"Kara, the Jungle Princess" was a Pines feature that appeared in Exciting Comics #39-#49 (1945-46) and The Fighting Yank #21 (1947). The GCD credits the art of all the instalments to Al Camy.

Kara is a former American military nurse who has become the ruling princess of the lost city of Arohiti, whose inhabitants are immortal and whose immortality she shares. Her boyfriend - probably consort - is Kit Kendall, formerly a US major. Their great antagonist is the magician-priest Targala, who serves the sinister ape god Esh-Kar.

Many jungle queens were female Tarzans like Sheena. Kara is another type, queen of a lost civilisation, like Camilla from Jungle Comics (until she was Sheena-ised). Bob is the co-hero of the series rather than the heroine's lesser partner. He's recurringly depicted as leading the defence of Arohiti.

The first episode of the series establishes the setting as New Guinea. It has high mountain ranges and much rainforest, so parts of the island are very isolated. One manifestation of this is the number of languages spoken there. According to Wikipedia over 1,000 New Guinean languages are known.

The feature started late in the war, in April 1945. But the first episode seems to be set after it, as we'll see.

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Exciting Comics #39

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

The fighting having ended, Americans troops at a small outpost in New Guinea await news of when they will return to America. The medical tent is run by Jane Howell, who is engaged to major Kit Kendall. He tells her a bomber will transport them all to Brisbane the next morning.

They go for a walk together. Jane suggests they visit the hut of Baldayo, the elderly witch-doctor. He often tells a story of how, when he was young, he climbed the inland peaks and found the Lake of Lost Wonders, where he heard voices from underwater. He believes they came from Arohiti. Kit thinks his stories of Arohiti nonsense.

Because of the kindness she has shown to his people Baldayo gives Jane a powder he calls "the last great magic of the Arohitans". She tries it, and finds it disgusting. He says the Arohitans took it at intervals and it will guard her from all harm for a long time.

Jane and Kit resume their walk. The men have heard the news and are celebrating. One of them fires a celebratory shot that hits Jane, only she's not hurt at all. Kit takes the gun and tells the soldier it's lucky he was shooting blanks. But when he checks they see the gun was loaded with live rounds.

The next morning Baldayo asks to go with the soldiers. The plane will cross the mountains, and he wants to see the Lake of Lost Wonders once more. Jane backs him up, and Kit agrees if she can sneak him past the pilot. He distracts the pilot while she does. The pilot is worried about overloading as there are three crew and eleven passengers (twelve counting Baldayo).

The peaks are covered in clouds, and the crew see one too late. They can't pull up in time and damage a wing. The Captain tells Kit to tell his men to bail out. Jane insists Baldayo take her parachute and leave through the bomb bay doors. He gives her the pouch with the powder and says the gods will protect her.

As he and the Captain are about to jump Kit worries that he didn't see Jane bail out. The Captain says he can see twelve parachutes so she must have. On his own way down Kit realises one of those was Baldini's. The plane crashes, with Jane aboard.

The plane has crashed by the Lake of Lost Wonders. The crash starts the collapse of its rock wall. Kit climbs frantically towards the crash site in the wild hope Jane has survived. She has, through the magic of the powder. The wall gives way and she falls with the resulting torrent. Kit sees her and pulls her to land. Lower down, the men escape the torrent and assume they've both been killed.

The draining of the lake uncovers the city of Arohiti. A group of Arohitans see Kit and Jane and take them for demons. They attack, and Kit fights with them. Jane jumps in front of a spear when he's about to be struck. Since she's immortal the spear only rips her shirt. The pouch falls out, and one of the Arohitans recognises it as the receptacle holding "the Amulets of Kara...our lost princess!"

Believing Jane to be Kara, the Arohitans make her their ruler. She is installed in the palace, and tells them Kit is a great warrior who will lead them.

On the opening page the post gets a message from Rabaul. At the time of the story much of the fighting in New Guinea was over, but Rabaul remained in Japanese hands to the end of the war. On p.2 a soldier says the Japanese "quit over a month ago". So it seems to be set after Japan's surrender, in what was then the future. The troops are awaiting their demobilisation.

Arohoti was covered by a tidal wave. The city in the mountains, so that must've been one big wave. But there'll be plenty of magic in the series from here on, so perhaps it was.

Kara was lost to the Arohitans in the disaster. They believe Jane is Kara herself, not her reincarnation. Presumably she looks different, but how they account for this isn't explained.

In this instalment the Arohitans have brown skin. From the next one they'll be white.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Exciting Comics #41

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

Kara and Kit have overseen the restoration of Arohiti to its former state. Tiny men scale the walls and jab one of the sentries with something. A powerful compulsion comes over him. Saying nothing must stop him, he knocks the other sentry off the wall and runs off.

After questioning the other sentry Kit assembles the Council of Warriors. He suggests the missing sentry was bewitched by "some enemy of Arohiti". The Supreme Priest declares this was Targala the Archpriest, who the original Kara's father exiled for plotting against him. He has been dreaming of a temple in the jungle that Targala rules, dedicated to the "ape gods of the nether world".

