Stuart Taylor, and Taylor's fiancée Laura. Jumbo Comics reprinted instalments from two Wags storylines. Their villains were occult scientists.

In Jumbo Comics #9 the feature was retitled "Weird Stories of the Supernatural", and in #10 it became "Stuart Taylor in Weird Stories of the Supernatural". But the second reprinted adventure involved time travel, and the result was the feature became time travel-themed. It developed into a series in which in each instalment Taylor and co. took a trip into the past and had a light-hearted adventure involving a famous historical figure. Laura became Hayward's daughter.

Presumably when the title was changed those involved hadn't yet decided time travel would permanently be the theme. The surprising thing is the "Weird Stories of the Supernatural" subtitle was kept all the way to the feature's end. Like "ZX-5" it ended in #140.

In this instalment Taylor and co. travel back to old New Orleans and meet Jean Lafitte and Governor Claiborne. Lafitte is portrayed as a charming scoundrel. As with the previous story the art is semi-cartoony, but this time the story is comic too. The GCD again ascribes the art to Alex Blum.

"Sky Girl"

This was a comedy feature about a red-headed lady pilot who has a knack for causing chaos. It ran from #68 to #130, skipping #79. In this instalment Ginge is demobilised but keeps imagining she's hearing or seeing warring Japanese.

Matt Baker drew many of the feature's instalments, and the GCD ascribes this one to him. His art is OK here, and his facility for drawing pretty women shows, but his art wasn't yet as good as it became.

"The Hawk"

This was a series about a heroic captain of the 17th or 18th century. His girlfriend was a female member of his crew called Velvet. The feature was initially by Eisner himself, so it was bylined "by Willis Resnie". The byline remained in use after he was gone. The last instalment appeared in #162.

This is the first instalment of this feature I've read, and it's a good advertisement for it. Velvet gets angry at Captain Hawk and goes ashore, and gets mixed up with a gang seeking a jade joss. Their leader is an Chinese pirate called Chen Fang, and his lieutenant is a blind man called Blind Ben. The joss is in the possession of a Chinese man known as the Frog, who gives his life so Velvet can escape with it. His determined sister brings about the villains' defeat.

The GCD ascribes the story's art to Robert Webb.

"The Ghost Gallery"

This was a horror feature that started in #42. Initially it depicted the cases of a ghost investigator called Drew Murdoch. He was depicted as relating the adventures, so they were bylined to Murdoch himself. Later stories were sometimes experiences of others that Murdoch related, or which were related to him. In this instalment Murdoch doesn't appear or narrate, but the final caption still promises "Another Drew Murdoch thriller" in the next issue.

The series quickly moved to last place, indicating it was viewed as Jumbo Comics's second-top feature. For the final 7 issues it took over the covers and lead slot. Instalments were also reprinted in Ghost Comics. The title started as an all-reprint title, and "Ghost Gallery" reprints predominated in those issues. A couple more stories were reprinted in later issues, but with their series logos removed. After Jumbo Comics ended a new story in Ghost Comics #7 was labelled "A Ghost Gallery thriller".

This instalment is a grim zombie story set in the US that starts with a bank robbery committed by zombies wearing featureless masks and wielding machetes. The GCD ascribes the art to Alex Blum. It doesn't have the semi-cartoon look of the other two stories.

The text story is called "Sheena and the Death Claws!" and bylined to Tom Alexander. According to the GCD this was Toni Blum. Sheena's chimp is shot in the leg by an English lady hunter. Sheena holds sport shooting in contempt and resolves to end the woman's.

Nyoka, the Jungle Girl #17 (Charlton, 1956)

Nyoka was a serial heroine who had become one of Fawcett's most successful characters. Charlton ran Nyoka stories in Zoo Funnies and then retitled the comic Nyoka the Jungle Girl. It began by reprinting stories, but also did some new ones. Changes were made to reprinted stories.

The GCD doesn't list earlier appearances for the Nyoka stories from Zoo Comics stories #9 and #10. But they have the look of Fawcett stories, so perhaps they were reprints with changed titles, or perhaps they were Fawcett inventory.

