Ka-Zar the Savage #12

Issue Date: 
March 1982
Story Title: 
Belasco…! (1st story), untitled (2nd story)

1st story: Bruce Jones (writer), Brent Anderson (pencils), Josef Rubinstein (inks)
2nd story: Bruce Jones (writer), Gil Kane (artist)
Janice Chiang (letterer), Don Warfield (Colorist), Louise Jones (editor), Jim Shooter (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

1st story:
Ka-Zar finally meets Belasco, who has all of Ka-Zar’s friends under his control. Belasco informs him how he survived his battle against Dante and of his plans to magically open a portal to this world for his masters, the evil Elder Gods, with the help of the amulet Shanna found. Further, Shanna is to replace Beatrice Portinari as his bride. Before the eyes of the horrified Ka-Zar, Belasco forces the android Dherk to tear himself a part and for Buth to fly to what seems to be his death. Then Ka-Zar is put into a freezing chamber while Belasco plans to begin the ritual to summon the Elder Gods. However, Dherk is still conscious and manages to free Ka-Zar, who hurries to stop Belasco. He is helped by Buth, who in turn was saved by Zabu and a group of Arieans, as well as three descendants of Dante’s crew. Even as the incantation is done and the Elder Gods are about to breakthrough, Ka-Zar manages to grab the amulet and throw it into a volcano, effectively imprisoning the Elder Gods again. As a punishment, they seemingly make Belasco plummet to his death.

2nd story:
Young Zabu is adopted by a wolf family; however, as he and the cubs grow up, while he is able to befriend one of his foster brothers, the other hates him. On their first hunt, the hostile wolf kills his brother and tries to kill Zabu. Zabu wins and kills him in turn, but knows he has now also lost his foster parents and is alone again… at least for now.

Full Summary: 

1st story:
Cynically the devil-like Belasco welcomes Ka-Zar to his home. As he can see, the android Dherk and the girl Shanna belong to him. Standing in front of Belasco, knife drawn, Ka-Zar recognizes Belasco as Dante’s nemesis. He recalls that according to Dante’s log Belasco was frozen at the end of his battle with Dante. A temporary inconvenience, the evil sorcerer replies. When the volcano above them became active, he, uh… thawed. He’s indestructible.

What has he done with Shanna? Ka-Zar snarls, and where is Buth? Cradling the chin of the young woman, who seems to be in a trance, Belasco informs him that Shanna has become the perfect reincarnation of his beloved Beatrice… with one difference. Beatrice was frail and weak… she could not withstand the rigors of childbirth. This one however…

At the sight of those clawed, gnarled hands folding Shanna’s smooth skin, Ka-Zar furiously tries to attack Belasco, only to be pulled back by the super-strong android Dherk. He holds on to his arms and pulls Ka-Zar up by his hair. The tall Belasco reminds Ka-Zar they are both rational man. In good time he will tell him the whole… sordid little history. In the meantime, he was wondering about his angelic friend Buth. Well, he shan’t keep him in suspense.

Ka-Zar is led to a precipice above a lava pit. Above it Buth hangs, calmly crucified. Belasco explains he was greatly pleased to have captured one of that mighty race of warriors, though his belligerent ways are not needed here. He has taught their feathered friend a few tricks. He orders Buth to sing for their guest. And from Buth’s throat issue the strained pathetic notes of a canary’s feeble warbling.

He’s hypnotized! Ka-Zar snarls. How astute, Belaxco mocks. Yes, Buth is under his power as is his precious Shanna He tried to hypnotize Dherk until he discovered he was an automaton, so he simply reprogrammed him. But he is being rude. Belasco snaps his fingers. The day’s wearing thin and they haven’t had their afternoon entertainment.

He calls his children and from the ebon shadows spring a hoard of giggling, red-eyed demons wielding bows and arrows. Belasco presses a button and the clamps on Buth’s wings release him. As the bewildered Buth takes to the air, the demons draw their bows.

Ka-Zar head butts Dherk and gets loose. Belasco may be immune to the knife but let’s see how his children are! he announces as he attacks the demons. But there are too many and their arrows hit Buth, who plummets into the dark far below, as from the darkness of the shore two feral eyes watch silently.