Meanwhile, the missing sentry and the ant men arrive at the temple. Targala declares the attack was a test to see if rakava gum would allow him to control the wills of Arohitans. Inside the temple he has a tabletop city of ant men. He means to turn the Arohitans into ant men too, and to make Kara his queen.

That evening Kit starts to prepare a magic powder draught for Kara. A shout from below distracts him, and he unthinkingly pours all the powder in. They learn four sentries have stunned the Captain of the Guard and run off. Kara drinks the draught, and they guess its effect will be permanent.

Kit says he'll guard Kara's quarters, and she retires. The ant men enter her chamber through the window. Hearing a moan, Kit rushes inside and finds Kara missing. He looks out the window, and sees the ant men carrying her unconscious away.

Kit tries to summon the sentries, but they and the guard at the main gate are missing. He assembles the warriors of Arohiti. The Supreme Priest advises him to seek Targala and his "temple of doom". When Kit asks where, he takes him to his sanctum and shows him the vessel of the Narahavi plant. The plant's blossoms point towards evil when it is uncovered. He uncovers it, and they point east.

Kara awakens, and finds herself in Targala's temple. He explains his plans and begins to molest her. Kit and the warriors of Arohiti are approaching the temple, and hear her cry out. Kit orders the warriors to rush the place in five minutes if they're not out and races inside.

Targala draws a sword, but Kit overcomes him. He orders him to return and de-hex the captured Arohitans. Targala releases an antidote gas, knowing it will also restore the ant men to their true size. A huge fight between the Arohitans and ex-ant men follows. The Arohitans are victorious, but Targala escapes during the melee. (Apparently all the ex-ant men are killed.) Kara and Kit burn the temple.

#40 does have an instalment, but it must have been written after this one as it uses several elements introduced in this story and refers to its events. From this point most of the episodes will be about plots of Targala against Arohiti.

The part where Kit uses up all the powder and Kara becomes permanently immortal was evidently put in to explain why he doesn't take some, as Kara observes the draught will protect her, but he does the fighting. 

At the climax Kara fights alongside Kit and the Arohitans. But earlier, she faints when Targala molests her.

The Supreme Priest expects Kara to remember Targala. Targala also seems to think Kara is the original Kara.

Kara sleeps in a bed with a handmaiden nearby on the floor.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

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Exciting Comics #40

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

Kara joins Kit and the Arohitan warriors on a hunt for a leopard that's been killing the sacred deer. When the leopard knocks Kit down Kara throws a spear at it and it attacks her. But it can't hurt her, and Kit kills it.

At the burned out Temple of Doom Targala prays to the idol of Esh-Kar the ape god. He asks it to restore the temple and his "charms and amulets". The eyes of the idol glow, and rays project from them that revive the flames and send them skyward. (The idea seems to be this restores the temple, but this isn't clear from the art.) The Arohitans see the mass of flame and wonder what it means. 

Targala asks Esh-Kar for "demons to battle the warriors of Arohiti". Esh-Kar sends forth a ball of flame that leads him through the jungle to a clearing where he finds a group of men the jungle has reduced to an animalistic condition. Seeking to determine who they are he looks in their hut, where he finds a notebook he can't read which he throws away. Due to the men's condition he is able to dominate them, and he leads them to the shrine of Esh-Kar. Light shines from the idol's eyes, and a flame comes from it that strikes the degraded men in "seething bolts" and transforms them into fire beings.

At Arohiti Kit has convened the Council of Warriors. The Supreme Priest has counseled Targala is up to something. Kit advocates attacking first. They check the Narahavi plant, and this time the blossoms point north. An expeditionary force sets out, led by Kit. Kara insists on going with it.

They find the clearing, a Japanese flag, and the notebook. Its final entries are in English. These reveal the degraded men are Japanese soldiers who retreated into the jungle in 1942 to avoid surrendering. They buried their weapons. The Arohitans find the cache, which has guns and dynamite.

The force heads for the temple, carrying the weapons in Kara's litter. Targala sees them coming and comes forth with the fire beings to fight them. Spears and bullets prove ineffective against the monsters as they melt on contact.

Targala seizes Kara and drags her into the temple. Kit pursues them, leaving an Arohitan in charge of the battle. Kit and Targala fight, and Kit knocks Targala out. He places dynamite at the base of the idol of Esh-Kar and from outside throws a stick with an ignited fuse in to set it off. The temple collapses, and the fire beings change back into Japanese. They grab weapons from the cache to resume the fight, and Kit and the Arohitans kill them.

The idol of Esh-Kar will be a recurring menace in the feature. It's a nice, sinister addition.

The references to the burning of the Temple of Doom place this instalment next after #41's.

When Targala is following the fire-ball through the jungle he shows fear of a snake. But why? He's a renegade immortal Arohitan. He'll also show fear of jungle creatures in the next instalment. Despite his immortality, Kit knocks him out with a blow in their fight.

Kit places the dynamite before the idol of Esh-Kar with the unconscious Targala nearby, and he leaves him inside when he blows the place up. At the end Kara assumes he's dead, but Kit thinks he may have survived "with his flair for magic". They don't seem to consider he might have survived by his immortality, but Kara survived a plane crash.

