"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 idol of the 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.

The first version of this post displaced the thread What Comic Books Have You Read Today? from the homepage.

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 Bird 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 Bird 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.

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