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 #4 cont.

"The Women Warriors!"

An entrance through a waterfall leads to a "great cave world" inhabited by a race of Amazons. An officer reports to the queen, Irana, that they have found a man worthy to be her mate. This is Thun'da. She sends a force to capture him.

Thun'da kills a panther that has attacked him and Pha. As he's rising the Amazons attack him. They capture him, and knock Pha down and leave her behind.

Irana tells Thun'da he can die by torture or fight her greatest warrior. If Thun'da wins he will go free, but if he loses he must marry her. Expecting to win, Thun'da accepts these terms.

Pha means to fight for her man. She follows the Amazons' tracks to their city and kills a soldier and takes her clothes and equipment.

The Amazon champion easily defeats Thun'da because his food has been drugged. Not realising this, he resigns himself to marrying Irana.

A group of Amazon priestesses in horned masks come to his chamber to dress him for the wedding. Their leader reveals herself to be Pha. (Apparently the others have departed.) She tells him his food was drugged, and she killed a priestess for her outfit.

Thun'da and Pha escape. Irana sends Amazon troops after them. Thun'da makes snow-goggles from a cedar branch, and he and Pha head for the mountain peaks. The glare of the snow renders the Amazons snow-blind, but Thun'da's and Pha's sight is protected by their goggles.

Irana vows to recapture Thun'da and make him hers.

The Amazons' caverns are lighted by "great floating globes of radiant energy". So Fox was still writing.

Pha is ruthless in this one. It isn't explicitly stated that she finds the city by following the Amazons' tracks, but that seems to be what's depicted.

There's another script/art mismatch when Pha takes the soldier's outfit. Her thoughts refer to the Amazon's "silken trousers". In the art the soldiers wear miniskirts.

The ending sets the Amazons and Irana up to appear again. They returned in #6.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #4 cont.

"The Devil Drug!"

A white man named John Farris kills a witch doctor to obtain a drug that can rob a man of free will. One administers the drug by breathing it in the target's face. He uses the drug to obtain the ivory of the Membuti tribe, and sets out for Kenya with bearers.

On the way he comes upon Thun'da and Pha. He makes them his slaves, and orders them to tell him about the secret treasures of the jungle. They lead him to fantastic treasure-hoards. He makes maps of the locations and heads for the coast with Pha and a bag of diamonds. Thun'da he leaves in the jungle.

When he reaches the coast he dresses up and buys fancy clothing for Pha. Back in the jungle Thun'da is attacked by a panther. He instinctively defends himself, and by his exertion sweats out the drug.

Thun'da tracks Farris and Pha to the coast. By the time he arrives their ship is leaving. He swims to the ship, slips aboard, murders Farris off-panel, and leaves with Pha and the diamonds. The maps are destroyed.

I thought this story's premise a strong one. It doesn't do as much with it as it might have, but there isn't room: it's only six pages.(1)

Farris obviously means to make Pha his sex slave. He has a line where he says she'll make a fine wife when he tames her. The resolution, with its off-panel murder by the hero, isn't something one sees in a comic every day.

The idea seems to be Farris's death releases Pha from her trance. There's no explanation of why the drug doesn't affect its administrator. It's not clear how many of the Membuti he enslaves. We only see him subduing one, who might be their leader.

When Farris orders Thun'da and Pha to tell him about the treasures of the jungle they name the emerald mines of the pharaohs, the lost gold mines of King Solomon, the hidden hoards of Lobengula, the golden wealth of Carthage, and the jewels of Zimbabwe.(1) The first hoard they take him to is the fortune of Sheba.

(1) Counting the Cave Girl story, placed third, the page breakdown is 8/7/7/6.

(2) Spelt "Zambabwe" and "Zambebwe". Today's Zimbabwe was Rhodesia when the story appeared.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da, King of the Congo #5

This issue's cover story, "The Flying Devils!", is a nice fantastic tale. The other two Thun'da stories have ordinary jungle plots.