The present issue was the first issue of Charlton's Nyoka with new stories. The issue had three new Nyoka stories, a Mike Danger and Johnny Adventure story with the names altered, and a Nyoka reprint.

"Nyoka the Jungle Girl": "The Last of the Slavers"

Nyoka investigates disappearances of a number of native men.

"Nyoka the Jungle Girl": "The Tribe of the Giants"

Nyoka accompanies the District Commissioner on a trip to make peace with a tribe of giants.

"Nyoka the Jungle Girl": "The White Menace"

Nyoka learns evil white men are robbing banks under cover of Mau Mau raids.

The art of the new Nyoka stories is dull but competent. But they're all too short to be interesting, only three or four pages, and read like no effort was put into their writing. The third story reads better than the others as it has an action climax, but the art depicts it unexcitingly. In the other two stories Nyoka defeats the villains by talking.

The GCD tentatively ascribes the three stories' scripts to Joe Gill, ascribes their pencils to Charles Nicholas, and their inks tentatively to Dick Giordano.

(Mike Ranger and Johnny Advent): "They Dared Enter the Forbidden Valley"

Johnny and Mike set out to find a British man missing in the jungle.

The premise of the strip is Mike is a detective, Johnny an explorer. So Mike is at home in cities, Johnny in the wilderness.

As Mike Danger and Johnny Adventure the pair appeared in Charlton's Danger and Adventure #24-#27. In #24 their pages together were framing pages for two reprints. Johnny's story was a reprint from Fox's Frank Buck. Mike's was from Fawcett's Mike Barnett, Man Against Crime. #25 had two more reprints, without the framing device, from the same features. In #26-#27 they each appeared in a new solo story and teamed up in a third.

In this story Mike's name has been altered to Mike Ranger, and Johnny's to Johnny's Advent. One can see signs of relettering, so presumably the story was inventory. Why did Charlton bother? Perhaps Charlton couldn't legally used the "Mike Danger" name as it had previously been used for Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger.

This story is six pages. The art is similar to the art of the new Nyoka stories, but a bit worse. The GCD ascribes the script tentatively to Gill, the pencils to Nicholas, and the inks tentatively to Sal Trapani. The story has an action climax, like "The White Menace". With strong art it might've been exciting, but instead the art makes it dull.

"Nyoka the Jungle Girl": "The Lost Brother"

Nyoka saves a native from native pursuers. He tells her their tribes have been at war since his babyhood, and the other tribe has just conquered his.

This is a seven-pager, from Master Comics #113. It's the issue's most satisfying story. The GCD tentatively ascribes the script to Rod Reed. It assigns the art to Henry Kiefer.(1) The story is drawn in the style regularly used for the feature at Fawcett. That's different to Kiefer's usual style, but the GCD credits Kiefer with quite a number of "Nyoka" Master Comics instalments and Jerry Bails's Who's Who records him as having worked on the feature.

The issue also has a one-pager of animal facts with nice animal art. The GCD tentatively attributes the script to Gill and the art to Maurice Whitman.

In the text story a man searches the Tanara jungle for the wreckage of his brother-in-law's crashed plane in the hope of recovering his work.

The cover was by Whitman. It doesn't depict a scene from one of the stories. Fawcett's Nyoka was a brunette. Charlton's was blonde on the covers, but she's brunette inside this issue.

(1) Currently the entry on the present issue assigns the story to Kiefer tentatively and the entry on Master Comics #113 confidently.

The first version of this post displaced the thread Hanna-Barbera Cartoons from the homepage.

The Real Congo Bill

Frank Buck was an animal trapper, who became famous when he co-wrote a book about his experiences, Bring 'Em Back Alive. He subsequently co-wrote further books, made hit movies about animal trapping, and appeared in others as an actor. 

I think he may have been the model for Congo Bill, although I'm sure that strip was also partly an imitation of Jungle Jim. Bill's name links him to Africa, but Buck did most of his trapping in Asia.

