Sunday 23 May 2010

Marvel Two-in-One #16. The Thing meets Ka-Zar.

Marvel Two-in-One #16, the Thing and Ka-Zar, cover
There are times when twenty pages seems long enough for a story, and times when it doesn't. This is one of the times when it doesn't. Warned by Reed Richards that seismic disturbances at the South Pole are going to set off a chain of volcanoes whose eruption will destroy the world, Benjamin J Grimm parachutes into the Savage Land and teams up with Ka-Zar, lord of the hidden jungle. They then find themselves up against a would-be super-villain called Volcanus who's going to tap into the power of the erupting volcanoes and turn himself into a being of living flame. Needless to say our heroes soon put a stop to that.

Trouble is they put a very quick stop to that. A stop so quick it makes you wonder if the story was even worth telling at all. In twenty pages there's simply not enough time to establish Volcanus as a major threat - not when the first half of the tale's taken up with the Thing getting to the Savage Land, fighting a pterodactyl, fighting an allosaurus and meeting and swapping notes with Ka-Zar. And so, just as Volcanus leaves no ripples on the lava he ultimately falls into, he leaves no ripples on comic book history. The, "Bad man with a big vehicle invades the Savage Land looking for power/wealth," concept is the standard Ka-Zar plot line and so, on its own, was never going to thrill. That meant it needed an imaginative handling and a memorable villain. It gets neither.

Marvel Two-in-One #16, the Thing and Ka-Zar
And a dinosaur -- of sorts.
It's a shame, as this is one of the most fondly remembered stories of my childhood and one of the comics I was keenest on getting when I started rebuilding my collection. I mean, on paper - and that's where comic book stories exist - what's not to love about it? It features my favourite pile of talking bricks. It features my favourite lord of the jungle. It features my favourite hidden land that contains dinosaurs.

Unfortunately, it doesn't feature a very interesting story.

To make matters worse, the Thing is completely annoying - spending the first half of the mag cracking an endless stream of unfunny jokes - and the set-piece scene featuring the Thing and Ka-Zar vs an allosaurus is seriously marred by the fact that Ron Wilson's pencils make the allosaurus look more deformed than threatening.

That's not to mention that, at the end of the fight, we get Ka-Zar celebrating, Tarzan-style, at having killed the beast. I don't know, somehow Ka-Zar celebrating killing things doesn't sit right. You sort of feel he should have more respect for dumb animals, even ones that go around trying to eat people.

1 comment:

nyrdyv said...

Gotta love some of these bronze age stories, not much of a stretch to accept the logic of them...


Steven G. Willis