"The Flying Devils!"

Women who ride giant bird mounts and use giant and smaller birds as troops raid the jungle for human captives so they can offer them as sacrifices to "the Great Winged One". After three weeks of raids the Mambuti and Wahili light fires to signal Thun'da they need his help. 

The bird-women attack again as the tribes' leaders are explaining things. Thun'da shows the tribesmen it's possible to fight back. The attackers are named Tanyana and Evala. Thun'da unseats Tanyana and kills her mount, but she escapes with the help of another of the giant birds. The women and their birds retreat.

Thun'da sees they have headed towards the cliffs that separate the Congo from the Dawn World. He guesses they live somewhere on the great mountain, and sets off after them. The journey takes days. High in the mountains a flock of the smaller birds attacks him. He fights against it, but it is too much for him and he is overcome. Tanyana and Evala call off the birds and take him prisoner.

The Bird People conduct their ceremonies on an open-air platform. Tanyana shows Thun'da a sword set in a stone. She tells him if he can draw it he will not be sacrificed to the Great Winged One. Thun'da cannot shift it. Two medium-sized birds lift him and deposit him on the flat crag where the sacrifices are placed.

The Great Winged One appears. It proves to be an enormous bird, "the fabled Roc". As it lifts Thun'da to eat him he strikes at its face with his knife. When he strikes the bird's eyes it screams, drops him and flees. Evala and her mount catch him. She says by defeating the Great Winged One he has earned his freedom.

Thun'da's hands are bound again. Tanyana insists Thun'da die anyway as he didn't kill the GWO. Evala refuses to give way. The two women fight. While everyone is watching Thun'da cuts his bonds on the sword in the stone.

It is now late, and Thun'da guesses the evening cold will have caused the steel of the sword to contract. He succeeds in drawing it from the stone. The Bird People pay him homage. Evala commences paying homage too. Tanyana attempts to kill her. Thun'da saves her, but Tanyana directs the Bird People to attack them.

Thun'da swings Evala and himself to safety on a handy rope dangling from heaven knows what. The GWO returns and carries Tanyana off. Evala says it blames Tanyana, its priestess, for its blindness, and will kill Tanyana and itself. She says her people will be friends with the jungle folk henceforth.

Given that Thun'da isn't summoned until three weeks after the raids start some number of captives must have been sacrificed to the GWO. It's not clear if any Bird People other than Tanyana and Evala took part in the raids. In the art Tanyana appears to conduct the first raid solo. Evala is Tanyana's co-ruler, so she shares responsibility for the deaths.

Tanyana and the bird-women's use of bird mounts reminded me of Zaladane's and her followers' use of pterodactyls in Ka-Zar's feature in Astonishing Tales. Perhaps this issue was the Marvel creators' inspiration: they might have gone through old jungle comics for ideas.

Thun'da's blade is called the "knife of Kwa Kung" in all three of this issue's stories.

The bit about the cold contracting the steel of the sword is reminiscent of Fox's work for Julie Schwartz.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #5 cont.

"Lord of the Little People!"

Elwin White has stolen nuclear secrets and is a passenger on a plane crossing the Congo. One of the plane's engines catches fire, and it crashes in the jungle. White is the only survivor. A group of pygmy warriors hail him as the god Muungu because he has come down from the sky in a ball of fire. White slips into insanity and embraces this identity.

The District Commissioner asks Thun'da to find White and recover the formula he stole. Thun'da has heard talk about a white Muungu and guesses he might be White. He sets off for the pygmies' country.

Thun'da is attacked by White's followers. He fights them and is knocked out. White has him bound to saplings which have been bent over and tied to the ground. He means to cut the ropes so the saplings will spring up and tear him apart.

Thun'da tells the pygmies he, not White, is the true Muungu. He calls upon them to listen as he summons down thunder from the skies. There is an enormous explosion in the distance. The pygmies are convinced. They release him and ask his forgiveness.

