New Reviews of Old Comics
I have previously reviewed the newer Ka-Zar title, Ka-Zar the Savage, and found it to be pretty good despite being a thinly veiled rip-off of Tarzan. When I saw this in the bargain book I was curious if the original title was as intriguing as the newer revamp. The cover is kind of cool, so maybe there is a degree of promise that this might be all right.
“A Man-God Unleashed!” was scripted by Mike Friedrich (based on a plot by Bullpen West) with art by Don Heck and M. Esposito. It opens with Ka-Zar surrounded by a bunch of Neanderthal looking Man Apes; they look tough, but they’re fairly stupid, even a girl in a red mini dress and go-go boots can lay them out. The real villain here is Man-God, who used to be a Man Ape named Maa-Gor until he walked into the Mystic Mists and “evolved” into Man-God. Ka-Zar also has a cat buddy named Zabu who is elsewhere detaining another one of Ka-Zar’s enemies, El Tigre. When Zabu senses Ka-Zar is in over his head with the dreaded Man Apes he takes off to help, so El Tigre takes the opportunity to make tracks of his own. Ka-Zar? He’s still fighting Man Apes like he has since the beginning of the issue. Yeah, it’s grown tiresome. Maybe Zabu is tired of it too, and he’s looking for a change in plot direction. The fugitive El Tigre has found the Mystic Mists and now thinks HE will evolve like Man-God. Sadly for him it has the opposite effect, turning him into such a hideous freak that he jumps off a conveniently placed cliff. Adios, El Tigre. Man-God also returns to the Mystic Mists, looking to find the source of its power, which he does. It’s an alien machine, of course, which splits Man-God into two beings when he attacks it; one logical, one emotional. The emotional side pounds the tar out of the logical side, which seems to annoy the alien machine so it destroys Man-God and then all of the Man Apes disappear, restoring all of the goodness to the Hidden Jungle. Although life is now good, Bobbi, the chick in the red mini-dress decides it’s time to head back to city life. We also get a “cliffhanger” ending of the once Man-God now being something of a one eyed Man Ape, wandering the Hidden Jungle looking to exact revenge upon Ka-Zar.
I dare say the best part of this issue was the bottom of the very last panel where it was announced next issue would have a new writer and a new artist because I found Ka-Zar #5 to be wholly boring and totally pointless. The whole story could have been told in about four pages. I’ve read other stuff by Friedrich and thought it was good; I’ve certainly enjoyed Heck’s work on Iron Man, but this just seemed like a bunch of afterthoughts and a desire to wrap up a storyline posthaste. That all said, I really have enjoyed the subsequent Ka-Zar the Savage series, and maybe #6 of this series and forward are better, but this issue was a dud. Oh, and about that cover, whoever did it clearly didn’t read the interior work first. The cavemen on the cover look nothing like the Man Apes and nowhere in this is there a woman wearing a purple bikini.