Thun’da was a Magazine Enterprises hero. He starred in Thun’da, King of the Congo #1-#6 (1952-53) and subsequently in supporting slots in Cave Girl #12-#14 (1953-54) and the one-shot Africa #1 (1955), which mainly featured Cave Girl.


Thun’da #1 was drawn by Frank Frazetta. Like many ME issues it has four stories. The first three depict Thun’da as a Tarzan-like hero in a lost world, but at the end of the third Thun’da, Pha and Sabre are cut off from the lost world by an earthquake. So in the fourth he becomes a standard Tarzan of the Congo.


From #2 the feature was drawn by Bob Powell. According to Toonopedia Frazetta left the feature partly due to the change, and partly because he didn’t get a payment when Columbia bought the rights for a serial. The serial was called King of the Congo and starred Buster Crabbe. A number of elements from the comic appear in its trailer: the plane crash, the giant gong, and the different types of dawn men. The pressbook can be found at Comic Book Plus.

Sabre is a sabre-toothed tiger raised by Thun’da. This is likely to remind the modern comics reader of Ka-Zar’s partnership with Zabu, but the idea of partnership between a jungle hero and a big cat goes back further. Tarzan had a pet lion named Jad-bal-ja, introduced in Tarzan and the Golden Lion. The Golden Age Ka-Zar lived in the Congo and had a lion buddy. Kaänga briefly had a pet leopard.

Tarzan encountered dinosaurs in the valley of Pal-ul-don in Tarzan the Terrible, and visited Pellucidar in Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. Dinosaurs appeared in the newspaper strip, and the Dell series had done more than one story involving Pal-ul-don.

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Thun'da, King of the Congo #1

Frazetta's art in this issue is first class. I think I can see a Hal Foster influence. It's just as well it's mostly set in a lost world, though, as I don't like the way he draws black Africans. He's at his worst on the cover, which is horrible.

The issue was reportedly written by Gardner Fox, who did a lot of work for ME. The stories are fairly standard, but give Frazetta some fun stuff to draw. Some thought was put into the lost world setting.

"King of the Lost Lands"

The story opens with the crash of an American plane in a lost world in Africa during WWII. The sole survivor is a serviceman named Roger Drum. Apparently his head has been injured, as he finds it hard to remember. He shoots a pterodactyl that seizes him, but is afterwards captured by the subhuman Cave People. Knowing they mean to kill him he escapes, killing his pursuers.

Drum sets about adapting to jungle life. He exercises, and becomes adept at using a bow. (Burroughs's Tarzan was an archer.) Pha is the queen of a valley tribe which lives in an ancient city and is dying out. When her hunting party is attacked by cavemen he hears her scream and intervenes, allowing Pha and co. to escape.

Drum sights a raiding party of the cave people. He tries to warn the Valley People, but he can't communicate with them, so he kidnaps Pha and shows her the raiders. The raiders spot them and pursue them. Drum heads for the hills to lead them away from the Valley People.

They arrive at an ancient giant gong. Pha says this "summons up the ancient god of evil", but Drum doesn't know her language. He strikes the gong with its stone hammer to see what will happen. It summons a giant serpent which terrifies and scatters the cave people (and swallows at least one). Drum fights it, and succeeds in killing it with the last bullets in his gun. The Cave People name him Thun'da, and hail him King of the Lost Lands.

Thun'da loss of memory is first indicated early in this story, but doesn't crop up again until the issue's last tale. It looks like he was originally conceived as a civilised man who has acquired jungle skills and become the overlord of a lost world, and the amnesia angle was inserted as part of his makeover into a standard jungle hero. I like that other idea more, especially as Frazetta depicts the lost world so well.

The peoples of the lost world, the giant gong, and the city inhabited by the valley people were apparently intended as recurring elements. The lost world seems to be enormous and has volcanoes. The cave people carry clubs and Pha's people use spears, so to the locals Drum's bow is like a super-weapon.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #1 cont.

"The Monsters from the Mists!"

Thun'da's country is invaded by monkeymen who ride wooly mammoths. Thun'da and Pha go to see. Pha says they are the Druthga, and raid every year. (The name refers to the mammoths, not the monkeymen.) Thun'da and Pha are spotted by one of the mammoth-riders. He and two other monkeymen attempt to capture them, but Thun'da outfights and kills them.