White flees. Thun'da pursues him. His thoughts reveal he arranged for a cache of gunpowder to be set off by a timer in case he got into trouble. He saves White from a crocodile, but has to fight it because White kicks him into the river. White is killed by a python.

A week later Thun'da presents the microfilm to the Commissioner. He explains White had abandoned Western dress expect for his shoes, so he guessed the microfilm was hidden in them.

The fourth story in #1 represented Thun'da as having forgotten what atom bombs and Russians are. Apparently he's recovered, as in this story he has modern knowledge of atomic power, microfilm and timed explosions. Also note the snow-goggles last issue and his understanding of the contraction of metals last story.

The District Commissioner's office is in Kenya. He's also called the Police Commissioner. Presumably he's the boss of the police Thun'da met in #3. (The ones from #2 could be his as well.) He has a map on his wall that includes Italian East Africa. It ceased to exist in 1941, so that must be an old map.

Wikipedia tells me Kenya is also the name of a commune in Lubumbashi (then Elizabethville) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then the Belgian Congo). But the Commissioner's map shows the colony of Kenya. Possibly Fox thought of Thun'da's Congo as an ungoverned region. 

The Commissioner's secretary is a modern black woman. She admires Thun'da's physique as he talks to her boss.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #5 cont.

"The Treasure of Lobengula!"

A Capetown man has found and authenticated a map showing the location of the lost treasure of Lobengula. He shares his discovery with his friend Bruce Lanvin. He means to cut him in, but Lanvin kills him and takes it instead.

Lanvin thinks Thun'da will stop him taking the treasure, so he takes Pha hostage. (There might be a flaw in his thinking there.) As he travels with her there is a small earthquake. Later they are captured by Bwakka raiders.

Thun'da has been trailing Lanvin and Pha. He reads the signs of what happened, and knows it was the Bwaaka who seized them by an arrow. He heads for the Bwaaka village.

After watching all day he kills the night guards and escapes from the village with a figure bound in a blanket. But this turns out to be Lanvin. He returns to the village for Pha and intervenes when the Bwaaka bring her out to torture her. He fights the Bwaaka until they beg for mercy and accept his demands they stop raiding.

Lanvin prepares a bamboo cage and places automatic snares to catch Thun'da and Pha and deposit them in it. The trap works. He reaches the treasure of Lobengula. As he's gloating over it another earthquake causes the cave it's in to collapse. The earthquake frees Thun'da and Pha, and they find Lanvin's body.

It surprises me that Thun'da can't break the bamboo bars of the cage. And he has his knife! Couldn't he cut his way free?

The whole trap is a miracle of construction. The ropes are designed to part under Thun'da's and Pha's weights and drop them into the cage, and it must have an automatically closing and locking roof. The script speaks of cages, but the art shows only one.

As the story is constructed Lanvin appears to construct the trap while Thun'da is fighting the Bwaaka. This is a case of double time, however, as Thun'da and Pha don't reach it until the next day. I always find it implausible when automatic snares catch two people at the same time. How could the trapper know just where each person would step?

The journey to the treasure takes days, and Lanvin has no partners or bearers. It's hard to believe Thun'da couldn't have rescued Pha earlier. He isn't around when the Bwaaka capture her and Lanvin. Was he eating breakfast? Waiting ahead on the trail to ambush him? When Thun'da takes Lanvin from the village he's thoroughly bound. Presumably he frees himself of his remaining bonds while Thun'da is rescuing Pha.

Lobengula was a historical person. His treasure was one of the troves Thun'da and Pha took Farris to in #4.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da, King of the Congo #6

The warrior assisting Thun'da on the cover is King Rex, Chief of the River Bantus. He was apparently intended as a semi-regular cast member and appears in two stories this issue. The cover doesn't show a scene from either story. He appeared at least once more, in the Thun'da instalment in Cave Girl #12.

