Late last year, Dynamite Entertainment announced they’d be doing a comic book version of Tarzan. My reaction was much like everyone else. Really? Another one? The story of Tarzan is one of the most beaten to death tales ever told when it comes to adaptations. Dynamite’s selling point on this was that their version would stick closer to the original from Edgar Rice Burroughs. I decided to pick it up and test the waters. What I found was a disappointing first issue and a golden opportunity wasted.
Lord Of The Jungle, at least thus far, follows the same exact path as the numerous other Tarzan adaptations. The intros vary, some play out the couple lost at sea as shipwrecked, while some (including this version) have them being left on the island by a mutinous crew. Regardless of circumstances, a man and his pregnant wife are left on the shores of the Belgian Congo. The two adapt to their new life, even begin to thrive as their son is born. Meanwhile, the regional gorillas are having a tough time of it, especially one female who has lost her baby. When these apes stumble upon the husband they beat him to death, then turn their attention to the child. Only the maternal instinct of the childless female saves the boy who is adopted into the ape horde.
That’s pretty much where Lord Of The Jungle #1 ends. Writer Arvid Nelson includes a subplot about a local tribe as well as these weird man-eating monkeys that attack with savage dedication. Even with these elements, Lord Of The Jungle just rehashes the story of Tarzan. It doesn’t help that Nelson’s writing style is boring. Its just page after page of set up and execution, there’s no flow or charm to what he does. By the end of the story, I don’t have any new excitement for the story or the characters. Perhaps as the series continues things will pick up. Even if it does, this is really just another Tarzan story. That’s the real travesty here, the loss of an opportunity to reinvent the character much the way Dynamite did with The Lone Ranger.
People know the story of Tarzan; it’s a pop culture staple. Even those who don’t care about the book know the basics of what went down. Why not spare us all the boring origin story and instead give Tarzan some new adventures to swing through? Begin the book with Tarzan back in the Congo taking on poachers or evil developers. Have him in the states trying to figure out his place between ape and man. Hell, have the guy open a detective agency that specializes in high tech industrial espionage. Do something besides regurgitate a story we all know by heart. Even if you add things to this series from the book that haven’t been used before, it’s still the same story.
The art from Roberto Castro is passable but nothing to get excited about. His approach to the work has a factory like nature to it. Every panel is handled to push the story along, there’s nothing dynamic or original about it. Castro’s pencils just adds to the dull and unnecessary vibe that surrounds this issue and probably will the series. There are so many interesting and new ways to have this iconic character exist in comics; I’m befuddled by Dynamite’s decision to use the most well-worn and repeated version.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 4/10 (2 Story, 2 Art)