Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land reaches its penultimate issue and begins to reveal secrets as well as set the various characters up for a final confrontation that could cost the Plunders everything. Things take on a bit more of a superhero feeling than eco-horror this issue, which is fine as the new art team still brings a lot of energy and fantastical elements to the page.
In any heroic type of story there comes the moment where the hero or heroes learn they are no match for the villain/antagonist they face and are dealt a devastating blow of some kind. Now that they have passed that point, the Plunder family must find their way and learn more about their foe if they want to actually survive long enough to protect the Savage Land and themselves.
It’s time for the penultimate issue of this new eco-horror series, and that means reaching the point in a story where the proverbial cards need to be played information-wise. Sometimes that can a point that unfortunately slows down a narrative, but that’s not the case here. There is a lot that is being thrown out in this issue yes, including more information on the role that Ka-Zar and Shanna and how the natives of this land feel about it, but it continues to flow thanks to the way that Zac Thompson handles this world and characters.
There is a bit at the beginning where Zira of the Yugen tribe speaks to Ka-Zar and Shanna about their rescue and their place in the Savage Land. It was nice to see the continued theme of questioning done about a character whose last name is Plunder, born of a father who came to plunder the Savage Land, being seen as a champion of the Savage Land. As noted both Ka-Zar and Shanna are outsiders, and it does not sit well with the tribe that outsiders were chosen by the Savage Land as champions.
At the same time, it seems unlikely that this will go far enough to really overturn the status quo of these characters since they very rarely get a spotlight in the Marvel Universe. It feels nice to see it mentioned but it’s unfortunately not going as far as these conversations should. I do not fault Thompson though because there is only so much work for hire writers can do, and I appreciate that he’s even broaching this through these bits of the story and the nightmare scenarios that kick off each issue.
There is an artistic change within this issue where Germán García and Matheus Lopes have stepped aside and Lalit Kumar Sharma, Belardino Brabo, Marc Deering, LaBeau Underwood and Matt Milla step in to handle the main pages of the book. Milla came on board the last issue to help color the opening nightmare section pages alongside Álvaro López who fill that role again this issue, along with one of the awakened world pages this time.
This art change actually isn’t as jarring as mid-series types of changes can be, because Sharma’s style with the addition of the team of inkers isn’t too far off from the look and energy that García brought in the previous issues and Milla’s colors match Lopes tones pretty well, they are just a tad brighter and not dulled down as much for effect. A lot of those fantastical and whimsical feelings from the previous issues remain, but not fully to the same extent.
It’s not a critique against this art team at all because they are nailing it and bringing a lot of great life to this part of the story. Naturally, when a tone is set it’s going to be noticed when another comes along, no matter how close it might be overall. In a way, some of the changes here are fitting since this artwork has a bit more of a superhero sort of feel to it and the story is a lot more action-packed and superhero-like than some of the past issues, as we near the final confrontation.
Don’t get me wrong, the eco-horror aspects still are here but they take a little bit more of a backseat to some of the action and the fact that we’re getting to see more of Domovoy the Flesh Weaver through Matthew and Zabu’s interactions with him. There is nothing wrong with the more superhero sort of look that this artwork has energy-wise because that sort of energy is awesome and right for the tone of this issue.
Joe Caramagna is still on board and still doing what he does best lettering-wise. This is one area where the energy from the previous issues is 100% still the same, bringing some fantastical energy to all of the lettering and making sure that various characters’ dialogue is unique to them. That same bit of energy still resonates within the impactful SFX too, really helping sell a lot of the action sequences, even more, giving a bit more weight.
Ka-Zar: Lord Of The Savage Land #4 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.