Tarzan #212 (DC issue #6, September 1972)
Joe Kubert: Words, Pencils, and Inks
Doug: A long time ago, back in the days of the BAB Two-In-Ones, I reviewed the first four issues of Joe Kubert's Tarzan run at DC Comics. For those not in the know, DC acquired the Tarzan license from Gold Key, and rather than renumber the series from a #1 (wow, those marketing guys at National Periodical Publications couldn't find work today!) they chose to just continue the Gold Key sequence. As you see above, this is actually the sixth DC issue; for whatever reason the fifth issue didn't look very good to me. And I don't mean the story -- I'll be using Dark Horse's Tarzan: The Joe Kubert Years Archives as my source material, and at least in that book the art was muddy. But this one today is a beauty! Let's see --
Doug: Joe Kubert's inaugural storyline of the Lord of the Jungle adapted Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes. Today's fare is based on a later Burroughs novel, Jungle Tales of Tarzan. As we begin, many denizens of the jungle have taken note of activity by a local tribe of the gomangani (Black Africans). The natives are seen digging a huge hole in the earth; but what is curious to the ape-man is that they then covered it with sticks and grasses and leaves! Upon closer inspection, Tarzan noted that there were sharpened sticks lining the bottom of the hole. Still unclear of their motivations, our hero decides to go and consult Tantor the elephant.
Doug: Tantor and Tarzan, we are told, have a compatibility unlike that of any other jungle creatures. While Tarzan is not sure that Tantor understands the language of the great apes, he enjoys the giant's company. Later, Tarzan takes leave of his friend to rejoin his tribe, still unsure of the purpose of the pit. As the day goes on, Tarzan suddenly hears the drums of the gomangani, and the panicked trumpet of Tantor! Suddenly it becomes frightfully clear what the great hole is for. Taking to the trees, the ape man traverses the miles quickly through the upper terrace. Sensing the urgency of Tantor's dilemma, Tarzan lights on the ground and plans to finish his trek through the fringe savanna. However, his appearance has caused fright for the birds of Buto, the rhinoceros. It is Buto who now charges across the veldt. With no time for delay, the ape man avoids the conflict in an effort to save his friend. As Tarzan emerges again from the trees and grasses, he finds that he is just in time to divert Tantor from certain doom. But as the gray giant turns to crash back into the jungle, Tarzan loses his balance and himself falls into the hole. Knocked unconscious, the gomangani see him and determine that where there should have been an elephant and now lay a man, the only explanation is that this must be the evil one of the forest.
Doug: The chief, M'Bonga, orders his fellows to bind the white devil. Spirited back to the village, Tarzan is bound in the center of the boma -- one hand each roped to a post inserted into the earth. As the sun sets, it's clear what is going to happen. Huge pots of water are set to boiling, and dried kindling is placed about the ape man's feet. After discerning the situation and it gravity, Tarzan throws back his head and cuts loose with the cry of the bull ape (and yes, I completely saw Johnny Weissmuller in my mind as I read that). The crowd instantly grew silent. Tarzan, hearing not a sound from the aid he'd just requested, went with Plan B. In a superhuman effort, he wrenched his right arm free from its binding, uprooting the post in the process. The tribe immediately descended upon him. Fighting as an animal backed into a corner, Tarzan dealt much damage before succumbing to the superior weight of the numbers against him. But as M'Bonga moved to strike the death blow, Tarzan's aid did arrive -- Tantor crashed through the walls of the boma, scattering the Africans. Using his mighty trunk, the elephant hoisted his near-unconscious friend atop his bony head and left the enclosure. As he neared the jungle, M'Bonga stepped into the giant's path. Tarzan groggily urged Tantor to spare the chief, for his bravery. The pachyderm seemed to understand, and continued on his path after circumventing the warrior. Tarzan was saved, and M'Bonga was left to wonder why the large beast had not killed him.
Doug: I've not been disappointed in any of the Kubert Tarzan stories I've read -- even the fifth installment that I'd mentioned at the top was a decent-enough story. For some reason it seemed that Kubert had received an art assist (uncredited) in places, as there were seemingly multiple styles on display. Anyway, this is a nice adaptation of a Burroughs vignette. Kubert's care in depicting the animals is on par with anything John Buscema has done -- high praise indeed from me. Kubert's script is somewhat minimalist, often letting the art do the talking. The pace is good, the action exciting, and overall I can guarantee you that reading today's story was time well spent!
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Karen and Doug met on the Avengers Assemble! message board back in September 2006. On June 16 2009 they went live with the Bronze Age Babies blog, sharing their love for 1970s and '80s pop culture with readers who happen by each day. You'll find conversations on comics, TV, music, movies, toys, food... just about anything that evokes memories of our beloved pasts!
Doug is a high school social science teacher and department chairman living south of Chicago; he also does contract work for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is married with two adult sons, also both married.
Karen originally hails from California and now works in scientific research/writing in the Phoenix area. She often contributes articles to Back Issue magazine. She is married. She hangs out with Joe Biden occasionally.
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Back Issue #45
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