Obscure DC Characters: K-L

Karkan the Mighty a.k.a. Super-Savage

Written by John Censullo

SUPERBOY [1st series] #183 (March 1972) "Karkan the Mighty — Lord of the Jungle!"

In a parallel universe, Krypton explodes and the infant named Kal-El is rocketed to Earth. However, through a twist of fate, the spacecraft lands in the African jungle instead of on the outskirts of Smallville. The crash terrifies the local gorillas, but later their curiosity leads them to investigate. Two of the tribe discover the infant. The baby is crying due to the pain caused by a chunk of green kryptonite lodged in the ship. One of the apes tells the other, a female named Keena, to leave him. Keena will not abandon him for the serpents to eat.

Keena, a barren female, raises the child as her own, naming him Karkan the Mighty in the gorilla tongue. Years pass and Karkan grows into a powerful and resourceful teenager. When famine strikes, he brings food from afar; he easily defeats threatening predators such as lions; and he eventually learns to fly. When he is attacked by the giant python, Gorg, he refuses to kill it, allowing the beast to flee.

One day, Karkan asks his mother Keena why he is mightier than the others. She brings him to the crashed ship and shows him the colorful "pelts" (blankets) which he wore. Karkan approaches the site and cringes in pain due to the green kryptonite. Keena quickly takes him away from the "bad place". Later, when he recovers, Karkan takes the "pelts" and decides to create clothing, so that the others will no longer call him the "hairless one". As he tries to figure out how to cut the material, his heat vision triggers for the first time, burning the fibers.

Shortly, Karkan finishes and dons his new garment. He wears on his chest an S-like shape, the mark of the python Gorg, as a symbol of his might. However, instead of being more accepting of him, the other gorillas believe he is growing stranger with each day. Sometimes they taunt him, saying he should join the other hairless ones that they occasionally see on safaris. This only angers Karkan.

One day, as he roams far from home, Karkan spots a group of men loading captured animals onto a boat. Due to an inborn sympathy for the helpless, he decides he must free them. Karkan flies at the humans, startling them. Just then, a sudden flood sweeps many jungle animals down river toward the boat. Karkan watches as the men release the captured animals onto high ground and decides that they are good beings. He wonders if he is one of them after all. Karkan gathers the hundreds of animals in the river and flies them to safety. The men leave to report back what they saw.

Some months later, another safari invades the jungle, closer to Karkan's home. They too come with cages. Karkan is unaware that this safari has an evil purpose. A beautiful young woman named Toni asks her Uncle Karl when they will be heading back to the coast. She says they have trapped enough poor animals. Karl replies that they've just started. He has collected a dozen specimens of beasts that are practically extinct, and they're worth a fortune. Toni protests, but Karl ignores her.

The next day, they hunt for a couple of baby gorillas. They capture one, which cries out for its mother. Karkan restrains the berserk mother, believing that the humans are saving the baby from a flood. Karkan "helps" by flying more infant gorillas to them in a cage of his making. He leaves them and flies away. The humans are dumbfounded. Toni wonders who the handsome stranger is and where he got his amazing powers. Karl doesn't care, he only wants to capture him, stating he could make millions exhibiting the amazing man-ape all over the world.

Later, as they continue the hunt, the safari stumbles onto the crashed spacecraft. Karl and Toni conclude that the wild stranger is from another world. At that moment, Karkan flies in, wondering why the humans are in his secret place, the place of pain. He suddenly collapses in agony. Karl notices that Karkan didn't appear hurt until he neared the ship, and soon finds the green kryptonite. The heartless hunter captures the poor teen and imprisons him in a cage, with the green k close enough to keep him weakened but alive.

The next day, the humans leave in their boat. The apes follow Karkan and their younglings along the shoreline. Later, Toni sneaks over to the cage and tries to communicate with Karkan. She gets him to understand her name, and speaks his own in turn. Karl appears and grabs her, telling her to stay away. They struggle and accidentally knock the green kryptonite overboard. Karkan quickly recovers and breaks free, pushing the boat ashore as bullets bounce harmlessly off of his body. Karl vanishes, but Karkan notices that Toni is cheering him on.

