Saturday, October 3, 2015

Retro Comics: Tarzan Le Monstre

A find at a local used book store and voila, a retro review as Tarzan heads to the Opera, New York and the zoo.

Collecting six issues from Dark Horse's 1990s Tarzan series, the first two issues titled "Le Monstre" finds Tarzan and old pal Paul D'Arnot in Paris where Paul plans to lay out his heart to his new love, Christine Daae. Unfortunately a masked man with his own fondness for Christine intervenes, abducts her and leads Tarzan into the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House. The next story arc, "The Modern Prometheus" has Tarzan in New York running into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and inventor Nikola Tesla. But when a mysterious stranger steals a book from Tesla's vault it leads to Thomas Edison and an attempt to follow in the footsteps of a former scientist's experiments with life and death. The final story, "Tooth and Nail" still finds Tarzan in New York where he's asked to help the police track down a brutal killer. Eventually with help from fellow Mangani Ko Ved track down a monster known simply as Hyde.

As you can tell these stories, all written by Lovern Kindzierski, follow the same pattern: Tarzan, a few deaths and classic monsters, in this case the Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein's Monster and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What's sort of interesting is how this literary mashup was published years before The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would take a similar idea. However the execution here is somewhat scattershot, with the Phantom story being the weakest, the middle being pretty good and the last one OK. Nothing groundbreaking but entertaining enough.

The artwork is also just OK. Split between artists Stan Manukian and Vince Roucher, the work varies too much to stand out or compete with classic Tarzan artists like Foster, Hogarth, Manning or the great work by Thomas Yeates on Dark Horse's The Return of Tarzan series. Some of it is stunning and some it just doesn't click so art fans may want to approach with low expectations.

Looking back at this collection it's an interesting idea and might be worth exploring again at some point (especially since Tarzan Meets Dracula could be fun) but here it's just a reminder of the comic books of the 1990s. Next time another retro comic look so stay tuned.

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