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Secret Invasion

Secret Invasion Illumination: Ka-Zar

Brian Bendis dishes on Ka-Zar's upcoming role in Secret Invasion. Plus brand-new preview art from Billy Tan!

By Frank DeAngelo IV & Marc Strom Welcome back to Secret Invasion Illumination, True Believer! Over the next few months, we'll be taking a look at various key players from the mega event spinning through SECRET INVASION itself as well as MIGHTY AVENGERS, NEW AVENGERS and more of Marvel's top titles and what role they'll play in the event as it unfolds. This week the spotlight falls on Ka-Zar, lord of the Savage Land, as he prepares to make his return to the mainstream Marvel U. in NEW AVENGERS #41, hitting shelves May 28. We spoke with the book's writer and "Secret Invasion" mastermind Brian Michael Bendis to see what Ka-Zar's been up to and tease us with what his future may hold...assuming he isn't a Skrull himself, that is. From Orphan to Jungle Lord Ka-Zar's heroic journey began as a young boy named Kevin Plunder, orphaned and alone in the hidden Savage Land after the native Man-Apes killed his father.

NEW AVENGERS #41 preview art by Billy Tan

Rescued by the heroic Zabu, a sabertooth tiger whose intelligence had risen to near-human levels after contact with strange, radioactive mists, the noble prehistoric kitty taught the boy how to hunt, how to protect himself and how to survive. The Man-Apes renamed the boy Ka-Zar, which translates to "Son of the Tiger," and quickly adopted him as the protector of the Savage Land. A frequent ally of the Uncanny X-Men, Ka-Zar has found himself battling alongside such heroes as Spider-Man, Daredevil and more throughout his career as an adventurer. Most recently, the loin-cloth strutting jungle star began to settle down with his wife, the she-devil herself, Shanna, raising the couple's first son, Matthew.

NEW AVENGERS #41 preview art by Billy Tan

What Makes Ka-Zar so Cool? You mean, other than spending everyday hanging out in the Savage Land with the babelicious bikini-clad Shanna? Or the fact that his best friend is a freakin' sabertooth tiger? Among all things, Ka-Zar's greatest strength lies in his ability to adapt and survive. Secluded from the modern world and technology, Ka-Zar stands as a testament to human determination and physical perfection, using a trained body and keen mind as his primary tools of success in places where danger lurks, stomps and attacks from nearly every corner. The unofficial protector of the Savage Land's secluded and secret terrain, Ka-Zar battles all forms of baddies that endanger the Savage Land's native tribes. From vicious dinosaurs to nefarious villains such as Magneto and the galactic death-monger Thanos, Ka-Zar has time and again proven his courage and fortitude.

NEW AVENGERS #41 preview art by Billy Tan

But NEW AVENGERS scribe Brian Bendis can boil down the jungle-lord's cool factor to one simple point: "He'd totally rock on survivor. It wouldn't even be fair." And as Bendis notes, "he works the 'costume,'" brazenly leaping into countless battles wearing little more than torn animal skin across his waist. That, my friends, is the mark of a truly awesome hero. When the Skrulls Come to the Savage Land NEW AVENGERS #41 promises a revelatory meeting between Ka-Zar and the amazing Spider-Man. And considering the low profile Ka-Zar's kept recently, he should have quite a bit to talk about, right?

NEW AVENGERS #41 preview art by Billy Tan

Absolutely, says Bendis. "He started a book club. And he's become addicted to the 'Rachel Ray Show.'" Alternatively, the scribe teases, Ka-Zar might know a thing or two about the New Avengers' visit to the Savage Land at the very beginning of their own series, and how it ties into a certain invading race's master plan. "That is what [NEW AVENGERS] #41 is all about," the invasion's maestro reveals. "Not only that but what exactly did we see going on in the Savage Land in that first arc of NEW AVENGERS. There was vibranium mining, slavery, the Avengers almost wiped off the face of the Earth. What was all that about? You'll find out here." As far as Ka-Zar's perspective of the Secret Invasion, Bendis sees him as having a rather unique perspective: "The Skrulls may have invaded the Savage Land months or years before they tried to take the entire Earth on. [Ka-Zar's] point of view is very unique and probably the scariest."

NEW AVENGERS #41 cover art by Aleski Briclot

With Ka-Zar out of the loop for so long, he's got more than a couple surprises coming his way with news of the Civil War, Captain America's death and anything and everything else that's happened recently throughout the Marvel U. According to Bendis, though, those aren't the only surprises the Lord of the Jungle has come across recently. "His Internet connection is a little slow. He just found out about Secret Wars 2 and he is really upset about that." And in the future, fans can expect even more revelations they never saw coming. "Issue #45 is [about] what did the Skrulls do during the House of M," Bendis teases. "How about them apples?"
Who do you trust? Learn more about Secret Invasion now at Marvel.com/SecretInvasion! Also, read the SECRET INVASION PROLOGUE in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and watch the Secret Invasion animated short!
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