reflection

An affecting and brutal chapter, Zac Thompson & Co. continue to impress with a narratively incisive and visually stunning reimagining of Ka-Zar in a modern context.
Writing/Plot
Pencils/Inks
Colors
Letters

Review: KA-ZAR: LORD OF THE SAVAGE LAND #3 – Ka-Zar The Eco-Warrior

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Writer Zac Thompson (Yondu, No One’s Rose) and artists German Garcia and Alvaro Lopez continue their saga of classic adventure mixed with post-colonial dread with Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land #3. With colors from Mat Lopes and Mat Milla and letters from Joe Caramagna, this tense and often brutal chapter strikes dead-center at what Thompson & Co’s focus is with this new version of Ka-Zar. With a sharp, sometimes frightening script and stunning visual work, this is a brilliant climactic chapter.

“THE NEW MASTER OF THE SAVAGE LAND IS REVEALED! Matthew Plunder has betrayed his parents-and now the entire continent is headed for landfill. Welcome to Domovoy’s Domain… You won’t enjoy the experience. Zac Thompson and Germán García reshape a corner of the Marvel Universe in another installment of their pulse-pounding, heart-throbbing adventure through forbidden territory!”

Writing & Plot

Zac Thompson pens a script that blends a classic comics feel with the unflinching shock of confronting contemporary issues. Ka-Zar: Lord Of The Savage Land #3 follows up the tragic ending of the prior chapter with, well, more tragedy. The even more determined Plunder family sets out to hunt down Domovoy, the source of this biotechnical blight plaguing the Savage Land. While I would never spoil anything, let’s just say they bite off more than they can chew.

The parallels drawn up between the Plunder family’s attempted colonizing of the Savage Land and what this biotech plague is doing are brilliant and disturbing. The notion of tech perverting nature in a sort of ecosystem-based colonization is a gem of a concept. What I’m looking forward to most as this series continues is this concept being explored more. There are a couple moments that could come across as a bit of preachy veganism. However, if this is the case, I find that in context they make sense.

Dialogue

Thompson’s dialogue sensibilities here swing between poetic, almost psychedelic narrations and Silver Age-tinged dialogue. The vision/flashback scenes are colored by the trauma  Ka-Zar feels in regards to his past. This comes out as animals reciting their pain in evocative, beautifully penned passaged describing agony. On the other hand, in-story character dialogue is a finely tuned mix of classic and contemporary sensibilities. Especially in the way Matthew talks, there’s a sense of internal narrative to the character’s words. It’s the kind of writing that dominated comics for decades, from the Golden Age adventure books that inspired Ka-Zar to the character’s original appearance by Lee and Kirby. Much of the time though, sentence structure and word choice feel mostly naturalistic and contemporary. There’s a lot to like about this script, and I’m curious to see what Thompson has coming next.

Art Direction

German Garcia and Alvaro Lopez draw the absolute hell out of Ka-Zar: Lord Of The Savage Land #3. The combination of their unique pencils and action-focused panel direction makes for a gorgeous and immersive visual experience. The thin penciling gives the characters softer features. There’s an almost rounded aesthetic to the panels that is rare among mainstream comic books. The animations and detail are greatly drawn, yet in a more subtle manner than what you may be used to. Where many contemporary “Big 2” books utilize thicker lines with more jagged features and intensely detailed backgrounds, this comic sticks out with its smooth character-focused approach. The environments, while gorgeous or threatening depending on where on the Savage Land we are, have a sort of homogenous approach directed to them.

When focused in on the Plunders, the land morphs into a nebulous wall of nature. Details can still be seen, but its as if a neon haze overtakes everything. Whether intended or not, I like this touch as a parallel to how Kevin must see the Savage Land. This perspective shifts when Ka-Zar needs to borrow the abilities of a nearby animal, a la Animal Man. Here, the close-up details of various organisms, from hordes of ants to fish, work together like a mural.

Colors

Much of what makes this aesthetic so striking is the coloring of Mat Lopes (The Dreaming) and Mat Milla. Their work in Ka-Zar uses a less saturated, almost watercolor-like style that focuses on lighter tones of the chosen colors. This isn’t to say that the book is light on color.” though. On the contrary, every panel sings with their work. Most panels veer towards choosing one overall tone (brown/tan in deserts, blue/purple at night). The vision sequences however are where they get especially creative. These panels are flooded with an organic mass of color. This approach works especially well due to the mind-bending visions Kevin is having in his dreams. Every aspect of Ka-Zar’s visual experience is unique excellence.

Verdict

Ka-Zar: Lord Of The Savage Land #3 is a thrilling, gorgeous, and unexpectedly brutal chapter in this mini-series. Zac Thompson’s script doubles down on the harm that has been done to the Savage Land over time, and while it can be a bit preachy, it is wholly compelling. The visuals from German Garcia, Alvaro Lopez, Mat Lopes, and Mat Milla are uniquely stunning in ways not often seen in mainstream comics. This is a truly special series coming out of the Marvel comics lineup, so be sure to grab this issue today!

 

Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.

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