Irana and the Amazons return in this issue's third story. Sabre appears in the first, and the Kenya police appear in the second. Pha now has a pet monkey called Cheeka.

The handling of black tribesmen in the title shifted over the course of the series. In #1 Frazetta drew them as savages. Their visual depiction improved with Powell's arrival, but in #2 they were still mainly used as antagonists.(1) They were used in that role again in some of the stories in #3 and #5, but in "The Dragon Devil!" in #3 they also began to appear in the role of people Thun'da assists.(2) In this issue Thun'da allies himself with King Rex and fights with his people against an enemy.

(1) The exceptions are the black women the Berbers are shown to have captured.

(2) In #3's Cave Girl story the white villain victimises tribal Africans (with the help of black cronies).

"Terror of the Tusks!"

King Rex is so strong all weapons break when he uses them due to the strength of his blows. His village is attacked by elephants lead by elephant-headed men. He fights them and calls on his people to join him. But they panic and flee, and he is overcome and left for dead.

When he recovers he vows to avenge his people or die trying. He gathers many spears so he will be able to keep fighting as each breaks. Elsewhere, Cheeka tells Pha about the raids, and she tells Thun'da. (Pha can talk to monkeys?) He heads off to investigate.

King Rex fights the Elephant-Men. They are on the verge of overwhelming him by their numbers when Thun'da joins the battle on his side. After a hard fight the Elephant-Men flee.

Thun'da takes King Rex to a treasure cave - the journey takes "days" - and gives him the Axe of Kabala (from #3). King Rex tries it out, and finds it's the one weapon able to stand up to his strength.

When they get back Pha, disguised as a Voodoo priestess, spreads word they are returning. She exhorts the Bantus to fight with them. While she's doing this Thun'da and King Rex ambush two Elephant-Men by a river and kill them. Thun'da realises their elephant heads are masks. The river has diamonds on the bottom, which explains what the raids have been about.

King Rex and Thun'da show the Bantus the heads are masks. They raise an army and attack the Elephant-Men. The Elephant-Men bring their elephants into the battle and they wreck havoc among the Bantus. Thun'da sets fire to the veldt, knowing the wind will blow the flames towards the elephants. The maddened elephants turn on the Elephant-Men and kill them.

Sabre's role here is a cameo one. Thun'da leaves him to guard Pha when he heads off to investigate the raids, and he accompanies her when she's disguised as a Voodoo priestess. Still, I was wrong when I guessed he wouldn't appear again.

The idea of a river of diamonds is recycled here from #2, and the means by which Thun'da defeats the elephants is the same as that he used to defeat the mammoths of the Monkeyfolk in #1.

When Thun'da gives King Rex the axe he says it "once was death to touch", alluding to the plot of its debut story. Its blade is steel and its handle is horn.

In the final fight the elephants swing maces with their trunks. This is something war elephants were sometimes trained to do. John M. Kistler's book War Elephants can be previewed at Google Books.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

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Thun'da #6 cont.

"Killer in the Dark!"

A film crew comes to Africa to shoot a jungle picture. The director, Hans Bruler, is in love with the star, Joanne Cofford. Bruler releases his frustrations by treating his gun-bearer Mambebwa viciously.

Walking alone, Joanne is menaced by a lion. Thun'da intervenes and kills it. Joanne begs him to take a part in the picture as she thinks that will make it a smash. Thun'da agrees to do "a few tricks in front of your camera".

The next day Thun'da and Joanne perform a scene in which he saves her from a leopard. While filming the cameraman is attacked by a giant snake. Thun'da quickly kills it too.

Bruler believes Joanne has fallen love with Thun'da. Mad with jealousy, he attaches an infra-read sniperscope to his rifle so he can hunt him by night. A monkey sees him taking aim, and its chatter alerts Thun'da in time to evade his first shot. Bruler pursues him, firing repeatedly.