Kara is carried on a litter through the jungle on both expeditions. She starts to feel guilty about it at the point where they find the clearing.

The leopard is a black leopard. Leopards aren't native to New Guinea.

When the Narahavi plant points north Kit says the temple is west. It was east last time.

There's a racist element in the portrayal of the Japanese, and Kit uses a racial slur at the end. The issue came out in June 1945, before Japan's surrender.

I doubted the diarist would have put the bit about buried weapons into an entry intended for enemy readers, but I suppose he didn't know the diary would be found near the weapons' location.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Exciting Comics #45

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

At the Council of Warriors Kit voices his concern that Targala may still be alive due to his command of magic. The Supreme Priest cites the power of Esh-Kar and agrees, and prays to the Overlords of the Jungle that they "turn aside the curse of fearful gods".

Targala clambers out of ruins of the Temple of Doom. The idol of Esk-Kar has also survived. Targala seeks to summon the ape god's spirit but gets no response (apparently, due to the Supreme Priest's prayer). He feels deserted, and the sounds of the jungle work on his nerves. He panics and runs for hours. At dawn he reaches a plain and collapses.

Winged men descend from the sky. They are Eagle Men, are recognise him as an Arohitan. The Arohitans are their enemies as they defeated their ancestors and drove them from the jungle. Targala protests he is an enemy of the Arohitans too, but the Eagle Men seize him and fly him to their mountain colony.

Their ruler is named Ageelo. He has heard of Targala, but says the Targala he heard of was a man to be feared. Targala blames his current powerlessness on Kit. Ageelo doubts he could subdue a god, and suggests some "sage counsellor in Arohiti" has worked a charm against Esh-Kar. Targala realises he can release Esh-Kar's power by kidnapping the Supreme Priest. He tells Ageelo he will lead a raid to capture him if Ageelo gives him the power of flight. The Eagle Men's wings are artificial, and Ageelo gives Targala a pair.

The raiding party attacks Arohiti. The raiders keeps Kit and the warriors busy while Targala and an Eagle Man grab the Supreme Priest. Then they withdraw, taking their killed and wounded with them so the Arohitans won't get any wings.

With the Supreme Priest his prisoner, Targala is able to summon the spirit of Esh-Kar. The god wants new worshippers and tells him to have his idol brought to the Eagle Men's colony. Ageelo agrees to send men for it when Targala says with Esh-Kar's help he can humble Arohiti and make Kara his queen.

At Kara's suggestion she and Kit consult the Narahavi plant. It points east, although the Eagle Men's colony is north. Kit guesses it's pointing to the ruins of the Temple of Doom and takes a squad there. They spot the Eagle Men coming and ambush them. Half of the group of eight gets away, but they have to abandon their dead, so Kit and the Arohitans now have four sets of wings. Kit and three others set off for the Eagle Men's city using the wings. The remaining warriors return to Arohiti to inform Kara.

Ageelo is enraged by the ambush and orders his troops summoned for an attack on Arohiti. Kit and his compatriots arrive at the colony. They fight their way to the Supreme Priest and get away with him, but are forced down by pursuing Eagle Men. A fight starts. Before they can be overwhelmed Kara arrives with the army of Arohiti. Kit kills Ageelo and the Eagle Men flee.

When the Eagle Men return to their colony Targala tells them he will now rule them, in the name of Esh-Kar.

 

Targala's emergence from the ruins of the temple in this instalment places it next after #40's. The instalments from #45-#49 seem to be in their intended order. The ones from #42-#44 belong after them and are in a scrambled order.

When Kit orders the squad assembled for the expedition to the Temple of Doom Kara wants to lead them due to his vulnerability, but he talks her into remaining behind. Nonetheless, she leads the army at the climax and apparently takes part in the battle.

The Eagle Men learned the secret of flight by studying eagles. Hundreds of warriors died developing the wings. I assume they fell to their deaths.

This story and the next are the first of three sets of paired stories in which Targala finds new allies.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Exciting Comics #46


"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

Kara holds court. A speaker recommends destroying the idol of Esh-Kar, but the Supreme Priest says that would let its evil power loose. He advises Kara to have it brought to Arohiti. Kit seconds the plan. Kara doesn't like the idea of bringing the idol into the city, but Kit says the statue is harmless without Targala.

Kit takes the bulk of the Arohitan forces with them when they go to fetch the idol. They commence dragging it towards the city. A scout of the Eagle Men spots them and takes the news to Targala. His counter is a plan to steal into Arohiti and invoke a curse on the city through the statue. He takes two Eagle Men with him and orders the others to attack when they see a signal fire.

Targala and the Eagle Men beat Kara and co. to the city. They knock out the handful of guards and hide them, and conceal themselves in the shrine of the Moon God. Kara and co. arrive with the idol and place it in the shrine.

Kara has a feeling of danger. Kit suggests consulting the Narahavi plant, thinking it will ease her mind. The blossoms point straight up. The Supreme Priest says this means there is evil free in Arohiti. Kit and the warriors commence searching the city.

