Astonishing Tales #4-5
Issue(s): Astonishing Tales #4, Astonishing Tales #5
...the Red Skull conquers Latveria with the very convincing argument "Obey me or Baldini will beat you with his scarf!".
Doom returns home and quickly puts a stop to that nonsense. After thrashing them soundly, he hypnotizes the Skull and his Exiles into thinking that they've all been shrunken and sent home in a tiny rocket.
On the Ka-Zar side, we continue the story from issue #3, with Zaladane's Sun God worshipers having launched a war against the Lizard Men.
Meanwhile, um, Ka-Zar catches a unicorn!
The Lizard Men seem to be a peaceful people, not really equipped to defend themselves.
So while Ka-Zar fights Zaladane's soldiers...
...the Petrified Man makes his way back to the idol where he first drank the elixir of life, and finds that the idol gives him additional powers.
Unfortunately, after trying to stop a sea serpent from killing some tribesman and accidentally killing everyone, he decides that the only way to bring peace is to exterminate all life.
Meanwhile, Ka-Zar brings the fight directly to Zaladane, and they wind up crashing near the source of the liquid that the Petrified Man drank those 500 years ago. During a temporary truce, Zaladane tells Ka-Zar that bathing that Petrified Man in the liquid will restore his humanity, but then she turns on him, leaving him to the pool's guardian...
...and then, as the priestess of Garokk she summons the Petrified Man (he's still not actually called Garokk). Ka-Zar eventually gets the Petrified Man in the pool, seemingly killing him...
...and Zaladane is likewise seemingly killed when she's crushed in a cave in along with the pool's guardian. Both will, of course, live on.
Enjoyable swords & sorcery stuff from Conway and Smith.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Doom story from Astonishing Tales #4-5 are separate from #1-3 (although this arc does start with Doom surveying the rubble from the previous story), but the Ka-Zar stories are a direct continuation, so i've placed this entry directly after the one for #1-3, which pushes it quite a bit back in publication time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
This is the comic that brought me to this site. Thanks Fnord for this wonderful project!!
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | April 21, 2016 1:45 PM
The evolution of Barry Windsor-Smith's art is apparent here as it was on his Conan run. Gone are the too-skinny ankles and the "widestance" legs that look like he traced a horseshoe for a character's lower half, so prevalent in his Daredevil and Nick Fury runs. There are the occasional shots of Smith weirdness, such as the panel on the last page of #5 where Ka-Zar's hip juts out like he's doing "the bump" or making like a burlesque dancer. Still, I'm reminded of an interview given by John Buscema (who succeeded BWS on "Conan") in an issue of Marvel Fanfare (don't recall the specific issue, and if anyone knows, thanks in advance), where he was critical of Smith's rendering of Conan. Since the barbarian was "300 pounds of muscle", it didn't make sense to Buscema for Smith to draw Conan so small, thin and "wimpy". In these issues, to my eye at least, Ka-Zar is depicted smaller than normal, but more like a track/cross country runner than the linebacker proportions more commonly depicted. I'm not complaining, mind you. After all, art is subjective. It did seem that BWS had a greater passion and appreciation for fantasy adventure material than straightforward superhero stuff, and therefore stepped up his artistic game on these and similar works.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 16, 2017 12:10 AM
So far as I can tell, no one ever revisits the mysterious pool that empowered Garokk or explains why it has a special guardian. I suppose it can be chalked up to the weird alien tech that keeps the Savage Land going.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 15, 2018 7:51 PM
Looking at the old Windsor-Smith art, I would have guessed a young Byrne, not a young Windsor-Smith. Like JRjr, I like the early work by BWS much better than the stylized art he would do later when he was more well known.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 31, 2018 7:09 AM
Dr Doom's riviera holiday should have become a regular comic.
Posted by: kveto | June 1, 2018 6:23 PM
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