Sunday, April 03, 2011

Retro-Review: Zago, Jungle Prince #1!

Time for a new title in Retro-Reviews, and this time I've selected Zago, Jungle Prince #1. This Fox title lasted four issues before getting a makeover and being retitled “My Story” with #5. The Grand Comics Database has very little info about this issue, other than Victor Fox editing, which he did for the entire line, so far as I know! The cover for this issue (artist unknown) features Zago and his female companion beset upon by leopards with the most ridiculous jaws I've ever seen in any comic book!

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Inside, we get the first tale, which is untitled, and the splash page is rendered in two colors (black and magenta), credited to “Jim Landish,” although if he was supposed to be the writer or the artist, I have no idea. A scientist and his wife are working on a fantastic experiment to turn a steel hulk into a human being, which will somehow allow them to take over the world!

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The story goes full-color with the second page, as the scientist and his wife send their robot out into the jungle, where it approaches a native. When the native's spear fails to penetrate the metal of the robot, he intends to tell Zago about this, but the robot kills the native first! The scientist's wife approves of the test, and then shoots her husband, saying he's too old to rule the world! The robot momentarily goes out of control thanks to the control box being dropped, but she picks it up in time to get it back under control again. Meanwhile, a brunette woman wearing a red bikini with black polka-dots (introduced the next page as Wana) is rushing to find Zago, thinking, “It will be difficult to explain this to Zago, but I must tell him what I have seen!”

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When she gets to Zago, she tells him the native (Rono) is dead! Turns out she witnessed the killing by the robot, and she leads him to the corpse. Suddenly, the robot approaches, and Zago rushes at it, brandishing his dagger, which of course has no effect on the robot! It appears the robot kills Zago to Wana's eyes, and the robot carries her off to the woman scientist, who throws her into the jungle. Her henchmen carry Wana off, and the scientist (now introduced as “Miss Ellen,” presumably her first name) leads the army of robots to Zago's “kraal” to destroy everything. Nothing in the jungle seems to be able to stop the robots, not lions, boa constrictors, gorillas, or panthers! Meanwhile, Zago (having only been knocked out, not killed) tells Wana's father about the robots. (Side note: The native chieftain is Wana's father? She's obviously a caucasian woman, while the chieftain is African) Suddenly, the robots enter the kraal, sending everyone into a panic!

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As Zago said, the native spears are useless against the robots, except that one of the robots does move with a spear thrown by Zago! He suspects something, and throws another spear, which causes the robots to leave! Zago pursues them with about a dozen or so spears tucked under his arm. At Miss Ellen's encampment, Wana is tied up to a pole, and some of the robots start stomping towards her. Suddenly, Zago is there, saying he's discovered the “iron men”'s secret! Wana tries to get him to flee, but Zago is confident! Waving the spears he's carrying around, the robots start acting all peculiar! From Zago's explanation (translated from his idiomatic speech), the spear points are magnetic, and it causes the robots to go haywire. The woman scientist meets her end at the hands of one of the robots, and Zago smashes the control box to ensure the robots can never be used again.

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Well, for a Tarzan knock-off, I have to say that Zago's exploits so far are quite a ways away from the typical territory Lord Greystoke and his imitators tended to follow! Who knows why the scientists were building their robots in the jungle? Why would they have built a whole army of them before testing the first one out! Good thing they never considered the effect magnetism would have on the robots, or Zago's career would've been even shorter! One thing I didn't mention is that “Miss Ellen” leads the army of robots by riding inside one of them – not too much differently from Bozo The Iron Man, from a different publisher's books! Another oddity was that all of the women in this story are colored as if they are white women, while all of the local men (save Zago) are colored brown!

Next time: Toni Luck in “Jet Junction”!

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