After Karkan frees the young ones, he tells the gorillas that he will guide them home, but Keena says he cannot come, that he is no longer one of them. After the apes leave, Toni senses Karkan's despair. She befriends him, telling him that they will return to her world together. She kisses him, and he flies her towards the United States.

SUPERBOY [1st series] #188 (July 1972) "Super-Savage — Master of Metropolis"

Toni has brought Karkan back to her home in Metropolis. He slowly learns to speak English. In the short time that he has been in civilization, Karkan has tried to help the humans, but they only see him as a berserk wild man, referring to him as Super-Savage. One day, he attacks a "metal beast" (a crane) at a construction site. Karkan believes he is saving the people present by destroying the "beast", instead they begin firing guns at their would-be protector, which totally confuses him.

Elsewhere, Toni's Aunt Vera wonders why she ever let Toni go to Africa with her Uncle Karl, who is still missing. Toni states that she believes Karkan will soon become Earth's greatest hero. Also present is the family lawyer, J.R. Torrens, who has important business with Vera and Toni, namely the reading of Toni's father's will. Toni questions how Torrens knows her father is really dead. He responds by saying her father, Eric Davis, vanished seven years ago, so he is legally dead. A successful inventor, he left a fortune, and appointed Torrens as his executor.

Torrens reads the will. Eric Davis left a mere $10,000 dollars to his sister Vera. The remainder of his estate plus all unsold inventions are left to his daughter, under the advice and guidance of Torrens. Vera and Torrens quibble, then Torrens finally goes to open the large vault, but then realizes he has lost the combination. Toni calls Karkan, who hears her with his super-hearing. When the mighty teen arrives, Toni asks him to open the vault, and he easily tears open the metal door. Vera asks Toni to send Karkan away because it is private family business that they are tending to.

Soon after Karkan leaves, Vera releases knockout gas into the room. She loots almost a million dollars from the vault and plans on heading to South America. Not long after Vera disappears, Karkan spots the two unconscious figures and rushes back to the room, expelling the gas with his super-breath. Torrens finds a note for Toni and a small statuette in the vault. The note says that Toni now holds the key to her future and the future of mankind. When Torrens prepares to call the police, Toni tells him she won't have her aunt go to jail, and that he should let her keep the money.

Toni recognizes the statuette as a miniature of a statue in the park which her father planned on donating. She has Karkan fly her there. When they arrive at the site, Toni explains that they stopped work on the statue after her father vanished. Karkan accidentally pulls the arm of the miniature, activating a switch which slides the statue to the side, revealing underground steps. In a subterranean cavern, Toni finds her father's secret inventions. He never revealed them to anyone because he felt the world wasn't ready for them.

Toni turns on a scanner designed to check on danger points throughout Metropolis. They are alerted of a fire in the subway. Karkan streaks to the scene with Toni to save the trapped passengers. Karkan pulls up the street, and lifts out the subway cars. Fearful bystanders say it's the flying madman again ... Super-Savage! Policemen begin firing at the misunderstood hero. Toni tries to stop them, saying he was trying to save the commuters, but the police have orders to shoot on sight. Karkan flies way from such an "evil place".

Toni later locates Karkan in her father's hidden cavern. She informs him that they caught up with her Aunt Vera. She then tells Karkan that there is so much he needs to learn about people, until then he can live in her father's secret workshop. She'll teach him how to master his powers, to use them for mankind. Karkan angrily replies that this "mankind" imprisons its fellow creatures in cages; people rob and kill each other for greed; and they even tried to slay him when he wanted to help them. Before Karkan flies back to his jungle home, he tells Toni that he will keep watch over her with his telescopic vision. If she needs him, he will come.

SUPERBOY [3rd series] #61 (April 1999) "Hypertension! Part Two: Superboy Of Infinite Worlds"

As the post-Crisis Superboy tumbles through Hypertime, he views numerous alternate realities, including that of Karkan the Mighty.

