Living among the beasts of the jungle is the orphaned child of an English nobleman who lost his parents in a savage attack. Sound familiar? While this backstory could easily apply to Tarzan, another wildman has been swinging through the pages of pulp magazines and comics for several decades. Do you know who this is?
The first Ka-Zar was created by Bob Byrd and made his debut in the pulp magazine, Ka-Zar #1 in 1936. The character was later adapted by Marvel Comics predecessor, Timely Comics, in 1939. This version of Ka-Zar, named David Rand, was the son of John and Constance Rand. During a plane crash over the Belgian Congo, Constance died and John and David were left all alone. This loss caused John to lose his grasp on reality, declaring himself ruler of the jungle and raising David as his heir. David was later granted enhanced strength, endurance, and the ability to communicate with animals by a witch doctor’s potion. His greatest ally at this time was his lion, Zar. A decade later, John was killed by treasure seekers, leaving David to succeeded him as lord of the jungle. It was at this time that he renamed himself Ka-Zar, meaning “brother of Zar.”
In 1965, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced a new Ka-Zar in The X-Men #10. This Ka-Zar is Kevin Reginald, the eldest son of English nobleman Lord Robert Plunder who discovered the Savage Land. After losing his parents at the hands of barbaric Man-Ape natives, Kevin was found and raised by a sabertooth tiger named Zabu. Following a mutation caused by radioactive mists, Zabu possesses near-human intelligence. As he grew, Kevin adopted the name Ka-Zar and became an expert hunter, trapper, and fisherman. After the X-Men discovered the Savage Land, they opened Ka-Zar to new threats, including Plunderer, Magneto, Umbu the Unliving and Kraven the Hunter.
Over the years, Ka-Zar has teamed with several of Marvel’s heroes, particularly the original members of the X-Men. He has also partnered with Spider-Man to stop Stegron the Dinosaur Man from invading New York, assisted the Avengers to defeat the space conqueror Terminus, and fought and defeated Thanos in one of his many attempts to end life. Throughout this time, Ka-Zar also became romantically involved with Shanna the She-Devil, later marrying her and having a son named Matthew. More recently, Ka-Zar has joined the Black Panther’s burgeoning Agents of Wakanda.
Ka-Zar joins the roster alongside Fat Cobra, Okoye, Gorilla-Man, Janet Van Dyne, Roz Solomon, John Jameson, Broo, Morbius, Doctor Nemesis, and American Eagle. Following the events of 2017’s Secret Empire, the Agents of Wakanda serve as a covert Secret Avengers team ready to lend their assistance to Earth's Mightiest Heroes whenever necessary.