Thun'da means to drop on Bruler from above, but Bruler has second-guessed him and spots him. But Mambebwa has determined on revenge, and has gotten Thun'da's arrows. He misses Bruler with his first shot, and kills him with his second.

The Kenya police recognise the arrow as Thun'da's and accuse him of murder. The cameraman reveals he forgot to retrieve his camera after he was attacked by the snake and Mambebwa's first shot switched it on. The film shows Mambebwa killing Bruler, clearing Thun'da.

Mambebwa murders Bruler: he has no motives of saving Thun'da at all. But Bruler was about to murder Thun'da at the time, so I think he likely didn't commit a crime.

Joanne thinks the film could win an Oscar, which sounds unlikely.

The production uses a real wild leopard in the fight scene. The bearers drive it into position so it can attack Joanne and be killed by Thun'da on camera.

The camera and film still work after being left in the jungle for days.

Bruler is a stereotype German or Austrian martinet director who wears a monocle. Joanne's name might be modelled on Joan Crawford's.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Thun'da #6 cont.

"The Woman-Stealers!"

Irana is still in love with Thun'da. She sends Amazon warriors to take Pha captive. They find Pha alone and seize her.

Bedouin hunters come from the Sahara to obtain ivory and slaves. King Rex and his warriors fight them, but the Bedouins are armed with guns and too much for them. King Rex orders his people to flee and sets off to find Thun'da.

The ground where Pha was seized tells Thun'da the Amazons have abducted her. He sets off after them. King Rex finds the trail left by the Amazons and follows it too.

Irana orders Pha to give up Thun'da. Pha refuses and insults her. Irana condemns her to be tortured. Just then the Bedouins attack. Their guns are too much for the Amazons also.

Thun'da arrives and finds the city deserted. The traces left tell him what's happened. King Rex arrives just after him and tells him about the raid on his tribe. The pair set off after the Bedouins and meet Amazons who escaped capture.

Instead of attacking the Bedouins immediately Thun'da picks them off one by one from concealment. When only a few are left he and the others attack the remaining Bedouins and kill them. Irana thanks Thun'da and swears friendship with him.

The leader of the Bedouins has survived the fight. He means to kill Thun'da in revenge. Finding him, he takes aim at his back with his rifle. Thun'da is polishing his knife and happens to see the slaver in its blade. He dodges the shot and throws his knife, killing him.

The guerilla tactics Thun'da uses against the slavers are another recycled element, from the third story in #2. Since only a "handful" are left by the final fight one wonders why he didn't kill all of them like that. One can take the art as explaining this as the fight takes place in the open, implying the slavers have left the jungle.

The slaver leader is the "last to fall" in the battle. I think we're supposed to understand he was shamming, but this isn't explicit.

The Amazon city doesn't seem to be in a cave this time. The exteriors p.4 look like pre-Columbian American buildings.

Irana has a pet leopard. This was seen in her first story too.

The leader of the escapee Amazons is Marla, the Amazon Thun'da fought in the arena.

The Amazons appeared again as opponents of Cave Girl in Cave Girl #12 and #13. In those stories they're portrayed as violent and cruel, which provides context for Irana's order that Pha be tortured here.

Cheeka appears again in this story.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Cave Girl #12

Despite the numbering there were only four issues of Cave Girl, or rather five as the Africa one-shot was one under another name. This was the second. The first had four Cave Girl stories and was advertised in Thun'da #4 (and had an ad for it). This issue post-dates Thun'da's title.

In his supporting feature phase Thun'da appeared in one story each issue. Surprisingly, his story this issue was the issue's longest, eight pages. His later stories were all seven.

"Thun'da": "The Gold-Maker!"

In prehistoric times a spaceship crashed on Earth. After many ages a "queer machine" from the ship was hidden in a cave by earthquake. Now another earthquake causes it to tumble out of the cave and come to life.

