Written by: Zac Thompson
Art by: Germán García, Álvaro López
Colors by: Matheus Lopes
Letters by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: February 2, 2022
Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #5 concludes the series with a message about hope in the face of Climate Change. With Ka-Zar’s death and resurrection, the fresh-faced Lord of the Savage Land establishes himself as the new god of balance with nature.
Was It Good?
If you’ve been reading this series since issue #1, you get the distinct impression Thompson was trying to convey a message. A message buried underneath the convoluted storyline, the oddly unlikable protagonists, the strangely unexplained main villain, and the largely absent point to the villain’s plan. In Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #5, the finale for this “experiment”, the message is made clear. It’s so clear that it hits you with all the subtlety of getting smashed in the face with a brick covered in coarse grit sandpaper. The message is “Climate Change is bad”.
Whenever we look at the finale of a series, we try to cover the issue on two levels – “Did the issue work?” and “Did the series work?”
Starting with the issue, it’s possibly the most coherent and clear issue of the entire run. Domovoy’s, the main villain’s, intentions are made clear. Matthew comes to his senses. Ka-Zar is resurrected… again. And the good guys save the day. The core elements needed to technically complete the series are all present, and by the end, a new and more sure-footed status quo is established for Ka-Zar and his family.
As for where this all fits into the series as a whole, your view may change depending on what you envisioned the series would accomplish.
If you hoped the series would reinvigorate Ka-Zar as a new hero that would inspire optimism for further adventures and position the character as worthy of more issues, no, you don’t get that here. Why? Because the series’s focus was never really about Ka-Zar, and in fairness, was never about any of the characters. The series was about the Savage Land. It’s wants and It’s needs. And, what the Savage Land would do to enable its own survival. Ka-Zar was a passenger in the Savage Land’s journey against a destructive threat.
If you hoped, as the writer explicitly spells out in an essay on the last page, you would see this series as an indictment of callousness against nature. That you would see how the world could be better if we work with nature rather than trying to foolishly lord over it. Then, you get what you wanted… but only if you stuck with it to the last issue.
Whatever the intent of the message, readers will have to decide if they’re willing to pick through the weeds of a story with too many flaws to count. Flaws that always start with forcing the reader to ask the wrong kind of questions.
How are readers supposed to get behind a hero who dies and is resurrected twice, and most of his time after his first resurrection leaves him in a state of swirling confusion?
How do you make the mental leap to accept sentient primordial bacteria is thawed out from millenniums-old ice and somehow manages to master advanced cybernetic technology… in the middle of the jungle?
How does Matthew, Ka-Zar’s son, somehow think following Domovoy was a good idea?
Couple these questions (and many more) with Thompson’s scree about the message behind the series, and it’s hard not to see how putting the message in front of the story winds up producing exactly what you would expect – a mess.
Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #5 brings clarity and sense to the final issue of this series to explain it all as an allegory for the importance of fighting against Climate Change. Despite colorful art and imaginative set pieces, the outcome is always the same when creators forget one basic principle – Starting with a strong message instead of a strong story never works.