In the 1930s Buck's name and image were used to promote a King Features Sunday strip called Ted Towers Animal Master. According to The Comic Strip Project it was successively drawn by Glen Cravath, Joe King, Paul Frehm and Ed Stevenson. In some countries it appeared under translations of the name Bring 'Em Back Alive.

In the 1940s accounts of his career appeared in Parents' Magazine Press's True Comics #51 and Pines's It Really Happened #9. The two stories mostly recount the same episodes.

In 1950 Fox published Frank Buck for three issues. This featured fictional stories. DC Indexes indicates the first issue went on sale shortly before Buck died.

Classics Illustrated adapted two of his books later in the 1950s. First, Bring 'Em Back Alive, in #104. Second, On Jungle Trails, in #140.

Cool Lines Art is currently offering for sale two lots relating to Glen Cravath's time as the strip's artist. They're both made up of rough pencils for a strip and a colour proof for another. They can be found by searching for "Ted Towers" here.

Frank Buck #3 (Fox, 1950)

This is a solid issue, with good writing and art. The stories are represented as experiences of Buck's that he relates.

The GCD doesn't have creator credits for the stories. It currently attributes the panels at the bottom of the cover to Wally Wood, but they're from the first story and it's not drawn in his style. The stories look like they were all drawn by the same artist.

The main cover image is painted. It doesn't do much for me but the artist did catch Buck's likeness.

"Frank Buck": "The Graveyard of the Devil Lizards"

Buck is introduced to a geologist named Doctor Kupsch who describes an encounter with a giant lizard he had while surveying an island. Afterwards a guard was taken during the night. The Governor thinks his story a fever-dream but Kupsch's daughter was with him and confirms it.

Buck leads an expedition to the island consisting of himself, the Kupsches, an Indonesian named Tuphon, and another bearer. The island has a volcano. The islanders bar their way fearing they'll anger "the lizard god, who abides in the smoking hut". Buck tells them Kupsch is a wizard who knows magic that will allow him to make a lasting peace with it.

The expedition sets up cameras and digs trap pits. During the night Buck thinks he hears something outside his tent. The next day Maaritje Kupsch develops the camera film while Buck, Kupsch and Tuphon are checking the trenches. She realises one photo shows a lizard. As she runs after the others to tell them she trips. She looks up to see one of the lizards heading towards her...

This story has a number of good touches. It's implicitly set back in time, as Indonesia is depicted as under Dutch rule. The lizards look like Komodo dragons, but the governor and Buck doubt Kupsch's story. That seems to be a reference to the fact that the Western world only became aware of the existence of the dragons in the 20th century. Tuphon carries a kris in his belt. He's a Muslim and dismissive of the islanders' belief in lizard gods, but when Buck shoots a leopard to save him he singes its whiskers to protect himself from its spirit, just in case. The story has an unusual climax where Buck and co. make a discovery about the lizards.

In the post-climax the locals blame Buck and co. for an eruption and attack them. Buck has to shoot to kill to cover their escape. The islanders aren't depicted in the story as evil, just superstitious, although Tuphon describes them as head-hunters before the expedition heads off.

The second bearer is unnamed. He seems to do the heavy jobs and doesn't get any dialogue. He has a beard and wears a turban, so he might be Indian.

"Frank Buck": "The Ghost Tigers of Assami!"

The Maharajah of Rajipur tells Buck his power over his subjects is waning due to their fear of the ghost tigers of the forbidden jungle. Buck investigates.

This story is an adventure tale with a deceiver villain. All the stories have a heroine. This one's wins a place in Buck's expedition by saving him from a cobra.

There are signs that there was some rewriting of the climax. The heroine disappears from it, although she's shown to have escaped in the final panel. On p.7 the dialogue indicates Buck's mahout is being hunted by the villain's men, but at the top of p.8 he's suddenly present, a captive. The dialogue implies he's just been brought into the room, but one would have expected a panel showing this. Also, the part where he's brought into Buck's cell would read more naturally if he was supposed to have just been captured. There's also talk of a pit of the tigers, which turns out to be a river-bluff. A caption notes the discrepancy.

