Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Retro-Review: Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #4, Part 3!

Continuing with Sheena, it's time for another untitled story (the Golden Age was big on untitled stories, it seems, although it makes indexing them rather tricky). This was another W. Morgan Thomas tale, art probably by Robert Webb. I suppose the male readership didn't really care, so long as the art featured lots of Sheena!

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The tale opens at the encampment of Gabreau, who's got some natives working for him, capturing men to serve as Gabreau's slaves. Gabreau is also big on capturing jungle animals and making them grow to four times their size (he's certain the world will marvel at this, although I have no idea what practical use this could be). Somehow, he does this using snake venom, and so he needs his slaves to capture more snakes, which his slaves are scared of (they have this in common with Indiana Jones). He brings some of his slaves to a swamp to collect more, which they do, although some of the men are wounded in the process. Nearby, Sheena, Bob and Chim hear cries of pain, and they come across Gabreau and order him to stop beating the natives (Sheena obviously needed a better system for finding out about trouble... she seems to just happen upon things for the most part. Then again, she kept pretty busy that way, so I guess it worked out for her). Gabreau isn't impressed with Sheena, and Bob delivers a roundhouse left that knocks Gabreau down. Meanwhile, one of the snakes slithers out of its cage and crawls toward him!
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Sheena moves to save Gabreau, but then he pushes her to the snake! The snake immediately starts coiling around her neck (okay, I'm no expert on snakes, but I always thought they either bit or crushed, and not both... this tends to happen a lot in these kind of tales, though). Bob moves quickly to shoot the snake (that's two things he's done in this tale... a record for him). Sheena smacks Gabreau down and he begs for mercy, and promises to leave the jungle. Because this worked so well for Sheena the last several times Sheena let someone go so long as they promised to leave the jungle.

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The now-freed slaves thank Sheena, and take their wounded to their village. Meanwhile, Gabreau of course isn't really leaving the jungle. He tells his men they're going to kill Sheena, but they fear her too much! Gabreau decides to add a potion to their next meal which causes a fever to strike, and he convinces them that the fever is a curse of the spirits who hate Sheena, and it will not go until Sheena is dead. The natives buy this, and hunt Sheena down. Fortunately, Sheena's got Chim, her early warning system, except that this time his warning doesn't help, as Sheena, Chim and Bob are surrounded. They order them to Gabreau's camp, but Sheena breaks free, intending to rescue Bob later. They didn't worry about the monkey. Gabreau orders his men to follow Sheena.

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Sheena's made her way to the camp, however, and moves in to rescue Bob! She's overpowered, however, and Gabreau is confident he's won. However, in the treetops, Chim acts, throwing coconuts at the natives to get them to fight amongst themselves. As the brawl goes along, Chim frees Sheena, who then frees Bob. Gabreau breaks up the fight, and notices that the prisoners are free! Once again, Bob throws a left that knocks Gabreau down again, and this sends the natives running.

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Gabreau's not out, however! He is about ready to shoot them, but Sheena kicks the gun out of his hand. Then Gabreau runs into his hut, where his giant animals are kept (how he ran faster than Sheena can only be explained by “plot development”), and releases his giant lion, which immediately attacks Sheena! Armed only with an axe, she kills the beast. This causes Gabreau to release a huge monkey to attack Sheena, while Bob finishes beating on Gabreau.

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However, it's not Sheena the monkey decides to attack, but Gabreau (kind of a missed opportunity here to have Chim be the one to tell the monkey who to attack)! Bob shoots the monkey, but it's too late for Gabreau anyway. The natives beg Sheena to spare them, and they will do evil no more, and she agrees – fortunately the story ends here, so we don't get to see this backfire on her a second time in the same story!
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Well... this was some caper, wasn't it? Seems kind of stupid to bring in the whole “snake venom” thing to get Sheena involved... wouldn't it have made more sense dramatically to have one of Gabreau's giant animals escape, and have Sheena find it terrorizing natives, and this lead her to Gabreau? Perhaps that variation on the plot had been used previously, however.

We'll see next time if Sheena lets someone go, Chim warns them, and Bob can make himself useful in the next story!

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