Saturday, 16 May 2009

Kong The Untamed

Kong The Untamed was one of a whole series of fantasy books DC premiered in 1975, including The Warlord, Stalker, Beowulf and Conan clone Claw The Unconquered. None of 'em, other than Warlord, lasted more than 4 or 5 issues.
Kong, a prehistoric cave boy adventure, was a great little comic while it lasted, with the first couple of covers by Berni Wrightson, and the first three interiors by Alfredo Alcala.
Kong ( apart from having the most libellous name ever ) was a brilliant character, resourceful, loyal & brave, he's clearly mankind's best evolutionary hope, as well as a perfect boy's hero.
Also, unlike a lot of prehistoric strips, writer Jack Oleck did try to set the stories in a historically accurate world, not putting man & dinosaurs together, for instance. ( A decision completely ignored by Gerry Conway when he took over in the third issue. )
Oleck also added some nice touches in the dialogue. For instance, when Kong's mother is about to give birth to him, it's clear that no one in this world yet knows where exactly babies come from.
This first issue is really a story about a mother and a son, in a time when there wasn't even a word for mother ( another nice touch ). And their relationship is beautifully drawn, in both senses of that phrase. Enter the primitive world...

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Pete. I found your fantastic site by searching the web for KONG THE UNTAMED. I enjoyed your comments on this under-appreciated comic series. I just read through its too-short five-issue run and agree with you that Jack Oleck was really doing something different in this title (one letter writer in #2 even noted that KONG doesn't read like a typical DC comic). Unfortunately, they brought in Gerry Conway fresh off his SPIDER-MAN stint and, maybe on editor Joe Orlando's orders, he "Marvelized" the book, from the angst-ridden Rolen and Sharra to the obligatory fight when Rolen and Kong first meet and before they become friends and team-up against a common foe. My suspicion is Oleck was forced off the book. I wondered why Alcala left (unless he didn't want to illustrate Conway's new direction). I hope a lot of fans read the first issue you've posted and that it sparks them to pick up the next several. For me, #2 featuring Gurat was the series' peak: Beautiful Berni Wrightson cover, outstanding Oleck story and amazing Alcala art. --Gary Peterson in Omaha, NE