"Kong the Untamed"
Writer - Jack Oleck
Artist - Alfredo F. Alcala
Editor - Joe Orlando
Cover Price: $0.25
One of my favorite parts of being a comic collector is discovering things I had no idea existed. There's always that (brief) moment of shock when I come across something in a cheap-o bin, or even on the racks that I never knew of. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does... it's pretty neat.
Even if what the "new" thing is isn't totally to my interests as a reader, I'm still pretty likely to snag it just to be sure. Case in point, today's trip into the primitive world (which is different from Warlord's "Lost World") of Kong... the Untamed?
There isn't a whole lot written about the towheaded cave boy online, except that he's apparently a canonical DC character (I though for a moment he was a licensed deal)... he is a direct descendant of the "first boy" of the DC Universe, Anthro!
Let's see what makes him tick...
We open as a clan of cavemen do battle with... well, a clan of beastmen. Many of the cavefolk are fleeing, much to their leader, Trog's annoyance. One clanmember who did not flee... though stayed behind is Attu. She is pregnant, and prays to their god Lural that her child be born with the warrior spirit of Kong.
Following the battle, Trog and company return to their cave. They find the deserters have already beaten them there. What's a caveman clanleader to do? Well, he "demotes" them from man to woman for starters... Ya see, the beastmen stole most of their gals, and now there's nobody left to do the wimmin's work. Just as he's reading the geeks the riot act, Attu appears holding her bouncing baby Kong... offering her child as a warrior to the clan.
Trog's all, silly lady... what am I gonna do with a 10-minute old kid? The clan shaman informs Trog that there is legend of a blonde boy who will grow to be their finest warrior and hunter... and so, Trog, bright fella that he is... decides to put that to the test. He... raises his ax to the newborn!
Attu thankfully intervenes, only to get backhanded for her trespass (and the possibility of tainting Trog's ax with her inferior female blood). She (and Kong) are then excommunicated from the tribe... and sprinkled with cursed he-bear teeth powder for good measure.
And so, Attu and Kong live their lives outside the clan proper. They have been ostracized by all members out of fear of what Trog would do if he'd found out the members treated them as family. This leads to Kong becoming a rather adept gatherer... they say necessity is the mother of digging for roots and stuff... so here we are.
Kong while a warrior-born (?) is also still just a little boy. He yearns to be accepted by his peers... he wants to join in on their hunting games. They, however... out of fear of Trog perhaps, will not allow him in. In fact, they mock his blonde hair and proceed to pelt him with stones. Wow... what jerks! He's not blonde by choice, ya know?
As he flees, Trog tells him he should join up with the Beastmen... which made me think we were headed for one of those Twilight Zone endings where the ugly beast men were the good guys all along... Anyhoo... Kong uses this as inspiration to create his own hunting games... and comes to be quite the proficient little hunter.
Some time later, Attu and Kong watch as Trog is challenged for his leadership by a tribesman called Karas. Trog easily slays the challenger. Attu and Kong return to their cave, and mother tells son of the legend of the Warrior Kong. This causes the boy to get pretty ticked off... if he's such a great warrior, then why do they live in solitude? In freezing cold temperatures? Eating only things dug from the ground? Attu pretty much shrugs and tells him they're at the mercy of Trog for her trespasses.
Kong waits for his mother to fall asleep, and goes "screw it... I'm taking some of that sacred flame"... and he does!
Some more time passes, and Kong grows even more restless. He's tired of eating roots... he wants meat, dammit! Attu reminds him that they have no "man" to hunt for them... Kong's like "eff that..." and off he goes huntin' wabbits. While he lies in wait for a fine bit of hossenfeffer, he is captured by a beastman! Now, get this... the beast man ties Kong to a tree... and starts bleeding him out so he can take his skin. Yeesh. Guess the beasts weren't the "good guys all along"!
As luck would have it, it begins to rain. This loosens the bindings around Kong's wrists and he is able to make his escape before losing too much blood. The beastman gives chase! Kong lures him to a boar pit the tribe had set up... and the baddie falls in! As he climbs out, Kong pelts him with rocks... which only seems to amuse the hairy bastard. Kong don't dig being the butt of a joke... so he launches throws his rabbit-hunting spear right through his furry heart!
He returns home to tell Attu... who takes him directly to Trog to see if this can get them back into the tribe's good graces. Well, Trog knows bullcrap when he smells it... he must be a seasoned comic book reader... he's all "no body... no kill". Kong runs off to fetch the body from the boar pit... and finds there is no body! He is then surrounded by beastmen, and captured.
Back at the cave, Trog's still being a jerk... so Attu goes off to find her son. She doesn't find him, but does notice a trail of footprints. This may be an indicator on how she has grown as a tracker in her own right during her years of exile. She follows them to a beastmen camp-out jamboree where she sees her boy all hung up on a spit by the fire.
She hops down to rescue her boy, and upon undoing his bindings catches a spear in her Achilles... ouch. The mother and son flee as fast as their (now) three feet will take them. When they get far enough away, Kong splits off to fetch some herbs to control his mother's bleeding. Upon return, however, he finds her hung from a tree. He swears vengeance on the Beastmen... and spits upon their god Lural! Kong's ticked, and he's ready to kick some hairy butt!
Wow, that's a lotta story for just 18 pages. Wasn't expecting such a (relatively) dense read.
Outside of Warlord, I really never gave much of a look at the... hmm, do I call this type of book "sword and sorcery"? I mean, there was a shaman... and the beast man did have a knife... Either way... I don't usually care for... er, cave... boy... stories? Yeah. Don't usually go for this kind of stuff...
... this was pretty good. It read kind of like a fable, odd as that may sound. Like the whole time, I was waiting for the big moment of moral clarity to overcome the thing. Thankfully, they zigged when I was prepared for them to zag. I enjoyed watching young Kong grow up and become more fed up with his (and his mother's) lot in life. The old rules of the clan must seem rather alien to a boy raised outside it. I like that we saw him raised to be fearless... he never had to take a knee to Trog, and so he never had to temper his attitude nor expectations of life.
I gotta say, I was also prepared for this to be some sort allegory to social issues, specifically feminism and racism... ol' Trog wasn't quite the progressive clan leader in the way he spoke of women... and further, I was expecting... when Kong first ran into the Beast Man Gurat, he was going to learn that the beasties weren't so bad after all. Well, one outta two ain't bad. We did get to watch as Attu raised her son on her own, and grew into a strong independent brave selfless (lotsa adjectives!) warrior herself.
Overall, had a good time with this one. Not gonna rock your socks, but it's a fun diversion from the rest of the comics out there. This series only went five issues, and I doubt Kong's ever been seen nor heard of again... though I wouldn't be surprised if he made some background appearances so a creator could give the series a wink.
|That's one scary child...|
|That's one scary grown-up...|
|These two look like they were caught in the act!|