Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #104. Kraven, Gog and Ka-Zar

Amazing Spider-Man #104, Kraven the Hunter, Ka-Zar, Zabu, Gog and the Savage land(A not noticeably accurate representation of what goes on within the comic. Cover from January 1972.)

"The Beauty and the Brute"

Story by Roy Thomas
Art by Gil Kane
Inks by Frank Giacoia
Lettering by Artie Simek

Spinning spiders, I'm back, after a six month absence, and poor old Spidey's still stuck in that quicksand. How could I have abandoned him at such a vital time? Well, thanks to the vagaries of misfiring technology, all-too easily. But how will he get out of this mess?

Happily, Ka-Zar's there to rescue him and the pair set off together to deal with Kraven.

Bearing in mind that he's already come across Mary Jane - way back when he was trying to do away with Norman Osborn - it is a bit baffling that Kraven's decided he wants to take Gwen as his mate. You'd've thought sweet Gwendolyne'd seem a bit insipid after MJ but still, he clearly works on the principle that beggars can't be choosers.

Despite Roy Thomas' tendency towards escapism with these tales, it's a surprisingly nasty outing, with Ka-Zar being hanged by the neck at one point and the poor hapless Gog drowning in quicksand of a sort that only seems to exist in the land of fiction. Still, it's nice to see a more human side to J Jonah Jameson, even if it is forced on him by the seeming death of Peter and Gwen. Plus, Thomas and Kane neatly avoid the problem of having to explain to the other characters how Spider-Man and Petey both happen to be in the Savage Land at the same time. They do it by contriving to have no one notice that Spidey's there - apart from one panel when JJ thinks he's spotted him then decides it's just his paranoia taking over.

This "invisibility" does pose the question of why Spidey's actually present in this tale at all; as it might as well be a Ka-Zar solo outing. Admittedly, Spidey does dispose of Gog but it's Ka-Zar who disposes of #1 villain Kraven, and the truth is Zabu could probably have despatched the monster in exactly the same manner as our hero does.

Maybe it's my imagination but Gog's origin seems to be a nod to Ray Harryhausen's classic 1950s' movie Twenty Million Miles to Earth. For some reason, this reference makes me very happy.

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