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Author Topic: KARKAN the Mighty  (Read 3928 times)
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Aldous
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« on: May 23, 2003, 04:22:14 AM »

I have several stories in old Australian reprint albums of this "Imaginary" character, Karkan the Mighty, a sort of Edgar Rice Burroughs version of an "Imaginary" Superman story.

In doing my review of Secret of the Phantom Quarterback, I came across other stories in the same issue, which is not the North American comic but an Australian one. This isn't a problem -- the stories are just as enjoyable no matter who publishes them -- but it does mean I have no idea where and when the stories first appeared. Sometimes I can find out, sometimes not. In this Australian album, Superman Supacomic No. 178, the first story is The Skyscraper that Screamed For its Life, which I'm pretty sure I reviewed in detail on the Superman in the 70s thread, written by Elliot S! and drawn by Swanderson. Next is the little classic Clark Kent's College Days; no credits given, but the art seems to be by Al Plastino. After this comes the Karkan story (which I'll come back to in a moment), then The Curse of the Kung Lo Diamond by Jerry Case (writer) and Howard Sherman (artist). The last story in this edition is the first Steve Lombard story, which I'm reviewing on the 70s thread.

I'm really interested in the Karkan the Mighty series of comics. I have a few of them, as I said, spread out through different Australian reprint albums, and the one in this edition appears to be the first (or "origin") tale. It's a Superboy story called Karkan the Mighty -- Lord of the Jungle, written by David George, drawn by Bob Brown & Murphy Anderson.

A flaming missile plunges from space into the African jungle, terrifying the apes. Later, the apes investigate and find a crashed rocket and baby Kal-El wrapped in Kryptonian blankets. The apes name Kal-El "the hairless one" and they decide to leave him be as he is not one of them. Keena, a barren female, decides to take him and mother him. So the baby grows up in the ape community, renamed "Karkan the Mighty" by his "mother". He is (obviously) the strongest of them all and defeats all predators, obtains food during famines, starts flying around while the apes have to go from tree to tree as per usual, defeats their enemies like the giant python, "Gorg" (but whom he refuses to kill), and beats his chest and gives yells of triumph like a super-powerful Tarzan of the Apes.

Now in his mid-to-late teens, the apes show Karkan from whence he came. He finds the Kryptonian blankets at the site of the crash -- which he crafts into a sort of primitive super-suit complete with a snake-symbol (S) because it's the "mark of Gorg" whom he defeated -- and also has his first encounter with Kryptonite.

Some of the apes taunt Karkan, especially when they spy on other "hairless ones" (human beings) passing through the jungle. Karkan doesn't like being teased: "I am one of you!" he roars at the apes.

These are the beginnings of his adventures as he runs afoul of bad hunters who invade the jungle and find the rocket (and, worse, the Kryptonite), and his encounters with Toni, the "beautiful she".

Does anyone else remember these fascinating stories? How did they come about? How popular were they?
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Aldous
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2003, 04:29:30 AM »

Through doing a little bit of research, I found out that David George seems to be a pseudonym for none other than one of my favourite Superman writers, Leo Dorfman!
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Continental Op
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2003, 09:37:25 PM »

The first Karkan story was "Karkan the Mighty, Lord of the Jungle!" from SUPERBOY # 183 (March, 1972). The second and last was "Super-Savage, Master of Metropolis!" from issue #188 (July, 1972).

Leo Dorfman was sometimes credited as "Geoff Browne" also. This was because of a quirk of editor Murray Boltinoff's... he refused to credit the same writer for more than ONE story in each issue of a particular title, so they had to come up with all sorts of pseudonyms. I guess Murray didn't want to be accused of "playing favorites" with his writers. Hopefully they at least got to choose which story their real name went on.

As to why the stories of Karkan ceased... well, maybe Murray just felt there was only so much you could do with the idea of Superboy as Tarzan. But I think DC acquired the rights to publish the REAL Tarzan from Gold Key Comics at right around this time, and that probably had something to do with it too.

By the way, the series had a weird kind of thematic predecessor. In SUPERBOY #172 (March 1971), the idea was used in reverse. Frank Robbins was the writer with the same art team. This story featured "Yango the Super-Ape", a gorilla from Krypton who, like Krypto, was rocketed to Earth before the explosion happened. (For once, it wasn't Jor-El sending out the rocket though.) Yango crash-landed in the African jungle and, having greater-than -ape-normal intelligence, easily outdid Beppo the Super-Monkey by becoming the heroic champion of all Earth's apekind! Eventually he met up with Superboy who decided to let him continue as protector of the jungles. No, I have not been smoking banana peels again, this really was published.
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Klar Ken T5477
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2003, 02:36:51 AM »

Hey Op, what do ya hear from Hammet these days? :wink:
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Aldous
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2003, 01:44:16 AM »

Thanks, C-Op.

DC with its ape fixation... There's another super-ape story too, called "The Super-Gorilla from Krypton" or something like that. I think Superman encounters him in the (where else?) jungle...

When I come across the story in my collection I might bring it up on the "Superman in the Silver Age" thread.

But yeah... I like those Karkan stories.
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2003, 03:45:59 AM »

For more Super Gorilla stories make sure to check out this website : http://www.lethargiclad.com/gorilla/
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