1951 birth month. That’s Lex Barker on the photo cover. He was in
five Tarzan movies, the tenth actor to play Edgar Rice Burroughs’
greatest creation. I wrote about this issue two weeks ago, saying
I’d return to it after I read the Tarzan and Brothers of the Spear
stories that ran in the comic book and which have been reprinted by
Dark Horse in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years
Volume 6 and Brothers of the Spear Archives Volume 1.
“Jungle World” is on the inside front cover of Tarzan #29. Drawn by
Jesse Marsh, the full-page illustration is described in a caption:
These acrobats are doing the “baboon dance” - one of the many Zulu
ceremonial dances. It’s a striking black-and-white drawing, but
my online search didn’t turn up any information on a Zulu dance of
that name. Wikipedia came closest with this:
Indlamu is a traditional Zulu dance from South Africa where the
dancer lifts one foot over his head and brings it down hard,
landing squarely on the downbeat. Typically, two dancers in
warrior's pelts perform indlamu routines together, shadowing each
other's moves perfectly. Also often referred to as a Zulu war dance
and often performed at weddings.
Written by Gaylord Du Bois with art by Jesse Marsh, “Tarzan Tracks
a Robber Band” (24 pages) opens with Tarzan and Thurag the Ape on
a peaceful voyage with friends Louis and Alice D'Arnot. A sudden
storm sinks the ship and separates the friends. They all make it
to land safely, but Alice is captured by a band of murderous Berbers.
The robbers kill the crewmen with Alice, but take her to their town
to sell her to a wealthy Berber chief.
Most explicit violence is kept off panel, but there’s no doubt as
to the Berber chief’s “amorous” plans for the lovely Mrs. D’Arnot.
The latter surprised me. Though the matter was handled tastefully,
I could see it raising hackles on the part of those predisposed to
condemn the comics books of the era.
Thurag is my favorite character in the story. He’s almost dick-ish
in his dismissive attitude towards humans other than Tarzan. He’s
also courageous and smart.
The Tarzan story is followed by “Jungle Stampede,” a two-page text
story starring a character called Mabu. This tale isn’t reprinted
in the Tarzan volume and the Grand Comics Database has no credits
for it, so that’s all I can tell you about it,
Following the text story is the fifth episode of “Brothers of the
Spear” (5.5 pages), also by DuBois and Marsh. The brothers of the
title are Natongo, son of the chief of a Zula tribe, and Dan-El, a
young white man raised as a son by the chief. Dan-El’s father gave
his life to save the chief, but nothing else is known of Dan-El’s
origins until they discover a map in the hilt of a knife belonging
to his birth father. The two young man decided to go on a quest to
learn what they can of who Dan-El is.
In this fifth episode - and DuBois and Marsh managed to fit a lot
of story in the chapter’s 5.5 pages - the brothers are mourning the
death of an African queen who had wanted Dan-El for her king. For
a comic book of the 1950s to even suggest a romance between a black
woman and a white man is astonishing, but racial quality was often,
albeit quietly, a given of both Tarzan and its companion feature in
The jungle world of Natongo and Dan-El can be brutal and deadly to
even the brave and the strong. They must defend themselves against
the lions who prowl their desert path. Their only water is what is
carried on the back of the bull given to them by the queen’s tribe.
When the bull becomes thirsty, it tries to drink the water in the
sacks and ends up destroying them and losing the water. It could
be certain death to continue without water, but the brothers have
no choice. Their salvation comes from a sudden downpour, but that
rescue comes at a price. Their thirst-crazed bull drowns when it
gets caught in a flash flood.
Though Jesse Marsh’s art doesn’t appeal to every reader, I like it
more each year. I’m also looking forward to seeing Russ Manning’s
early work when it takes over the Brothers of the Spear a little
further ahead in Brothers of the Spear Archives Volume 1. Based on
what I’ve read to date, I recommend the two volumes of Brothers of
the Spear that have been published to date and also the Edgar Rice
Burroughs' Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years books.
Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years Volume 6
Brothers of the Spear Archives Volume 1
Brothers of the Spear Archives Volume 1
GET MORE TONY
FILMFAXplus #133 [Spring 2013; $9.95] has a great article on Stan
Lee by Friend of the Blog Brett Weiss. As a sort of introduction
to this article, Weiss interviewed me at length about Stan, how Stan's
comics inspired me and my working with Stan. Flipping through the
issue, I see lots of other interesting stuff as well. I’ll likely
have more to say after I read the rest of the magazine. For now,
I’ll leave it at Weiss did good and I didn’t come off too badly in
answering his questions.
SEE MORE TONY
I’ll only be able to squeeze in a few more reminders this week, but
my first convention appearance of the year is Tricon, the Tri-State
Comic-Con on Saturday, April 6, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena,
One Civic Center Plaza in Huntington, West Virginia.
The doors open at 10 am and close at 6 pm. Early Birds can get in
at 9:30 am and VIP at 9 am. Admission is free for children 10 and
I’ll be signing whatever Isabella-written items you’d like signed
and selling/signing copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read. With
me at the convention will be my son Eddie, who writes a wonderful
anime/manga blog called Blog of the Rising Sun.
Other comics guests include Darryl Banks, Lora Innes, Mark Kidwell,
Steve Scott, Beau Smith, Duane Swierczynski, Robert Tinnell, Bill
Tucci and others. I hope to see you there at the event as well.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella