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Cover Date: January 1976
Cover Price: US $ 0.25
Issue Tagline: Brave The Perils of "The Valley of Blood!"
Format: Color; Standard Comic Issue; 18 pages
Story Arc(s): Add/remove story arcs to this issue
Letters Column: Cave Comments
An impressive splash page finds Kong and Gurat fighting a pterodactyl. The battle rages through page 3 where Kong is able to throw a spear through its chest.
It dawns on Kong that the spear he used to kill the dinosaur was the same one someone pitched at him and Gurat. As if on cue, a spear suddenly whizzes through the air and with a SWUNK" lands in Gurat's back. The Neandertal staggers and stumbles into a rushing river which quickly carries him out of sight.
The perpetrator is Rolen, the young man first seen on the closing page of #3 with the young woman Sharra. Rolen, targeting Kong, now raises another spear, but Sharra intervenes: "Rolen, no! He's only a child--not a monster like the other one!" Rolen reples, "It doesn't matter--they're outsiders--and Jelenna commanded us to slay all outsiders, Sharra! He has to die!" It turns out Sharra is willing to defy Jelenna, who is her mother and the priestess of their tribe. Rolen relents and Sharra steps forward and greets the angry Kong, furious over his friend's seeming murder. When Kong strikes Sharra, the gallant Rolen steps in and he and Kong engage in a "swordfight" of sorts with spears until Sharra ends the conflict by beaning Kong with a rock.
Kong awakens in the Jelenna's camp, being tended to by Sharra as the wizened hag Jelenna looks on and offers Kong words of comfort: "...if you wanrt to see the morning once more--you'll obey me--or face the wrath of Dra, Goddess of the Night! You heard me, boy. I am Jelenna, Dra's priestess--and in this tribe, my word is law!" Kong is confused by this matriarchal society, so different from his own patriarchal culture. When he begins describing how men rule in his clan he is smacked across the face by Jelenna and told to "be silent until you learn your place!"
Kong is placed on the back burner for several pages as the story's focus shifts to Sharra, Rolen and Jelenna, who interrogates the youths as to why they were out in the woods together. They express their desire to be one another's mate. Jelenna's concern is for the dowry she is due, which she sets as "the skull horn of a Spike-Tail" (Stegosaurus).
The scene shifts to "miles from Sharra's village" where the "familiar hulking form" of Gurat washes ashore--alive--and drags himself to safety among the brush before collapsing. Conway's caption reads: "That Gurat survives is all the information we need at the moment."
Back at the camp, Kong sees Rolen set off on his hunt for the Spike Tail and decides to secretly tag along. He's soon discovered and while breakfasting on the raw alligator Rolen speared they discuss Kong's clan's culture. Rolen is intrigued by the notion of men ruling, but cannot reconcile it with his narrow worldview where Dra is the only goddess. Kong suggests there may be many gods. Rolen wonders aloud, "it makes sense, little brother. Dra is the Night Goddess. Perhaps there is a Day God--perhaps the Sun--" But Rolen's theological musings are interrupted by a charging stegosaurus!
Kong and Rolen fight the mighty beast (Kong even graphically punching into its eyeball, which splatters with a "SPUK!" sound effect!) and emerge victorious when Kong tricks the Spike-Tail into falling off a cliff.
Looking down on the broken beast, Kong recalls his friend Gurat and in response to Rolen's apology stoically states, "He's dead. There's nothing I can do for him now." Rolen, galvanized by Kong's opening his mind to other ways of thinking, decides not to retrieve the skull spike, defiantly declaring, "I'm not going to give Jelenna anything. I've decided you're right about women serving men ... The time has come for things to change," and as Rolen and Kong walk off side-by-side, Rolen adds, "and little brother ... you and I are going to change them!"
This issue's CAVE COMMENTS includes letters from MICHAEL N. TIERSTEIN, STEVE BEERY, MARK SCHMIEDER and DAVID CASTANEDAS. Tierstein closes his letter by asking, "how did Anthro get out of his last mess?" The response: "Anthro didn't get out of his last mess--that's why we cancelled the mag. It's no fun to write about a dead caveman."
The lettercol also addresses the shakeups in creative teams, noting, "we're pleased with the development of new writer Gerry Conway" and acknowledging the art is "going through an unsettled period while Alfredo Alcala moves on to new fields," and closing by promising to "unveil a new team next issue that'll just knock your eyes out!"
Add three pages to the 18-page story count this issue if you count the Hostess Fruit Pie strip on the inside front cover ("Batman and The Captive Commissioner") and especially the beautiful two-page centerspread ad for Aurora Model Kits and Pom Poms ("delicious milk caramels with the chocolate-flavored coating" i.e., Nabisco's Milk Dud knockoff). Headlined "TARZAN Discovers the Land of the Prehistoric Animals," it boasts JOE KUBERT art and presents a story of the Lord of the Jungle falling through a "time hole" and encountering a sailback reptile, a flying reptile [Pterodactyl], an Allosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus Rex!
Other ads of note include the MORT DRUCKER back cover for Milton Bradley's Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture Kit (featuring Vincent Price on the box) and a hand-lettered comic book-style ad for Kenner's SSP Tournament of Thrills race car set.
DC house ads include a full-pager for "2 Socko Specials for September in DC's New Super Size!" promoting the SUPER FRIENDS tabloid with an ALEX TOTH cover and the DICK TRACY tabloid (the same one Joe Strummer is reading in the 1982 Clash video for "Rock The Casbah"). Another full-pager boasts "3 Blockbusters" and has cover repros for BLITZKRIEG #1, WARLORD #1 and HERCULES UNBOUND #2. The Flash says, "It's CARMINE INFANTINO in the Incredible 8th Issue of THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS!" in a half-page ad above the subscription form.
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