Killer Kelly I

Written by Richard Meyer

State Prison was the scene of a multitude of law enforcement officials and reporters gathering to witness the execution of Killer Kelly. Also on hand was the man who brought Kelly to justice, the Vigilante. In a strange oath, Kelly vowed to come back from beyond the grave to get his revenge on the Vigilante, which the mystery-man mused about after the killer had been declared dead.

Unknown to the Vigilante or anyone else witnessing the execution, Kelly had arranged things so that a mere two hundred volts had passed through his body, and had forced the officiating doctor to have him declared dead and cremated (Kelly had threatened the doctor's family). The murderer now set about putting his plan for revenge into play. Several nights later, Kelly and his gang robbed the leading bank in Preston City, killing at least one guard in the process.

The next day, Greg Sanders, the radio star known as the Prairie Troubadour, posed for some publicity pictures, his photographer saying that maybe they could make him as famous as the Vigilante. On the location they were doing the shoot. A steer got loose and threatened to overrun and kill a young boy. Greg jumped in with the lasso the photographer had given him as a prop and hogtied the steer. Later that evening, after Greg's radio broadcast, he met up with blues singer Betty Stuart outside the studios. Betty commented on how she had read that he was a hero in the paper. Greg was more fascinated about an article in the newspaper that claimed that Killer Kelly's fingerprints had been found at the site of a bank robbery.

At home that night, Greg changed into his other identity, that of the Vigilante, and prepared for what he thought would be Kelly's next target if he was still alive, that being the ball at the Van Ardsley's estate that night. He went to the Van Ardsleys' ball dressed as the Vigilante, with all of the guests thinking it was a clever costume. Kelly and his gang came dressed as pirates and soon had everyone freeze and wanted all the jewels thrown on the floor. The Vigilante moved in, and had the element of surprise working for him since Kelly initially didn't believe that he was the real McCoy. As the mystery-man put several of Kelly's men out of action, the villain headed for the rear of the room and grabbed Betty Stuart as a hostage to get out of the building. Outside, he tossed Betty aside and leapt into a waiting car and sped off. The Vigilante followed, riding on the sideboard of a taxi, which pulled up alongside the car. The Vigilante jumped across and into the vehicle, but Kelly was prepared and knocked him unconscious.

The Vigilante woke up in a makeshift death chamber. Kelly's man Slats was watching over the "execution" of the hero with gas. He told the Vigilante how Kelly had threatened the doctor's family to get himself "executed" safely, and started the gas into the room and left. Slats had tied the hero up with rawhide, and finding a bucket of water in the room, was able to free himself by wetting the rawhide so that it would stretch a little. He plugged the gas nozzle with his kerchief, and then waited for Slats to return to inspect his act of vengeance. Slats entered and the Vigilante threw himself feet first at the thug, knocking him out.

The phone rang, and the Vigilante impersonated the thug to his boss, who told him of their next work, which was a safe-cracking job. The Vigilante hurried to the site and captured Kelly with his lariat, tossing him and several of his men out the window and onto the telephone wires below. He called the police and Kelly was taken back to jail (and presumably, another execution). The Prairie Troubadour was out and about the next day, acting much the drugstore cowboy, much to Betty's dismay.

Appearances:

  • Action Comics #42

King Faraday (and Danger Trail)

King Faraday has been on the scene for quite awhile in the DC Universe, and has been for probably a lot longer than the average fan realizes. Faraday was a recurring character throughout a lot of the government & espionage-oriented super-hero titles of the eighties, including CHECKMATE, SUICIDE SQUAD, and CAPTAIN ATOM. He was "retconned" into being the mentor/contact for Nightshade when she was brought over from Charlton Comics with Captain Atom. Faraday also starred in the four-issue limited series DANGER TRAIL in the early nineties. But before all that activity, King Faraday was in virtual limbo for over twenty years ... and technically a bit longer than that. Originally, Faraday was the one of the stars of the original DANGER TRAIL series, which lasted five issues in the 1950's (and is now highly prized by comic collectors). He was created by Robert Kanigher (best known for the Metal Men and Sgt. Rock) and Carmine Infantino (best known for the Silver Age Flash, Batman, and the Elongated Man).