He’ll die for that! Ka-Zar vows and attacks Belasco. The sorcerer however grabs him by the throat… with his tail. He announces he thinks it’s time they deal with Dherk. He orders Dherk to open himself completely. He may begin with the chest cavity. Horrified, Ka’zar has to watch as Dherk literally tears himself apart. Until all that remains of Dherk of Atlantis is a lifeless heap of twitching scrap metal.

“And now for…” Belasco begins. Not Shanna! Ka-Zar shouts. Belasco calls him a fool. He has no intention of harming her – quite the contrary. She is destined to replace Beatrice as his bride!

Belasco’s tale:
Seven centuries ago in Italy, through his practice of alchemy and the Black Arts, he was able to summon the Elder Gods, demonic entities from a parallel universe whose chief desire was to invade and rule Earth. Belasco struck a bargain with them, he promised to help them enter Earth’s plane permanently, using an unfinished pentagonal arrangement of stones and a special incantation, and they granted his wish for extraordinary powers and immortality. They also changed his human form to one that more resembled their own, adding horns and a magnificent tail and gave him the privilege of becoming father to a new demonic race, that would soon populate the Earth.

Yet he still needed a bride. He kidnapped the lovely Beatrice and they sailed to the site of this mountain, which the Elder Gods had indicated was the perfect location upon which to carry out the spell. For safekeeping, he made Beatrice wear the incomplete Pentagon in a locket whilst he kept the blood-red stone that would complete the spell in his possession. Little did he imagine that the fool Dante would give chase. In his haste, Belasco married Beatrice and, by the time they arrived, she was already swollen with child. With Dante close on their trail, they took refuge underground, traveling down the network of connecting tunnels that constitute this ancient amusement ride. Amusing indeed!

They had barely arrived at the ninth level when Beatrice began to give birth – and his lovely “children” burst from her rent womb. Dante arrived in the middle of their sacrilege and watched dumbstruck as his beloved Beatrice expired before his very eyes.

Belasco went to Beatrice’s body to retrieve the locket and thus seal his bargain with the Elder Gods but found to his chagrin that it had been lost somehow during their descent. Then Dante, enraged beyond reason by Beatrice’s demise, attacked with all his strength. There ensued a terrible battle. Dante, inspired by his grief, fought fiercely but Belasco’s superior strength and skills soon won out. He was just about to deliver the death blow when his sword slashed an overhead pipe, which pumped freezing liquid upon him.

For centuries, Belasco existed in frozen limbo, neither dead nor alive. A short time ago, the volcano became active again and, through an accident in the wiring system in the chamber, he was thawed. He learned much about this labyrinth since then. He controls all that happens here. But he had not been able yet to find the missing locket and, without the locket, he was unable to keep his bargain with the Elder Gods. Now, Shanna has found it for him.

The present:
He fondles the locket around Shanna’s neck. Now he shall have a new Beatrice. The Elder Gods shall have a presence in this world, and Ka-Zar shall lose his. Take him! he orders his demon children who instantly obey. Ka-Zar fights as well as he can but is taken down. Belasco orders to have him taken to the freezing chamber. With a flick of his tail, Belasco switches it on. Now he has business elsewhere.

Meanwhile, on the shore of the dark, bubbling lake, Zabu pulls the unconscious Buth from the black water and licks his face until he awakes. Buth looks up to see the moon above them.

Elsewhere, a mesmerized Shanna is being prepared for her wedding night as demon handmaidens array her in the silken lace gown originally intended for Beatrice. Belasco fondles the amulet, then kisses her throat as he leads her on. Her future awaits her, he promises.

Back in the freezing chamber, Ka-Zar is, well, freezing. Helplessly, he tries to break the glass but in vain. At the sound of Ka-Zar’s hammering, Dherk’s decapitated head suddenly hums into life. Gears whirl, circuits act, memories return: memories of Belasco, the demons, his own deprogramming. He looks askance at his detached hand lying nearby and it twitches spasmodically. Dherk uses every ounce of his will to force the fingers to crawl towards the freezing chamber.

Inside, Ka-Zar is at the edge of consciousness but Dherk’s voice awakes him. He tells Ka-Zar to guide the hand to the switch. Following Ka-Zar’s voice, it finally manages to switch the cell open. Stepping out, Ka-Zar complains he now knows how a TV dinner feels. He walks towards Dherk who tells him he has to stop Belasco. And don’t forget to come back for him when he’s done saving the world!

