Brent Anderson

Ka-Zar the Savage 19 (October 1982)

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This issue is very full. Not a lot happens, but there are a lot of scenes and most of them have some action. Ka-Zar, an amnesiac mute after his brain injury, roams New York while Shanna tries to save him. She has to surmount government bureaucracy… and buy a new set of clothes. Meanwhile, the villainous hussy from last issue is doing her own thing.

Bringing Ka-Zar and Shanna to New York gives Jones a lot of material. The story itself is sort of secondary to the little encounters both have in the modern world. Jones maintains the characters perfectly–these are people who have left the modern world and are only back in it by force. They don’t fit, regardless of attire.

Unfortunately, Gil’s art has its usual problems, otherwise it’s excellent.

The backup has some beautiful Mayerik art… but not enough. The backup is way too short again.

Ka-Zar the Savage 18 (September 1982)

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Well, Anderson’s back in a “layout” capacity. Gil’s finishes are often pretty bad. Jones’s writing is strong enough to get the issue through, but it would have been far better with good art.

A botanist, his straying hussy wife and their sidekicks land in the Savage Land and throw Ka-Zar and Shanna’s day-to-day for a spin.

The hussy’s after Ka-Zar, who’s naively polite, but Shanna gets it. Jones again gives Shanna the most to do in terms of reaction. Ka-Zar might get into a couple fights, but it’s Shanna who figures out what the fights are about.

Unfortunately, the cliffhanger’s weak–Jones wants to take Ka-Zar to the city and is apparently willing to do anything to get him there.

Mayerik is back for another of the charming backups.

Jones clearly does not like Ka-Zar to be too strong a protagonist… and the comic is better for it.

Ka-Zar the Savage 14 (May 1982)

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And here we go… the perfect example of what it means to have a good inker versus a bad “finisher.” Anderson provides layouts, Gil finishes them. So this issue of Ka-Zar shows evidence of Anderson’s exquisite panel composition, without any of the detail. Gil, though a fine inker, is not a good penciler or fill-in artist.

This issue is ugly. The art isn’t incompetent, but it’s definitely ugly.

Besides the art, it also shows the fundamental problem with Jones’s pacing. Ka-Zar shows up, finds Shanna with her monkey man husband and monkey girl stepdaughter and tries to be a big man about it.

These events take place about a day and a half after Shanna got lost. It makes no emotional sense.

The majority of the issue is Ka-Zar hanging out with the monkey man and it works. It just can’t cure all the pacing problems.

It’s very unfortunate.

Ka-Zar the Savage 13 (April 1982)

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I want to love this issue but I can’t.

Jones gets Shanna and Ka-Zar out of the Atlantean technology, away from their sidekicks, and back out into the jungle. Ka-Zar is jungle adventure after all.

The issue opens with this amazing argument–going at least three pages (while they’re setting up camp)–between the couple. It’s fantastic stuff about Ka-Zar’s immaturity and so on.

Then Shanna gets whisked away by a raging river and ends up with these awesome monkey people. They’re very nice, desperately romantic (spouses kill themselves after being widowed unless they have a child) and Shanna takes up with a monkey man and his adorable daughter.

Jones writes Shanna, for the most part, as an intelligent, strong woman. But she falls in love with every suitor she meets… in an hour. And she’s always ready to get married.

So, while it’s a good comic, it’s too screwy.

Ka-Zar the Savage 12 (March 1982)

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Jones finishes up his Inferno homage–he confirms my plotting suspicions too… again, it’d be a great movie. Because kids need to read Dante.

There’s a lot of action as Ka-Zar goes it alone (Shanna and his friends are brainwashed) against various demons and the big bad Lucifer stand-in.

Armando Gil takes over inking Anderson to great effect. Having seen Anderson go through two and a half inkers, it’s clear Gil is the one adding all the detail. He brings out what Anderson has started–even though they’re in the pits of Hell, Anderson has a lot to draw.

The issue’s particularly impressive because it’s all Ka-Zar’s show, something the comic hasn’t been since the first one. Shanna’s not an active participant. Jones casts Ka-Zar as Conan against the (more demonic than Cthulhu) Elder Gods. It works.

The backup’s a perverted Disney movie about Ka-Zar’s tiger. Gil Kane does fine.

