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Jungle Action #1-6 (Oct. 1954 - Aug. 1955).

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With superheroes not having provided the main support of the U.S. comic book industry for the past decade or more and with crime, horror and even romance comics increasingly under fire by do-gooders, publishers of the mid-1950s were turning to all sorts of genres in hopes of latching onto the next big thing. Westerns like The Rawhide Kid and The Black Rider were doing well for Marvel Comics, but the company was also reaching out in various directions with titles like Homer the Happy Ghost, Combat Kelly, Patsy Walker and Della Vision. The multi-genre extravaganza extended to two bimonthlies full of jungle heroes like Lo-Zar, Leopard Girl, Waku Prince of the Bantu, and Jann of the Jungle.

Marvel was no stranger to jungle heroes. Not quite. But it had been a dozen years since Ka-Zar had appeared in the back pages of Marvel Mystery Comics, and they'd scarcely visited the genre since then. To fill one of the series slots in the new titles, they simply made a clone of him — no big deal, since he'd been a clone of Tarzan in the first place, just like Kaanga, Jo-Jo and any number of others. But the company hadn't yet been seized by a compulsion to bring back everything they'd ever published, like they were starting to be a few years later, when they revived The Sub-Mariner, Red Raven and others.

Since practically any collection of syllables (e.g., Kalthar, Tegra, etc.) would suffice for a jungle hero's name, they simply changed one, and continued with a hero called Lo-Zar. He debuted in Jungle Action #1 (October, 1954), alongside Man-oo the Gorilla and a jungle boy named Jungle Boy. He swung on vines, wrestled dangerous beasts, talked to animals, and did all the other stuff a proper jungle hero should do.

The writer who created Lo-Zar, if "created" is the proper term for a jungle guy just like all the other jungle guys, was Don Rico, who had been working in the field since he'd created The Sorceress of Zoom in 1940, and whose other creations at the company included Lorna the Jungle Girl. The artist was Joe Maneely, Marvel's star artist before his untimely death in 1958. Maneely's other '50s credits include The Black Knight, The Ringo Kid, The Yellow Claw and Speed Carter, Spaceman. Later episodes were drawn by Syd Shores (The Two-Gun Kid).

But jungle heroes didn't turn out to be a viable direction at Marvel. Jungle Action lasted only six issues, the final one dated August, 1955. In the following decade, with the company once again fully (and this time, permanently) committed to superheroes, Ka-Zar was revived, with some modifications, under his own name.Jungle Action 3

In the 1970s, Marvel reprinted a lot of '50s comics. But with Ka-Zar now one of the minor stars of its burgeoning universe, there wasn't room for so similar a hero, with so similar a name and even a similar hair colour. So the reprinted version was re-dubbed "Tharn the Magnificent" and, to stifle any suspicion of a connection, his hair was re-coloured red. As Tharn, he debuted in a revived Jungle Action #1, this time dated October, 1972. But in the fifth issue (July, 1973), the '50s reprints were replaced by The Black Panther.

It's been many years since Lo-Zar has appeared under either name.

To the average comic book fanboy, who often doesn't even notice comics that aren't about superheroes, comics of the 1950s, between the major superhero trends of the 1940s and the '60s, are of little interest — despite the super guys' continually renewed presence, from Captain Comet to Nature Boy. Here's one from Marvel itself, meeting most requirements (not just a western hero with a mask and a secret identity, like The Black Rider) who flourished (at least to the extent that she flourished at all) after Namora, The Blonde Phantom and their other late-blooming '40s heroes — and even the '50s revival of the '40s' "Big Three", Cap, Subbie and the Torch — had all bit the dust; but long before Fantastic Four #1 signalled the genre's return at the company. A surface description placed Leopard Girl in the genre founded by Fiction House's Sheena, but she owed more to the same company's Red Panther — a Tarzan-style tree swinger, but one with a skin-tight costume that made him more of a superhero. Leopard Girl (no relation to Tiger Girl, Jaguar Man, The Black Panther or any other hero named after a jungle cat) was a tree swinger who wore a full-body cat suit just like Miss Fury's form-fitting panther pelt, but with a different fur motif and no tail.

Jungle Action 1She even maintained a secret identity. She was Gwen (last name not mentioned), a typist in the middle of the jungle, working for scientist and philosopher Hans Kreitzer (who apparently didn't have a doctorate, at least in some stories), who chose to live there because he couldn't concentrate on his work in the middle of civilization. Making all the story elements dovetail into a perfect circle, he was also there to study local folklore, and one of the legends he hoped to find out about was Leopard Girl, who was in the habit of swooping in out of nowhere and righting wrongs.

She also had a minor super power. By emitting the "Cry of the Leopard", she could summon a pack of real leopards, which would make short work of the bad guys but never seemed hungry for Gwen herself. Pay no attention to the fact that leopards don't travel in packs. She also had ties with the late Giboga, high priest of the local natives before his death, which didn't affect his relationship with her.

Leopard Girl was first seen in Jungle Action #1 (October, 1954), which she shared with three other jungle heroes — Lo-Zar (similar to Ka-Zar but coming between his two comic book incarnations); the generically-named Jungle Boy (similar to Wambi, age-wise, but without as much personality); and Man-oo the Mighty, a gorilla. The story was written by Don Rico (Lorna the Jungle Girl, The Sorceress of Zoom) and drawn by Al Hartley (Barney Bear, Della Vision). Rico stayed with her throughout her run. Hartley was replaced by Vince Colletta in Jungle Action #4.

Jungle Action ended with its 6th issue (August, 1955), and Leopard Girl ended with it. She hasn't been seen since.

From Don Markstein's Toonopedia.