Now masterless, the mammoth heads for home. Thun'da and Pha follow it into the Misty Lands and find the Monkeyfolk and their ruler, Kwa Kung. He spots them, and the monkeymen surround and capture them. Kwa Kung declares he will take Pha as his bride. As he starts to molest her Thun'da breaks free and attacks him. Their fight takes them to the edge of a cliff, which crumbles under their weight. As they fall Thun'da stabs Kwa Kung dead. Pha joins him via a ladder, and the two escape.

The Monkeyfolk pursue them on their mammoths, intending to kill all Thun'da's people. Thun'da leads the united forces of the Valley People and the Hill (Cave or Cliff) People against them. As the Monkeyfolk advance across the plain Thun'da's men set fire to the grass. The mammoths are terrified, and turn on the monkeymen and kill them.

Thun'da and Pha are first seen in this story standing on the walls of Pha's city, Shareen. She tells him their legends say men came down to Earth from the sky and first settled in the Lost Lands. This might be a seed for a future plot that Fox never got to follow up on. The idea isn't consistent with the implication that the Hill People and the Monkeyfolk are evolutionary precursors of humans.

One of the advantages of lost world settings is they allow creators to tell jungle adventure stories without depicting real world peoples in racist ways. Unfortunately the Monkeyfolk are coloured brown, so they come across as stand-ins for native Africans.

Despite her jungle origins Pha is a passive heroine, like Jane. Most "Janes" from jungle lord strips were like this.

Thun'da has some movie Tarzan dialogue: "There is none so mighty in all the Lost Lands as Thun'da!" When they are escaping the monkeymen Thun'da takes to the trees while Pha clings to his back.

Thun'da doesn't make use of a bow this time out.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #1 cont.

"When the Earth Shook"

An earthquake strikes while Thun'da and Pha are hunting. As they flee its effects they are attacked by a sabretooth. Thun'da grapples with the cat and kills her, although it's a close run thing.

Thun'da makes a pet of the sabretooth's cub, and names him Sabre. Months pass, and Sabre grows to adulthood.

The earthquake has opened a way through the cliffs around the Lost Lands. A white man named Shiv Islip who is on some kind of expedition (illegally trading, perhaps) spots the opening and leads his caravan through. The caravanserai spy Thun'da hunting with Sabre, and Islip sees Thun'da's arm-bands are gold. They shoot at him to get them, and a bullet creases Thun'da's skull and knocks him out. Sabre, ordered to flee, gets away.

Islip and his bearers torture Thun'da to learn the source of the gold. Sabre scatters the bearers and frees Thun'da. Thun'da escapes Islip and strikes the gong to warn the Valley and Hill Peoples of the danger. They attack the caravanserai, but are routed by their guns.

The caravanserai loot Shareen. Thun'da and Pha watch, and trail them as they set out for the outside world. Pha expects them to come back with more men to enslave the Lost Landers. Islip spots the pair watching and orders his men to capture them. Thun'da resolves to die fighting, but another earthquake strikes, killing the outsiders. It also seals the pass, stranding Thun'da and Pha in the world outside the Lost Lands.

Thun'da doesn't do anything to defeat Islip and his men in this story. In fact, his action of striking the gong leads to the deaths of many of the Lost Landers in the battle.

Islip's men are all native Africans. They are as gold-crazed as he is.

Sabre is a welcome addition to the strip. He's not shown with Thun'da and Pha at the conclusion, but he's with them in the next instalment.

Sabre's mother is referred to with male pronouns on p.2, and a female one p.3 when the cub's presence is revealed.

On the final page the narration represents Thun'da and Pha as following the outsiders as they leave the valley, but the art only depicts them watching as they leave Shareen. Some of the forms in the final panels are coloured yellow, like Shareen, so the reader gets the impression Shareen was destroyed in the final earthquake. But I think that probably wasn't intended by Frazetta.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thunda #1 cont.

"Gods of the Jungle"

Thun'da tells Pha they will make their home in "these forests" (the Belgian Congo).

Two white men instigate an attack on a canoe convoy by the Basuto tribe. Thun'da hears the sound of guns. He and Sabre race to the location and scatter the Basutos. The instigators flee with them.

