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May 22, 2011

Dark Horse Reviews: Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years vol. 9

Tarzan, The Jesse Marsh Years Volume 9
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Art By: Jesse Marsh
Writing By: Gaylord DuBois
Foreword By: Dan Nadel

Jesse Marsh had done a large body of work during his time as an artist, from working at Walt Disney Studios to Sunday newspaper strips, but nothing would be so fondly remembered as his long run on the Tarzan comics for Dell. In this 9th volume, Dark Horse presents another wonderful edition of Marsh’s work on Tarzan, collecting the stories from Tarzan’s Jungle Annual issue #2, and Tarzan issues #44-46, all originally published in 1953.

In Tarzan’s Jungle Annual #2, we get a giant sized issue with several stories, spanning tales of Tarzan against Bat-People, natives, roman-like baddies, adventures with Boy and Tantor, rescues from Arabian slave ships, and a ton of puzzles and fun activites as bonuses. In this annual I actually found the stories with Boy and Tantor the most interesting. The Tarzan tales are still great, however the ones in this annual felt very formulatic like the films were getting at the time. The ones with Boy and Tantor were just refreshing, and aside from that it was cool to see Tantor in a solo adventure; any kid or adult cannot argue with that.

In Tarzan #44 we get my favorite tale in the collection, which is the first one, in which Tarzan while flying his giant eagle Argus, finds that giant vultures have been terrorizing local villages. With the the help of Argus (once again note: giant eagle! I didn’t know Tarzan had a giant eagle. Argus is ridiculously cool.) Tarzan helps the villages get rid of this vulture nuisance. The second tale gives us the story of a human baby who is taken in by an Ape-mother. Tarzan finds the baby’s Mom who has been taken captive by some Arabs, and with a little wheeling ‘n dealing reunites the two. In issue #45, our first tale deals with ghosts and demons haunting an African plantation, and provides us with some fun mystery as well as action. Then we get a little short with Boy getting into trouble, which has some heart, but is the weakest in this issue. The final tale deals with Tarzan getting mixed up with some warriors and invaders who are using a giant lion (yes, first giant eagles now giant lions) as a weapon, but when the lion gets out of control…. Finally, we have issue #46, in which the first tale picks up right where the last issue left off with more Goliath the giant lion action. We also get a triceratops who made it alive to present day, more antics with Boy, and finally a wonderful tale about Apes guarding a treasure which some treasure hunters just happen to be after. This final tale presents us with both some of the most action and best writing in the collection, and makes a wonderful final comic for this archive volume.

All the issues in this collection are great, strengths and weaknesses aside. Marsh’s art in collaboration with DeBuois’s writing always provides an entertaining time and a good read. Marsh’s style is simple yet detailed, a style of its own, part Clutch Cargo, part African travel log. It’s colorful, and it’s classic and action packed. Dark Horse has provided us a grade-A edition of this material, perfectly reproduced on glossy-pages, perfect for the collector and the new comer to this material. Tarzan, The Jesse Marsh Years Volume is 9 out now and is a must buy.

See below for a peek:

Drew McCabe
drew@comicattack.net

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.

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