Sunday, May 22, 2011

Retro-Review: Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #4, Part 1!

Yes, we're starting a new comic here with Retro-Reviews, and this time it's Fiction House's Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #4! The cover for this issue was by Joe Doolin. Sheena was, of course, the most famous of the various Tarzan knock-offs, possibly due to her being a distaff imitation! Sheena was introduced in Fiction House's Jumbo Comics.

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The first story in this issue is Sheena in “The Zebra Raiders,” written by W. Morgan Thomas and art by Robert Webb. The tale opens with text letting us know that Loando talking drums were sending a message asking Sheena to come, and so Sheena and her jungle mate, Bob, headed that way. En route, they encounter a wounded sambock (antelope), and stop to help it. Sheena finds that the arrow in its flank indicates that the Tigora tribe she banished long ago has returned again, and now they decide to head to the Tigora's ancient lands.

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Meanwhile, N'dorna, a tall native woman riding a zebra leads an army of other women riding zebras (we learn later these are the Tigora tribe) to Loando, seeking supplies and men to be their slaves! In the village, there are rumors about the impending attack, but all anyone wants to do is pray to their gods. Suddenly, the Zebra Raiders attack! The battle is fierce but short, and the Tigoran women take many male prisoners. One woman escapes to the jungle with her male toddler. Meanwhile, Sheena, Bob, and Chim the monkey take a break in their journey to the Tigora lands, even though it's gorilla territory. A bull ape approaches them fiercely, Bob tries to kill it with one shot and misses, and the gorilla knocks the pistol out of Bob's hand! Sheena successfully kills the gorilla with her dagger, but discover the entire pack of gorillas is after them!

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The intrepid duo (plus monkey) strive to reach a narrow pass, where they climb up and throw down a whole mess of boulders, blocking the way (apparently, these gorillas can't climb over boulders), so they are safe. They continue down the path to Tigora, finally reaching the city, where Bob comments on the architecture. Sheena leads Bob to vine ladders that they can use to climb down to the city below. Once they get down to the city, they meet the woman who'd escaped the Tigora tribe, and she tells them of the attack. Sheena warns her to head to the nearest village, because this IS Tigora! Then, Sheena and Bob move to a clearing nearby, with Bob being left to establish a camp while Sheena and Chim search for food!

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Bob shows he's as useful as Steve Trevor was in all those old Wonder Woman comics, getting knocked out and captured by a Tigoran warrioress! Sheena and Chim come back from their fishing and find their camp deserted, but Sheena spots tracks and follows them! Later, Bob is led into Tigora, his captors thinking how their queen, N'Dorna, will be pleased with this capture. And N'Dorna is well pleased, thinking he may be made better use of than simply being a slave! She looks him over approvingly, and then shows him around to where the captured native men are being used for slave labor. She offers Bob the job of foreman, and he accepts – but he has a plan! He immediately calls on the slaves to rise up against their captors, but they do nothing! Silly Bob, he didn't realize that the natives are drugged!

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Bob awaits whatever death N'Dorna plans for him, but Sheena and Chim have followed the tracks to Tigora, where she hears the death drums beat! Sheena finds a place to spy on the Tigora tribe, and sees the fate that is in store for Bob – he's staked out on the ground, and N'Dorna plans to apparently gallop past on a zebra and throw her dagger at him – or stab him, it's not entirely clear. Or maybe she's going to loose one of the animals that's caged around the arena Bob's staked out in. Anyway, Sheena leaps at her, taking the dagger and freeing Bob. N'Dorna has another dagger, though, and claims to be immortal, and that Sheena will die! The two begin to battle, but then a boulder drops from above!

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N'Dorna figures the gods are angry with Sheena, but in reality, it's those gorillas, throwing boulders down at Sheena and Bob (turnabout is fair play, after all). Some of the boulders smash the cages, releasing the lions. Sheena quickly dispatches one lion, and then tells Bob to grab a zebra so they can escape! Suddenly the cliff wall itself collapses, sending the Tigora tribe as well as the gorillas to their doom! Well, most of the Tigora tribe, anyway. Sheena encourages the survivors to build a new city on a foundation of peace and friendliness! Then Sheena, Bob and Chim head for home, taking the longer route to avoid the rest of the gorillas.
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Well, at least the whole gorilla subplot turned out to have something to do with the story in the end! It's kind of disappointing that Sheena actually had very little of an active role in solving the situation, though. And what happened to all the male slaves? Were most of them killed as well? No mention is made of returning any of them to their homes.

Next time: An untitled Sheena story, in which Sheena battles a white panther, among other things!

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