In the shrine Targala prays to Esh-Kar. Rays shine from the idol's eyes and transform the bodies of Targala and the Eagle Men hard as metal. Kit finds them and shoots Targala, but the bullets shatter on his form. A melee develops, but the Arohitans find they can't hurt the invaders.

Kit orders the fire catapults brought out. Targala sees Kara watching the melee from a tower with the Supreme Priest. He and the Eagle Men fly up there to seize her. Kit clings to one of them as he flies up and fights with them on the tower. The heroes escape by leaping from the tower. Kara and the Supreme Priest cushion the landing for Kit.

The warriors manning the fire catapult fire burning pitch at Targala and the Eagle Men. It can't harm their steely bodies, but it sets fire to their wings. They crash outside the city. The Eagle Men see the flames and take them for Targala's signal. But the Narahavi plant warns the Supreme Priest of danger, so the Arohitans are ready and kill all the Eagle Men when they attack. But this loses them their opportunity to trap Targala, and he gets away.

Kit placed the dynamite at the base of the idol in #40. He evidently meant it to be destroyed with the temple. Lucky that didn't work.

Targala's defeat this time is Esh-Kar's fault. The boon he granted Targala wasn't useful enough.

Kit has a line p.8 indicating the transformation has changed Targala's appearance. There's no change in his appearance in the art. Presumably he and the Eagle Men were supposed to be coloured metal.

At the end of the instalment Kara says, "It won't be easy, Kit... dealing with a madman who can't be killed!" The context implies her reference is to Targala's transformation, although it could be to his Arohitan immortality. But next instalment it won't be mentioned. Presumably he (and the Eagle Men) changed back.

I was going to write that the Supreme Priest and Kara couldn't have cushioned Kit's landing enough to save him from injury. But Arohitan immortality is magic, and we don't know how it works. It could be the trio's landing was magically slowed.

Kara refuses to desert Kit on the tower and contributes to the fight slightly.

Esh-Kar's spirit will next manifest in #49's story, but the idol won't be seen again until the concluding Exciting Comics instalment (in intended sequence). The Eagle Men won't reappear, but the heroes will refer to them and use the wings in the Fighting Yank tale.


Image from Comic Book Plus.

Exciting Comics #47

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

Kara asks the Supreme Priest if her realm includes territory outside the walls. He answers that it extends far beyond, and to the coast in the north. She decides to look over the coastal region. He warns her that a legend suggests there is danger there, but that only strengthens Kara's and Kit's resolve.

Targala watches the expedition head off, and takes the opportunity to slip into Arohiti to take a look at the Narahavi plant. His idea is it can point him towards new allies. The blossoms point north. The Supreme Priest catches him in the chamber and the two fight. Targala is outfought and flees. He slips out of the city by the secret way he came in.

The Supreme Priest thinks Targala is still in the city. He sends a trained myna to Kara with a message to inform her. Meanwhile, Kara and co. reach the coast. They hear the sound of drums. This proves to be coming from a floating island, which drifts close. The expedition makes dugouts and crosses to the island. They find it has unique plant species. Kit guesses it has unique animals, too.

The myna reaches the expedition. Kit's first impulse is to return, but Kara says there might be a danger on the island, too. One of the soldiers suggests the soldiers return to Arohoti while Kara and Kit investigate the island. Kara goes along with this plan. The soldiers take all the dugouts.

Kara spots figures in the jungle that straightaway charge them. They are a giant black native and a giant cat. A fight follows that ends with Kit shooting both. He and Kara resume exploring.

Targala reaches the coast and crosses to the island. He finds the native and the cat. The native isn't dead. He says he is Manamono, a chief, and begs Targala to save his life. Targala agrees on the condition that Manamono become his ally. He saves him with his magic.

Manamono takes Targala to the village of his people, the Lumu. A sentry spots Kit and Kara approaching. Manamono and Targala come after them with a war party, but the heroes fight their way clear and head for the coast. They spot Arohitans crossing over, and call them to their aid. The Lumu lose the fight that follows, and flee.

The Supreme Priest explains the Narahavi plant showed Targala was no longer in Arohiti. They guessed he had headed for the island.

Targala escapes as they're talking. As the heroes and the Arohitans leave, the island drifts out to sea.

When Targala consults the Narahavi plant it points north instead of showing his presence in the city, but later the Supreme Priest is able to tell from it that he's no longer in the city. I can rationalise that by the theory Targala shielded his presence from the plant with a spell when he uncovered it.

The Supreme Priest and Targala fight with swords. A caption calls Targala's attack "murderous", but they should both be immune to such weapons.

One would have expected Kara and Kit to return to Arohiti with the soldiers, as Targala is a principal danger. If Kara was more worried about danger from the island she shouldn't have remained on it with Kit alone.

The Lumu's giant cats remind me of sabre-tooths, but their fangs aren't quite as big and they have long tails. In this instalment they're orange.

Kit and Kara should've checked to see if Manamono was alive or dead before moving on. His attack on them was unprovoked, but they give him reason for allying with Targala later.

Kara recurringly takes part in fights this time out. She saves Kit in the second fight on the island. Kit fights with his fists when he's not using his gun, so she kills more men on panel than him in the final battles.

