The first character called "Ka-Zar" came from the pulps, but when Martin Goodman decided to publish comic books, he moved that character over to his very first, Marvel Comics #1. The first Ka-zar was a boy whose parents' plane crashed in the African jungle when the boy, David Rand, was only three years old. His mother, Constance, died shortly after of the fever, but his father, John, lived until he was killed by hostile natives when David was about 12 or 13. He learned to communicate with the animals and blah, blah, blah... When Lee and Kirby revived the character in 1965 it was a complete reboot, but it was the pulp adventures of Ka-Zar which inspired young Kevin Plumber to... but wait. I'm getting ahead of myself.

There has been talk on this board, from time to time, of someone starting a Ka-Zar discussion for as long as I have been a member. The 80th anniversary of the first appearance of the comic book version of the first Ka-Zar seems as good of a time as any to finally do so. Some of the earliest comics I acquired as backissues were the "King-Size" Ka-Zar reprint series and the issues of Marvel Tales reprinting the issues of Spider-Man in which Spidey met Ka-zar. when I was in high school I read Ka-Zar the Savage, and when I was in college I began collecting his early appearances, previous series and reprints via backissues. One of the latest of the early appearances I acquired was his very first from X-Men #10. Up until that time I had been pronouncing his name as I had since I was a child: Kuh-ZAR.

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Oh, thank you Luke! I have Rampaging Hulk #9 but don't recall the Shanna story. Didn't know about those Savage Tales stories. I'll have to seek them out.

Well, I don’t think I’ll be investing in backissues of Savage Tales anytime soon. The best I can hope for is that Marvel will one day release a Shanna the She-Devil “Epic Collection.” With the stories I covered in this discussion plus the Savage Tales material I think there would be enough to fill a volume. Or perhaps a future volume of MMW Ka-Zar will include the Shanna stories and the Ka-Zar stories as well. At this point, MMWs have been solicited through May 2020, so it won’t be until after that, at least. I had always wondered how Shanna came to live in the Savage Land; she was just there in Ka-Zar the Savage #1. I’ll bet, since they both had features in Savage Tales, that’s where it happened.


Bret Blevins is actually credited with the art this issue. It opens with a five page exercise/fight scene between Shanna and her pet python Ananta (which has grown two feet since part one). Chris and Deena pay an unannounced visit. Three pages of superfluous cheesecake allow Gerber to recap. Slam Sanders plans the murder he is to commit. Unlike Friend’s, this one is chosen by the Pride: a pornographer named Roland Fargas. Then Shanna has another session with her therapist, Dr. Betz, allowing Gerber more time to recap. Shanna comes to the conclusion that one of the Pride takes over the body of each of the murder victims. Sanders and Fargas are set to debate. Sanders hires a hitman, who shoots Fargas through the heart. After the shooting, Fargas get up and resumes the debate.

Gerber wrote the first three chapters in 1978, but they weren’t published until 1991 (not 1993 as I said above). Al Milgrom said: “When I contacted [Gerber] to write the final chapter he had no idea where his original plot was heading.” The art is by tony DeZungia, Gerber’s first choice if Bret Blevins were unavailable. The story ends with the following author’s note (which is itself rather dated by now): “The first three chapters of this Shanna the She-Devil story were written in 1978. Jimmy Carter was President. No one had ever heard of MTV, MS—DOS, or a VCR, and I had just moved from New York to California. A few things happened in my life between then and July 3, 1991, when this final chapter was completed. Whether it bears any resemblance to the ending I had in mind 13 years ago is anybody’s guess.”

One thing I noticed was that supporting characters Chris and Deena were completely dropped; surely 1978 Steve Gerber had had some plans for them. Beyond that, the final chapter begins with shanna in the hospital following a psychotic attack. For the third murder, Kinsey Gardner gave a depressed writer-producer three Scotches, which was enough to allow him to kill himself in a drunk driving accident and allow one of the Pride to take over his body. The Pride now operates their stolen bodies from Roland Fargo’s porno mansion. The story ends with a totally gratuitous full page panel of Shanna suggestively snuggling with her python. After reading this ex post facto ending to the Shanna series, I’m less upset that Gerber never finished the Defenders’ “elf” story or Omega the Unknown.
X-MEN #115-116:

Although I left off with #5, Ka-Zar’s eponymous series ran 20 issues. It was cancelled mid-story and, as was common practice those days, the plot threads were tied up in another title. I’d like to skip ahead to that story now, and if Marvel ever sees fit to publish MMW Ka-Zar v3, I will backtrack and cover #6-20 at that time.

