Review – Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #5 (Marvel Comics)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Zac Thompson
Artwork: German Garcia, Alvaro Lopez
Colours: Matheus Lopes
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 2nd February 2022

As we reach the final issue of Marvel’s Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land, it’s worth reflecting on what an absolute revelation the series has been to this point.  Hats off to Zac Thompson, German Garcia, Alvaro Lopez and the rest of the creative team for doing a truly fantastic job of breathing new life into a character I’ll admit I had pretty much zero knowledge of (or interest in) prior to this book hitting the shelves.

To bring you up to speed, the Plunder family – Kevin (our eponymous hero), his wife Shanna and their son Matthew – have found their very existence threatened by a primordial horror calling itself Domovoy the Flesh Weaver.  Spawning an army of techno-organic monstrosities, this new threat seems intent on spreading corruption and disease all across the Savage Land. And, while Michael has found himself tempted by some of Domovoy’s more radical ideologies, Kevin and Shanna, the champions of the Savage Land, have found themselves hopelessly outmatched against this new threat.  Indeed, at the conclusion of the penultimate issue, the pair were emphatically defeated, with Ka-Zar actually being brutally killed by this immensely powerful adversary!

Honestly, I love when truly creative creators are given free reign to leave their mark on established characters, and that’s exactly what Thompson et al have done here, blending concepts perhaps more frequently associated with the likes of Swamp Thing and Animal Man into this fresh new imagining of Ka-Zar. Rather than it ever feeling derivative however, the creators manage to keep things feeling fresh and dynamic throughout, and the utilisation of the bio-technological horrors (dubbed “polyscions”) and Domovoy himself as antagonists helps to give the story some genuine stakes.

There are also plenty of interesting storyline threads outside of the central conflict, chief among them being Kevin wrestling with the negative connotations of his family name and the toxic impact his family had has on the Savage Land as a whole.  This adds a welcome layer of complexity to what is a fairly flawed central character, and plays into the overall themes of corruption, pollution and ‘nature versus machine.’

Once again, the artistic team do a truly stunning job of bringing this story to the page, with Garcia, Lopez and Lopes combining to deliver a visual package that is by turns beautiful, haunting and dynamic.  Garcia returns here after a brief departure in issue four, and his soft, expressive style really helps to sell the conclusion of the story.  The character design by both he and Lopez is once again top notch, particularly in the way Ka-Zar’s powers manifest themselves, and the warm colour palette of Lopes serves as the icing on the cake, gradually ebbing between soft yellows and visceral reds throughout the issue.

For my personal taste, the environmentalist aspect is perhaps a little heavy-handed at times, but never swallows things completely, fitting well alongside the established tone of the story.  There’s also a truly worthy message at the heart of the narrative, and the ultimate resolution to the threat of Domovoy and his polyscions comes hand in hand with a message of hope and positivity rather than generic superhero kicking and punching.

Inventive, unconventional and like absolutely nothing else being published by Marvel Comics right now, Ka-Zar and the Savage land is a series that comes highly recommended. And, if you’ve happened to miss the five-part story as single issues, then I’d wholeheartedly suggest picking up the collected trade paperback as soon as it becomes available.  You can thank me later.

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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