For this weekend’s light-hearted and escapist superhero blog post Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the early adventures of the Marvel Comics character Shanna the She-Devil.
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL Vol 1 #1 (December 1972)
Title: And a Jungle Queen is Born
Villains: Ivory Dan Drake and his men
NOTE: Rather than simply revive one of their company’s Golden Age Jungle Queens like Zara or Lorna, Marvel Comics went with a new character whose name made her even MORE of a Sheena rip-off than either Zara OR Lorna! Go figure.
Synopsis: On the Dahomey Reserve in Africa, the infamous ivory poacher Ivory Dan Drake and his men are about to slaughter some elephants for their tusks when they are stopped by the attacking Dr. Shanna O’Hara, now better known as Shanna the She-Devil.
She disarms and subdues the poachers, then she and her two leopards – Ina the Spotted and Biri the Dark – escort the hunting party to the border of the reserve. She orders them to leave the area, then resumes her professional care for the animals of the jungle.
Ivory Dan and his men simply move to another location and resume their poaching expedition. As Shanna spends the rest of the issue battling them, including Ivory Dan’s huge, hulking German thug Zarg, we get flashbacks regarding her origin.
When she was a child, she lived in Africa with her father and mother. Her father owned a lucrative diamond mine and taught the young Shanna O’Hara his love of the jungle and its animals.
One day her father accidentally shot her mother to death in a hunting accident. After that, he drowned his sorrows in constant drinking and Shanna was sent to the United States to complete her education.
While attaining her PhD in animal husbandry she also earned a spot on the Olympic gymnastics team. The dangers of New York City prompted her to learn martial arts and she fought off more than one would-be mugger or rapist in her day.
In her mid to late 20s, Dr. O’Hara worked at the Bronx Zoo and was devastated one day when a crazed man with a gun shot and killed many of the great jungle cats she worked with at the zoo. Her favorite leopard Julani was killed and the director of the Bronx Zoo offered Shanna the opportunity to take Julani’s cubs – Ina and Biri – back to Africa to raise them in the wild on the animal reserve.
Shanna by now hated civilization with its crime and war and was happy to do so. She took to wearing nothing but Julani’s pelt for “sight and smell recognition” with Ina and Biri. Her crusade against poachers earned her the nickname Shanna the She-Devil.
By the story’s end, Ivory Dan has been trampled to death by one of the elephants he was after, and the rest of his men were defeated by Shanna. She turned them over to Warden Patrick McShane, whom dialogue informs us always tries to talk Shanna into a date, but she always refuses politely.
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL Vol 1 #2 (February 1973)
Title: The Sahara Connection
Villains: El Montano and his slavers
Synopsis: The brutal villain El Montano and his gang of Muslim Slavers prey on the Fulani people, frequently abducting several of them for the horrific international human trafficking market.
The next day, while Dr. O’Hara is serving at the Game Warden Center alongside Patrick McShane, a jeep arrives, driven by Indian S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jakuna Singh.
Singh tells Shanna that S.H.I.E.L.D. needs her help. El Montano the Slaver is still running his black market of slaves, gold, diamonds, drugs and ivory out of his impregnable, richly appointed fortress in the Sahara Desert. Word is out that the villain plans to hijack a French government space exploration vehicle in Northern Africa very soon.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has already lost multiple agents trying to go undercover in El Montano’s fortress and they are hoping Shanna will be more successful at shutting down his slave trade, black market and his hijacking scheme. Appalled by the villain’s human trafficking, the She-Devil agrees to infiltrate El Montano’s lair.
That night, Jakuna Singh has a helicopter drop off Shanna and her two leopards near El Montano’s fortress. Our heroine and her great cats succeed in penetrating the stronghold, defeating the villain’s soldiers, freeing the potential slaves and preventing him from hijacking the French space craft headed for the moon.
El Montano is outfought by the She-Devil and then torn limb from limb by the freed prisoners.
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL Vol 1 #3 (April 1973)
Title: The Moon of the Fear-Bulls
Villains: King Phobotauros, the Horned Guard and General Elam
Synopsis: After Shanna the She-Devil saves Patrick McShane from a crocodile, she retires to the under-construction banyan mansion she is having built far off the ground.
Dr. O’Hara is having a hard time finding builders willing to come this deep into the jungle to finish her new home, which utilizes Frank Lloyd Wright’s last design the Ecological Niche.