A white survivor from the convoy explains it was carrying a shipment of uranium from the "Congo mines". The Communists want the uranium and have sent two Russian scientists as agents. Thun'da has no memory of his old life and can't remember what such things are.

The Russians create a monster costume and impersonate a fearsome native god called Thun'da. They stir up many tribes against the Belgian authorities.

Thun'da hears war drums, and heads off with Sabre to see what's up. A force of warriors from multiple tribes attacks the mines. Thun'da hears their declarations they are acting for Thun'da. He attacks them with Sabre, declaring he is Thun'da, "the jungle god". The natives are terrified and flee.

The Belgians attempt to arrest the Russians, but can find no proof against them as they've put their secret papers in a jar and thrown it in the river. Thun'da has spotted and retrieved the jar and presents it to the authorities. The Russians are arrested.

Taken together the issue's four stories are an extended origin for Thun'da, explaining how he was transformed from an ordinary man into a Congo jungle king. By the end of the issue Thun'da is thoroughly amnesiac, and mentally a jungle man to whom living a primitive life of adventure in the jungle is natural.

The idea seems to be that the god's name is a coincidence, but Thun'da will henceforth be identified with him by the natives.

The native Africans in this story are depicted as on the cover. They are warlike and superstitious. Thun'da is represented as superior to them in will and fighting ability, and able to rout large groups of them with the assistance of Sabre.

The action scenes are violent, and Thun'da uses lethal force. One panel shows an arrow fired by Thun'da piercing a warrior's neck.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da, King of the Congo #2

In #2 Thun'da comes across as interchangeable with other jungle lords. He often kills in the fight scenes, as the Captain noted. He still has Sabre as his fighting companion. 

The issue introduced "Cave Girl" as a second feature, so it has three "Thun'da" stories and one "Cave Girl" one. ME titles often had second features. I assume they were used to meet second-class mail requirements.

The cover was by the feature's new artist, Bob Powell, who also drew "Cave Girl". It's tied to the issue's opening story rather than a generic image.

"The White Goddess of Kotangu!"

A blonde woman survives a shipwreck by clinging to floating wreckage. Thun'da saves her and takes her to Pha to nurse. He sends out the news by jungle drum.

Kuviroo, the witch-doctor of the Bwakka, hears the message. He has discovered a store of gold and diamonds in a ruined city which he wants to use it to buy guns and conquer. His problem is his people won't enter the city as they believe it haunted by dead spirits, so he hasn't been able to use them to carry the treasure out. Thun'da's message provides him with a solution: he will tell them the blonde woman has been sent by their god to be their goddess, and have her order them to enter the lost city.

Kuviroo pretends to receive a revelation about the woman at a ceremony, and a party of warriors heads off to find her. They find the blonde woman and Pha and grab them, but Pha manages to scream. Thun'da hears the scream, and he and Sabre scatter the warriors.

The survivors report to Kuviroo. He has covered pits built to catch Thun'da and Sabre. The scheme succeeds. (How is an utter mystery; we just see them falling in.) The warriors again seize the blonde woman and Pha and take them to Kuviroo. He drugs the blonde woman, whose name is Wanda Henderson, and dresses her in a jungle goddess outfit.

Kuviroo has Wanda lead his warriors to the lost city. Thun'da and Pha (and Sabre, judging by subsequent events) are taken with the party as prisoners. Thunda and Sabre are shut in separate cells (the lost city has usable dungeons?), and Pha is chained to an altar to be sacrificed to the city's idol when the full moon rises. Thun'da breaks free, releases Sabre, and kills Kuviroo, and then he and Sabre scatter the Bwakka. Then they and Pha take Wanda to her home in Capetown.

The story portrays Thun'da as living in a cave with Pha and Sabre. They have wooden chairs and a low table. It occurs to me jungle lords often live more primitively than the natives the interact with.

The use of the drum seems logical in-story, as Wanda has fallen unconscious and Thun'da can't ask her who he is.

Witch-doctors are often used as villains in jungle stories. Kuviroo is a villain, but he isn't depicted in a degrading way. He is intelligent, and has the build of a warrior. That's supposed to be him on the cover, but he looks more handsome and is dressed differently inside.

