Detail from Ka-Zar #2
Ka-Zar is such an awesome and underutilized superhero character. Loosely based on a Marvel (Timely at the time) pulp magazine and comics character, the Ka-Zar that most people are familiar with is Kevin Plunder, the son of an English explorer who was orphaned in the Savage Land—a prehistoric jungle hidden away in Antarctica filled with human and humanoid species, as well as dinosaurs.
Ka-Zar first appeared in an early issue of X-Men in 1965 and has batted around the Marvel Universe since. He has had two ongoing series, one in the 1980s by Bruce Jones and Mike Carlin and a later won in the 1990s by Mark Waid.
His stories are fairly simple. It’s usually about Ka-Zar exploring the Savage Land and dealing with the various warring tribes. Sometimes stories deal with him fighting off poachers and big game hunters, who are after the Savage Land’s wildlife. In those stories he gets to leave the Savage Land, getting to travel to New York to fight off villains like Kraven.
Why I like Ka-Zar stories so much is that they are so much fun to read. There are dinosaurs, crazy natives, and did I mention dinosaurs? He also has a really small but important cast of supporting characters. His love interest is Shanna the She Devil, the self-appointed protector of Africa’s wildlife.
But Ka-Zar’s best friend is Zabu, the world’s last smilodon (that’s a sabre-toothed tiger for you non-zoologists). After his pride was slaughtered when we he was a cub, he wandered around the Savage Land and saved a young Ka-Zar from a tribe of cavemen. The two became best of friends and inseperable.
Zabu is often a plot device, with Ka-Zar having to save him, whether it be from tribes in the Savage Land or when the cat has ventured into the modern world. During Jones’ series, they had a recurring backup feature that chronicled Zabu’s life.
You might think that this is a lot like Tarzan, but its’ not. It’s better. These are just fun stories about a guy, his hot girlfriend (and later on wife) and his best friend/pet sabre-toothed tiger that live in a jungle filled with dinosaurs. You don’t get better than this, folks.