The next day, a native comes to inform our heroine that a larger than normal African Buffalo is running amok to the south, killing several children. Shanna and her leopards Ina and Biri head to the indicated location to hunt and humanely capture the rampant cape buffalo.
Passing through unfamiliar territory, the She-Devil encounters another party of men searching for the animal. In a storyline straight out of Tarzan stories they turn out to be surviving ancient Greeks from the island of Crete.
They sailed away nearly 2,000 years ago and ultimately pulled ashore in western Africa, then journeyed inland. The Cretans established a city similar to their original Greek civilization and, typical of these stories, they’ve lived at the exact same level of development ever since then.
Dr. O’Hara learned classical Greek in college, so she and the Cretans understand each other. They tell her how they raised African buffalos, which resembled the Cretan bulls they were familiar with back home.
In recent years, radiation from the caves in which the bulls were stabled caused them to grow even larger. Their bull-priest Phobotauros recently used the huge animals and his bull-helmeted soldiers called the Horned Guard to overthrow the Greek city’s ruler and take over.
The hunting party which Shanna has encountered are part of the rebels fighting against the usurper Phobotauros. The She-Devil and these rebels fight off one attack from the Horned Guard forces, but later fall to a larger troop of them.
The next day Dr. O’Hara and her fellow captives are to be thrust into an arena to be killed by the huge, recaptured African Buffalo. Further complicating things is the black General Elam, the recently deposed dictator from the fictional West African Confederation. He wants to use the radiation-mutated African “Bulls” and Shanna herself to retake power in the W.A.C.
Naturally, the She-Devil defeats all the evildoers, leaves the Cretans in peace in their hidden city and returns to her unfinished Banyan Tree mansion. Using some of her fortune from her family’s diamond mine she will pay the exorbitant fees that the builders are demanding.
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL Vol 1 #4 (June 1973)
Title: Cry … Mandrill!
Villain: The Mandrill
Synopsis: Dr. O’Hara and Warden Patrick McShane are in an unnamed city in North Africa, looking for Shanna’s father Gerald, who has disappeared. A rhino being transported for shipment to a zoo breaks loose from its handlers and Shanna heroically mounts it and chews its ear to guide it to a dead-end alleyway, where it is humanely taken back into custody.
Next, the She-Devil and Patrick check into their hotel, puzzled about the invitations they received to a gala. Shanna’s father reaches her by phone but is retaken by his captors before he can tell her anything.
Our heroine and Patrick soon learn that they aren’t the only puzzled guests showing up at the gala. Assorted wealthy and politically connected people are there. It turns out to be a trap that is now sprung by the Mandrill.
NOTE: This is the first appearance of the Mandrill, a mutant supervillain who is so malformed that he looks just like an actual mandrill in human form. His mutant powers include the ability to mesmerize women into his service and he has an army of black women warriors who each have mandrill facial colorings tattooed on their own faces.
Shanna switches to her costume, then she and her leopards Ina and Biri battle the Mandrill’s female troops. Patrick tries to fight the Mandrill but the villain effortlessly smacks him unconscious. Shanna and her leopards escape by crashing through a window.
The She-Devil drives her Range Rover away from the mansion and back toward the city. The Mandrill’s troops chase her in their own vehicles, and after a wild car chase our heroine loses them and reaches the city.
Dr. O’Hara runs to her hotel room to call in some authorities but is surprised to see waiting in her room S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jakuna Singh. He informs her that he is after the Mandrill, too, and that villain has her father held captive along with the new prisoners he gained tonight. The villain plans to pull off three simultaneous coups in three African nations.
Jakuna talks the She-Devil into returning to the Mandrill’s mansion, letting loose the prisoners, and then summoning Jakuna and several other S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents to sweep in and capture the villain and his army.
Our heroine does so, but the Mandrill escapes. Shanna pursues him, defeats him and some of his pet mandrills and turns him over to the arriving Jakuna Singh and company.
Patrick and the night’s other prisoners are free and safe, but the Mandrill taunts Shanna that her father is still held captive at another location.
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL Vol 1 #5 (August 1973)
Title: Where Nekra Walks, Death Must Follow
Synopsis: This issue picks up a week after the end of the previous one. Dr. O’Hara and Warden McShane are passing time at the Dahomey Reserve, hoping for word on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s search for her father.
