Monday, March 14, 2016

Ka-Zar: Guns of the Savage Land

Written by Chuck Dixon and Tim Truman
Art by Gary Kwapisz and Ricardo Villagran

I've recently come into a small pile of Marvel OGNs from the late 80s and early 90s that I got for a very low price.  I can't resist something like this, but I was a little disappointed to learn that Tim Truman was a co-writer on this and not the artist.

I was pleased to see that the real star of Ka-zar: Guns of the Savage Land is Wyatt Wingfoot, the Fantastic Four supporting character who never really got enough space to call his own.  He's summoned to Nevada when a First Nations person turns up in a remote stretch of desert, showing signs of having had not prior interaction with the modern world.

After talking with the man, Wingfoot believes that he has come from an ancient underground land that may or may not be the source of the Hopi people, and may or may not be connected to the Savage Land.  He heads to England to recruit the Plunders - Ka-Zar and Shanna - to his cause.

We learn that Ka-Zar's gone a little nuts after being exiled from the Savage Land by its united people.  Shanna hopes that this job for Wyatt might help him, so they join up.  They eventually arrive in this place, finding the pre-Hopi people they were looking for, but also finding evidence that they have been in contact with the modern world, in the form of Pluto Fuel, an energy company that Ka-Zar actually owns.

It's not really clear if they are under the ground (there is light in the sky, but no sign of a sun, nor discussion of how the place is illuminated) or in a distant corner of the Savage Land that the Plunders hadn't traveled to.  There are dinosaurs, but absolutely no one finds that weird at all.

In no time, Ka-Zar gets the natives mobilized against the oil people, and the ex-French mercenary who runs their paramilitary.  Wingfoot does not like the way that Ka-Zar acts like a colonial power unto himself, and Shanna doesn't like the way Ka-Zar bosses her around.  I hope that this type of thing wasn't considered very progressive in 1990, because it feels a little forced and pandering today.

I also don't know where this OGN fits with the character's continuity.  At the end of the book, he's staying put in this land, and I don't remember much about the only other time Ka-Zar got any real play in the 90s, which was in Mark Waid's run with him, which I remember as being actually good.

While I didn't love the writing in this book, the art is very nice.  Gary Kwapisz is a talented artist who does not get enough recognition (I was recently reminded of his talent while rereading the Hawkworld ongoing series a little while ago).  Ricardo Villagran painted this book, and that makes it quite lovely, if a little bright.

This was an interesting artifact of a time when Marvel put out OGNs regularly, and gave them to C-list characters for no apparent reason.

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