Written by: Zac Thompson
Art by: Álvaro López, Lalit Kumar Sharma, Belardino Brabo, Marc Deering, Le Beau Underwood
Colors by: Matt Milla
Letters by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover art by: Jesús Saiz
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: December 15, 2021
Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #4 puts the Plunders in a head to-tentacle battle against the Domovoy for the soul of the Savage Land. When the battle escalates against Domovoy’s failed, early experiments, the final outcome will be decided by Matthew’s loyalties.
Was It Good?
Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #4 is a convoluted continuation of an already convoluted storyline.
What do we get in this issue that’s good or great? We get a little info about the origin of Domovoy and a little clarity about Ka-Zar’s role within the context of the Savage Land. It’s not clear why Thompson thought Ka-Zar’s role needed clarification, but you’re getting it anyway, and you will like it whether you want to or not, young man/lady.
Besides strange clarifications, there are quite a few sometimes cool/sometimes bizarre action set pieces. Did you know Ka-Zar could turn into a giant moth man? No? Well, now you do.
Beyond the individual tidbits, we do get a decent amount of forwarding progress on the story. Ka-Zar and his wife barely survive the last fight when they now wake up under the healing care of Zira and her tribe. Zira becomes the greatest source of exposition by explaining Ka-Zar and Shanna have been chosen by the Savage Lands to be its protectors. Domovoy is a primordial life form thawed out from the Savage Land’s ancient cradle (it’s not at all clear how a primordial life has access to advanced technology, but okay), and Matthew has the potential to be the future of the Savage Land’s chosen one if he can be rescued from Domovoy’s influence first.
Ka-Zar and Shanna enter the Cradle where they find Domovoy has been doing his best impersonation of The Island of Dr. Moreau by casting off early techno-organic experiments into the Cradle’s wastelands to fend for themselves. The concept is disturbing and the designs by the small army of artists are unique enough to hold interest. However, the real fight comes in when Matthew, firmly on Domovoy’s side, fights his parents to be the “real” Chosen One with Domovoy to make the Savage Lands the seat of power throughout the world.
The question that continues to persist surrounds Matthew. Is he a bratty early teenager who just thinks his parents aren’t fit to lead, or is he under Domovoy’s mental control/influence? Does Matthew truly dislike his father (as does Zira and most of her tribe) or is there some hidden agenda Thompson is hinting at?
Ultimately, that’s the struggle with this title. Nobody likes Ka-Zar, and he’s not giving anyone much reason to change their mind. His son hates him enough to fight him, possibly kill him. Shanna talks down to him like he’s a lost and wounded puppy. Zira and her people resent him because the Savage Lands have chosen a white, male outsider for their champion. And Ka-Zar wanders through this story with disorientating uncertainty about what’s going on, occasionally punctuated with brief moments of lucid direction. That’s a lot of fancy words to mean nobody likes him or respects him, and he’s barely functioning half the time, so you have to agree with the haters to a degree.
When everyone in this story is disliked, rude, annoyed, off-put, or otherwise not somebody you want to be around, how do you root for the characters in this title? In short, you don’t.
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Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #4 gives readers a little background on the main villain and some cool action set pieces showcasing Ka-Zar’s ever-expanding set of powers. However, nearly every character is turning out to be unlikable on some level, and the creators are making it very difficult to root for anyone, much less care what happens to them.