Jakuna arrives in a S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft and escorts Shanna and Patrick to one of the agency’s ships off the western coast of Africa. Through a teleconference our heroine is briefed by Professor Charles Xavier himself. Dr. O’Hara says she met Charles at a scientific conference on mutations among animals a few years back and the two renew their acquaintance.
Xavier informs her that not only is the imprisoned Mandrill a mutant, but his X-Men team’s computer Cerebro has detected another mutant operating in the same vicinity. This mutant is unknown but has a very high upper threshold for its potential power.
If that mutant is in league with the Mandrill and his still at large female army, it could mean the villain’s planned coups in three nations might still be carried out.
We cut to a ritual being led by Nekra, the other mutant. She is working the rest of the Mandrill’s female army into a frenzy of hatred, feeding on it.
That night, Dr. O’Hara is in her Banyan Tree mansion reading Camus’ The Stranger, when Patrick’s warden station in the distance catches fire.
The She-Devil races to the site with Ina and Biri, to see the station burning with the unconscious Patrick within. Barring Shanna’s way to rescuing him is Nekra, making her first appearance. She is the above-mentioned second mutant that Cerebro detected in that part of Africa. She tells our heroine that she is the Mandrill’s High Priestess.
Shanna and her leopards attack Nekra, whose mutant power is to harness her own hate and the hatred felt by the Mandrill’s entire army of female warriors and convert those emotions into sheer physical strength and invulnerability.
The She-Devil’s knife shatters against Nekra’s body and not even the claws of her leopards can penetrate the villainess’ flesh. She knocks out Ina and Biri, but eventually Shanna uses her martial arts skill to render Nekra unconscious.
Our heroine rescues Patrick from the fire, and the two of them ponder what they will do when Nekra regains consciousness.
NOTE: This was the final issue of Shanna the She-Devil’s 1970s series. Her war with Nekra and the Mandrill would be continued in the pages of Ka-Zar as well as in Daredevil and the Black Widow. (see below)
After that, she had solo adventures as well as guest-star appearances and is STILL an active character in Marvel Comics. The Mandrill and Nekra continued as mutant villains at Marvel as well.
KA-ZAR Vol 2 #2 (March 1974)
Title: The Fall of the Red Wizard
Villain: The Red Wizard
Synopsis: Dr. O’Hara’s quest to find her father has led her to the Savage Land, the Marvel Comics universe’s fictional lost prehistoric jungle in Antarctica. Dinosaurs, ancient races and other life-forms dwell there.
Shanna joins forces with Ka-Zar (Lord Kevin Plunder) the blonde Tarzan-style hero of this lost prehistoric land. The Savage Land and this version of Ka-Zar were first encountered in X-Men #10 ( which I reviewed HERE).
Ka-Zar, Shanna and Ka-Zar’s sabretooth tiger Zabu battle the Red Wizard, a villain trying to unleash havoc on the Savage Land by tapping into the geothermal forces that keep the place at a tropical climate.
NOTE: X-Men fans may want to note that the Red Wizard serves Garrok the Petrified Man, a future foe of that mutant team. Still later, Garrok would serve Magneto in X-Men #149.
After the She-Devil helps Ka-Zar (her future husband in the years ahead) to defeat the Red Wizard, she uses her veterinary skills to cure Zabu, who was injured during the battle. Then, Shanna resumes her quest for her father back in the outside world.
DAREDEVIL Vol 1 #109 (May 1974)
Title: Dying for Dollars
Villains: Nekra, Mandrill and Black Spectre
Synopsis: Shanna the She-Devil’s story continues as she guest-stars in Daredevil. She learns that the Mandrill’s partner Nekra has not only busted the Mandrill out of prison, but the Mandrill then killed her captive father.
The pair of villains abandoned their planned coups in three African nations because of too much heat on their organization after their defeat at the She-Devil’s hands in her own comic book.
Now called Black Spectre, the Mandrill’s all-female army of enthralled soldiers have been making terrorist attacks throughout America, defacing the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Washington Monument.
Recently, the Black Spectre soldiers robbed U.S. Government Treasury Department printing plates and have produced a huge haul of counterfeit money. Tossing the fake money from the rooftops on Wall Street, the Mandrill and Nekra’s army is now causing a riot there as people fight over the falling dollars.
While Daredevil deals with the mobs raging on Wall Street, out in San Francisco, the Black Widow, pondering the recent end of her romance with Daredevil, is attacked by Nekra. The female mutant’s hate-fueled strength and invulnerability make her immune even to the Black Widow’s “widow’s bite” or “widow’s sting” energy blasts from her wristlets.