Faraday was a very competent and fairly dashing secret agent working for the U.S. Government's counter-espionage forces. He traveled the world, ending up in a variety of exotic locales. And, even in those pre-James Bond movie days, he got his share of attractive ladies as his companions on his journeys. Now, I doubt that there are really that many folks out there who really remember reading the original DANGER TRAIL, but many do remember those adventures because of an auspicious reprinting of them. DC Comics' published a landmark series called SHOWCASE, which was a try-out title - characters were given a short run (usually one to three issues) to see if their popularity and sales justified giving them a regular feature or comic of their own. Such Silver Age stalwarts as the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, the Metal Men, Adam Strange, and the Inferior Five earned their comic book wings in this manner.

The May-June 1964 issue of SHOWCASE was the 50th issue of the title, which is normally a landmark for any title (especially nowadays). That issue was the first of two featuring 'I-Spy', each reprinting two adventures of King Faraday. I don't think a lot of folks at the time realized these tales were just reprints of stories from DANGER TRAIL (and WORLD'S FINEST COMICS, to be accurate). Supposedly, a feature known as Yankee Doodle was to have headlined the issue, but it was dropped at the last moment, and the DANGER TRAIL reprints ran instead. SHOWCASE #50 did have a four-page framing sequence by Kanigher and Infantino, which may have caused a few people to think it was full of new material, but the dramatic changes in Carmine's style in the ensuing years is readily apparent to the trained eye.

There were four King Faraday stories reprinted in the two issues of SHOWCASE: "Spy Train" (which had Faraday on the Orient Express), "Hangman's House", "Hunters of the Whispering Gallery", and "Thunder Over Thailand". the introductory sequence introduces readers to King Faraday and his job as a spy for our government. the important officials that King meets give him the codename of 'I-Spy', and try their best to dissuade him from taking the thankless job ... but King Faraday is definitely their man!

- "Spy Train" (originally presented in WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #64): King Faraday boards the fabled Orient Express to search for a spy who has stolen vital information from our government. the catch: No one knows exactly who the spy is or exactly what he stole, making him doubly dangerous. King gets to meet the lovely actress Vina Flora, as well as almost getting killed several times until he finally deduces the identity of the traitor in his midst.

- "Hangman's House" (originally presented in DANGER TRAIL [1st series] #2): King meets up with old friend Jimmy West, who needs the ace spy's help to find a missing scientist who is being held captive in the legendary Hangman's House. When Jimmy is killed by the same men, King heads into danger to avenge his friend and collect the scientist before the fiends can torture all of our secrets out of him.

- "Hunters of the Whispering Gallery" (originally presented in DANGER TRAIL [1st series] #1): King overhears a chance remark in the train station that indicates that someone is about to be murdered. That someone turns out to be a lovely redhead, who is being pursued by a man from her past who wants to eliminate everyone who could possibly identify him to those pursuing him for his heinous war crimes. One possible error in the 're-mix': the ending of the first story in this issue features King telling readers that 'I-Spy' was concluding in that issue "for now". I think this message was supposed to be at the end of the book, so perhaps the editors laid out the stories in this issue in the wrong order.

- "Thunder Over Thailand" (originally presented in DANGER TRAIL [1st series] #3): A man falls out of a skyscraper window and King finds a strange elephant charm clutched in his dead hand, leading the ace spy to Thailand and into the hands of a Nazi madman with a terrible new weapon.

DANGER TRAIL was also the name of a very underrated limited series that DC Comics put out in 1992. I don't believe it was very well received financially, and I am almost sure it was critically panned in it's day because of the creative team (and the sensibilities of the time), but this series is a little gem. A four-issue spy story that manages to entwine a whole bunch of archetypical espionage situations with a likeable hero and a very evil villain, DANGER TRAIL was a fun book.

