Dynamite’s Lord of the Jungle sees Edgar Rice Burroughs’ hero explored through his familiar origin story. For those that are not familiar, Tarzan’s parents are stranded on an island and are soon killed some time after giving birth to him, and he in turn is adopted by the apes and raised as one of their own. Fully grown, Tarzan has an easy life in the jungle until one day complications arrive in the form of visitors and a certain lady named Jane. From that point on everything about his life will change and whether that is for the better is debatable as he most likely would have just grown old and died in the jungle. As it is, Tarzan is brought into civilization and now makes his home between two worlds.
Written by Arvid Nelson, fine purveyor of Rex Mundi and the decent Warlord of Mars, he seems to have found his stride with this series. Where Rex Mundi was grand in scope, and Warlord of Mars should have been, Lord of the Jungle finds Nelson a little grounded so to speak, and because of it, does some of his best writing. His grasp on Tarzan is perfect, making him primal no matter the setting or with whom he speaks which is how he should be portrayed. But aside from being a beast in the skin of a man, he is probably the smartest person and the one with the most common sense from the rest of the cast. It is perhaps that there is nothing too outlandish with the story that Nelson does so well with it. The issues are fast paced and exciting and you can breeze through the two trade paperbacks in about an hour. It is a little strange how this book can be so good and Warlord of Mars can be so bland when they are both written by the same man. If the action could get more widescreen in scope, like it is in this book, Warlord can only get better.
On the artistic side, Roberto Castro pencils the book with great flair and delivers everything needed to make a good action epic. He illustrates that primal aspect that Nelson writes perfectly, whether in battle or wearing a suit, Tarzan seethes the jungle as if they were one. But Castro can also do tenderness as well, such as when the mother ape is holding her child, or protecting Tarzan from the bull ape. It is a nice balance between the normalcies of civilization and the fantastical of the wild that Castro brings to the table that makes him a good choice of artist to chronicle the Ape Lord’s modern series.
At this moment in time, it does not seem as if there are any more issues on the horizon of his ongoing title, or if it is merely on hiatus, but if it should come back it would be nice should the same creative team be in place. While Warlord could use a new writer, Lord of the Jungle has found the perfect one. Great pathos, action and intrigue as well as a return to form for one of pulpdom’s oldest heroes from one of today’s best publishers.
4.5 out of 5