I've come up with three guesses as to what may have happened:

-The heroine originally faced death at the claws of the tigers with Buck at the climax, and the editor changed that because he thought it too horrifying.

-The climax originally involved a tiger pit. The villain meant to force the heroine to watch Buck and the mahout die. She did something to save them, such as push him in. The editor changed the setting to a bluff so Buck could escape by his own efforts.

-On p.5 Buck attempts to shoot a tiger and somehow misses. Perhaps originally the heroine or the mahout was working with the villain and had loaded his rifle with blanks, and the editor removed that subplot.

"Frank Buck": "Behind the Granger Falls"

Buck has been staying at a rubber plantation while trapping. Thieves knock out a worker and take many of the animals.

Buck and the planter, Stark, trail the thieves to the plantation of another man named Granger. Granger is in debt to Stark, and refuses to allow Stark and Buck onto his land. Buck jumps a man he sees leveling a rifle, who proves to be Granger's overseer. This turns Granger's daughter against them, and they have to leave.

That night Buck returns by foot. The tracks lead to a waterfall. Someone fires at Buck. The first bullet misses, but the second brings him down...

This tale is plotted like a DC story. Buck fights a orangutan at the climax. They're found in Malaysia, where there are rubber plantations, so the ape is another example of the writer getting the details right.

The fight with an orangutan might be borrowed from Buck's account of how he outboxed one in Bring 'Em Back Alive ch.VIII. The real one was "less than four and a half feet in height", whereas the story's one is as big as a gorilla. The page from True Comics #51 in the previous post has that issue's depiction of the episode. It Really Happened #9 depicts it too, and likewise places the episode in a jungle. It actually took place on a ship, when Buck and those assisting him were trying to put a collar on the ape and it got away from them.

In the text story a man kills his partner so he can keep the gold they've discovered, but his plans to get it out of the jungle misfire. The story has an interesting piquant end.

Wambi, the Jungle Boy #1 (Fiction House, 1942)


This issue came out the same month as Jungle Comics #26. Wambi’s feature was regularly drawn by Henry Kiefer. His adventures in this issue are all bylined to Kiefer. The instalments in Jungle Comics were bylined to “Roy L. Smith”, and continued to be after this. The indicia of the issue gives the title as Wambi Comics.


Golden Age comics often connect the feature logo to the story title by an “and” or “in”. This creates a dilemma for the reviewer, who has to decide whether to list the story by the combination name, or to give the feature name and the post-conjunction part separately. In this case I’ve decided to do the former.


The short pieces use Wambi as their narrator or the narrator’s interlocutor. They aren’t bylined. “White Medicine vs. Voodoo” and "Hunting the Man-Eating Tiger" are definitely not Kiefer's work, and I don't think the others are either. Kiefer may have done images of Wambi for some of them and made corrections.

The lion on the cover is similar to the one in the splash panel of "Wambi and the Jungle Feud", but not identical. This makes me wonder if the cover was a collage of elements traced from different stories. I didn't notice parallels for any of the other parts in the issue. The GCD attributes the cover to Kiefer.

Several of the stories have characters and other elements that appear to be Indian, and there are several bits with tigers, which are found in India but not Africa. But the stories still have African elements: one has a sequence with zebras, the issue's opening splash page depicts a hippopotamus, and Mbassa and the natives in the last two stories appear to be black Africans. The natives in "White Medicine vs. Voodoo" definitely are, but that story isn't an experience of Wambi himself.

The major animal characters in the strip are Tawn the elephant and Ogg the gorilla. Ogg is referred to as a "great ape" rather than a gorilla. In "Wambi and the Jungle Feud" he sometimes looks more like a large chimpanzee, but he's big enough to carry the lion at the end, and he's definitely a gorilla in "Wambi and the Pearl Diver's Treasure."

“Wambi the Jungle Boy”

The Sultan of Ungore captures Tawn, and Wambi rescues him.