DANGER TRAIL featured DC's version of James Bond, the operative named King Faraday. In the 1950's, Faraday starred in the original DANGER TRAIL series, a short-lived adventure anthology with a spy bent. the series was reprinted in part in SHOWCASE #50 and 51, as 'I-Spy'. Faraday has since been used infrequently but prominently as a major member of the DC Universe's intelligence community. He acted as a contact and mentor for Eve Eden, the former Charlton Comics character known as Nightshade, and has had dealings with Captain Atom, Amanda Waller (and her Suicide Squad), Sarge Steel, Checkmate, and nearly every other espionage organization. DANGER TRAIL was his first real solo outing since the fifties.

DANGER TRAIL: "The Serpent in the Garden File"

After preventing the assassination of President Ortega of San Madeira, King Faraday returned to the Washington Office of the Central Bureau of Intelligence to get his next assignment from Sarge Steel (who was Secretary of the Office of Meta-Humans). Faraday was to escort Natalia Sokoloff from Istanbul back to Washington. Natalia, the former personal assistant to Professor Gregor Mendekov, a missing nuclear physicist. She claimed to have important information on those responsible for the professor's disappearance, but would not talk until she was in Washington, as she believed her life was in danger.

Faraday met up with Natalia in a safe house, which ended up being not quite so safe as they had to escape a number of men intent on taking Natalia. Faraday and Natalia got away, and got on the Orient Express out of Istanbul wearing disguises. Faraday was again accosted, this time by the porter. Faraday dispatched him off the train, only to find himself caught between two gunsels on the roof of the train.

After using the time-honored tradition of ducking to dispatch his pursuers, Faraday returned to Natalia, who became extremely upset when Faraday absent-mindedly traced the shape of a tattoo he saw on one of his attackers on the carriage window. She attacked her companion and then jumped off the moving train, forcing Faraday to follow. By the time he caught up with her and calmed her down, the train moved on without them, forcing them to walk to the next stop. A helicopter attacked them as they traveled, but luckily Faraday got the pilot to stray too near to some power lines and the copter went down in flames. In the next town, Faraday and Natalia came to, they were again attacked but managed to escape in a power boat.

Word of Natalia's escape had reached the mastermind searching for her, who was in fact the despotic Kobra. Meanwhile, Faraday and Natalia reached Venice, where Faraday's old friend Pietro gave them some assistance. He also sold them out to Kobra's agents (and ended up dying in a hail of gunfire). Faraday used a shattered fish tank and a broken lamp to electrocute the thugs and they escaped onto the canals in a motorboat. Faraday managed to contact Sarge Steel and arrange for a pick-up in Paris, atop the Eiffel Tower.

After a rather uneventful night in the back of a supply truck (well, uneventful in terms of not being attacked, anyway ...), Faraday and Natalia reached Paris and the Tower, only to find their contact, Dupree, already dead. Kobra's men descended on them and Natalia was taken. Faraday pursued, jumping after the men onto a rope from a helicopter, only to have the belt of the man he was clinging to break, causing him to fall from the upper deck of the Eiffel Tower ...

In true James Bond fashion, Faraday managed to glide on the air currents to land atop a nearby hot air balloon. Sarge Steel met up with Faraday as he made it back to solid ground. Meanwhile, Natalia was brought before Kobra. the madman had been gathering nuclear experts from around the world to build the "ultimate weapon", a nuclear device that, when detonated, yields no harmful radiation (I assume that the explosive power would still be present, or this goes from 'ultimate weapon' to 'really stupid weapon'), in order to bring about the Kali Yuga (the age of Chaos) which was Kobra's eternal quest. Professor Mendekov told Kobra that he couldn't function without his assistant, which is why the manhunt for Natalia was commenced.

