Jungle Boy

First Appearance: Jungle Action v1 #1 (October 1954).
Appearances: Jungle Action #1-6.
Years Active: 1950s?

Jungle Boy is essentially a teenaged version of Lo-Zar and Ka-Zar; that is, he is a teenager (or perhaps a 12-year-old boy) who swings through the jungle fighting evil and playing at being Tarzan.

If you really must know...Jungle Boy is the son of "Jack Spears, white hunter." As far as I can tell Jungle Boy's proper name was never given in the stories themselves; the text always calls him "Jungle Boy," and his father always refers to him as "son." Jungle Boy has the usual set of Tarzan skills; he swings on vines and is good with his fists, is agile ("most graceful of all the creatures of the wild") and clever and all of that. He's also well-inclined towards the jungle, stopping hunters and even preventing predators from feeding on the less fortunate; in one story he stops a snake from eating baby birds.

The Jungle Boy stories are different from those of Lo-Zar--and, for that matter, Lorna and Jann--in a few ways. The first is the overt anti-Communism of the Jungle Boy stories; the Red Menace was the central threat in every Jungle Boy story I read, whether in the form of an escaped Kommie Killer ("Serge Rubochov, the mass murderer of anti-Communists that the police of the whole civilized world are looking for") or an agent stirring up local tribes against the whites:

Jack Spears: But you're being fooled by Red agents, Chief Dabawaba! They promise everyone the world, and end up killing off those who help them conquer it!
Chief Dabawaba: They say we will be rich and we shall get back this land from those who took it from us!
Jack Spears: No one took anything from your people, Dabawaba! We brought progress...medicine...help! If the Reds take over the jungle, they will make slaves of you!
Spears is half right, of course. The Soviets would have enslaved the Africans, had they taken over. But the lies and moral vomit Spears spews about the benefits of Western civilization, and how "no one took anything from your people," is the worst sort of American historical revisionism.

Um...anyhow. (Sorry, got carried away with myself there--but it does give you a good idea what these stories are like.) Both Jack Spears and Jungle Boy are ardent anti-Communists, and constantly run into them and end up defeating and/or killing them. Africa, in the Jungle Boy stories, is rife with Communists, and Spears and J.B. always seem to find them just in time.

The second difference is the dynamic between Jungle Boy and his father. Jack has no idea what his son really does; he doesn't blink at his son's costume (shorts and nothing else) and the fact that his son swings through the trees, has a monkey sidekick, and always saves his father's life. Jack always returns to the "You're just a boy! You can't do much!" and "You stay out of the way!" responses.

Finally, Jungle Boy has not one monkey sidekick, but an entire tribe; they follow him around, help save his life (when a live grenade is lobbed at Jungle Boy, one of the monkeys grabs the grenade and throws it back at the Commie who tossed it at Jungle Boy), and in general show a lot more intelligence than one would expect from a primate, even handing Jungle Boy clues and helping tip him off as to who is responsible for various mysteries in the stories.

Note: As I mentioned in the Man-Oo entry, "Serpo" the giant snake makes an appearance in one of Jungle Boy's stories, as he also does in a Man-Oo story and a Lo-Zar story. The snake is illustrated the same in each story, and portrayed in the same way. (Inasmuch as a giant, hungry, evil snake can be said to be portrayed, I mean.) To my mind that's enough evidence to link Jungle Boy, Lo-Zar, and Man-Oo together in the same continuity.

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