Manamono's death is referred to at the start of the next instalment. Presumably he's one of the warriors killed in this instalment's climax. I didn't realise it as the Lumu mostly dress the same. He's most likely the warrior Kit shoots p.11 panel 1: his headdress has horns, and so does Manamono's pp.1, 10. The other Lumu don't seem to wear these, so I think they're a badge of office. However, Manamono's headdress doesn't have them either pp.7-9 (unless they're those golden things by his ears p.7 panel 2, but they might be his earrings).

Image from Comic Book Plus.

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Exciting Comics #48


"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

Targala gets the Lumu to follow him by vowing to avenge Manamono. Hearing that the island is drifting back towards the mainland, he gives orders for it to be fastened to Arohoti with cables. He means to capture an Arohitan and use magic to transfer the captive's immortality to the Lumu.

In Arohiti Kala decides to not let Kit risk his life anymore. She assigns a guard named Balakan to keep him out of danger. Kit locks him in the shower and disguises himself with betel nut oil and Balakan's clothing.

Targala and a party of Lumu enter Arohiti by his secret passage. The first person they see is Kit, and they attack him to capture him. Kara sees the fight and leaps from the royal terrace to aid her guard. She kills a Lumu and one of the cats, but the others get away with Kit, leaving one of the big cats behind.
 

The cat finds its way to the shrine of the Moon God, where it knocks over the pot of the Narahavi plant and attacks the Supreme Priest. Kara and one of her men find Balakan, and Kara realises the captive is Kit. Trumpets signal trouble at the shrine, and Kara races there and stabs the cat. Kara asks the Supreme Priest how they will find Kit with the Narahavi plant damaged. The Supreme Priest says he'll have to save the cat so it can lead them to Targala.

At the Lumu's Skull Hall Targala casts his spell. But since the captive is Kit, it has no effect. Kit fakes being affected, and Targala assumes his spell has worked. Leaving guards behind, he heads off with the Lumu to attack Arohiti.

The Supreme Priest revives the cat, and it heads for home. Kara follows it alone. Kit frees himself and fights the guards. He has a bad moment when the cat arrives, but Kara arrives with it, kills it, and helps him finish off the guards. He tells her about Targala's plan.

The Lumu and the Arohitans fight in Arohiti. Kara and Kit arrive in time to rally the Arohitans, and the Lumu are defeated. They surrender, and promise to serve Kara. Targala gets away again.

Kara is again a fighter in this instalment. I think she shouldn't tackle missions like Kit's rescue alone. She's the monarch: what if she were captured?

Targala's assumption of command over the Lumu after the death of Manamono parallels the way he took command of the Eagle Men after the death of Ageelo.

The story treats the cat as a threat to the Supreme Priest, but he's an immortal Arohitan. When Kara succours him there's no trumpet around, so apparently someone sounded them instead of assisting him, unless they sound by magic.

When Kit is attacked by the raiders he fights back effectively. Targala knocks him out by kicking him in the jaw. So he avoids serious harm, but I thought his mortality would've been given away after the battle by bruises and scratches.

This time out the cats are black. During the sortie we only see one at a time, but the raiders apparently took at least three with them, as two are killed in the melee and one left behind.

I don't know the Supreme Priest had to save the cat. Kara and the Arohitans already knew the Lumu are from the island. But it does lead Kara to the right place.

Kara expects the Lumu's belief in their immortality to make them doubly dangerous. I think it would've led them to be reckless, and their morale would have crashed when they realised it wasn't true.

When the Lumu army heads for Arohiti a caption says "Let the tiger himself retreat into the shadows---before this onrushing legion of terror!" Tigers aren't native to New Guinea.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Exciting Comics #49

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

In the shrine of the Moon God the sacred toucan is agitated. The Supreme Priest says this is a warning, but Kit isn't worried as Targala hasn't been seen since the defeat of the Lumu.

Targala enters a barren area called the Valley of Silence. He is shocked to see hands emerge from the ground. Two more grab him and drag him underground. (The art isn't up to depicting this.)

His captor takes him to an underground city. Its name is Subterris, and its inhabitants are the Serpentons, a race of snake-men. Targala decides to make them his allies. He turns himself invisible to confound them, and forms an alliance with their leader, Venomo, based on shared hatred of Arohiti. Venomo tells him that his people fought the Arohitans thousands of years in the past, when the Arohitans "landed after their voyage from the sun". His race was driven underground, and evolved snake-like characteristics.

Venomo's story tells Targala that the Arohitans weren't always immortal. He performs a ritual to invoke the spirit of Esh-Kar, seeking the power to turn back time to an age when they were vulnerable. His wish is granted. He sets out for Arohiti with some scouts.

Kara sets out on leopard hunt with Kit and some soldiers. They see the jungle has been replaced by prehistoric foliage, and guess this is Targala's work. When they find and fight a leopard Kara is deeply scratched and a soldier is killed. Targala and the Serpentons attack the shocked party. The Arohitans hold their own in the melee, but the raiders capture Kara and get away. 