If this was the only Wambi story I knew, and the splash page had been omitted, I'd suppose the setting was India. The tiger is named Rajah, which is a Sanskrit word. The Sutan wears a turban and rides a howdah. There's a scene involving a cobra and a mongoose (but Wikipedia tells me they're both found in Africa). Some of his herders wear a headdress which is referred to as a fez. I think these are supposed to be turbans with a kulla, but they're flat at the top rather than rounded.

In the opening sequence Wambi and Tawn are attacked by a tiger because there's been a drought and the animals are "mad for want of food and water".

The story's splash show's Kiefer's skill at animal art. It's my selected page from the issue.


Short item: “White Medicine vs. Voodoo”

This is a two-pager. Wambi relates a story told to him by a doctor friend about how he secretly saved a chief who was dying of tetanus.

“Wambi and the Jungle Feud”

A lion nearly kills Ogg the gorilla and Wambi, but slinks away in shame when Wambi plays dead. Wambi and Ogg save him from a pack of hyenas, and bind his wounds and provide him with shelter. Then lightning starts a fire, which threatens the helpless lion...

The splash panel depicts the lion fighting tigers. So the title implies the original idea was to tell a story about a lion/tiger feud. When Wambi and Ogg trail the lion Wambi speaks of investigating "this sudden lust to kill". I thought the explanation was going to be he had been chased from his normal food sources by the tigers, but the issue is dropped and the tigers never show up. It's as if Kiefer started off telling one story and ended up telling another, or the writer did, if Kiefer didn't write the stories. There is no feud in the story as it stands.

Short item: “Wambi Tells How Elephants are Caught and Trained in His Jungleland.”

This is a one-pager about why and how elephants are captured for training.

The image of Wambi doesn't look like Kiefer's work to me, and the artist doesn't put the wrinkles onto his elephants that Kiefer does. He also draws their ears larger. Kiefer's Tawn could be an Indian elephant.

Wambi's speech balloon in the opening panel is mispunctuated. There should be a full stop after "useless" and a comma after "up".

“Wambi and the Pearl Diver’s Treasure.”

Wambi is rescued by a native pearl diver called Mbassa. Mbassa has a large pearl, and a white man and woman are after it. Wambi and Ogg assist Mbassa.

When Wambi and Mbassa are captured Wambi sends Ogg to fetch Kira the leopard so she can attack the whites' native servant as a distraction while Ogg frees him. It's not clear whether she kills him. She certainly mauls him. The villains' mahout meets the same fate as the villains at the end.

Short item: “Wambi Tells About Big Game”

This is a two-pager. The first page talks about the enthusiasm of "kings and millionaires" for big game hunting, and cites Albert I of Belgium, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Duke of Windsor as examples. The second page is about the wildlife photography of Martin and Osa Johnson.

“Wambi and the Hunter of Jamru”

A deer tells Wambi that her mate, Zan has been captured. Wambi promises to free him. This gets him involved in helping the British prevent a revolt by a rajah.

The white authoritites aren't stated to be British, but they have British rather than French names. The setting could be some remote jungle part of India/Pakistan.

Short item: “Hunting the Man-Eating Tiger”

This is a two-pager about how the threat tigers pose to native villagers, and how the colonial authorities go about hunting them. The information is probably accurate for India, but the natives are depicted as black Africans.

I'm sure this piece wasn't drawn by Kiefer as he drew tigers very well and most of the images here aren't up to his standard. He may have done alterations on the second tiger on the first page. But its face is very close to the image of Rajah's in the first story p.2 panel 1, so it may be some other artist traced his work there. There's a tell that the head was an overlay, namely the lack of a line depicting the outline of its right ear. The image of Wambi in the opening panel looks like one of Kiefer's.

“Wambi the Jungle Boy and the Fakir”

Wambi saves a Hindu fakir from a tiger, and the two become friends. The tiger was angry because it had been shot by a German hunter. Wambi and the fakir teach him a lesson.

