Marvel Comics Presents #68-77 (Shanna)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #68,Marvel Comics Presents #69, Marvel Comics Presents #70, Marvel Comics Presents #71, Marvel Comics Presents #72, Marvel Comics Presents #73, Marvel Comics Presents #74, Marvel Comics Presents #75, Marvel Comics Presents #76, Marvel Comics Presents #77 (Shanna the She-Devil story only)
We have Jeremy Mchele, a game warden in Tanzania. His fellow wardens found people poaching rhinoceros horns...
...and they were subsequently killed by the poachers.
Mchele goes after the people responsible for the killings.
There's Eric Heller, a photojournalist investigating the smuggling of diamonds in Zaire.
And there's DuBose Wilson, a criminal that got double-crossed.
Shanna gets involved when she hears about animal mutilations at zoos in Europe.
It's actually not clear what Shanna is doing in Europe, with a pet panther. It might actually suggest that the story was meant to take place in her early days, but the story otherwise feels modern. There is no mention of her current status quo, or her husband or son.
All four characters, on their separate investigations, wind up going after the same man, a Sir Guy Cross-Wallace that is into mystical stuff and preparing for a "holy mission" in Africa.
Cross-Wallace apparently knows Shanna.
As DuBose makes his way from the US to Tanzania...
...Shanna fights her way into Cross-Williams' mansion.
And the two of them meet up.
But Cross-Wallace has escaped.
Separately, Eric Heller and Jeremy Mchele meet up.
And they run into Shanna, who apparently knows Jeremy.
And they realize their stories are all part of the same whole.
Their quest takes them past villages that have been emptied or slaughtered by Cross-Wallace's men. And other such horrors.
Then Heller gets captured.
Jeremy, DuBose, and Shanna get captured trying to rescue him. The story has been somewhat intriguing so far, if a bit devoid of personality (excepting DuBose, whose characterization allows for a bit of humor without him becoming comic relief). But now Cross-Wallace gets into mustache-twirling villain territory when he tries to make Shanna his bride.
When they find out that Eric has been killed and cooked, they fight back, with Jeremy going crazy. He's shot dead. Shanna tries to get away, and Cross-Wallace lets her because he wants her alive.
And Cross-Wallace faces a mini-rebellion from his partners, who don't want to waste time chasing her.
Cross-Wallace's compromise is to send out his men to kill Shanna instead of capturing her. Shanna hides amongst hippos.
And gets some help from her panther.
But the panther winds up getting killed.
Knowing that she's now alone, Cross-Wallace tells his men that he wants them to bring back Shanna's blood for a ritual. As Shanna waits for the next wave of attackers, she performs a ritual of her own.
And actually she's not entirely alone. DuBose is still inside Cross-Wallace's fort.
Thanks to him working Cross-Wallace's seer (plus the fact that Shanna has killed like all of Cross-Wallace's guards), Shanna is able to sneak into the fortress.
And attack Cross-Wallace with a snake.
And then there's some kind of totem power battle between them.
Shanna wins. Probably the best thing about this story is the ending. After a battle between two white people about Africa, Shanna tells the remaining people that she doesn't have the answers to Africa's problems, and she's not going to try to come up with answers. That is up to the African people, and when they come up with answers, she will help.
Overall, i liked the different threads that were set up in the beginning, but they come together very quickly and then it's just a journey down the river by a group of people that turn out to be mostly uninteresting. Shanna is well depicted as a badass, thanks to Paul Gulacy's art, and DuBose, as a black American in Africa, gets some interesting moments. I couldn't tell you a thing to distinguish the personalities of the other two, or anything about Cross-Wallace that makes him an interesting villain. I also think if you are going to do a story about an existing character that currently has a family, you have to make some mention of that somewhere to explain how this fits in to her continuity, or it doesn't feel like the same character. Alternatively if this takes place prior to her ever meeting with Ka-Zar, you need to say that (and, again, the story feels too modern for that). The truth is that we get very little from Shanna's perspective. That's a pretty big flaw that prevents me from really accepting this as a Shanna story as opposed to a generic jungle woman story.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this at publication date for Shanna, and i'm following that, despite some misgivings as noted above.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Maybe this was intended to take place after the Guns of the Savage Land Graphic Novel, when Shanna and Ka-Zar split up- maybe nobody told Gerard Jones that would be seen together again in Uncanny X-Men 274-275. (Although, as Mark Drummond pointed out, Gulacy told Amazing Heroes about this serial in February 1989. But Guns of the Savage Land was probably already in the works by then.) But if that's the case, then the question is what happened to Shanna's son? Why isn't he with her? If he's with Ka-Zar, then shouldn't she be concerned after the crazy way he was acting? If Nereel or whomever is babysitting, then shouldn't that be mentioned? And if she's meant to be recently split from Ka-Zar in this story, then she should mention it.
Posted by: Michael | August 6, 2015 8:43 PM
Reading this story when it first came out, I was shocked at how dark & violent it was. Especially the part when one of the characters was literally cooked alive!
It has been quite some time but as I recall this serial got referenced with a footnote when Shanna guest-starred in Namor the Sub-Mariner. She returns from her extended travels in Africa to find Ka-Zar has vanished from the Savage Land.
In any case, this MCP serial, along with the Coldblood one, plus the Batman story arc that Gulacy penciled around this time, resulted in me becoming a huge fan of his work.
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 6, 2015 11:17 PM
Paul Gulacy is phenomenal, I agree with Ben. His Batman story arc, which I believe was called "Prey" (in Brazil it was called "Acossado"), is one of my all-time favorite stories. Doug Moench wrote it, so we know it's great.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 19, 2015 11:09 AM
This story should probably be moved after Uncanny X-Men 273-277. In Uncanny X-Men 269, it's clear that Zaladane's forces have already started causing destruction in the Savage Land, as demonstrated by the ruined village in that issue. It makes no sense for Shanna to take a trip to London until after Zaladane is beaten.
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2015 1:08 PM
Agree, thanks Michael.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 13, 2015 2:29 PM
I think your wrong, this story rates an A. Top Notch. Heller, Mchele, Dubose and Shanna all were amazing.
Posted by: Fernando Martinez | December 12, 2016 3:43 AM
Right around 1986, I attended a comics convention in my home town, and I purchased a packet of black-and-white prints of the Black Widow illustrated by Paul Gulacy. There were six total, four of which featured the classic form-fitting black leather garb, but one had Natasha glammed up in a party dress and fur coat, and the other depicted her with her hair up in a one-piece leotard, topped off with "goddess sandals", sitting in the floor next to Nick Fury, who is seated in a throne-like chair complete with his gun and customary stogie. One of Gulacy's many strengths as an artist was being able to capture strong, sexy female characters, not only in those prints but also in these issues with Shanna. The only inconsistency I note is in some panels, Shanna is drawn in a leopard-skin thong, others in standard-issue leopard-skin bikini briefs. Of course, this is simply a case of me picking entirely one-too-many nits!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 18, 2017 7:13 PM
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