Kit and the Arohitans find they can't track them, so they return to Arohiti so Kit can consult the Narahavi plant. Its blossoms point down, revealing the enemy is underground, but this is too vague to help. The Supreme Priest tells Kit he can detach his inner being and send it to find Kara, but Kit will die if any foe sees it. Kit is willing to take the risk, and the priest performs the spell.

Kit's spirit finds the entrance to Subterris and locates Kara. He explains the Supreme Priest's spell, and has a plan that involves Kara luring Targala to Arohoti alone. She hears footsteps, and drops a cloth over the spirit so it won't be seen. The steps are Targala's. He is suspicious of the cloth and bends to examine it, but Kara conks him with a bottle and runs off pretending the cloth was a trick. She escapes into the jungle. Targala tells Venomo to prepare his troops and pursues her by himself.

Kit's spirit returns to his body. He leads a squad into the jungle and is just in time to stop Targala capturing Kara. He starts strangling him, and Targala says he'll turn time back to the present in exchange for his life. He performs the spell (off-panel), and the immortality of the Arohitans is restored. Kit and the Arohitans attack Subterris, and Venomo surrenders. Kit lets Targala go in fulfilment of his promise.

The reference to the defeat of the Lumu places this story next.

The Serpentons are snake-worshippers. They wear scaled skull-caps, and have fangs, forked tongues and elongated, wavy arms.

The bit about the ancient Arohitans' "journey from the sun" reminded me of the bit about the origins of Pha's people in the second story from Thun'da #1. Did Gardner Fox have a hand in this feature?

Targala tells Venomo that Kara exiled him. Properly, it was the real Kara's father (#41).

Targala is an immortal Arohitan himself, so it doesn't make sense he didn't know there was a time when the Arohitans weren't immortal. Maybe he was too busy learning black magic to pay attention in history class.

The leopard is huge. Leopards aren't native to New Guinea, but perhaps this is some unknown-to-science monster variety.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Exciting Comics #44

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

A volcano in the vicinity of Arohiti has become active. The Arohitans call it the Torch of Gabar-Ko. The Supreme Priest thinks its activity may herald "a new phase in the destiny of Arohiti", but says he may not reveal more. Kit is worried Targala may be up to something, so he sets out for Subterris with some soldiers.

Subterris is even nearer the volcano, and an eruption will mean the city's destruction. Targala proposes the Serpentons dig their way to the ruins of the old city under Arohiti and take shelter there. Venomo falls in which his plan. They leave a few guards behind, and block the entrance to their tunnel to hide it.

Kit's party arrives in Subterris. Kit thinks the city deserted until the guards attack. Kit and his soldiers kill the Serpentons, but the volcano erupts before they can get away and all the entrances are sealed. The Arohitans can survive under these conditions, but not Kit. After three days he's in bad need of water. Seeking water he discovers the entrance to the tunnel. He and the Arohitans open it, and set off after Targala and the Serpentons.

The villains reach the ruins of Old Arohiti and enter the temple of Gabar-Ko. Kit and his soldiers arrive and attack, but they are overcome by the Serpentons and Targala. Targala imprisons them under the altar. He reveals there is a legend that the "flaming of the Torch of Gabar-Ko" will herald the god's coming. He invokes Esh-Kar, and the ape god transforms him into the Gabar-Ko's likeness. He means to marry Kara, and to order the Arohitans to scatter.

Targala and his Serpentons present themselves in Arohiti. The Supreme Priest recognises him as the god. He tells Kara she must wed him, and the Arohitans must obey his commands. Targala orders the Arohitans to leave the city until commanded by him to return. The Arohitan nobles and Kara make their farewells, and the Arohitans leave.

Lava from the volcano reaches the temple in the old city. Kit's Arohitans protect him from it with their bodies. The lava causes the altar to crumble, and they escape. They again engage the Serpentons.

Kara initially calls on them to stop, but Targala reveals his true self. Elsewhere, a lava flow blocks the way of the Arohitans' column. The Supreme Priest thinks it may be a sign that Gabar-Ko has relented. He orders the column to return to Arohiti.

In the city Kara has joined the fighting on the side of Kit and his men. The other Arohitans arrive and join in. The Serpentons are defeated (probably all killed). Targala escapes while Kit is too busy fighting to stop him.

A reference to #49's adventure places this one next.

Kit's supply of ammunition seems inexhaustible.

New Guinea has quite a number of active volcanoes.

We never do see any Serpenton women.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Exciting Comics #42

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

The Narahavi plant points west. Kit takes it to be pointing at Targala, and resolves to take a squad of soldiers and track him down. The Supreme Priest warns that the west "is a region into a which no Arohitan ever ventures!" Kara nonetheless goes too.

The party enters a region of the jungle that seems unnaturally dark. They spot Targala, but before they can do anything he's suddenly seized by Panther Men. The Arohitans attack the Panther Men, but some escape, carrying off Targala. Kit and co. return to Arohiti to consult with the Supreme Priest.

Targala is taken to the cave of the Panther Men. They hate the Arohitans, and their leader, Felinu, wants to test if they are still invulnerable to everything other than magic. He sentences Targala to "the Death of the Twenty Thrusts" (=simultaneous stabbing by multiple swords). Targala saves himself by calling upon Esh-Kar. His body glows with "blinding incandescence". This shows Felinu he's a powerful sorcerer.