Faraday and Steel went to the French branch of the CBI (a very James Bondian operation) and was able to track the whereabouts of Kobra's stronghold by the unique radiation that one of his deceased agents was emitting, which was Chernobyl. Faraday and Steel accompanied the Russian military force that was storming Kobra's base. Faraday confronted Kobra and Kobra was forced to flee in his Ark. Faraday had booby-trapped the vehicle earlier and it exploded. Faraday and Natalia went back to finish the task of getting her safely to Washington.

Appearances:

  • Danger Trail [1st series] #1-5
  • World's Finest Comics #64
  • Showcase #50-51 (reprints)
  • Batman #313-314,333-335
  • Ms. Tree Quarterly #8
  • Danger Trail [2nd series] #1-4
  • more

Comments

King Faraday was recurring in the Marv Wolfman run on BATMAN in the 80s and I think appeared once with Robin in NEW TEEN TITANS.

King Faraday was also retconned-in as Nightshade's trainer and lover in an issue of SECRET ORIGINS (to senselessly replace Captain Atom) though that's just as likely been re-retconned out by now.

I was thrilled to read that summary of the Dingbats/ Newsboy Legion/ Green Team crossover, it sounds hilarious.

Kings of the Wild

SHOWCASE #2's "Kings of the Wild" featured various characters in wildlife adventures. One episode ("Rider of the Winds") was reprinted in DC SPECIAL #5.

Knights of the Galaxy

Based on the Knights of the Galaxy stories that I've read, Artho, Ora and Lyle were the only members named. The group was in MYSTERY IN SPACE #1-8, the last three episodes of which were reprinted in PULP FICTION LIBRARY: MYSTERY IN SPACE, DC SUPER-STARS #2 and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #85, respectively.

The Knights were mentioned in TWILIGHT #1, no longer a part of DC continuity, and popped up in that great issue of STARMAN (#55) that appeared last year.

Kolossal Kate Krasher

(alias, real name unknown)
First appearance: "Flashing Wheels" by Cary Bates (Script), Irv Novick (Pencils), Dick Giordano (Inks), FLASH vol. 1, #211 (Dec. 1971).

Synopsis: While researching a story on a new Roller Derby sensation, Iris Allen joins an opposing team and goes up against Kate Krasher, a woman Barry Allen describes as “an Amazon” who “must weigh a hefty 300 pounds.” Kate promptly clobbers Iris. Semi-conscious, Iris looks at Krasher as she skates away, but instead sees a “grotesque, monstrous alien.”

The next night, Central City is rocked by an earthquake. The Flash spends the evening shoring up buildings, cleaning up debris and rescuing folks from peril. He then visits the Institute of Science where he learns earthquakes are impossible in Central City because of the many layers of strong bedrock beneath it. He also learns that the epicenter of the quake was Broadway and Main, the site of the Roller Derby rink.

Investigating at the rink, Flash discovers oddly glowing roller skates that contain strange devices. Struck in the head, Flash identifies his attacker as the same creature Iris saw just before he blacks out.

Flash awakens to find himself trapped by Krasher, who explains she is an alien sent to destroy Earth. Her own world is dying from “natural and unnatural causes,” she her people have decided to build a new planet. But first, they must acquire raw materials by blowing up Earth.

The Roller Derby rink is actually the top of a “gigantic energi-coil” which winds down to Earth’s core. The motion of the special skates going round and round on the rink’s floor powers to coil, she explains, and soon, it will have enough power to cause internal vibrations that will shake Earth to pieces.

Flash breaks his bonds and dons a pair of skates. Skating counter-clockwise at super-speed, he hopes to undo the damage Krasher has caused. Then, as the Earth trembles, Flash realizes he has been going the wrong way and has actually sped up the end of the world. Quickly, Flash grabs nine more pairs of skates and begins skating clockwise so fast that he is able to keep all 10 pairs going at once. Earth is saved and Krasher trips over a pair of skates, allowing Flash to capture her and turn her over to the police.

It should be pointed out that Krasher is called Kolossal Kate on the cover only. The name “Kolossal” Kate Krasher appears on a poster, but otherwise, she is referred to as “Kate Krasher” incessantly throughout the story.

