Ron Frenz

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 5 (May 1983)

22337Michelinie finishes his first two-parter quite well. The issue has a frantic pace with an interlude or two, usually for humor (sometimes for romance). Frenz keeps it moving in the art too; there aren’t any gradual segues for most of the action scenes. Michelinie and Frenz race through a bunch of action, pause for a bit, race again. Maybe there are three pauses, not two.

The issue has some sightseeing in England–Stonehenge, of course–along with some general tourism. It’s perfect for the license–“locations,” time period and action. Michelinie really gets how to make it work, especially when it comes to Indy. He’s not just not infallible, sometimes he’s not particularly strong either. Dumb luck plays a factor in his actions and his love interest proves to be made of stronger mettle when it comes to certain situations.

Again, Michelinie’s writing makes Jones a thoroughly decent read.

CREDITS

The Harbingers; writer, David Michelinie; penciller, Ron Frenz; inker, Danny Bulanadi; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 4 (April 1983)

22336I really hope David Michelinie is the new regular writer on this one. Like, really, really hope. I’ve never been a big Michelinie supporter before, but coming after O’Neil, he clearly gets Indiana Jones. Even with the expository stuff, Michelinie makes it seem like natural dialogue from an academic.

This issue puts Indy in London, which is full of anti-Nazi sentiment and war fears (see, Michelinie cares about the setting), working on something related to Stonehenge. The quest is secondary to all the action–there’s a fantastic chase sequence through the city. Michelinie and penciller Ron Frenz keep it all very exciting.

Frenz and inker Danny Bulanadi do decent work overall, but excellent when it comes to the action pacing. Frenz will slow down the funny moments and hurry through the boring stuff.

The cliffhanger doesn’t really work, but it’s easy to forgive. Michelinie’s enthusiasm makes Jones acceptable reading.

CREDITS

Getaway to Infinity; writer, David Michelinie; penciller, Ron Frenz; inker, Danny Bulanadi; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ka-Zar the Savage 29 (December 1983)

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Carlin’s not doing much to make Ka-Zar his own. He follows the existing template well–down to Shanna’s step-daughter being emotionally affecting from her first panel–and it feels like a good impression of Bruce Jones.

Except Carlin doesn’t spend a lot of time on his protagonists’ emotions. He doesn’t keep their self-reflections going throughout the issue, instead using them episodically. It’s not a bad approach, it just gives the narrative a staggered feel.

To be fair, Carlin does get a lot done. He probably has enough content in the issue it’d run six “decompressed.” Ka-Zar and Shanna have a wedding and even get married, along with fighting a demonic bad guy and saving some people. Throw in another five or six pages of villain scenes and you’ve got a packed issue.

Frenz does fine fitting it all in. Even if his pencils aren’t beautiful or even ambitious.

Ka-Zar the Savage 26 (May 1983)

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This issue is extremely hectic. The first three-quarters of it pick up immediately following the previous issue–Ka-Zar and Spider-Man duke it out until they decide to be buddies. Then they go save Shanna, which is easier said than done.

But even after Shanna’s rescued, Jones doesn’t let up on the pace. Ka-Zar’s hellbent on getting out of New York immediately and, even though it’s fairly fantastic (and owes a lot to Raiders of the Lost Ark), his scheme works.

The issue’s a particularly nice exercise. Jones establishes Ka-Zar as wanting back to the Savage Land, the cover is clear on the New York exodus… it all comes together quite well.

Except, of course, Frenz’s artwork. It’s not completely awful, but he’s lost the urban touch he exhibited a few issues ago.

The Mayerik-illustrated backup comes to a fine conclusion. Some great artwork in just a few pages.

Ka-Zar the Savage 25 (April 1983)

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Weird issue.

Since Shanna’s basically out of commission (she’s comatose in the second half and insane in the first), Peter Parker is basically the second protagonist. Jones splits the pages between him and Ka-Zar, though Ka-Zar has a lot more going on.

He escapes from the bad guys–Jones doesn’t, unfortunately, give the villains a satisfying send-off–and heads to New York for Shanna. There are obvious pacing problems as Ka-Zar globe trots, but Jones deftly covers that passage of time with Peter Parker. Peter’s taken with Shanna in a believable mix of protectiveness and chaste lust.

It’s too bad Frenz and Gil are lousy this issue, otherwise some of the quiet scenes would have been much nicer.

Aside from Jones’s usual problems with Ka-Zar as protagonist, it’s a fine issue.