Targala reveals he's an enemy of Arohiti. Felinu tells him his ancestors envied the Arohitans and killed one of their priests with magic. As a result the Panther Men were driven to the region they now inhabit, and trapped there by a spell which kills them if they cross the border. The two form an alliance. Felinu explains that if the blood of an Arohitan is shed on the altar stone in the shrine of the Moon God after twelve hours it will possible to kill one Arohitan "for every drop that lies upon the stone". Targala calls upon Esh-Kar, and his power allows the Panther Men to cross the border.

They arrive at Arohoti as Kit and Kara are consulting with the Supreme Priest in the shrine. The Narahavi plant signals an evil force has entered the city. Before Kit can act the raiders arrive. They overcome Kit and the Priest and seize Kara. A Panther Man holds Kara on the altar and Tagala cuts her shoulder, causing her blood to run onto the altar. Kit revives and resumes fighting. The raiders flee, having accomplished their objective.

The Supreme Priest heals Kara's shoulder with a magic powder. Kit summons the Council of Warriors, and the Priest tells them they must "invoke the spirits that made Arohiti great" for twelve hours to counter the spilling of the blood on the altar.

The next day the Panther Men attack Arohiti, led by Felinu and Targala. The power of Esh-Kar allows them to walk up the city wall. Felinu and Targala knock two soldiers from the wall, but the fall leaves them unharmed. Felinu asks Targala if that means their magic has failed. Targala says they can't hope to kill every Arohitan (presumably, because Kit revived before enough blood was shed).

The Supreme Priest's ceremony is still in progress. He warns Kara against leaving before it is completed, but when Kara and Kit hear fighting in the city they lead the warriors of the Council into the fray. The Panther Men are routed, and Felinu is shot by Kit as he attempts to escape with Targala through the secret passage. Targala gets away.

None of the guards were injured in the fight, even though, as Kit observes, some of them stood off "ten swords at once". The Supreme Priest believes the jungle gods turned aside Esh-Kar's magic, but Kara observes to Kit the spell really failed because she's not really an Arohitan.

A reference to the defeat of the Serpentons places this story next.

The bit where Kara and co. attack the Panther Men as they seize Targala reads oddly. Kara thinks they're going to "tear him apart", and Kit says "Yes? That's a privilege worth fighting for!"

Targala shows his fear when the Panther Men are about to stab him. Yet he's immortal too. Despite this, he's often shown nervousness through the series, and the sequence is written as if only Esh-Kar's power saves him.

The dialogue doesn't address how Targala is able to wound Kara. I assume he used a magic blade.

This is the last Targala-finds-an-ally story. This time around there'll be no follow-up part.

Since Kit shoots Felinu as he's about to enter the passage, he presumably learns about it this time.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

The first version of this post displaced the thread What Are You Thinking Right Now? from the homepage.

Exciting Comics #43

"Kara, the Jungle Princess"

Kara, the Supreme Priest and Kit discuss the idol of Esh-Kar, which the reader will recall was taken to the shrine of the Moon God in #46. Kara wants to destroy it, but the Supreme Priest again cautions her that might free its power.

Elsewhere, Targala performs a ceremony to summons the god. The idol growls and its eyes open. One of the Arohitan guards challenges it. It springs to life and knocks him down. Kit and the soldiers are unable to stop it, and it smashes its way out of the shrine and out of the city.

Kit determines to destroy the idol with the rest of the dynamite he obtained in #40. He sets off after it with most of the Arohitan soldiers. The idol has smashed its way through the jungle so its path is easy to follow.

Targala waits for the idol before a cave reached by a rope bridge. After the idol crosses he undoes his side of the bridge, and they go into the cave.

Kit and his party reach the chasm. Kit lashes the dynamite to the top of a tree long enough to reach across the gap. Then he and a soldier fell it. One of the sticks fall loose as the tree falls, but it carries the rest to the entrance of the cave, and they explode. The explosion shatters the idol.

Kit and the soldiers cross over on the bole of the tree. Targala pleads Esh-Kar for aid. The fragments of the idol glow and transform into a number of ape-like fiends.

Kit and the soldiers fight Targala and the fiends in the cave. Targala winds up outside and calls the fiends outside. At his direction they seal the entrance to the cave, trapping Kit and co. inside.

Targala and the fiends head for Arohiti and enter the city through the hole Esh-Kar smashed in the city wall. The fiends are too strong a force for the city's remaining defenders and Kara surrenders to save them. Targala declares his intention of marrying her.

Back in the cave Kit is beginning to suffer from lack of air. (This isn't a problem for the Arohitans.) He tries to knock a hole through the plugged entrance with a spear and impales the remaining stick of dynamite. He uses it to clear the entrance by setting it off with a bullet.

Kit and his force return to Arohiti and overcome the fiends. The Supreme Priest kills Targala.

This episode hearkens back to the third and fifth instalments of the series, but the death of Targala places it last among the Exciting Comics instalments. My guess is the publisher had all the instalments prepared together so it could continue publishing the series if Camy was drafted.

