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Kong the Untamed (1975) - #5
"Bones Of The Martyr"
DC Comics

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Gerry Conway

David T. Wenzel

Bill Draut

Joe Orlando

Cover Artist(s):
Bill Draut
David T. Wenzel

Rating (out of 10):
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Cover Date: March 1976
Cover Price: US $ 0.25

Issue Tagline: None.

Format: Color; Standard Comic Issue; 18 pages

Story Arc(s):    Add/remove story arcs to this issue

Letters Column: Cave Comments

Kong and Rolen are fighting a giant prehistoric antlered beast at the open of this story. as they feast on its raw flesh, Kong tells Rolen about his past, which serves to recap the events of the past four issues.

The scene shifts to Gurat, who spears a blue lizard and quickly devours the whole thing (leaving behind a white, intact skeleton). He sits back sated and bloated until--BURP! "Only then does he remember what he constantly forgets: Too much food can be almost as bad as too little!" We see a silhouette of Gurat crouched behind a tree losing his lunch, and "when it comes, the sickness lasts for a full fifteen minutes." That earthy humor is suddenly set aside as Gurat looks up and sees a swooping Pterodactyl, but this one has a spear-chucking rider sitting astride it. As Gurat whirls to run, he is truck with a THUNK.

Back in Jelenna's village nine beautiful women warriors strike poses while Jelenna prepares a deer for freshly killed for sacrifice, noting as did every other pagan tribe in the series that "if she accepts it, we can expect a fine harvest this season." But Sharra is more concerned for her beloved Rolen, who hasn't returned from his hunt for a Spike-Tail's skull. Her expressions of concern and budding independence are met with a smack across the face that floors Sharra. Jelenna bellows, "Not only am I your mother, I am your priestess--and my word is law!"

Sharra's bald, pot-bellied father Sug offers impotent words of comfort to his daughter, who suddenly spies Kong and Rolen lurking in the shadows. Together the four sneak out and away from the village where around a campfire they indulge in some theological bull-slinging. Rolen cites Kong's epiphany that "if there are male and female animals--there must be male and female gods!" Fueled on his own rhetoric, Rolen plots to overthrow Jelenna's rule: "Jelenna's word isn't supreme. She can't control our lives--or our minds! We'll be free! All of us--all the men--free!"

The scene shifts again to Gurat in a "darkened bamboo tent" stirring and staggering to the door where he screams "YAAAAH" upon beholding the primitive "village of tree huts and an army of flying lizards" that are penned in an enclosre. A beautiful girl named Ginny approaches and offers him a drink and an explanation for what happened. Ginny's brother Errus enters (looking like an American Indian) and apologizes for attacking Gurat, but in the grand comic book tradition, Gurat shouts "YOU!" and leaps at Errus, where they engage in the obligatory brawl for a full page before Ginny breaks it up (almost a replay of last issue's Kong-Rolen bout broken up by Sharra).

Back at Jelenna's village, we find the beautiful woman-warriors surrounding the dead deer as it lies on an altar, Jeleena towers above them standing against a full moon, arms outstretched, a skull pendant hanging from her neck. She shouts: "That's right, daughters--carve the stag into bloody strips that we may feast on the flesh of this bestial male! You'll find its meat sweet, my darlings--ripe and warm with the juice of life!"

The pagan ceremony is interrupted by the return of Rolen, Sharra, Kong and Sug. Rolen asks, "What would happen if a man ate of the sacred flesh? would Dra destroy us? Would the harvest not come?" Jeleena's response to such impudence is to pull out her dagger and charge. Kong intervenes and grabs her, then kayoes the old woman with a right hook to the jaw! Rolen, hands extended, walks through the assembled villagers like a prehistoric Abraham Lincoln: "I say to you, this religious slavery must end!" But just as his speech was warming up a rock crashes onto his head. It was by Sharra, who tearfully admits to the outraged Kong, "But don't you see? Much as I hate her, Jelenna is my priestess--and my goddess--is Dra!"

Rolen is tied to a Y-shaped stake about which flames leap and wanton women-warriors leap and dance. Kong, restrained by a warrior, pleads with Sharra, who simply states, "Rolen's way would have led to chaos. Women were born to rule, men to follow." Kong frees himself and attempts to save Rolen, the flames up to his neck now. Drawing a parallel to Christ, Rolen assures the frantic Kong, "Stay back, Kong! It's better this way! These women don't know what they're doing..." Suddenly a gust of wind throws up the flames and Rolen is consumed with a wide-mouthed "EEYAAHH!" (Wenzel and Draut pack a lot into this panel, from Rolen's death-scream, to Kong's horror-stricken face, to the various expressions of ecstasy and glee on the watching women's faces.)

The celebration is abruptly cut short by the sudden appearance against the full moon of dozens of pterodactyls swooping down upon them. As Conway writes over scenes of flaming spears being hurled into the homes and inhabitants below, "From out of the night sky, the winged demons fly, bringing death and destruction to the matriarchal village--moving like Angels of Death among the streets and over the huts."

The series ends with a classic deus ex machina: a pterodactyl swoops down and a hairy arm plucks Kong from the hell-on-earth tableau--it's Gurat! The big-hearted Neanderthal assures his young Cro Magnon blood brother that they have new friends among Errus' people and that Jelenna's village were their enemies. Kong replies, "Enemies? I guess they are Gurat, but they aren't my enemies... They were enemies... of themselves." As the pterodactyls fly home following their successful raid, an anonymous rider, almost as an afterthought, pitches a spear into the back of Jelenna. THE END.

This final edition of CAVE COMMENTS boasts letters from DON VAUGHN (Lake Worth, FL), JEFF MOREHEAD (Address Unknown) and DAVID DeWITT (Manning, SC). DeWitt speaks as a prophet, saying that Kong "isn't anything special" and that while he "enjoyed this issue [#2], and will probably enjoy several more, I predict you will soon run out of plots and be cancelled."

The story ends with no promise of a next issue, simply a box reading "END," so it seems Conway hastily tied up loose ends. The lettercol may have been prepared before the plug was pulled, as the DC staffer writes, "we trust you're doubly enthused by this issue--which teams up newcomer David Wenzel with veteran Bill Draut on the art, while Gerry Conway takes the scripts in a new, exciting direction." (That "newcomer David Wenzel" went on to a succeessful career as a children's book illustrator, a favorite being "J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic.")

Noteworthy ads this issue include a full-pager for Mattel's Big Jim's P.A.C.K. illustrated by JACK KIRBY. The back cover boasts a bevy of Evel Knievel toys from Ideal, including the Gyro-Powered Energizer, Stunt Cycle, Formula 1 Dragster and four Adventure Sets.

In a fatal case of misdiagnosed demographics, there's a full-page ad headlined, "Hey, Girls! Wouldn't you love to be like Dusty or Skye, the 11-1/2" fashion dolls who do fun things!" Despite the fact that "both are knockouts in their trendsetting fashions," I just don't think readers of KONG THE UNTAMED were the target market.

This issue's Hostess strip stars Shazam in "The Cup Cake Caper."

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas in this month's DC house ads. one full-pager is headlined "A DC Super-Special Holiday Treat" promoting the tabloid-sized RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER and CHRISTMAS WITH THE SUPER-HEROES. A second full-page ad calls on readers to "Put Your DC Super Hero in Your X-Mas Stocking!" This hand-drawn and lettered ad offers the line of DC Mego figures (don't call 'em dolls!). A half-page above the subscription form advertises the Special All-Legion Issue of THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS.

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Gurat, the Beast Man (DC)
  Kong the Untamed

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