Real Name: David Rand
Identity/Class: Normal human
Occupation: Jungle lord, crimefighter
Affiliations: Zar (partner, a lion), Trajah (ally, an elephant), Sha (ally, another lion, Zar's mate), the Human Torch
Enemies: Paul de Kraft, Rajah Sarput, Nazis, the Limbos
Known Relatives: John Rand (father, deceased), Constance Rand (mother, deceased)
Aliases: Ka-Zar the Great; Brother of the Lion (translation of his name)
Base of Operations: Belgian Congo
First Appearance: Ka-Zar (Manvis Publishing Company, October 1936)
Powers/Abilities: Enhanced strength and endurance, the result of a potion he was given by a witch-doctor. Prior to this he was a normal, if extremely fit, human, with excellent survival skills, including an in-depth knowledge of primitive weaponry and hand-to-hand fighting. He appears to be able to speak to, understand and command animals (they speak to him in full sentences, as clear as English), but this might be a delusion on his part rather than a genuine ability.
History: ("King of Fang and Claw", Ka-Zar Vol 1 #1) John Rand was the youthful American owner of a diamond mine in the South African Transvaal region. Hearing that his wife's father had taken ill in Cairo, he took his spouse and their three year old son, David, aboard a light aircraft, and plotted a flight from their home in Johannesburg to the Egyptian city. Flying over the Belgian Congo, something went wrong, and the plane went down, crashing in a jungle clearing next to a lake.
All three passengers survived the crash, but Connie broke her leg, making any hopes of leaving the jungle under their own power impossible. Search planes failed to spot them, and before Connie could heal, she fell sick with fever and died. The grieving John set about readying himself and his child for a long trek through the wilderness, only to be struck to the head by a falling tree limb. This appeared to unhinge him, and he lost interest in rejoining the rest of mankind. Instead he raised his son to believe they were rightful rulers of the jungle, its protectors against any outsiders who might endanger it.
David, who had inherited his father's strong physique, proved to be naturally inclined to jungle life. One day, while walking alone through his home, he came across a lion trapped in quicksand. Cutting down branches from nearby trees and bushes, David used it to provide the trapped feline a lifeline, allowing it to pull itself free. He and the lion, Zar, became lifelong friends as a result of his actions. When David was thirteen his father was shot in the back by Paul DeKraft, an unscrupulous treasure seeker. The orphaned David moved into Zar's cave, and renamed himself Ka-Zar - "Brother of Zar".
Over time, Ka-Zar became acknowledged as the ruler of the jungle by the rest of the inhabitants. Then DeKraft returned at the head of an armed band of men, seeking to loot the area's natural wealth (in this case emeralds), leading to a confrontation between the new lord of the jungle and the man who slew his father.
("Roar of the Hidden Jungle", Ka-Zar Vol 1 #2, January 1937)
("The Lost Empire", Ka-Zar the Great Vol 1 #3, June 1937)
(Marvel Comics #1, Timely Comics, November 1939)
(Marvel Mystery Comics #2 -27) Ka-Zar continued to fight threats to his home, and other injustices. He travelled to America for a while, where he fought Nazi agents. Returning to Africa he continued to fight both the Nazis and the Italians, even taking on German U-Boats.
(Human Torch Comics #5) The Human Torch warns Ka-Zar that Namor the Sub-Mariner is creating tidal waves, which threaten to destroy the jungle kingdom. Ka-Zar follows the Torch's suggestion and builds a gigantic ark, using the labour of elephants and the great apes, thus providing a safe haven in the event of such a devastating flood.
Comments: Created by Robert Byrd.
Ka-Zar started as a pulp character, appearing in three issues of his own title produced by Manvis Publishing Company (one of a number of companies owned by Martin Goodman, later creator of Timely Comics). He then shifted over to Marvel Comics #1 (a.k.a. Marvel Mystery Comics as of #2), where he appeared for 27 issues. His final appearance was a cameo in Human Torch Comics #5, where he met the famous android, firmly tying him in with the wartime Timely universe. However when the revamped Marvel universe was launched by Stan Lee in the sixties, a new and fairly different version of Ka-Zar was soon created. Unlike other Golden Age heroes who have yet to show up in the "modern" era, and who may or may not have existed in the modern canon, there was apparently a conscious decision made to exclude the Golden Age version of Ka-Zar, wiping him from the Marvel Universe. That strikes me as a shame, as I can't see why this has to be the case. The 2006 Marvel Handbook A-Z series saw a reversal of this, with Rand getting an entry confirming his place in the Marvel canon.
Ka-Zar was a normal, if extremely fit, human, until he drank a witch doctor's potion in Marvel Mystery Comics #26, at which point he gained superhuman strength and endurance.
The original pulp novel can be read online here.
Thanks to Jess Nevins for allowing me to use information from his excellent Golden Age Heroes Directory and his Guide to Golden Age Marvel Characters. Thanks also to Richard Boucher & Darrin Wiltshire @ PR-Publications for permission to use information from their equally brilliant collection of Golden Age Sites, PR Publications. Their knowledge of Golden Age characters far outstrips my own.
CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with
Ka-Zar, Kevin Plunder, his replacement in the Marvel Universe
Tarzan, the premiere jungle lord
any other jungle lord types.
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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