Ka-Zar sprints through the winding maze of uphill tunnels until he sees a horde of demons. Suddenly, a red-hued, laser-like beam flares by Ka-Zar’s astonished face and strikes one of the attacking demons, which instantly explodes in a red smear. It’s the children of Dis, who are shooting the lethal rays from their blind eyes and into the crowd of the scrambling demons.

One of the children points Ka-Zar toward a tunnel to the top. Dante’s escape, Ka-Zar realizes. But why haven’t they left by now if they know the way out? The blind and mute little creature merely shakes his head sadly. And as it turns its deathray upon the demons its ancestors have kept from the surface for centuries, Ka-Zar heads for the surface and Belasco.

He emerges from the dark tunnel to find himself at the top of the smoking volcano, just in time to witness the blasphemous “wedding” ceremony that will unite Belasco and Shanna forever and open a rift in Earth’s plane, through which Belasco’s “Elder Gods” will pass.

The jungle lord steals stealthily towards the chanting demonic figure, hoping against hope that surprise will aid him against the preternaturally strong madman. But, that same instant, Belasco grabs the golden locket which hangs about Shanna’s throat and, with a single flick of a clawed finger, opens the locket, revealing the incomplete pentagram. From his cape, he withdraws the final blood-red stone, the stone that will complete the spell and enable the Elder Gods to enter Earth’s stratosphere.

Ka-Zar springs into action but Belasco uses his magic to have the stone shatter under his feet and, from that crack, emerge harpies who attack Ka-Zar. Belasco utters the final incantation in a strange disturbing tongue as he holds the bloodstone in place above the pentagram.

But in the sky like a great storm cloud Ka-Zar sees Buth, along with the carried Zabu and the entire Aerian army. Buth’s forces sweep down into the swarm of the harpies.

However, the harpies’ attack has bought Belasco more time than he needs. He utters the final words of the incantation and places the ruby red stone into place. There is a deep guttural rumbling, the seamless surface of the sky rips down the middle as a weird light fills the night. Huge cyclopean shapes writhe behind a curtain of greenish mist. A titanic clawed hand reaches down ominously. The Elder Gods have come.

Ka-Zar runs to Shanna and grabs the locket and throws it into the volcano. The locket snaps open, its stones land upon the surface of the boiling lava. Seconds later, there follows a brilliant flash of all-consuming light as the dimensional passage begins to close above them.

Belasco begs his gods to take him with them. But the Elder Gods are not pleased and, in reply, Belasco’s supplicant form explodes in a riot of flame and flesh hurtling backward into the turbulent depths of the chasm below. The harpies writhe and shriek in agony and dissolve to dust before the Aerians’ stunned eyes and Shanna awakes at last from Belasco’s hypnotic power and goes limp in Ka-Zar’s arms. Only Buth worries that Belasco may somehow have survived…

2nd story:
The wolf Old Zagah looks for food for his mate and whelps. He finds a lifeless sabre-tooth cub and brings it to his cave, but there the cub, Zabu, revives and Zagah’s mate, Thana, “adopts” him.

Zabu grows up with the two wolf cubs, the stronger Jhet who despises Zabu and weakly little Fheta who befriends him.

The night Thana sends them out to make their first kill, Jhet and Zabu eagerly chase an antelope. However, with the antelope almost in his jaws, Zabu loses his footing and falls. Minutes later, he finds both the antelope and little Fheta lying dead beneath Jhet’s feet.

Zabu has to fight Jhet to the death. He emerges badly hurt but victorious, breaking his foster parent’s hearts. He realizes that he has to leave or has to risk fighting Zagah sooner or later. With a final lingering look at the two who reared him, Zabu turn and limps into the forest. Alone again. Will it ever be so?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a young towhead named Kevin Plunder gazes upward at a summer cloud from the lawn of his father’s estate and dreams of adventures yet to come…

Characters Involved: 

1st story:



Descendants of Dante’s crew

Belasco’s descendants

in Belasco’s story.
Dante Alighieri
Beatrice Portinari

Belasco’s children

2nd story:

Old Zagah, Thana, Jhet, Fheta (wolf family)

Young Kevin Plunder

Story Notes: 

Belasco actually survives and was sent to a Limbo as punishment where we – and poor Illyana Rasputin – next meet him in Uncanny X-Men #160.

Written By: