Ka-Zar the Savage #29-31
Issue(s): Ka-Zar the Savage #29, Ka-Zar the Savage #30, Ka-Zar the Savage #31
It's a double-sized issue so the extra help on the inking is not unexpected.
Some cute moments leading up to the wedding.
Of course, weddings are rarely peaceful events in the Marvel Universe, so it's no surprise when Belasco shows up and turns it into a demonic ritual.
He's got Leanne working with him, and he enthralls Dherk as well.
Leanne is leading her Lemurians and the Pterons...
...and they've also got an alliance with a tribe of Amphibians that have a grievance against the Aerian bird-people that Ka-Zar and Shanna are staying with.
Shanna's monkey-person step-daughter Leila attends the wedding. She's pretty brave, leaping directly at the demon lord and shouting one of the most horrible curses known to man or god.
Shanna makes a funny meta-quip while fighting Leanne.
Despite the resistance, Belasco captures everyone and starts turning them into demons.
When Leanne sees that Belasco's gone demon-happy, she worries that she and her people may be next, and turns on him.
Leanne's turnaround, which is crucial to the heroes victory, comes almost out of nowhere, so it's a bit deus ex machina.
Meanwhile, Belasco drains a bloodstone from Leila, and turns her into a monkey.
Belasco, who raised Leanne from the dead, easily undoes the spell and she dies again. Meanwhile Shanna is randomly casting spells from Belasco's spellbook.
Eventually Ka-Zar gets a hold of Belasco's sword, which is "forged by the Elder Gods themselves" and capable of harming him. It's what cut off his right arm, and Ka-Zar uses it to stab him just as Shanna casts a spell banishing him.
With Belasco dead, all of the spells he cast are reversed. Leila is returned to normal, but they still have a bloodstone ring. Shanna talks like Belasco is still potentially alive and will be back one day, but Ka-Zar thinks he killed him. Maybe.
On their way out of Belasco's lair, there's a simple wedding ceremony...
...and then the issue ends with another attack led by Dherk!
The story here is that the Pterons have convinced the other tribes of Pangea - the human-looking Lemurans and some fish-people called Tubanti - to form an alliance against Ka-Zar and the Aerians.
Dherk, it will turn out, is still suffering a lingering effect from Belasco's spells, and he'll later snap out of it and switch sides.
Prior to that, Shanna sends her adopted monkey daughter Leila away, and Leila returns with her monkey people, the Botor.
But that turns out to not be helpful since all of the Botor except Leila still blame Ka-Zar for the death of Leila's father, so when they see who they've been brought to help, they join the Pterons' faction.
As for the other factions, the Pterons have longstanding grudges with both Ka-Zar and the Aerians, the Lemurans blame Ka-Zar for the fact that their Queen Leanne is in a coma, and the Tubanti seem to just be easily manipulated grunts. The Lemurans are the most hesitant about the alliance, and eventually Ka-Zar manages to negotiate a cease fire by grabbing Leanne and putting a knife to her throat, forcing everyone to stop fighting. Then about half of issue #30 is devoted to circular arguments...
...until it's finally decided that the fighting will stop but Ka-Zar is banished from Pangea.
Art in #29 was by Ron Frenz, and art in #30 is split in an undefined way between Mary Wilshire and Ricardo Villamonte. I like Wilshire's art but often when i see it i can't help but remember that she primarily drew Barbie comics.
For issue #31 we're told that the book finally has a regular penciler in Paul Neary. There's no hint at this point that the series will be cancelled with issue #34, making "regular" a relative term. Neary had been an artist and editor for Marvel's British development, but it's said that he'd been trying to break in to penciling full time and that's what he does starting here. He also becomes the penciler on Captain America around this time. I generally like Neary, but i find the art in this issue to be atrocious.
It could be due to the heavy inks, but the inker John Beatty will be a regular collaborator of his.
Anyway, even after the peace settlement is negotiated, the Pterons continue to try to stir things up. They burn down Ka-Zar and Shanna's apartment. Ka-Zar and Shanna knock out the Pterons responsible and bring them to the council.
So that opens the debate up again. At this point Dherk stands up and tells everyone that they need to work together like their ancestors did. And this spurs a flashback depicting the history behing the various races of Pangea, which we are reminded, was created by Atlanteans (but not Sub-Mariner's Atlanteans) as a theme park. I found the theme park idea questionable in Bruce Jones' run, but Mike Carlin goes whole hog with it here, revealing that the Pangean races were created by the Atlanteans to run the concession stands.
Eventually they got tired of being persecuted...
...and rose up in rebellion, convincing the Atlanteans that they were thinking creatures.
This gets all the tribes (except the Pterons) to get along.
But Ka-Zar is still banished from Pangea. So he, Shanna, and Zabu take their leave. Say goodbye to our friend Buth; it's the last we'll see of him until his people are killed by Terminus in Avengers.
Ka-Zar and company are attacked by the Pterons one final time on their way out.
And since we'll no longer have the Bruce Jones Pangea cast to play with anymore, look who finally rears his head.
Since this is a bi-monthly book at this point, by issue #31 we already have the reactions to Carlin's first full issue, #29. The letters are, at best, mixed. "Events seemed cramped and confused, characterization was shallow, subordinate to the twists and turns required by an exceptionally contrived master plot" seems about right. There's also a complaint about the trope of villain attacks during weddings. I don't think it's all that bad, but it's a hard fall from the height of the Jones/Anderson period.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Some parts of the Magik limited series are concurrent with the events of this issue, but the main factor for the placement of that series is the framing sequence that takes place around New Mutants #14 (plus that series takes place in Limbo and time is fluid), so this issue doesn't need to be placed near it.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBelasco, Buth, Dherk, Ka-Zar, Leanne, Leila, Parnival Plunder, Shanna the She-Devil, Zabu
Fnord, is there any clue to how Leanne came out of her coma later on in Marvel Comic Presents in these issues?
Posted by: Michael | March 4, 2015 9:46 PM
The last Leanne is seen is as an unconscious hostage in issue #30. In issue #31, it's a pair of male Lemurans that are handling the inter-tribe negotiations.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 5, 2015 9:44 AM
Kevin and Shanna could've saved a lot of headaches by just eloping to Vegas. Then again, that could have led to Siegfried and Roy trying to buy Zabu and incorporate him into their act.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 27, 2018 9:45 PM
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