Thun'da uses deadly force in his battles with the Bwakka warriors. This is harsh justice, as they're not shown to be brutes. To be fair, they're on board with Kuviroo's planned sacrifice of Pha at the climax.

Kuviroo says the gold and diamonds were "mined in the-time-of-long-ago for the great King Solomon!"

Thun'da kills Kuviroo with an arrow, saying "You did not hide my weapons well, people of Bwakka!" The Bwakka took them with them to the lost city? What's more, he doesn't have them in the panel where he falls into the pit. Had he placed them somewhere nearby, or did the Bwakka go to his home to get them?

The Thun'da stories recurringly have scenes where Thun'da attacks a group of natives and they panic and flee. The depiction of their panic can be degrading ("With screams of stark fear bubbling in their throats, the Bwakka flee-").

The reveal of Wanda's name comes belatedly, as in my synopsis.

Powell's art is clean and attractive. The good art which appeared on some other jungle lord strips makes Western's longtime use of Jesse Marsh on Tarzan more mystifying to me.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #2 cont.

"The Diamond Death"

Slinky James has stolen diamonds from a mine in South Africa. He heads for the Congo jungle to hide, and finds himself in constant danger from the wild animals. Thun'da saves him from a lion, but James flees as he's dealing with it.

Some days Congo police looking for James ask Thun'da if he's seen him. (The policemen are black Africans.) Thun'da sets off to catch James because he regards the jungle as his, and doesn't allow bad men in it.

Some natives spot James and guess he's the diamond thief the jungle drums have spoken about. They knock him out and ransack his clothing for the diamonds, but can't find them. So they start torturing him to make him talk.

Thun'da declares they've broken the jungle law. He kills some and drives the others off. While he's doing this James flees again. Big cats start tracking him, attracted by the smell of his blood. He heads for water, saying they won't follow him.

Thun'da finds him dead by the water, killed by his wounds and perhaps his fear. (I doubt he'd eaten much lately either.) He discovers James was bald, and hid the diamonds under his wig. He notices more diamonds in James's hand in the river, and realises the floor of the river is covered with them. The river is the legendary River of Diamonds.

James's theft of the diamonds isn't shown. We're not told he harmed anyone, so it's not clear he deserves his harsh end.

I don't know we can assume the diamonds would have been worth all that much: perhaps they, and the diamonds in the river, were low-grade ones. Edward Jay Epstein's 1982 article "Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?" can be read here.

Apparently, rivers with diamond deposits are a real thing

When Thun'da sees James has run off the first time he just shrugs it off, instead of figuring he likely needs help and going after him. That struck me as out of character. He finds him pretty easily when he sets off after him later, so presumably he could have tracked him if he'd had a mind to.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #2 cont.

"Jungle Killers!"

A group of Berbers have come south in search of ivory and women slaves. They shoot an elephant for its tusks. Its companion, Muka, attacks them, but they are experienced elephant hunters and Muka is soon close to defeat.

Thun'da hears the rifles. He attacks and scatters the Berbers, and leads Muka into the safety of the jungle. He takes him to a river so he can begin recovering from his wounds. Meanwhile a Berber comes upon Pha. Though she tries to resist he overcomes and enslaves her.

Thun'da works out what's happened, and tracks the Berber caravan. The Berbers have guns, so he doesn't dare attack them frontally. Instead, he picks them off one by one in surprise attacks, and orders their bearers to flee. This strands the caravan as there is now no-one to carry the ivory.

However, one of the Berbers spots and shoots him, rendering him unconscious. They take him to the bearers' village, tie him to a stake, and mean to make the bearers slash him to ribbons. Thun'da awakens, but cannot free himself. He cries out a call that summons Muka and Sabre, and they attack the Berbers. Pha frees Thun'da, and he joins the fight.

The remaining Berbers start shooting, so Thun'da and co. flee. But before they do Muka suffers further gunshot wounds. Knowing he's mortally wounded, Muka heads for the secret elephant graveyard, where he dies. Thun'da spots a pass beyond the graveyard which leads to the Lost Lands and Shareen.

The issue's first story has a sequence where Thun'da kills a boar, and in the second one he kills a lion to save James and a rhinoceros with Sabre. Apparently he draws the line at elephants. When he attack the Berbers to save Muka he uses lethal force.