The fakir is depicted as a stage magician rather than a true magician, but at one point he helps Wambi escape the hunter's pursuit using the Indian rope trick. He also has skill at hypnosis, and the ability to walk on red hot coals without being burned. His boy assistant wears a kulla and turban.

Short item: “The Pearl Diver Tells Wambi About the Giant Clam”

On this one-pager Mbassa tells Wambi about what is involved in obtaining pearls from giant clams.

I think this page wasn't done by Kiefer because of the difference between the handling of Mbassa panel 1 and the way he's drawn in "Wambi and the Pearl Diver's Treasure." The difference in style is apparent if you compare the profile image of Mbassa in that story p.4 panel 1. But whoever did draw it put a lot of effort into it.

“Wambi and the Great Chief’s Son”

When out with Wambi the son of a chief takes a bite out of a poisonous fruit and falls dangerously ill. The chief blames Wambi and imprisons him. The witch doctor frees Wambi so he can obtain the plants the witch doctor needs to cure him. The mission presents Wambi with a succession of obstacles that he overcomes with the help of his animal friends.

“Wambi and the Great Gold Strike”

Wambi and Tawn rescue a man they find unconscious in a boat. He tells him he and his brother are prospectors. They were both seized by natives ("savages"), but he escaped. Wambi undertakes to help him rescue his brother.

The rescued man expects Wambi to save them at the climax, but Tawn saves them all instead. The story has a nice humans vs. crocodiles sequence, and an unusual ending.

Jo-Jo Comics #7[a] (Fox, 1947)

Jo-Jo Comics started off as a humour comic. It became an adventure title with this issue. The new star was a jungle hero called Jo-Jo, one of the Golden Age's many Tarzan clones.

Tarzan started appearing in comics early, in reprints of newspaper strips. But original comics starring him were slower to come along. When this issue came out he'd been featured once in Four Color, at the end of 1946. Fiction House's clone Kaänga had been starring in Jungle Comics since its first issue in 1939.

The Jo-Jo stories were evidently prepared by the Iger Shop. In 1946 the shop had done a jungle hero feature for Atomic Comics #2-#4 called "Congo King". Jo-Jo's feature was sub-titled "Congo King", and the hero is called Congo King on the opening pages of both stories. I reviewed Atomic Comics #4 here.

Jo-Jo's hair is longer than Congo King's, and the two stories in this issue don't have an analogue for the boy Kuta. Also, in Atomic Comics #4 Congo King and Tonda apparently live together. So it doesn't appear this issue's stories were leftover tales intended for Atomic Comics. But it may be the original intention was to reuse the name, and Iger got a memo to call the hero Jo-Jo after the stories were started.

In the first story Jo-Jo's romantic interest is a native queen called Gwenna, the ruler of the Bonangi. She's depicted as flirtatious, but it's possible they're friends rather than lovers. In the second his love-interest is named Geesa. She's the daughter of a chief, her village is called Atani, and they've just become betrothed.

In the second story Jo-Jo also has a leopard pal called Kimbo. So when these stories were done the final form of the feature hadn't been settled. Later in the series he had a mate named Tanee.

Gwenna and Geesa are coloured as whites, although they're both women from African tribes, not lost civilisations. So are Geesa's attendants in the second story, although her father and the other villagers are coloured brown. The art dresses both Gwenna and Geesa in spotted bikinis. Geesa also wears a waist jewel that covers her belly-button, earrings, a bracelet on her right arm and an armband on her left, and a hair flower.

The stories don't explain who Jo-Jo is. He has a rapport with Kimbo, but it's not clear he speaks animal languages.

I think Kimbo didn't appear again. I like the idea of a jungle hero with a big cat pal, so I wish he'd been kept around. Tarzan had a pet lion called Jad-bal-ja, introduced in Tarzan and the Golden Lion. The original Ka-Zar had a lion pal called Zar in both his pulp and in Marvel Comics/Marvel Mystery Comics. Other jungle heroes with big cat pals include Kaänga in some of early stories, ME's Thun'da in his early stories, and the Silver Age Ka-Zar. 