Ka-Zar the Savage 11 (February 1982)

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Marvel ought to turn this one into a movie. Not a Ka-Zar movie, but a movie about the backstory–Dante Alighieri the action star. Jones’s Dante chased a Cthulhu-worshipping cur from Italy to Antarctica to save his girlfriend, discovering a long abandoned Atlantean vacation resort, which eventually the bad guy turns into Hell. And Dante writes Inferno about it.

It’d be an awesome movie, even if the recap in the comic is only a few pages.

The craziness of that plot, unfortunately, is the most substance in the issue. It’s an action issue, with a lot of scene humor, and it’s good. It’s just not substantive.

Josef Rubinstein takes over the inks to mixed result. Ka-Zar’s face is better, but Shanna’s is worse. But the art does seem stronger. It’s unclear if it’s Rubinstein or Anderson finally having something interesting to draw.

Jones hasn’t fully recovered, but close enough.

Ka-Zar the Savage 10 (January 1982)

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Jones sends Ka-Zar, Shanna and company to Hell.

Maybe.

This issue is good, though not great–Jones is playing within a self-imposed constrain; there’s only so many places he can go. And they’re in Hell, after all, it’s not like Anderson has a lot to draw besides scary residents. Except a couple amazing double page spreads of the landscape.

I’ve realized what’s going on with Anderson–some of it, anyway. He’s really slight on Ka-Zar’s face. It’s like he’s trying to draw him dumbfounded all the time. Otherwise, the art is pretty strong.

Jones also establishes Ka-Zar is out of regular continuity. There’s a brief exchange about comic book reading preferences and, no surprise, Ka-Zar makes Marvel his. But Shanna, the smarter one, is a Superman aficionado.

The issue plays like Jones was reading Dante’s Inferno and wanted pay homage, but it’s enthusiastically well-written.

Ka-Zar‘s (almost) back.

Ka-Zar the Savage 9 (December 1981)

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Ka-Zar is nowhere near the level it was three issues ago, but Jones has definitely partially recovered. He gets away from the Atlantean technology and gives Ka-Zar and Shanna a real problem to deal with.

Shanna loosed a giant griffin (inadvertently) and they need to deal with it before it kills all their flying friends from back when the series was awesome.

Jones paces the issue really well, manages to work the character drama into it too. Shanna’s got a love interest (a robotic one) and Jones sells her conflict. His characters are far from perfect; she’s a little bit fickle and Ka-Zar’s occasionally a moron. Their lack of perfection makes all the difference.

Unfortunately, Anderson’s still rushing through. His panel composition is stunning–there’s one amazing sequence in particular–but his level of detail is still low.

I like this Ka-Zar issue… but I miss loving the every issue.

Ka-Zar the Savage 8 (November 1981)

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Between Jones exploring the history of Atlantis themed entertainment and Anderson apparently deciding to be lazy, Ka-Zar doesn’t feel much like itself.

The problem isn’t really Anderson, though his lack of detail is stunning. He takes the time on his panel composition, but the actual faces and figures are broad. The issue is almost entirely expositional–Jones goes through a little action, a lot of bickering and it’s all for a little joke. Maybe Anderson just couldn’t get interested.

Shanna and Ka-Zar spend most of the issue in a futuristic Atlantean outpost, on the run from a deadly robot. Not much jungle adventure going on. Jones loses his hold on the characters and the issue. He tries and fails.

As far as the creativeness behind the Atlantean outpost plot line… it’s good. It’s very creative. It’s just not the right presentation of the material for a comic book.

I’m bummed.

Ka-Zar the Savage 7 (October 1981)

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This issue isn’t a success, not entirely, but it’s not bad. It’s also why I love and defend Bruce Jones’s writing.

I was almost going to say his honor.

Anyway, the issue opens with Ka-Zar and Shanna bickering over Shanna getting busy with the Atlantean ghost last issue. It’s a fast, hilarious dialogue exchange in about nine panels, maybe twelve. It’s just great.

But then the issue itself is Ka-Zar telling Shanna about a dream and Shanna amateurishly psychoanalyzing it.

So you get Ka-Zar’s recounting of the dream, then Shanna’s interpretation of it. It’s a lot of content, including Jones playing with the differing views on events.

The dream part isn’t great, but the psychoanalyzing is a lot of fun. Jones’s ambitious with the experimentation–jungle adventure, psychoanalysis, Robert E. Howard and Cthulhu.

Jerry Bingham joins Anderson on pencils, leading to good art. The script’s too restrained for great art.

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