Monday 10 November 2014

Astonishing Tales #10 - Ka-Zar wins World War II.

Astonishing Tales #10, Ka-Zar
Obviously, the genius of Ka-Zar as a concept is that he combines Edgar Rice Burroughs' two classic creations Tarzan and the Land That Time Forgot into one dino-packed package.

But issue #10 of Astonishing Tales takes that combination even further, as Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Barry Smith give us a tale of World War II shenanigans in the Hidden Jungle.

After having floated around on a lake for a while, Ka-Zar stumbles across the survivors of a World War II battle between a U-boat and a British destroyer. Despite it being the early 1970s, the crew and their children are still fighting.

And they're still fighting despite their two commanders knowing full well the war is over.

Needless to say, Ka-Zar isn't going to stand for this sort of behaviour in his jungle and sets about foiling the commanders' scheme and finally bringing World War II to a close.

Astonishing Tales #10, Ka-Zar
Oddly, Barry Smith's artwork isn't as sophisticated and detailed as it was in previous issues of the strip. Either inker Sal Buscema wasn't in the mood to ink in all that detail, or this issue was drawn before the earlier ones. I'm not sure which.

Needless to say, the leader of the British talks like Crocodile Dundee and the leader of the Germans wears a monocle and slips well-known German words into his speech, despite speaking English most of the time.

This is, after all, a Marvel comic and, so, such cliches can't be abandoned.

Astonishing Tales #10, Ka-Zar
It has to be said that the motives of the twin commanders are somewhat inconsistent.

It seems they elected to keep the war going for their men in order to motivate them to survive in such a dangerous land but that doesn't stop them from later plotting to destroy their own men once their deception is exposed, suggesting a desire for power is all they're really interested in.

Ultimately, none of that matters. What matters is it's a memorable tale, built upon a great idea and carrying a warning to us all about the futility of warfare and the need to question those in power, to think for ourselves and, when asked to do insane things, to listen instead to our own common sense.

Astonishing Tales #10, Ka-Zar


John Pitt said...

With that cover, this Ka-Zar strip is just MADE for reprinting in the UK POTA!

Anonymous said...

Nice one Steve - this really takes me back. For all its flaws, its a great story and you got the explanation exactly right. Kudos.

Another piece of the puzzle that is Barry Smith's time at Marvel; stylistically it looks like this must have been drawn before his previous issue and kept as inventory. I'm just guessing here, but the unusual double Thomas/Conway credit suggests some sort of script rewrite or at least heavy editing.
And Bazza had already been replaced on Ka-Zar by Herb Trimpe. Or have I remembered that wrong?


Steve W. said...

Sean, I believe you're right about Herb Trimpe having taken over the strip from Smith before this issue.

Unknown said...

As a pretty regular reader of Astonishing tales (and having picked up a few of the earlier issues recently - 3, 7, 8) I think it was more a case the Trimpe filed in on a few issues (7 and 8) on the KA-zAR strip in between Smiths run on the character which I think was issues 3 - 6, 9 and 10 - I have issue 6 with Smiths art to hand and the style is certainly more in keeping with his more detailed art style so that may confirm Sean's comments