Issue(s): Ka-Zar #14, Ka-Zar #15, Ka-Zar #16, Ka-Zar #17, Ka-Zar #18, Ka-Zar #19, Ka-Zar #20
...Ka-Zar's Fall Person companion Tongah goes foaming-at-the-mouth mad. Based on absolutely no evidence at all, a disheveled paleontologists suggests that the local vibranium deposits may have caused the madness..
...and Ka-Zar immediately sets out for England to summon a press conference requesting the aid of a geologist or radiologist. Most of the reporters ask trivial questions...
...but one named Tandy Snow recommends a scientist named Peter Harkins.
Then Klaw attacks.
Thanks to his vibranium belt buckle, Ka-Zar is able to withstand Klaw's sonic attacks and defeats him, but Klaw escapes. Klaw is allied with some sort of alien or robot (see below) that does not do anything this issue.
I thought maybe this issue would get into the difference between Wakandan and Savage Land vibranium, since Klaw has traditionally been interested in the Wakandan version, but the issue doesn't give any indication that there is a difference.
Issue #14 is tagged as "Launching a new era of excitement in the adventures of Ka-zar". This is the second time, after issue #10, that they've promised a new direction. This time it seems to be a slightly premature announcement of the Moench/Mayerik team-up that begins with issue #15 (with Mayerik inking all but issue #20, which is by Ernie Chan) and kicks off a strange swords & sorcery storyline.
When i first saw issue #15 i thought maybe Mayerik shouldn't be inking himself, but it's said in a later lettercol that there were production problems with this issue that caused everything to be a bit blurry. There's another problem, too. Mayerik was drawing issue #15 while Larry Hama was still drawing issue #14, and they were both just working off of Moench's script. But Hama made some embelishments that Mayerik wasn't aware of. So, for example, Ka-Zar destroys Klaw's sonic blaster in issue #14...
...even though it was a part of the plot for issue #15, so there's some hasty dialogue mentioning a quick repair.
Also some discrepancies between the way characters look (especially the "robot" that Klaw is allied with, who is really an alternate dimensional alien), and the specifics of the recap in #15 don't line up what actually happened in #14, like the scene where Klaw's alien ally Shauran rescues him.
In any event, this issue continues the battle with Klaw...
...including some questionable scenes like Ka-Zar being able to hack off the wings of one of Klaw's solid-sound creatures, which causes it to not be able to fly.
Klaw escapes, and Ka-Zar is introduced to Kirk Marston, a radiologist that works for Nayland Smith (as Mark notes in the comments, Tandy originally suggested a radiologist named Peter Harkins in issue #14, as seen in one of the scans above).
Marston theorizes that Klaw's sonic weapon could be interacting with the Savage Land's vibranium and causing the madness that was happening in the Savage Land. Ka-Zar travels with Marston and Snow back to the Savage Land, where Klaw has already opened an interdimensional portal letting in the rest of Shauran's people...
...who proceed to slaughter the denizens of the Savage Land. Ka-Zar and his friends get captured by the aliens, but they fight back...
...and Ka-Zar manages to escape and eventually free the others.
Tandy Snow happens to be a bad-ass martial artist.
Eventually Ka-Zar's group...
...heads through the portal, where they get into a fight between two groups of aliens. There are also flying sharks.
After an initial fight the group splits up. Ka-Zar and the reporter Tandy Snow head after one group of aliens and the others find a suspicious group of old humans.
Snow hits on Ka-Zar during their travels but Ka-Zar doesn't seem interested. When they arrive at their destination they are captured by the aliens. Tandy is brainwashed and made into their queen, while Ka-Zar is thrown in a dungeon with a silly gnome.
Ka-Zar is forced to fight in the arena, and then he and the gnome escape, only to find themselves face to face with the aliens' greatest warrior.
A funny scene with Tandy illustrates why it's a bad idea to brainwash someone into being your Queen.
Ka-Zar is defeated by Raknor and brought to Tandy, but he then recovers...
...and carries her away.
And then the various factions and alien groups and Savage Land tribes run around for a bit. Issue #20 ends with the story incomplete, and the book cancelled.
I don't want to say this is "just" a swords & sorcery arc, because Moench and Mayerik deliver a quality story, with lots of humor and good character moments. But the events of this unfinished adventure are essentially irrelevant to the larger Marvel universe. This story is wrapped up in a flashback in Uncanny X-Men #115 where Zaladane revives Garokk the Petrified Man using Kirk Marston's body and has him zap the alien dimension away, and that's basically the end of it.
The fact that Klaw also factors into this arc makes it moderately more interesting for the larger Marvel Universe. Unfortunately Klaw is annoyingly petulant (and out of character for a scientist) in this arc...
...but Shauran's people are interestingly non-emotional, which is intriguing and is also used a few times to exploit them since they are also naive to the way the people of Earth's emotions work (so, for example, when Klaw eventually schemes against them, they aren't really prepared for it).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Oddly, the name "Peter Harkins" is completely forgotten after this one mention. Tandy Snow ends up introducing Kirk Marston to Ka-Zar instead. No one seems to ever had noticed the name change.
Posted by: LuisDantas | May 1, 2013 12:12 AM
Some story bits in the last issue don't get wrapped up in that X-Men issue; a later X-Men letters page admits there just wasn't room for everything.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 31, 2013 4:16 PM
The last panel says that there is an explanation for the cancellation in the letters column. I do not know what it is, but I am curious.
I will however notice that Marvel began a licensed Tarzan series in 1977 (first issue in March, cover-dated for June). The first issue was by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. It lasted until #29 in July 1979 (real time, I assume).
I do not know whether Marvel wanted to avoid competing with itself or ERB's properties caretakers demanded Ka-Zar not to have stories published in the meantime, but I assume at least one of the two probably happened, even if informally.
Ka-Zar was not seen again (far as I know) until somewhere around Uncanny X-Men #114-116, in late 1978.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 17, 2014 7:56 AM
Doug Moench *always* writes Klaw as a standard-issue thug for some reason. See also Marvel Two-In-One Annual #6.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 6, 2015 3:20 PM
While reading issue #17 I was going to suggest the grade be raised due to the inclusion of those cool-looking flying sharks. However, that damn gnome, whose initial panels are so wordy you'd swear they brought in Don McGregor just to handle his dialogue, cancels out all the goodwill those sharks bring, so the grade for this story is fair and on target, IMHO.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 24, 2017 11:50 PM
As the Marvel No-Prize Book points out, there's a bit of dialogue in #15 about "heading north, to the Arctic, where your Savage Land is located", which pretty much the polar opposite of being correct. Can't blame the artist changeover for that goof, that's just Moench being wrong.
Apparently somebody gave Doug a clue between issues, as he later has Marston speaking about
Posted by: Dan Spector | March 30, 2018 12:25 PM
"Polar opposite" pun intended? ;)
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 30, 2018 4:44 PM
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