Also interesting is the fact that the Kate on the cover, drawn by Giordano, bears no resemblance to the character in the book. One the cover she is sneering at Flash, but still looks female. In the book, she appears to be a husky, ugly man.

Was this Kolossal Kate’s only appearance? As the police take Katie away, Flash muses, “Something tell me I haven’t seen the last of ëKate Krasher’ — or her race of determined Earth-killers.”

Had he?

Kong

Hungry and cold, the young blonde boy passed through the snow and crept into the cave where the clan of Cro-Magnons slept. It would mean his death if any of the tribe was awakened, particularly the sadistic chieftain Trog. Luck was with the boy and he escaped with a flaming torch and a mammoth bone to act as fuel. Kong and his mother would not freeze this night.

Attu, the child's mother, was thunderstruck. "You went to the sacred fire! If Trog had CAUGHT you — he is as the beasts! He has no heart! You know that! You knew, and STILL you went. The spirit of Kong DOES live within you. One day, you WILL be a mighty warrior. May the gods grant that you may LIVE to see that day."

One of several non-super-hero titles launched in 1975, KONG THE UNTAMED came from the editorial office of Joe Orlando. The text page in issue #1 related the short-lived run of ANTHRO from the late 1960s and observed that "the fall 1974 TV schedule proved that cavemen and prehistoric monsters are back in fashion, so we decided it was time to try another magazine devoted to that theme. And, rather than just redo Anthro, we decided to try an all new series," with Jack Oleck writing scripts and Alfredo Alcala provided exquisite artwork. Berni Wrightson drew issue #1's cover.

The star of the comic book was to be "an adult caveman, the chief of a tribe of the emerging Cro-Magnons. To make him an interesting person, we began to think about his family, his childhood, and the social system that he lived under. But as we grew more and more involved in the structure of his youth, we decided that the tale of growing up in prehistoric days deserved more than a cursory telling."

The youth had been born in the shadow of a battle between his mother's tribe and a rival clan of Beast Men (the neanderthals). An hour behind the conflict, Attu went into labor, praying to the moon goddess Lural that she might bear "a man child that I may be honored by my people." Her prayer was answered and Attu gave birth to a boy.

Resuming her trek, she caught up with her tribe only to be informed by their leader, Trog, that the infant be taken away. Magl, the shaman, had noted the child's hair, blonde in contrast to the common black and brown, and recalled a legendary "strange tribe of great fighting men" who were "led by a yellow hair. A mighty warrior called Kong. And Attu's child was born while the goddess Lural showed her full face. The spirit of Kong may live anew within him. All life comes from Lural. If she has given him Kong's spirit, he will be a mighty warrior. A hunter, and unbeatable in battle."

The sorcerer had said too much. Trog had no desire to harbor a youth that might one day defeat him. When Attu protested his attempt to crush the baby's skull, Trog exiled mother and son from the tribe. "I'd kill you where you lie were it not that female blood would steal the strenth from my axe." A curse from the shaman effectively made them pariahs.

Attu christened her son Kong in recognition of the prophetic story. They spent the next several years in seclusion, ostracized by any of their people that they approached. While foraging for food one day, Kong was captured by Gurat, a member of his clan's tribal enemies, the Beast Men. Gurat bound the youngster and slashed at his body with his knife, anticipating that the scent of his blood would draw animals and inflict an ugly death on Kong.

Kong outwitted his captor, escaping while Gurat slept, luring him into a boar pit and thrusting a spear into his chest. Attu imagined that the death of a Beast Man would put them back in the good graces of the clan but Trog simply sneered and denounced them as liars. Kong returned to the pit to find evidence but was captured himself by an entire tribe of Beast Men.

Against Trog's will, Attu raided the camp and freed her son — suffering grievous spear wounds in the process. Kong left Attu in a cave while he went in search of medicinal herbs but returned to find the horrific sight of his mother's tortured corpse. Trog had vowed to kill Attu if she pursued her son and he made good on the threat. A grief-stricken Kong denounced Lural for giving him golden hair and making him an outcast. Trog, he promised, would pay with his life (KONG #1).