When Ka-Zar was cancelled with #20, he was leading an attack against the extradimensional city of the Sheenars. At the time, he thought he had been transported to the Sheenar dimension, but actually parts of their world had been transported to the Savage Land. It was then that Zaladane resurrected the Sun-God (see my “Classic X-Men” discussion for details), throwing Sheenar out of phase. Ka-Zar then met Karl Lycos and, together with the Fall People, they waged war against Zaladane and Garokk.

One day, the X-Men returned to the Savage Land. Ka-zar asks for their help, but they refuse. Ka-Zar agrees to lead them out of the Savage Land, but the resurrection of Garokk has thrown the ecology of the Savage Land out of balance. The Antarctic environment is encroaching, and the river they planned to leave on is frozen over. The X-Men agree to stay and defeat Garokk, then they leave.

The ending of Ka-Zar #20 had nothing to do with his X-Men appearance besides going "home" for him. It was, I believe, a four-panel flashback and that was that!

Yeah, it was all lip service but they did, at least, tie it up.

And it was in X-Men, not Marvel Team Up or Marvel Two-In-One where cancelled series usually get their finales!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Yeah, it was all lip service but they did, at least, tie it up.


While investigating rumors that Zaladane’s forces have joined with the “neo-mutants” created by Magneto, Ka-Zar saves a woman from a tyrannosaurus rex. The woman is Tanya Anderson, who has come to the Savage Land in search of Karl Lycos, the man she loves. The two are reunited in the Village of the fall People, but the village is attacked by Zaladadane’s army and devolved versions of Spider-Man and the X-Men’s Angel. The man-bird flies off with Tanya, and by the time Ka-Zar and Lycos get there, it’s too late to save her from being devolved into a Neanderthal. In order to save her, Lycos absorbs some of her life energy (and that of Spider-Man and the angel as well), but transforms into the mutant “energy vampire” Sauron, who flees. Peter Parker and warren Worthington leave the Savage Land, but Tanya stays.

A lot has happened since Marvel Fanfare #2, namely Ka-Zar the Savage #1-5. After returning to the Savage Land from Pangea, Ka-zar finds the injured Angel and gets the lowdown on what happened in issue#3 as well about the defeat of the Fall People, who Shanna had been visiting. The two storm Sauron’s citadel but Angel is captured. Shanna and Tanya have been devolved into Neanderthals. Ka-Zar frees Storm from Brainchild’s lecherous clutches, then frees the rest of the X-Men. They defeat Sauron, re-evolve Shanna and Tanya, devolve the neo-mutants and Professor Xavier cures Karl Lycos.

This was supposed to be a Marvel Team Up with Spidey and the Angel which would have been neat. IIRC, it was late or delayed then expanded on to include the X-Men and Ka-Zar.

Thanks, Philip.

KA-ZAR #34:

I skipped ahead to coverX-Men #115-116 and Marvel Fanfare #2 & #4 with the hope that Ka-Zar #6-20 would one day be collected in MMW format. Now I’m going to skip ahead again with the hope that Ka-Zar the Savage #1-34 will one day be collected as well.

In the back-up feature, which immediately follows on from the main story, Ka-Zar is whisked away to “The Land of Cancelled Heroes.” He thinks, “I hate when this happens.” In 1984, The Land of Cancelled Heroes is populated by the likes of (n no particular order) Brother Voodoo, Dr. Druid, It the Living Colossus, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandoes, Dracula, Ms. Marvel, Nova, Silver Surfer, Spider-Woman, Black Goliath, Killraven, Man-Wolf, Werewolf by Night, Deathlok, the Zombie (Simon Garth), Shang Chi (Master of Kung Fu), Man-Thing, Ghost Rider (I & II), Morbius (the Living Vampire), Kid Colt, Two-Gun Kid, Rawhide Kid, Omega the Unknown, the Living Mummy and (once again, as well) Shanna the She-Devil.

At Shanna’s suggestion, he gives the following speech: “You know I’m no good with words… but I guess it’s my duty. Friends, I’ve now had my comics terminated more often than any other character in the Marvel Universe… but this, my colleagues, is not the stigma you may think it is! No, all of us here have the dubious homor of being slightly ahead of our times! And a chance visionaries like us have to take is… being cancelled! Bur we are all heroes here… we do fight back! And here in The Land of Cancelled Heroes, we must strive for that ultimate of goals—to come back! And I swear to you all here this day, that Ka-Zar the Savage will be back! I WILL BE BACK!

Editor Danny Fingeroth said pretty much the same thing on the letters page. I hung on to those words… for years as it turned out. By the time Ka-zar did return to his own series, I had pretty much lost interest. But Ka-Zar #34 is not where I “draw the line”…

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