In a native village a tribe's chief suddenly turns to gold as he is talking to his people. Elsewhere, Thun'da finds a golden rabbit and leaf.

Raoul Descartes and his wife Helene are on safari. He accuses her of wanting to kill him, and she tells him he's crazy. Later she bathes in her tent and cries out when she discovers her soap has turned to gold. Raoul responds to her cry, and the sight of the gold drives him into overt madness. He declares she's discovered a source of gold and wants to get rid of him so she can keep it to herself. He starts beating her, saying he means to take the gold and kill her.

Thun'da, nearby, hears her screams and responds. He commands Descartes to leave Helene alone. Descartes attempts to shoot him. Thun'da knocks him around and takes Helene (who has quickly dressed) away with him.

Escapee convicts from Kenya come to the Congo seeking the gold. They are all hardened killers.

Thun'da takes Helene to King Rex's village. He asks him about the golden statues, and King Rex says his runners have told him of a great machine that turns things to gold.

Leaving Helene with King Rex, Thun'da travels east and views the machine from a distance. He sees the reports are true and guesses it alters "atomic structure of flesh and wood, possibly by an unknown frequency wave". He sends a jungle drum message about it to Capetown.

The crazed Descartes searches the jungle for Thun'da and Helene. Fate brings him to King Rex's village, and he kidnaps her by night. He forces her to tell him how to summon Thun'da. She tells him they have a signal: "I'm to fire two shots fast, then a single shot. He will come."

Descartes fires the shots. Thun'da arrives, and Descartes holds him and Helene at gunpoint. He orders Thun'da to take him to the gold, and Thun'da complies. When Descartes sees the machine and the zone of transformed nature around it he becomes excited. He rushes into golden zone and is transformed himself.

As Helene is mourning her husband the convicts appear. They are armed, and order Thun'da to get them the gold. He uses his rope to pull gold statues from the golden zone. Eventually the rope itself transforms. The convicts declare they have enough and prepare to the kill him and Helene.

Just then British bombers arrive, summoned by Thun'da's drum message. They bomb the machine and destroy it. Knowing what's about to happen, Thun'da shelters with Helene under a rock overhang. The convicts are rendered unconscious by the explosions.

This might be the last appearance of King Rex, but I've only flipped through the remaining stories so we'll have to wait and see.

Thun'da is again clearly a modern man here: he speculates about how the machine works, and summons bombers to destroy it.

The convicts' survival at the end is notable. This is a pre-Code issue, and to this point the feature had often been violent. Perhaps it was felt being killed in a bombing was too grisly an end.

Capetown is in South Africa. Thun'da's having sent to Capetown for the bombers implies that's where they're from, but perhaps Capetown relayed the message to Kenya.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Cave Girl #13

"Thun'da": "The Price of Murder!"

Two soldiers of the French Foreign Legion fight in Fort Sahara. Someone knocks one of them out and shoots the other dead.

The one knocked out is named Jim O'Bannion. As he wakes an officer named Lefevre rushes in. He says he heard the fighting and came to break it up. He accuses O'Bannion of having killed the dead man, Habershaw. O'Bannion runs for it, and gets to his girlfriend, Margot. He tells her the reason he fought Habershaw was he cheated him at cards. She helps him to escape.

O'Bannion's horse dies in the desert, but he makes it to the Congo jungle. A detachment of Legionnaires led by Lefevre comes after him. O'Bannion tries to shoot Lefevre, but misses. Thun'da hears the shot and heads for the sound. He sees the Legionnaires and O'Bannion and decides the odds are unfair. He orders the Legionnaires to go back. Lefevre says he'll shoot, and Thun'da knocks the Legionnaires down. He tells them the law of the jungle is no killing and leaves.

