Astonishing Tales #6-8
Issue(s): Astonishing Tales #6, Astonishing Tales #7, Astonishing Tales #8 (Dr. Doom story only for issue #8)
Dr. Doom decides he needs to get some Vibranium, so after torturing a Wakandan...
...and executing a poacher in the royal woods...
...he jumps into his nuclear powered excavator and burrows underground from central Europe to Africa.
The Black Panther returns home from the Avengers in time to fight Doom.
It would have been really cool if Lieber had remembered that when Stan and Jack introduced the Wakandans they were a powerful hi-tech nation. It would have been cool if Doom expected to find "primitives" and instead found himself in for the fight of his life. Instead we get a lot of jibber about honor and that doesn't make a lot of sense.
In the end the Panther has to bluff his way to victory, but at least Doom leaves with a new-found respect for the Panther.
Issue #8 is the first to show Doom's annual Midsummer's Eve battle against (the unnamed) Mephisto for his mother's soul.
He loses, but survives.
The Gene Colan art is welcome after the mundane Black Panther story.
In addition to being the issue that establishes Doom's annual battles with the devil for the soul of his mother, it's also cool to see Doom using his sorcery. It was established in Fantastic Four Annual #2 that Doom derived his powers from magic as well as technology, but it's not something that comes up often in his appearances.
Over on the Ka-Zar side of things, we start with some very nice art by Barry (Windsor-) Smith.
These two issues are a swords & sorcery style tale, with Ka-Zar and his companion Tongah fighting a god named Damon.
The story is that the god is upset because "half a hundred centuries ago" his girlfriend Lelania was mauled by triceratops (or similar).
Now he's awake and angry at the world.
Herb Trimpe takes over for issue #7...
...and while he's not Barry Windsor-Smith, he sure can draw some dinosaurs.
The plot is resolved when Tonah's sister sacrifices herself to merge with the spirit of the goddess Lelania , and then the two deities fly off together into space.
I was interested in the Ka-Zar issues because they're the first appearance of Bobbi Morse, who eventually becomes Mockingbird. If i didn't know to look for her, i would have never realized it was her. She's got brown hair and implies that she has ESP (and she's not named in these issues).
She arrives at Ka-Zar's England castle, looking for him, but he's not there, so she decides to head to the Savage Land to find him.
I'm always surprised when i peek into Ka-Zar's book and see him fighting wizards and supreme beings and such, but it actually seems to be a common occurrence. Ka-Zar is more of a modern day Conan than Tarzan, it seems. As long as you hook me up with some Barry Smith art i'm fine with that.
In general these Astonishing Tales issues suffer a bit from the constantly shifting creative teams. The Conway-written Ka-Zar story was his first at Marvel, written while he was 17; Conway was then moved to Daredevil and soon began writing a significant portion of the Marvel line.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Black Panther had planned to leave for Wakanda tomorrow to attend the funeral of N'Baza but since "The African brothers are in danger!" due to Doom's actions, he leaves early. I've got the Ka-Zar and Gemini stories for issue #8 in separate entries.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Super-Villain Team-Up vol. 1 (issue #8 only)
Inbound References (9): show
Gerry Conway starts writing for Marvel after 2 years at DC and Warren. He contributed mostly mystery stories for DC (supposedly starting to write at age 15)and was told by DC editor Joe Orlando to stop submitting for a while due to stories being backlogged. So, he jumped ship to Marvel for 4 years, eventually quitting Warren as well. Len Wein and Marv Wolfman were also "laid off" at DC at the same time. Marv became Warren editor for a while, then went full-time to Marvel. Len managed to snag Swamp Thing, Phantom Stranger, and a few other titles at DC for a while before he went to Marvel(though he wasn't exclusive to Marvel until he was EIC).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 13, 2011 1:28 AM
That's a Styracosaurus attacking that guy's girlfriend.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 10, 2011 6:07 PM
I'm always surprised when i peek into Ka-Zar's book and see him fighting wizards and supreme beings and such, but it actually seems to be a common occurrence. Ka-Zar is more of a modern day Conan than Tarzan, it seems.
