Written By: Zac Thompson
Art By: Germán García
Colors By: Matheus Lopes
Letters By: VC’s Joe Carmagna
Cover Art By: Jesús Saiz
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 8, 2021
Ka-Zar: Lord Of The Savage Land #1 brings readers back to the Savage Land where Kevin Plunder aka Ka-Zar struggles with life and family life since returning from the afterlife. His resurrection imbued him with new powers he’s only now beginning to understand, and Shanna, his wife who also experienced the same resurrection but much earlier, is doing her best to help him cope and adapt. Complicating matters is their son’s, Matthew, restless spirit and a secret relationship that could spell trouble for the Savage Land.
Was It Good?
It’s a bit better than I expected.
This first issue in the series has mostly good qualities mixed in with a few, minor down points to give readers a solid first entry.
Thompson’s writing gives us a fairly complete introduction to all the players, from Ka-Zar to Shanna to Matthew and even Zabu. Each character voice is distinct with identifiable personalities, even if their individual motivations are not quite clear at this point.
Ka-Zar is wrestling with his resurrection. He feels connected to the Savage Land but somehow disoriented. His bodies now has powers beyond anything he had before his “death” and while punching a T-Rex feels good, there’s a shaky uncertainty as each ability begins to emerge.. Of the three characters, Ka-Zar is (surprisingly) the least relatable due to his constant struggle.
Shanna was resurrected much earlier (how much is not clear), so everything Ka-Zar is experiencing is old hat to her, and she’s able to act as a support for Ka-Zar. It’s a strong contrast to have Shanna act as the “been there, done that” mentor to support Ka-Zar’s shakiness, abut it puts a strange, almost unpleasant, pall over their marriage relationship. Shanna comes off more motherly than supportive wife, and it’s strange to see her take an authoritative tone with Ka-Zar without much question or challenge. There’s nothing wrong with the seasoned hero receiving some help when he’s out of sorts, but it’s a fine line between being supportive and being told to go to your room (that’s not quite the line but there’s a similar statement made in this issue.)
And then there’s Matthew. Bratty, pug-headed, Matthew. You’d think growing up in the Savage Land would somehow prevent Ka-Zar’s only son from falling into the stereotypical know-it-all teenager years. If anything, Matthew’s characterization is the least relatable of the bunch and the biggest down point of the issue simply because it is so stereotypical. The Savage Land is filled with dangers around every corner, so it doesn’t make sense that Matthew would turn it into a defiant I-do-what-I-want teenager who seems to have no respect for the land… or his parents. Maybe it’s the dad in me talking, but this version of Matthew seems implausible, at least to this extreme.
Credit where credit is due, the plot has something interesting to say. Strange techno-organic mutations are popping up around the Savage Land. Some appear to be accidental, others intentional. It’s not quite clear who or what is at the root of the intentional mutations, but the big twist comes at the end when we learn Matthew is in on whatever is going on. It’s presented as Matthew doing what he thinks is best to force the Savage Land evolve for it’s own future protection, but it’s hard not to see this infestation as anything but dangerous.
Overall, the writing is solid, and the plot has my curiosity up, but the down points center around characters that are, at times, unrelatable or hard to get behind. Take your pick — lost/distracted father, cavalier mommy-wife, or bratty teenager.
Regarding the art, it services the story well enough. I’m not sure I like it for this book. There’s a softness to it (both through the linework and the color palette) that diffuses the energy by making everything constantly bright. It’s not bad, but I’m not sold on it either, so we shall see.
Ka-Zar: Lord Of The Savage Land #1 brings readers up to speed on the Plunder family post resurrection. The characters are well-written albeit hard to like, and the art captures the beauty of the Savage Land through the lens of a flowery garden. Throw in some techno-organic body horror for good measure, and we’re off to a promising start.