Kara is passive here, as she was early in the series. In most of the later episodes she takes part in the fighting herself, so I think this instalment may have been done before those; perhaps immediately after the fifth instalment, since it's a sequel to it.

The resolution is anticlimactic as the fiends are less powerful than the giant idol and overcome by simple fighting. I suspect there was supposed to be a whole army of fiends, but the art never shows more than four. I initially described the fiends as man-sized Esh-Kars, but they lack his pharaonic headpiece.

The art initially shows an army with Kit, as the plot requires since Arohoti is left underdefended. But by the fight in the cave the bulk of the army has vanished. It's hard to imagine a whole army getting into that cave, but the plot also requires all the men with Kit to have gotten trapped.

I've more than once noted that Targala presumably possesses the immortality of other Arohitans yet the stories imply otherwise. Here the Supreme Priest kills him with a simple sword-thrust. Perhaps his practice of black magic had caused his immortality to degrade.

Targala undoes his own side of the bridge, and the art shows him lowering that side. But when Kit and co. arrive his side is still fastened and their side has been undone.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Fighting Yank #21

"Kara": "The Vengeance of the Volcano!"

The sacred plant points east, towards a volcano known as The Sleeping One. The Supreme Priest tells Kara and Kit that legends say it conceals enemies of Arohiti. Kara declares they will march on the enemy stronghold to remove the danger.

The volcano is ten days' march from the city, so Kit and Kara scout it using wings the Arohitans captured from the Eagle Men. They take a warrior named Ganado with them. On the way they observe there is a path of dead trees leading to the volcano.

They land on a ledge on the side of the volcano. Immediately, men emerge from a hidden entrance and attack them. Ganado sacrifices himself to cover Kara's and Kit's escape.

Flames flare up from the crater and wreck Kara's and Kit's wings. They fall towards a pool of lava in a courtyard surrounded by a defensive wall. The lava pool has a double trapdoor cover operated by windlasses. The crater-dwellers operate the windlasses so Kara and Kit fall onto one of the doors. They slide to the ground and are taken prisoner.

The leader of the crater-people is named Volko. He means to transport his forces under the walls of Arohiti and into the city by an underground river of lava in barges of volcanic glass. Kit and Kara realise the river of lava explains the line of dead trees.

Kit pretends he's willing to betray Arohiti to Volko to get him off-guard. Then he and Kara fight their way to one of the boats and open a sluice. The released lava carries their boat into the tunnel. Volko orders his forces after them.

In Arohiti the lava torrent causes an earthquake. Then it bursts to the surface, carrying Kara's and Kit's boat with it. Kit assembles the city's warriors to meet the invasion.

Volko's boat leads the invasion, and Kit fights him. He expresses a fear the lava will engulf Arohiti. The Supreme Priest prays to the "powers that have made Arohiti great" for aid. The cleft closes, ending the invasion and this danger.

A blurb in the splash panel calls this story a bonus feature. The concluding blurb promises a guest feature in every issue of Fighting Yank.

The GCD ascribes the instalment's art to Camy, like the others'. It has quite a different look, but I suppose this could be due to Camy's art having evolved, as it appeared a bit over a year after the last printed episode. It's easily the best-looking of the instalments. One can like it for its art.

The instalment doesn't explain who Kara and Kit are, and how Kara came to rule the lost city. I imagine a reader unfamiliar with the feature would've been able to tell Kit was American but would've guessed Kara was Arohitan. The story depicts her as a warrior queen, fiercely dedicated to her city. There is a reference to the Arohitans' immortality and Kit's mortality near the climax.

The text several times refers to Arohita rather than Arohoti. The usage might be a mistake, but my guess is the idea was Arohita is the country and Arohiti the city.

The Supreme Priest refers to the "new shrine" of the Moon God. This is a reference to the damage done by the idol of Esh-Kar in Exciting Comics #43. The art doesn't depict the Narahavi plant as resting in a pot as formerly, and the plant's name isn't used.

The Arohitans met the Eagle Men in Exciting Comics #45-#46. 

The crater-people use swords and spears as weapons and the Arohitans have been shown to be immune to them before, but it's implied Ganado is killed.

Possibly the tunnel was dug by the crater-people, but this isn't stated. The torrent is started when Kit opens the sluice, but the line of trees indicates there's already been lava in at least part of it.

I doubt a mortal man like Kit could survive such a boat trip. The heat in the tunnel would be too terrible, and he'd likely be splashed with lava.

On p.4 the order of panels 4 and 5 seems to have been reversed. In panel 5 Kara calls Kit "Major Kit". That's out of character for her. Perhaps the editor rewrote the dialogue when he switched the panels.

There may also have been a change made p.6 panels 1-2. In the art Volko starts to ravish Kara and Kit stops him, but there's no reference to Volko's behaviour in the dialogue.

At the start of the episode Kara says that now no danger threatens they "can go on with our work of gathering together the treasures produced by human minds". This is the first mention of this project. Possibly the writer meant Kara to return to it in future instalments. But this proved to be the last one.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

The first version of this post displaced the thread Captain Comics: The many lives (and many names) of the man called Cable from the homepage.

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