NOTE: In the movies we never got to see the Black Widow’s widow’s sting energy blasts nor the web-lines that her wristlets fired for her to swing around on like Spider-Man. In addition, her costume allowed her to climb walls and walk on ceilings, but that was also left out of the movies. All Natasha got to do in the MCU was shoot guns.
Nekra defeats the Black Widow and hauls her off, intending to recruit her for the Mandrill’s all-female army – or kill her.
Back in New York, when the Wall Street riot is over and the Black Spectre soldiers have escaped, Matt Murdock is summoned to an emergency meeting at the office of District Attorney “Foggy” Nelson. Among the people in attendance at that meeting is San Francisco Police Chief Robert “Ironguts” O’Hara, who had been a supporting character in Daredevil in recent years.
NOTE: Daredevil and the Black Widow both lived in San Francisco for part of the 1970s, and it was in that city that their portions of the Thanos War were fought.
We learn that Robert O’Hara, visiting from Frisco, is the brother of the late Gerald O’Hara, killed by the Mandrill, and both he and his niece are in New York pursuing Gerald’s killers.
Which means, of course, that Robert’s niece is … Dr. Shanna O’Hara herself, who makes a dramatic entrance with her leopards on leashes for the cliffhanger ending.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #3 (May 1974)
Title: Inside Black Spectre
Villains: Nekra and Black Spectre
Synopsis: Continuing the story, after explaining everything about the Mandrill, Nekra and their all-female army to Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock and her Uncle Robert earlier, Dr. Shanna O’Hara is now asked to explain it all over again to the just-arriving Daredevil.
Shanna takes it from the top.
NOTE: Daredevil has to pretend that he hasn’t heard it yet to cover his secret identity as Matt Murdock.
That night, on Broadway, Black Spectre soldiers attack a play in progress and murder two of the actors, causing a panic. Daredevil fights Black Spectre and is shocked to be attacked by the Black Widow, who is now under the Mandrill’s hypnotic control.
As Black Widow and the other female Black Spectre soldiers escape in an aircraft, Daredevil heads for the nearby Baxter Building to borrow the Fantastic Four’s Fantasticar in order to pursue the Widow and the others. The Thing pilots the Fantasticar for Daredevil as they head off in pursuit.
Catching up with the Black Spectre aircraft, the Thing and Daredevil invade it and battle the Black Spectre army as well as Nekra, Mandrill and the enthralled Black Widow. Black Widow and Nekra defeat Daredevil, but the Thing easily swats Nekra and the Widow aside.
When the Thing goes after the Mandrill in the aircraft’s small-scale replica of Nekra’s African Mandrill temple, the villain springs a death trap that sends the Thing and Daredevil plummeting to the streets below.
Teamwork saves the two heroes, but the Black Spectre craft gets away.
DAREDEVIL Vol 1 #110 (June 1974)
Villains: Mandrill, Nekra, Black Spectre
Synopsis: Swinging along New York City’s skyscrapers via his Billy Club’s cable, Daredevil parts company with the Thing. Before long, he spots two Black Spectre soldiers in the streets below and attacks them. He outfights them and takes them to a police station.
Dr. Shanna O’Hara and her Uncle Robert are called in by Daredevil to see if more can be learned thanks to Shanna’s previous encounters with the Mandrill and Nekra’s female troops. The two women blow themselves up rather than talk.
Daredevil and the O’Haras soon leave the police station, and Daredevil swings over to the hotel room he’s been staying in as Matt Murdock during this New York visit. He is stunned to encounter the Mandrill and some of his female army waiting for him. The Mandrill explains to DD that the enthralled Black Widow revealed his secret identity to him when asked.
Next, the Mandrill does a Villain Rant to Daredevil, explaining that he and Nekra’s parents each worked for a nuclear power plant for decades. His own parents were stunned to see their child was a mutant who resembled a mandrill, while Nekra’s parents were equally shocked that their child was an albino girl with fangs.
Because the families knew each other, the young Nekra and Mandrill became runaways and allies. The usual persecution suffered by mutants sealed their bond and as they matured and refined their powers they moved to Africa, recruited followers and pursued their original plan.
With that plan foiled by Shanna the She-Devil, the only woman so far capable of resisting the Mandrill’s hypnotic abilities, he and Nekra moved their group to America. They renamed it Black Spectre and launched a series of terrorist attacks, with their ultimate goal being the takeover of the United States government.