Actually, not only did Tarzan's adventures occur up to World War II in Burroughs' novels (Burroughs wrote about Tarzan from 1912 to about 1947-Tarzan encounters Asian Axis operatives in Tarzan and the Foreign Legion-Burroughs established that Tarzan does not age due to a jungle medicine man's treatments), but the Tarzan films from 1918 to 1968 took place in contemporary times as well, as I recall did Ron Ely's Tarzan television show.
I just wrote this in case you meant to say you had thought of Ka-Zar as a modern day Tarzan but now think of him as a modern day Conan.
Posted by: PB210 | April 14, 2013 8:51 PM
Thanks, PB. I did just mean for "modern day" to apply to Conan, not Tarzan. I was really just trying to say that Ka-Zar is often less "Lord of the Jungle" and more "Swords & Sorcery" than one might expect. Even though Tarzan himself has actually had some crazy fantasy adventures, too.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 14, 2013 10:31 PM
Astonishing Tales #8 definitely placed the Savage Land above ground, though it is specified that it still lies below sea level, enabling it to be reached by tunnels(though it did contradict the X-Men issue where the old team accesses it through Tierra Del Fuego).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 1, 2013 4:40 PM
Doom's servant Boris should get an Appearance.
Posted by: S | October 26, 2013 12:00 PM
Thanks, S. He's a character the MCP doesn't track, and there may be other appearances of his that i've missed. There's also the complication that at some point he's secretly replaced by Zarrko the Tomorrow Man.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 26, 2013 12:36 PM
Boris also appears in Fantastic Four 247- I think it's still Boris at that point, since I don't think Zarrko would allow himself to be tortured to maintain the ruse.
Posted by: Michael | October 26, 2013 12:56 PM
Thanks Michael. I've added him there.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 26, 2013 1:07 PM
Bobbi's psychic powers were explicitly referenced and played on, in order to be lightly retconned as highly sophisticated pattern analysis, in her recent SHIELD special.
Posted by: cullen | February 15, 2016 2:13 PM
*WITH A FOOTNOTE*, i should add. Yay Marvel bringing back footnotes. Led me right here.
Posted by: cullen | February 15, 2016 2:25 PM
Bobbi's "'tis" in her first panel above may indicate she was originally supposed to be Irish.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | February 15, 2016 5:01 PM
Fnord's critique of the Doom-Panther battle points up one of the weaknesses of the Marvel storytelling style--later termed the "character-driven" approach. This match-up really did call for a high-tech battle, where the adversaries might not even meet in person until the end (when the Panther would summarily eject a chastened Doom from Wakanda!). But that would have required careful plotting, foreshadowing, hinted clues to the reader--the forte of the DC stable of creators under editors like Schwartz and Weisinger. The Marvel Method, OTOH (at least under lesser hands than Lee, Kirby, and Ditko) encouraged stories where a cool set-up was the beginning, but also the ending: there would be no further incident, and blustery dialogue would substitute for plot development. Doc Doom's invasion of Wakanda, his subsequent alliance with Sub-Mariner--these were awesome ideas that deserved clever, intricate plotting to make them work, instead of "character-revealing" dialogue and rays shooting out of hands.
Posted by: Chris Z | February 2, 2018 3:38 PM
The Black Panther confronting Dr Doom with a laser gun is.....pretty clever, actually.
Posted by: kveto | February 6, 2018 7:01 AM
In Astonishing Tales 8, the last panel of the Doom story says "Next: Deathmasque!". But as of the next issue, Astonishing Tales became Ka-Zar only. I couldn't find any other reference to this story. So I guess Deathmasque never saw the light of day. :-/
Posted by: Peter Niemeyer | March 25, 2018 2:47 AM
Conway used a similar title - "Doomsmasque!" - for the first part of the Doom/Modok/Cosmic Cube story in Sub-Mariner #47-#49. It doesn't fit the story any way I can see.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 25, 2018 5:26 AM
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