The artists all draw Jo-Jo with the same hairstyle, with long hair at the nape of the neck. He looks a little balding at the temples, particularly on the cover.

This and the next issue were both numbered #7, so the GCD lists this one as #7[a].

"Jo-Jo Congo King": first story

A white outlaw makes a deal with a chief called Ungulla to join with him in conquering Gwenna's village, so he can obtain its gold and Ungulla can rule it. To counter Jo-Jo he has obtained the equipment needed to outfit an elephant as a jungle tank.

This story is fun for its elephant tank. Jo-Jo thinks out how to defeat it. This reminded me of the way Congo King triumphs in his story from Atomic Comics #4.

The art is attractive and clear, with a slight naïve element that doesn't detract from the fun. I won't guess who the artist was as I'm not sufficiently familiar with the Iger artists.

The story was cover-featured. The cover doesn't look done by the same artist who did the story.

"Jo-Jo Congo King": second story

A scientist called Dr Gotha has been conducting an experiment in a village inhabited by a tribe of giants. He orders the tribesmen to attack Akani and bring him that village's women, so he can use them as human subjects.

At the story's climax the nature of Dr Gotha's experiment seems intended as a surprise, but the splash panel and its caption give it away.

The art doesn't clearly establish the size of the giants. At the top of p.2 they look about the same size as Dr Gotha, but at the bottom of the page they look much larger than Geesa and her father. The story forgets about them once Dr Gotha's "pet" is introduced.

It's not clear if Geesa's father is killed. When he's last seen, p.2 panel 5, he's certainly in great danger. If one takes Geesa and Gwenna as the same character one can suppose Gwenna is a queen in the first story because of the death of her father in the first. But since Gwenna's people and Geesa's village have different names it's not clear this is what was intended.

Kimbo mauls at least two men, one of them on Jo-Jo's orders.

The art of this story mostly lacks the other's naïve look, but it's also less clean. Geesa is drawn as voluptuous, and the artist also draws Kimbo well. The plot is weak.

"Bronze Man"

This is a superhero feature. The GCD says it had previously appeared twice in Blue Beetle, and this was its last appearance.

The title led me to expect a Doc Savage imitation, but Bronze Man appears rather to be modelled on Captain Triumph, as he wears a tight orange shirt, jodhpurs and boots and can fly. How powerful he is isn't clear. In his first story he displays super-strength. At times he seems to be invulnerable, but at other times he gets knocked out.

His first appearance was in Blue Beetle #42. According to the GCD's page on that issue he was a creation of A. C. Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth was African-American, and the page says he meant Bronze Man to be an African-American hero with an "iron mask". I think that should be a bronze mask, as he's called the Bronze Mask on p.3 of his first story. The published version of the hero was white.

The stories' opening captions explain he's a war hero who is believed to have been killed in action. He's described as "disguised by disfigurement", but isn't represented as disfigured in the art. Presumably he got plastic surgery. In his second and third stories his adventures grow out of encounters with people from his squadron.

In this issue's story the hero helps out his former wing man who is believed responsible for a crime. The GCD ascribes the art to Hollingsworth.

"The Purple Tigress"

This is a superheroine strip about a heroine who wears a tiger-pattern swimsuit, matching boots, and a purple cape. In her other identity she's a "spoiled society girl" with three suitors. The GCD says she had appeared once before, in the one-shot All Good Comics, and didn't appear again.

In this story the villain is a thief called the Flasher who looks like the Joker if he had normal skin-colour and whose MO consists of turning up in disguise where the rich are, snatching jewelry, and running away. He gets away from the Purple Tigress twice, and she catches him the next time.

The issue also has three filler pages. The inside front cover one is about baseball players signed by major teams on the basis of their performances in the minor leagues. Jackie Robinson is one of the players depicted. "It's True" is a page of miscellaneous historical facts. "Good Sports in Music" is about Oscar Levant's knowledge of sports.

The text story is in the teen humour genre and involves a young woman's desire to date the captain of the basketball team.

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