Daredevil refuses to be blackmailed into helping the Mandrill just because the villain knows he is really Matt Murdock. He and the Mandrill fight, with the mutant and his female soldiers escaping for this issue’s cliffhanger ending.
DAREDEVIL Vol 1 #111 (July 1974)
Title: Sword of the Samurai
Villains: The Silver Samurai, Mandrill, Nekra, Black Spectre
Synopsis: With the Mandrill knowing his secret identity, Daredevil shows up at the luxury hotel room of Dr. Shanna O’Hara and her Uncle Robert. It is 3:00AM.
Daredevil brings them both up to date on what he learned from the Mandrill. After that he departs, only to be attacked by another Black Spectre operative – the Silver Samurai.
NOTE: This is the very first appearance of this mutant supervillain whose power is the ability to charge with energy metal objects like his samurai sword. In later years he will join up with the villainess called Viper and become a foe of the X-Men.
The Silver Samurai has Daredevil on the run, with his bio-energy charged sword slicing through streetlight poles, mailboxes, parked cars, etc. Shanna the She-Devil and her leopards Ina and Biri show up in time to save Daredevil and drive off the Silver Samurai.
Daredevil finds a safe place to sleep, given how exhausted he is. (No, I don’t know why he doesn’t stay with the O’Haras. He sure as hell can’t go back to Matt Murdock’s hotel room to sleep. He’d be a sitting duck.)
Several hours later, Daredevil, Shanna and her Uncle Robert meet at the hospital with the still-recovering Foggy Nelson. DD and Foggy lean on the She-Devil to tell them everything she’s holding back about the Mandrill and Nekra.
Shanna explains for the first time that when Nekra came to after the end of Shanna the She-Devil #5 she killed Patrick McShane and escaped. She also reveals that it must have been the Silver Samurai that Nekra had free the Mandrill from prison. The authorities thought Mandrill’s cell wall had been sliced open by an experimental laser, but instead it must have been the Silver Samurai’s sword, charged with his bio-energy.
Suddenly, several Black Spectre soldiers plus Nekra and the Silver Samurai invade the hospital. Daredevil, Shanna and her leopards fight them, but in the end, the villains succeed in abducting Shanna and leave Daredevil for dead.
He’s still alive, however, and he begins scouring the city for any sign of Black Spectre’s anti-gravity aircraft. At last he spots it, approaching the Empire State Building. Silver Samurai and several Black Spectre soldiers descend a rope ladder from the aircraft and start sabotaging all of the broadcast equipment atop the skyscraper.
While Daredevil fights the female soldiers and the Silver Samurai, the Mandrill and the still-enthralled Black Widow take Shanna the She-Devil to be dissected by the Mandrill in order to discover why she is able to resist his hypnotic powers.
As the Black Spectre aircraft begins to drift away from the Empire State Building, Daredevil abandons his battle with Silver Samurai and the Black Spectre soldiers, who make their escape.
He leaps to catch the rope ladder dangling from the air vessel and climbs up, intent on finishing things with Mandrill and Nekra once and for all.
NOTE: The teleportation ring that Silver Samurai and the Viper often used was first obtained by stealing it from John Belushi (yes, really), who had received it due to a post office mix-up. This happened when Spider-Man teamed up with SNL‘s Not Ready for Prime Time Players in Marvel Team-Up #74 (October 1978).
DAREDEVIL Vol 1 #112 (Aug 1974)
Title: Death of a Nation?
Villains: Mandrill, Nekra, Black Spectre
Synopsis: As Daredevil climbs the rope ladder to the departing Black Spectre aircraft, the sabotage done by the Silver Samurai and the others causes the broadcast antennae and other equipment from the top of the Empire State Building to fall to the streets below, killing and injuring many people.
Daredevil makes his way into the aircraft, but after a long fight, falls in battle to Mandrill and Nekra. The Mandrill has Daredevil bound on an operating table next to Shanna the She-Devil. Because he knows that Matt Murdock really is blind, he plans to dissect Daredevil’s brain, too, when this is all over, in order to find out how he functions as a superhero.
The aircraft makes its way to Washington D.C. as Mandrill’s Villain Rant makes it clear that other Black Spectre operatives have sabotaged television, radio and telephone systems up and down the entire east coast. Other agents have the Avengers, Fantastic Four and the X-Men chasing their tails over false A-Bomb threats that they dare not ignore.