When the bearers flee on Thun'da's orders one of them calls him the Ghost-of-the-Jungle. This echoes The Phantom, in which the hero is regularly called the Ghost Who Walks.

The bearer says (p.5 panel 2) that Thun'da attacks only the "bearers". Presumably this is a typo for "Berbers". 

The Berbers are drawn as stereotype North African slavers. The opening caption describes them as having come south from "their desert lares", which I think is a typo for "lairs".

The Berber who shoots Thun'da calls the village they take him to "our village". For my synopsis I interpreted this as the bearers' village which the Berbers have been using as a base.

The other women enslaved by the Berbers are forgotten after p.5. Since the story ends with some of the Berbers still alive it's possible they were never freed.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #2 cont.

"Cave Girl": "The Ape God of Kor"

Thun'da and Pha have returned to the Lost Lands. A flock of thousands of birds of many different kinds attacks them. They spy Cave Girl at the edge of the clearing. Her dialogue reveals the birds are attempting to protect her from them, as they already have from someone called Boorg. Thun'da disarms her and catches her as she briefly reels. This convinces her he means no harm, and she orders the birds to depart.

Boorg is the high priest and leader of the Apemen of Kor. He is watching, and orders his followers to attack them. Thun'da fights them, and Sabre arrives and joins in. But Sabre is netted, and Thun'da is overwhelmed.

The trio are taken to the ruined city of Kor, which the Apemen inhabit. Thun'da is imprisoned in a cell (again). Days later he's taken into an amphitheatre where he fights a sabretooth barehanded in front of a crowd and the Apemen's ape god idol. He is victorious, but doesn't take the opportunity to escape as the Apemen are holding Pha and Cave Girl.

Returning to his cell, Thun'da see Boorg molesting Pha. He attacks him, but the Apemen overcome him before he can kill him. Boorg says the next day he will face three sabretooths.

Pha is imprisoned with Cave Girl. A bird brings Cave Girl a dagger. They pick the lock with it and escape.

To make sure Thun'da will die Boorg sends him into the arena in chains. But all animals know and love Cave Girl. She orders them not to attack, and frees Thun'da from his chains with her dagger. Then Thun'da, Cave Girl and the sabretooths rout the Monkeymen. Thun'da spears Boorg, and Cave Girl topples the idol.

Cave Girl is a woman of the Lost Lands, here called the Dawn World. She lives in the caves of Klaa. She can talk to animals, and is particularly close to birds. My guess is her closeness to birds here was modelled after Rima's from Green Mansions. I've not seen it in later instalments.

The opening caption describes her as "lovely, strong, barbaric in her savagery", but she comes across as a gentle woman in the story. The captions indicate she takes part in the fight at the climax, but all we see is her toppling the idol.

In some panels it's easy to see the Monkeymen are inhuman, but in others it hard to tell. Boorg's depiction is odd, as he wears what seems to be outer-world clothing. His garment is mostly red with stripes and might be a pullover or a nightshirt. There's no explanation of this.

There's another typo - "girds" for "birds" - p.3 panel 1.

The GCD doesn't have script credits for the stories this issue, so I wondered if Fox was still the writer. When the Apemen take the trio to Kor we're told "In the days before the memory of man, ancient Kor was a thriving city. Here came the fighting men of Atlantis and Mu, Sumer and Ophir - nations so old they are only legends in the world today." That sure sounds like him.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da, King of the Congo #3

I thought this issue showed a step-up in quality. The art has more zest, and the depictions of native Africans are more respectful. The second story, "The Dragon Devil!", is the most imaginative and entertainingly-plotted instalment so far. 

The two other Thun'da stories both have appearances by Kenya police. Kenya doesn't overlap with the Congo Basin.

The issue introduces a new costume for Pha. Thun'da carries a spear as well as a bow, and his outfit now includes a shoulder belt which he uses to affix his weapons. Sabre no longer hunts and fights with Thun'da, and only appears in one panel. 

The main image and inset on the cover are both tied to "The Dragon Devil!"

I'll skip the Cave Girl stories from this point as Thun'da isn't in them.

"The Axe of Death!"

Thun'da has been cornered by Basuli warriors in a ruined city. As he attempts to escape he slips and falls into a chamber where an ancient axe lies. He routs his attackers with the axe. Suddenly, he cries out his blood is on fire. He passes out, apparently dead.

