Ka-Zar is such a peculiar character in the Marvel universe, in part because he hasn’t been done justice in a very long time. Zac Thompson and Germán García aim to fix that at a time when Ka-Zar has been killed and recently brought back to life. Now with new abilities, the first issue of the series is out this Wednesday and sheds some light on an exciting new take for the character.
The first thing you’ll notice in Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land is how beautiful Savage Land is thanks to García’s pencils and Matteus Lopes’ colors. The lush jungle is cast in warm yellows, which is the perfect temperature. The artists are both working in unison to create a look and feel that is all its own, making the Savage Land feel new here.
Then of course you’ll notice the captions, as Thompson puts us in the head of Ka-Zar who is enduring a nightmare. This is a spoiler-free review aside from what was shown in the preview, but it’s clear there is a foreboding unrest in Ka-Zar. Given the state of this new pandemic world we live in, it’s rather easy to connect with Ka-Zar who wakes from his nightmare looking tired and miserable. Due to his recent death, Ka-Zar is going through a bit of a self-discovery as he manages his new abilities and identity as the leader of the Savage Land.
Outside of Ka-Zar, Thompson also explores Shanna, who is also going through a bit of a discovery, and Ka-Zar’s son Matthew. Complete with domestic life moments, it’s quite clear Thompson is exploring a unique corner of the Marvel universe that’s ripe for development. Ka-Zar is a man of nature, right down to his clothing, and it’s interesting to see Thompson’s take after his trippy and disturbing series I Breathed a Body. There’s a lot of potential here for more exploration, making the issue exciting for those looking for something a little different.
There’s also action to be had in the first issue, and García knocks it out of the park with a somewhat unconventional style for a superhero book that blends fantasy and super-heroics well. García’s art has a retro feel to it, so Shanna practically looks like she was plucked out of a 70s Macy’s catalog, which further makes this world all its own.
Blended with some very loud sound effects from Joe Caramagna, the book goes hard with the auditory visuals. A “Groooaaarrrg” in the foreground and a “BOOM BOOM BOOM” in the background add interesting layers to the visuals you don’t normally see.
These elements give the book strong fantasy and pulp vibes. Lopes’s colors add a lot of life to the imagery, with warm reds and purples that create a lively look. The heavy use of yellow adds heat to the book that is instantly cooled when cool blue water is introduced. The book is practically washed in a color scheme that makes it different from anything else.
Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land is visually stunning, luminous, and delivers on strong pulp fantasy. There’s also a scary underbelly to it as Ka-Zar attempts to rediscover himself, but at what cost to his family while danger looms?
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