Hope Springs Eternal: Reviewing ‘Ka-Zar: Lord Of The Savage Land’ #5
by Scott Redmond
‘Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land’ comes to a stunningly gorgeous and extremely hopeful ending that leaves its protagonists in an evolved and engaging new place that hopefully, other creators pick up on going forward. Comics are a truly amazing medium and this story is a true example of what is possible within the medium when creators are given the ability to really take a chance and tackle characters or concepts that we don’t always see in the superhero-heavy industry.
All things must come to an end at some point, but not everything has the ability to not only get better as it goes along but concludes in the strongest possible way leaving the audience likely clamoring for more. This is easily where a book like Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land falls as the series comes to a tremendous end, which presents a future that is still bright for the title character and his family should someone decide to pick up the passed-on baton.
Through these five issues, something truly special has been done with Ka-Zar, Shanna, Matthew, Zabu, and the various tribes/residents of the Savage Land. Far too often these characters have spent their existence as just supporting pieces that play a part in any story where the more established Marvel heroes decide to take a jaunt down to the Savage Land here or there. There were a handful of solo titles for the character in the past, but by many accounts, not much had changed with these characters as they sort of stayed in the roles decided for them long ago.
While Zac Thompson could have easily told a story with them that kept them in those roles and still tackled the ecological messages and eco-horror themes that he wanted to, the writer chose to go a different direction. Alongside the superhero elements and the eco-horror elements, we were also treated to some of the most in-depth character work this family of characters has gotten in probably quite some time. New connections, new abilities, new outlooks and were left in a space that left them truly changed and not just back to the status quo where they were even at the start of the book.
Even the resolution of the story bucks tradition as the solution isn’t necessarily just in the vein of punching away the problems as superhero stories often can be. There is plenty of action within the story as the former Plunder family does beat down a lot of enemies, but their eventual defeat of Domovoy is something that more hopeful and positive about what can be accomplished when we come together.
Everything about Ka-Zar, Shanna, and the Savage Land could very easily be seen as akin to characters/concepts like Swamp Thing or Animal Man from the competition or even Man-Thing from the same publisher in scope and possibilities and this was fully showcased within this series. Stories like this really prove how true the sentiment is about every character having potential that is just waiting to be unlocked.
Never would I have thought I would be clamoring for far more of the family formerly known as Plunder, but here we are. Marvel, please give us more of this book and these characters.
While Lalit Kumar Sharma, Belardino Brabo, Marc Deering, LaBeau Underwood, and Matt Milla did wonderful work with the fourth issue it was great to see Germán García and Matheus Lopes return to finish the series off with Álvaro López still handling the really great dream/nightmare sequence pages. Throughout the issues they have worked upon, García and Lopes have created a truly lush and beautiful yet also haunting version of the Savage Land that is unique and has so much personality. Rather than just being the place heroes go to fight dinosaurs or meet forgotten tribes of people, we got to see the wide breadth of what the Savage Land has to offer.
As an eco-horror series, there have been many images and moments that were meant to evoke the feelings that one desires from a horror story. Here though those same somewhat graphic elements took on new life as García and Lopes used them as a literal representation of rebirth and hope as Ka-Zar is rebuilt and reborn as something greater and finally complete and sure of himself. Lopes’ bright but somewhat filter muted colors are breathtaking and add so much to every piece of this artwork.
Another aspect of the art that has such unique energy is the lettering work done by Joe Caramagna. All the various speech bubbles feel different depending on the character but also how they are speaking at the moment, little visual changes are given to indicate yelling versus regular talking. Alongside a slew of powerful SFX that dominate within the space and have variety, even the same repeating SFX within a page has a different look to them depending on the given part of the action in the panel. Often the SFX are seamlessly incorporated into the action/artwork on the panel in a beautiful way that makes sure they are connected to what is happening.
All the way back in my review for the third issue I stated that this was not only one of the best books that is being published by Marvel right now but one of the best comics period. That sentiment has only gotten stronger as the series has progressed. This is a unique and gorgeous piece of art that must be seen and experienced by anyone that considers themselves a fan of comic books. There is little doubt that this will easily go down as not only one of the definitive Ka-Zar works but one of the works that will be used to describe this era of comic books in the future.
Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #5 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.