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  • Greg O'Driscoll

Ka-Zar, Lord of the Guest Appearances!

Cover image for Ka-Zar co-starring: Spiderman #3

A larger square-bound edition of reprint material repackaged as a Ka-Zar comic, this is actually composed of guest appearances from other titles such as Spider-Man and Daredevil. Even in the early days from his first Silver Age appearance in X-Men #10 and onward, Ka-Zar was a reliably solid guest star. He lacked flashy powers, which made him a suitable rival for more street level heroes, but he made up for it by sheer presence and the added visual appeal of his pet sabretooth Zabu.

The new Lord Plunder aka Ka-Zar arrives in New York looking pretty fly.

Written by Stan Lee and drawn by John Romita, an amnesiac Spider-Man wanders the city as Lord Plunder aka Ka-Zar, looking suitably pimptastic in his suit and with Zabu on a leash, arrives in New York. In town to resolve some legal matters relating to his dead father's estate, he is approached by long-time spider hater J. Jonah Jameson. Ka-Zar's ego and love of a challenge is appealed to by the newspaper publisher turned "concerned citizen". In short order, a misinformed (and shirtless) Ka-Zar resolves to bring in the fugitive Spider-Man.

Once Ka-Zar tracks Spider-Man down, a prolonged battle follows. Luckily for Spider-Man, Ka-Zar found and attacked the wall-crawler just before the amnesiac hero revealed his face to a deceptive Jameson claiming to be his biggest fan. Spider-Man spends most of his time trying to escape and elude Ka-Zar, whose tracking skills and acrobatic abilities make him something of a blond-haired Kraven analogue. Even here it is apparent Spidey has been holding back. Patience frayed, when the webslinger finally puts more of his super-strength into it, Ka-Zar gets knocked silly and only Zabu's sudden arrival saves the Lord of the Savage Land.

J. Jonah Jameson is just about to get Spider-Man to unmask when Ka-Zar comes crashing in.

The issue ends with Ka-Zar retrieving a half-drowned Spidey from a lake in Central Park. Ka-Zar got the better of the other hero through tactics as opposed to raw strength. The story finishes with a cliffhanger that the following story in the same issue does nothing to resolve. It turns out this jumbo sized book is more of a highlights reel as opposed to a collection of interconnected stories featuring the guest-star as was often seen with Marvel's b-listers back in the day. In fact, the second story actually goes back in time to an earlier adventure with Daredevil in England.

Ambushed by assassins, Ka-Zar's metal medalion is stolen and brought back to Lord Parnival Plunder, Ka-Zar's evil brother. The medalion is one half of a special key made from vibranium, which opens a crypt containing a larger deposit of the wonder metal. Trained as an engineer, Parnival uses the recovered ore to power a "vibra-gun" that can easily atomize any other machine or weapon. Donning a costume and assuming the name the Plunderer, Ka-Zar's brother is well on his way to super-villainy no matter what Daredevil does to stop him-- yes, Daredevil. This story is from his comic after all and, unlike his appearance in Spider-Man, Ka-Zar is very much a second banana here, serving only as something of a living plot device to justify DD's trip to England and fight with the Plunderer.

Ka-Zar's best moment here is after he has been found stunned by local police and hauled off to jail. "Lord" Plunder happily frames his brutish brother as a wild menace and Ka-Zar is hauled before a judge in chains, but chains cannot hold Ka-Zar. The Lord of the Savage Land breaks the chains in such a way that would do other, stronger superheroes proud, thus providing plenty of fodder for the ongoing discussion of wether or not Ka-Zar's strength is only the peak of human limits or something more.

"This is a court of justice, not an arena!" but no one asked Ka-Zar!

Of course, the moment is shortlived. Just a second after breaking his chains, Ka-Zar is brought down by a barrage of gas cannisters. Meanwhile, Daredevil stops the Plunderer, possibly saves the world from a nuclear missile crisis, and clears Ka-Zar's name. It is Daredevil's book after all. Better luck next time Ka-Zar!

The final story isn't even Ka-Zar related. It's a solo tale of Angel of the X-Men going up against the Dazzler. No, not Alison Blaire. This Dazzler is a supervillain in a weird purple mask. Still, it is an intirguing little tale. With the death of his father, Angel has really gone off the deep end and is showing out.

The winged mutant is something of a hothead and even tells an FBI agent that he will take the law into his own hands, because being a mutant puts him above the laws of man. This is a surprising heresy on the lips of one of Xavier's original apostles of mutant-human coexistence, but maybe it can just be put down to grief making him loopy.

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