The Basuli chief, also called Basuli, has remained. He declares the axe magic and takes it. But when he attempts to use it against a rhinoceros he too declares his blood on fire and collapses.

Three weeks later a Wazuti warrior finds the axe by his remains. He means to use it to fight a gorilla, but likewise calls out and collapses.

The story shifts back some weeks. Thun'da is found by a group of Kenya police seeking slave-traders. They realise he's been poisoned, and administer an antidote. Thun'da stays with them two days, then sets off to find the Axe of Death.

The story shifts forward again. The slave traders spy Pha and seize her. One of them also finds and picks up the axe.

Pha frees herself and KOs or kills the woman left to watch her. Needing a weapon, she picks up the axe. Thun'da has traced it to the caravan, and throws his knife to knock it out of her hand. She cries out before she realises it's him.

Pha's cries bring the slavers. Thun'da wraps his hand in thick hide and fights them with the axe. Then he and Pha escape.

Thun'da explains the axe has a retracting poison needle in the handle. When the section is pressed the needle poisons the holder.

Thun'da leads the police to the slavers, and they take the villains prisoner. Then he and Pha return to their idyllic life.

The axe reminded me of Machiste's axe from Warlord #7, which really is cursed. The explanation of the deaths in the present story is a chestnut, but the mystery of the axe is a nice hook.

Pha is fiercer here than she's been previously. She frees herself, takes out her watcher, and was evidently willing to fight.

The slavers are depicted like the ones last issue, but this time they're Arabs.

The Kenya police are black, and use British locutions in their speech. (At the time Kenya was a British colony.) I like to see respectful depictions of black people in these kinds of stories.

Basuli died two hours after claiming the axe, and it lay by his body for three weeks. Thun'da was apparently revived not too long after he was poisoned, and stayed with the police two days. So apparently it took him a couple of weeks to trace Basuli's movements in the two hours he had it.

Sabre is seen with the relaxing Thun'da and Pha in the final panel. It seems they've also acquired a dog.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #3 cont.

"The Dragon Devil!"

Fishmen driving crocodiles raid a native village for slaves. Thun'da hears the screams and fighting and intervenes. He drives off the fishmen, but as they flee they spot Pha and take her prisoner.

The fishmen's lair is in deep water. Thun'da dives and finds a walled city, but at first can find no way in. Bubbles on the surface lead him to an entrance guarded by crocodiles. He kills them and finds an air-filled chamber past the entrance. He kills the fishmen posted there.

Pha has been brought before the fishmen's evil queen. She condemns her to be hung in a net and thrown to the dragon god.

The fishmen detect Thun'da's presence and flood the corridor he's traversing. The water washes Thun'da into the chamber of the dragon god, which is a carnivorous dinosaur.

Pha is dropped into the chamber. The pair struggle to evade the dinosaur's strikes. Thun'da strikes at it but can't hurt it due to its thick hide.

Thun'da throws his knife to cut the rope of the net Pha was in. It drops onto the dinosaur, and Thun'da further entangles it in it. While the beast is struggling with the net they scale the walls.

They race through the corridor Thun'da came in by before the fishmen can flood it again. Spotting the building's keystone arch, Thun'da strikes it with the hammer from a nearby gong. The building is very old, and this is enough to start it collapsing.

The pair escape as the building collapses. Back on the surface Thun'da declares the menace over forever.

This story's imaginativeness and more interesting plotting elevate it above the average jungle tale. Thun'da meets setbacks, and shows more ingenuity than he has previously.

The fishmen were probably borrowed from Lovecraft. Their underwater city is the "ancient city of Sharda! Built before Egypt was - by people from a place called Atlantis!" So I figure Fox was still writing.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #3 cont.

"The Terror of the Witch Doctor!"

A witch doctor named Mumf'ooka has acquired great prestige. He predicts a lion will kill a hunter named Kuviroo.

Days later a lion attacks Kuviroo. Thun'da kills the lion, but too late to save him. He notices the lion has not recently fed.

Mumf'ooka means to make himself king. At his instigation the tribes begin to attack missions, trade caravans, boats and trading posts. Kenya police enter the jungle to arrest him.