The backup, still with waning Mayerik art, is exciting once again. Not shocking like last time, just exciting.

Ka-Zar the Savage 22 (January 1983)

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Where the heck is Jones going with this comic book?

First off, the issue is a visual delight. Not because of the quality of the artwork, but because of the intricate page layouts. There is a whole page of a car chase from a birds eye view. It’s absolutely crazy stuff. Candido doesn’t do a great job finishing Frenz’s breakdowns, but with layouts like the ones in this issue… mediocre becomes spectacular.

Peter Parker is the issue’s costar, which is kind of fantastic. And Jones even gets away with Peter and Shanna getting busy.

But the threaten of a Parker dalliance is just a pit stop on Shanna’s journey this issue. She’s alone–with everything being taken from her (besides Ka-Zar dying, Zabu the sabertooth tiger is impounded–and she’s in a hostile environment.

Jones does an amazing job with Shanna as the real protagonist.

It’s a great comic.

Ka-Zar the Savage 21 (December 1982)

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Mel Candido is great inker for Frenz. For the most part, the issue looks great. Not great great, but great for a Marvel house style book, which Ka-Zar has apparently become. Right down to the Romita-style Peter Parker.

While the issue opens resolving the big Ka-Zar versus Kraven fight, it then becomes a conversation issue. Not quite talking heads, because the pacing isn’t slow enough. For example, Spider-Man and Kraven argue over whether they should fight, seeing as how they both worked together to save Ka-Zar.

The issue is then Shanna talking to Peter Parker about her life.

But somehow, it’s all very traditional. Jones doesn’t include any indulgences, but more… it seems like he isn’t interested. It’s a fine issue, but an unenthusiastic one.

However, the flashback backup is amazing. Mayerick’s art on this installment is singular and Jones writes a surprising hard cliffhanger.

Ka-Zar the Savage 20 (November 1982)

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Frenz is far more in his element here, with Ka-Zar having a New York adventure with Kraven the Hunter. They’re swinging around, crashing comic cons and just generally having antics. Jones’s strength is in the details, whether it’s he and Frenz cameoing at the con, the moronic cops Shanna asks for help or Ka-Zar figuring out what’s going on (he’s temporarily mute on top of the bullet lodged in his skull).

It’s the most fun Jones has had writing Ka-Zar as a narrator–he’s too busy trying to figure out his situation to be callous.

There is one major goof–Shanna’s in her jungle outfit, even though she wasn’t last issue. Apparently Frenz wanted her scantily clad.

Kraven’s a weak villain for Ka-Zar, who doesn’t do well in the “grounded” reality of the Marvel Universe.

The issue’s fun, but not particularly special. Though it does put Frenz to good use.

Ka-Zar the Savage 17 (August 1982)

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This issue is a nice done-in-one, with Ka-Zar tripping on bad mushrooms and thinking he’s Sam Spade after a double-crossing dame (Shanna).

Unfortunately, Frenz is still on the art–I suppose his noir scenes are a little better than his jungle scenes, but not much. It’s a script tailor made for the departed Brent Anderson.

But what’s interesting about it is how Jones approaches the whole event. It’s clear he identifies more with Shanna. She choses the Savage Land lifestyle, which makes her more interesting than Ka-Zar, who’s bound to it. Half the issue follows her around and Jones does a fine job.

The Mayerik illustrated backup is this lovely story of Ka-Zar’s sabertooth tiger (when Ka-Zar was a kid). It’s all silent, just great, emotive imagery. Disney really ought to be mining this series for movies… but not as much as Marvel should be collecting it.

Ka-Zar the Savage 16 (July 1982)

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Ron Frenz. Ron Frenz does the pencils this issue. Ron Frenz doing jungle action. Not just jungle action, but jungle action with shades of Lovecraft.

It’s hideous. Even though Gil can’t pencil, he’s inked Ka-Zar well but there’s nothing he can do on Frenz’s pencils. This issue looks incredibly silly.

But the story’s not silly.

It reminds of the Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson Swamp Thing actually, with Ka-Zar and Shanna getting involved in the fantastic without having any idea what’s going on. The mystery keeps getting more confounding–a pygmy tribe, an adorable lemur and a tentacle monster–until Jones explains it all.

The issue works. Jones pulls it off, particularly because he’s got Ka-Zar alone as the protagonist for a while. And when Shanna is around, Jones comes up with some great character drama for the two of them.

The backup (with lovely Mayerik art) is too short.

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