December 12, 2010

Jungle Jim #22 [1969]

Jungle Jim was an adventure comic strip that began in 1934, illustrated by Alex Raymond and running with Raymond's more famous Flash Gordon.  It lasted under various artists until 1954, and also had a comic book series from Dell in the 1950s.  In the late 1960s Charlton briefly published the various King Features comic strips, including a seven issue run of Jungle Jim.  Some of the work was done by Wallace Wood, who hired various other artists to help out, including Steve Ditko.

In this first issue of the run, Ditko pencils the final story, the 7-page "The Wizard Of Dark Mountain".  Bhob Stewart wrote and did layouts, which he talks about briefly over here, and Wood (probably with input from whoever else was in the studio at the time) did the inks.

A serviceable story, as Stewart notes inspired more by Dr. No than the original Jungle Jim comics, where Jim and his sidekick Kolu bail out when their plane malfunctions over an unexplored region. They find a village of tiny people, whose Princess has been captured by a "dark wizard" who turns out to be a renegade Chinese communist scientist looking to launch a missile at New York as part of his plan to rule the world.

Very attractive art, as you'd expect from Ditko and Wood at an especially creatively fertile period for both of them.  Strong heroes, attractive women, nefarious villains and a lot of fisticuffs.

The cover was taken from a blown-up, cropped and re-touched panel from page 5.

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