Elsewhere, Thun'da finds an abandoned bamboo cage that smells of lion. He realises Mumf'ooka starved a lion and released it to kill Kuviroo.

Thun'da ropes Mumf'ooka and hangs him from a tree by his legs. He says he means to leave him hanging overnight to think over his ways. Mumf'ooka responds with a prophecy Thun'da will be choked to death by a vine.

Thun'da releases Mumf'ooka the next morning. He orders his followers to weave a vine around a rope and hang him. Thun'da hears the ornaments of his would-be killers in time to evade it. He overcomes them and ties them up.

Thun'da hears shots, and races towards the sound. He finds Mumf'ooka's followers about to attack the Kenya police. He intervenes, and scatters the attackers.

Thun'da tells the police that Mumf'ooka should be exposed before he is arrested. He takes the men he captured to Mumf'ooka's kraal and accuses him. Mumf'ooka denies it and orders his followers to kill him by prophesising his immediate death. Thun'da seizes Mumf'ooka and holds a knife to his head. He warns his followers to not come closer, and asks him what he sees in his own future now. Terrified, Mumf'ooka confesses. Thun'da hands him over to the police.

This is a standard jungle adventure plot. The resolution is anticlimactic, as Mumf'ooka gives in so easily.

Thun'da avoids using lethal force for a change. There's no obvious reason why he first gives Mumf'ooka a chance to change his ways. When he fights the men about to attack the Kenya police he uses an elephant tusk club he carries.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da, King of the Congo #4

This issue the Thun'da stories have good premises. The cover is tied to the first story, but the image has a generic character. That might be an indication the cover was done first and the story written around it.

"When the Jungle Went Mad!"

A monkey drops a message in a Congo village saying the animals will kill if they're not paid in gold. The chief laughs at it, but the next day a leopard kills him. A note left on his body blames his non-payment. Other chiefs are also killed by animals. Soon payments of gold or diamonds are being made to them all over.

A woman has come up from Capetown seeking someone named Jan. A message is thrown to her warning her to stay out of Pooka's country. Elsewhere, Thun'da and Pha receive a similar message. Thun'da has heard about the messages and deaths, but says they will stay in the jungle.

Subsequently, Thun'da is attacked at intervals by a leopard, a gorilla, and an elephant. He kills the first two, and escapes the elephant. As he does, animals attack the Capetown's woman's safari. Thun'da hears her screams and kills the gorilla pursuing her.

Thun'da takes the woman with him as he trails the other animal attackers. After two days they reach an escarpment which the animals climb. The woman is keeping a secret from Thun'da. She pretends to be too afraid to continue, but during the night she slips away from their camp and climbs the escarpment.

At the top she finds her husband Jan Kenyon, "the greatest living trainer of animals in the world'. He has gone mad, and now calls himself Pooka-Namba. He calls her a spy from the world of humans and attempts to throw her into a snake pit.

Thun'da has trailed the woman, and intervenes to save her. Kenyon slips into the snake pit and is killed. Thun'da frees his animals.

The animal crimes premise is a recurring one,(1) but I think this is the first time I've run into it in a jungle story. The imagery of animals running a shakedown racket gets the story off to a good start.

I guessed a human would prove to be behind things. I think it would've been more fun if the cause of the crime wave had proved to be something more fantastic.

The destruction of Mrs Kenyon's safari mostly happens off-panel. In p.5 panel 5 the lion in the background is killing one of her porters.(2) P.6 panel 5 Thun'da says her porters are "dead or fled southward". Panel 7 shows the attackers included a lion, another big cat, elephants and at least one more gorilla.

Thun'da's release of the animals at the end might not be a good idea. They've been trained to kill humans! He says they'll forget Kenyon.

Kenyon's training methods include use of "drugs and hypnotic influences". He's shown training a leopard with a whip and chair.

A caption identifies Thunda's hunting knife with the knife he took from Kwa Kung in #1.

The final panel shows Thun'da relaxing with Pha and a monkey. I expect we won't see Sabre again.

(1) Examples include the Space Ranger story from Tales of the Unexpected #45 and Justice League of America #131-#132. Feel free to note others.

(2) There's a dialogue/art mismatch p.5 panel 6: Mrs Kenyon says "the lion's" going to kill her, but it's a gorilla pursuing her.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

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