Lefevre searches the jungle for O'Bannion and Thun'da. He takes Pha prisoner and warns Thun'da not to make a move. He means to arrest him, but Thun'da points out the territory is Belgian. He asks Lefevre what proof he has O'Bannion killed the other man. Lefevre says he guessed they'd fight and saw them fighting through a window. He couldn't hear what they were saying because it was closed. He got to the door just as O'Bannion committed the murder.

Thun'da tracks and captures O'Bannion. O'Bannion insists he's innocent. Thun'da and Pha return with the Legionnaires to Fort Sahara. He tells her he wants to know who did the killing if O'Bannion didn't.

The doctor tells Thun'da the fatal bullet went right through Habershaw. He looks at the room, which has not been touched. At the coroner's inquest Thun'da declares Lefevre is the murderer. Lefevre told him he couldn't hear the fighters because the window was closed. If that were true it would have been broken by the bullet that killed Habershaw. Lefevre attempts to flee, and Thun'da stops him. He killed Habershaw because he was blackmailing him, and framed O'Bannion because he wanted Margot.

In this story Thun'da initially speaks in a movie Tarzan argot. ("No man kills in Thun'da's jungle! I will go see who fired that shot!") But when Lefevre moves to arrest him his speech suddenly becomes educated. ("You can't arrest me, Captain. You forget! You are French troops on Belgian soil. You have no authority to arrest anyone, even O'Bannion!") Maybe the effects of his head injury come and go.

Lefevre leaves the gun he killed Habershaw with at O'Bannion's feet. When he accuses O'Bannion the latter unthinkingly picks it up. This isn't noted in the dialogue, but it explains why he can't argue it lacks his fingerprints.

At the fort the Legionnaires give Thun'da a shirt to wear. But he's too big for it, so he knots it at his waist.

Thun'da and co. walk from the Belgian Congo to Fort Sahara. I expect that was quite a long way.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Cave Girl #14

"Thun'da": "Mugongo the Mighty!"

The creatures of the Dawn World include a giant gorilla called Mugongo. He towers above the jungle and is followed around by apemen.

Thun'da and Pha are warned Mugongo and his apemen are approaching Shareen. When Mugongo comes Thun'da and the locals pelt him with stones from the city wall, but this proves useless. Mugongo knocks Thun'da from the wall and sets about smashing it. Pha and many others are taken prisoner by the apemen. They take them back to their own land to be slaves.

Thun'da is only unconscious. He awakens and sets off after Pha and the others, regaining his strength on the way. As he arrives at Mugongo's city he at last hits upon a plan. When slaves are brought out to work the fields he kills their guards with arrows and sends them home. He does this again each day, figuring that Mugongo will have to come out to investigate.

When Mugongo and his warriors do Thun'da slips into the city. He kills the apemen inside and releases Pha and the others. They get away, but Mugongo come after them. Thun'da means to delay him while the others finish escaping, but Pha refuses to leave him. Thun'da heads with Pha for the lava flats. Mugongo sees and follows them. His weight breaks the crust, and he falls through into the lava and is killed.

This is a Tarzan vs King Kong story, but it's not as much fun as it should be. There's not enough confrontation between "Tarzan" and "Kong". Thun'da never fires arrows at Mugongo as in the splash panel.

The art also isn't at its best this time out. The panel where Mugongo falls through the crust is particularly weak. I've noticed variation in Powell's art before. I assume it was due to his use of assistants. 

The instalment reverts to treating the Dawn World as Thun'da's stomping ground. P. 2 says Thun'da and Pha "make their home" in Shareen. They're shown sitting on thrones, as if they rule there. The reader will recall in Thun'da #1 Pha was Shareen's queen.

Thun'da's use of guerilla tactics is recycled from the slaver stories in Thun'da #2 and #6. The method he uses to defeat Mugongo is a variation on the way Blackhawk defeated the War Wheel.

There's an art error p.3. Panel 3 shows Thun'da lying in foliage outside Shareen's walls. But in panel 6 he's lying within the city, and that's where he is when he wakes up p.4.