While throwing stones at wolves, Kong witnessed sparks when two of the stones collided. After experimenting with an assortment of rocks, the boy found two that would start a fire. The flames did more than warm him, though. They also attracted the Bear People, who placed Kong in a cavern to serve as a sacrifice.

The boy was astonished to find himself rescued by Gurat, who had survived the earlier spear attack. His motive: "A whelp who dared defy ME deserves better than to die like some insect caught in a spider's web." The duo fought off an attack by a bear and fled, Gurat now as much an outcast as Kong.

Ultimately, the Beast Men captured Gurat, whom they proclaimed "an evil spirit" and sentenced to death. Kong, because of his "magic" ability to create fire, was free to go. The boy refused to leave, threatening to "call down fire from the sky to destroy you all" as he held two stones aloft. "I am an evil spirit. It makes no difference to me whether you live or become ashes." The bluff succeeded and Gurat was permitted to depart with Kong. "When we fought the bear," the Beast Man noted, "our blood mingled. That makes us brothers" (#2).

When Trog's tribe was forced to flee its meal thanks to an attacking sabretooth, Gurat and Kong decided to help themselves to the food — only to captured when the clan returned. They were sentenced to death and hung over a volcanic pit but the sight of a full moon gave the shaman pause. He cautioned Trog against incurring the wrath of Lural by slaying Kong. The chief offered an alternative. The boy would be welcomed back into the clan if he killed Gurat with a spear. Kong took the weapon, rushed towards the Beast Man ... and cut his bonds.

The rescue coincided with the eruption of the volcano, surely creating a new legend about the wrath of Lural. Gurat and Kong didn't wait around, though. They entered the same series of caverns where the sabretooth had been seen earlier. When they emerged, the blood brothers found themselves in a lush, green valley. The threat of Kong and Gurat's human enemies paled beside the giant lizards — some of whom could fly — that they found here (#3). It's entirely possible that the cavemen had stumbled through a portal into the other-dimensional land that would be known in the 20th Century by names such as Mikishawm and Skartaris.

Gerry Conway had scripted KONG #3 over Jack Oleck's plot and assumed full writing chores with #4. Tony Caravana and Jo Ingente provided art for #4 while David Wenzel and Bill Draut drew #5. The final two-parter concerned a female-dominated tribe in the lost land who were commanded by Jelenna, the tyrannical priestess of the goddess Dra. Kong met the clan when Rolen, one of the males, thrust a spear into Gurat, who plunged in a river and was left for dead.

Gurat had been discovered by another tribe, one that was even more advanced than the Dra clan. These warriors had built elaborate tree-houses, created bows and arrows and even domesticated pterodactyls (whom they called the Lanktor), equipping them with saddles and riding them like horses. The commander of the Lanktor was a man named Errus.

Meanwhile, Kong came to terms with Gurat's death and prodded Rolen to rebel against the leadership of Jelenna. Rolen denounced Dra as a false goddess and demanded that the men of the tribe rise up in rebellion. The agitator was bashed on the head by his bethrothed and, to Kong's orror, burned to death as a sacrifice to Dra. Kong was spared a similar fate thanks to the arrival of Gurat, Errus and others, all astride the flying lizards. A rain of flaming spears and arrows left the Valley of Blood in ruins.

Kong's story ended with the fifth issue, his life commemorated only in a write-up in WHO'S WHO '86 #12 and a mention in HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE #1.

Comments

Nice Wrightson cover on the first issue, the interior story was OK but unspectacular. That was about the same time as Kubert's TOR, the first appearance of WARLORD, CLAW, JUSTICE INC, BEOWULF, STALKER and a few others. With the exception of WARLORD, which I loved, the rest were OK for a few issues but unspectacular. But it was still good to see some new and different characters, and with WARLORD we got one great series out of the bunch.

Original text copyright DC Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.