To the outside viewer, like myself, Ka-Zar might look like he’s just Marvel’s version of Tarzan, and to be fair, he has been used that way throughout his publication history. That being said, if Zac Thompson and Germán García’s new limited series proves anything, it is that under the right hands Ka-Zar and the Savage Lands can be a lot more than just another savage hero and a mysterious jungle.
I think the last time I read a comic with Ka-Zar on it was five or six years ago, in one of those Mini-Marvels comic strips they used to do back in the day, which means I was super thankful that this new series starts with a flashback in the form of a nightmare that serves to remind everyone of Kevin’s backstory. This scene is also amazing because it not only introduces the basics of who Ka-Zar is, but who he is at the moment.
Starting a series with a character that just recently has come back from the dead can be tricky especially when trying to appeal to new readers, luckily for you and me the creative team of this series handles this the best way possible. We are given the important details of the past and concentrate on the now. The book is saying “Yes, Ka-Zar died and came back from the dead and has new abilities, but this book isn’t about that, it’s about what happens next, about what happens NOW”.
There is also this fight scene that does a great job of introducing each member of the Plunder family with actions and dialogue, and not boring exposition. We also get to see some of their family dynamics, which get expanded upon in the diner scene. These were the two scenes that got me hooked. They showed that the Plunders are a lot more complex and interesting than what I gave them credit for.
There is also a lot of credit that goes to Germán García and Matheus Lopes for pulling the reader into the comic. The art and colors in this comic are beyond amazing, going from the beautiful to the disgusting in the span of panels. The contrast between the colors had a special effect on me, making me want to explore each panel with a careful gaze.
Within this character and their environment, there are some really interesting themes to be explored and Thompson knows this, touching upon things like bio-tech, imperialism, change, our connection with nature and the world, and even veganism. This series manages to take an antiquated concept and give it a contemporary take that doesn’t feel forced or dishonest.
While I was pushed to read this comic because of my love for the writer’s previous work, I came out of the experience pleasantly surprised. In just one issue, the creative team made me interested in a character I barely knew existed prior to this. If you are looking for a different experience inside the Marvel universe, here is your chance. I’m pretty sure I will check this series in its entirety as it comes out.