When the apemen were introduced I thought they were nomads Mugongo ignores who follow him about and pick from his leavings. The panel shows a woman with a child with the group. This struck me as imaginative, and I was sorry they were his agents in the rest of the story, partly because that made Mugongo seem too intelligent.

This time out the people of Shareen are mostly coloured orange. They seem to be drawn to look like pre-Columbian Americans. The man who warns Thun'da and Pha about Mugongo is drawn and coloured as a native African. The apemen are called Halfmen in the captions and are coloured brown. As has happened with apemen before in this series the art sometimes fails to depict them as ape-like.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

Africa #1

This instalment was Thun'da's final appearance. It maintains the return to the feature's original premise seen in the last story. The "King of the Congo" subtitle is dropped this time.

"Thun'da": "The Man from the Sky!"

Thun'da believes discovery by the outside world would mean the end of the Dawn World. Elston Everard has seen the Dawn World from an airplane. He seeks to obtain funds for an expedition in Nairobi, but can't get them without proof due to his bad reputation. So he flies to the Dawn World in a small plane to take pictures.

As he moves away from his plane a giant prehistoric boar charges him. Thun'da intervenes and kills it. Then he takes Everard to Shareen and treats him as a guest. Everard sees the gold and jewels there. He makes plans to secure the gold-mining and jewel-buying rights when he brings back his proof.

The next day he goes out with Thun'da's hunting party. A carnivorous dinosaur lunges towards them. Thun'da leads it to a river and escapes it by swimming around a whirlpool. The dinosaur tries to swim through and is dragged down.

Everard took pictures of the dinosaur while it was chasing Thun'da. He sees a group of semi-human cavemen and takes pictures of them from cover. Their hearing is so sharp they hear his camera and come after him. Thun'da stops this by beating them up. Everard continues taking pictures.

Having acquired the proof he needs, Everard slips away that night. Pha and Thun'da see him, and Pha's remark draw Thun'da's attention to his camera. He realises Everard means to make the Dawn World known: "If he gets to the outer world with those pictures, we'll have evil men and profiteers, gangsters and riffraff in here."

Thun'da chases after Everard to destroy his films. He's too late to stop Everard from taking off, but is in time to hit his engine with a flaming arrow. Everard crash-lands near a cave and is delighted to find it leads to the outside world. Thun'da knows these caves and lets him go. They are lined with uranium, and the radiation wrecks Everard's films.

The art is much better this instalment. This shows through even though the current Comic Book Plus/Digital Comic Museum scan lacks sharpness and colour.

On p.1 Thun'da says if modern man comes in "every living thing in the Dawn World will die within a year". He has a point, but the panel shows him killing a big cat. This might be a joke by the creators.

We only get a couple of glimpses of them, but the people of Shareen aren't drawn like pre-Columbian Americans this time. That might be an indication Powell left less of the work to assistants this instalment.

When Everard slips away Pha remarks he's in such a hurry he "does not even attempt to hide his little black box", as he has from Thun'da previously. He's not depicted as having done that in the art. In fact, Everard has it around his neck p.3 panels 4, 6. In both panels Thun'da is right next to him.

Everard calls the boar an entelodont. Apparently they were formerly considered pigs, but a recent study concluded they were more closely related to other animals. The entelodont, the giant deer (p.5), and the twist end recall Fox's use of science in his DC work.

Previously Thun'da has been depicted as hunting alone or with Sabre. The group hunt this issue fits with Thun'da's new portrayal as the apparent co-ruler of Shareen.

The cavemen hear Everard's camera, but Thun'da apparently never does, despite the fact that Everard must have clicked on that thing all day.

The climax raises an ethical issue. Thun'da might have killed Everard when he caused his plane to crash. Stipulating he's right that discovery by the outside world would devastate the Lost Lands, is it moral to kill someone to prevent it? It seems inevitable it will happen some day.

Image from Comic Book Plus.

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