Soon, the aircraft will reach Washington and the Mandrill, Nekra and their female army will seize the White House and other central locations. When communications are at last restored, the U.S. will be aware that an enemy army – Black Spectre – occupies the capital city. The Mandrill and his comrades will be braced for the cataclysmic war to follow.
Arriving over the White House, the Mandrill, Nekra and their army use stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. jetpacks to strike at the White House and their other targets.
While that is going on, Dr. Shanna O’Hara talks Daredevil through appropriate emotional shocks he can use to free their guard – the enthralled Black Widow – from the Mandrill’s control.
Naturally, it works. The Widow frees Shanna and Daredevil from the operating tables they are bound to, following which Natasha uses the knowledge she gained while serving the Mandrill to sabotage the aircraft and to outfit herself, DD and the She-Devil with their own jetpacks.
The three heroes fly down and attack the villains while the Mandrill’s aircraft explodes from the Black Widow’s sabotage. Shanna takes down all the Black Spectre soldiers holding the White House, the Black Widow battles Nekra and Daredevil squares off with the Mandrill.
The She-Devil and Black Widow emerge triumphant over their adversaries and celebrate. Daredevil thinks the Mandrill has fallen to his death from the top of the White House, but he turns out to be wrong. The villain got away.
As U.S. troops move in to corral the surrendering Black Spectre forces, Shanna comes to terms with the fact that the Mandrill has escaped, and her vengeance will have to wait for another time.
For now, the country is saved, and the Mandrill’s army has been defeated.
DAREDEVIL Vol 1 #117 (January 1975)
Title: Mind Tap
Villain: The Owl
Synopsis: Daredevil and the Black Widow have been back at their San Francisco locale for a little while. In the previous issue, Daredevil’s frequent foe the Owl and his men successfully captured DD and are threatening to kill him unless the Black Widow carries out a kidnapping for him. The target? Diamond mine heiress Shanna O’Hara.
With Daredevil’s life on the line, the Widow swings over to Dr. O’Hara’s penthouse apartment in San Francisco to abduct her. After a brief battle between the two, they decide to team up against the Owl to free Daredevil since the Owl will likely kill him no matter what, if he hasn’t already.
The Black Widow and Shanna the She-Devil swing along on the Widow’s web-lines to reach the Owl’s HQ.
As they get close to it, Shanna pretends to be unconscious, and Natasha carries her into the Owl’s presence.
The villain reveals he has no intention of freeing Daredevil, so the She-Devil stops playing possum. She frees Daredevil and then joins the Black Widow in mopping the floor with the bad guys.
In the end the Owl is defeated and captured.
SAVAGE TALES Vol 1 #8 (January 1975)
Title: The Billion-Year War
NOTE: The same month Shanna was depicted helping the Black Widow and Daredevil against the Owl, she began a multi-issue run in Savage Tales, one of Marvel’s more “adult” black & white magazines of the 1970s.
Synopsis: Dr. Shanna O’Hara was merely a guest star in this story. She traveled to the Savage Land with a S.H.I.E.L.D. expedition headed by scientist/ agent Barbara “Bobbi” Morse, who had shared adventures with Ka-Zar years earlier. They had even had a fling at the end of one such escapade.
NOTE: Bobbi Morse later went on to become the superheroine called Mockingbird and married Hawkeye.
In this story, Shanna the She-Devil fights beside Ka-Zar as he guides Bobbi Morse’s expedition to a “temple” that is really a billion-year-old spaceship. Shanna bickers with Ka-Zar about his casual slaying of animals and dinosaurs who attack them, while she tries to simply disable them temporarily.
Ka-Zar becomes attracted to the fiery Shanna, making Bobbi a bit jealous given her past fling with the blonde jungle-lord. At length the group fights their way past a hostile Savage Land tribe to reach their goal.
The expedition’s study of the ancient space vessel winds up freeing Grond, the alien warrior in suspended animation inside it. Due to its malfunctioning, he has been in that state for roughly a billion years.
Grond lashes out violently, believing he is battling enemies from whatever life-forms his alien race was at war with on Earth a billion years ago. The fight ends with Grond dying in quicksand. Shanna and Bobbi soon head back to the outside world.
SAVAGE TALES Vol 1 #9 (March 1975)
Title: The Golden Blood-Beasts of Daka-Jur
NOTE: This was a very good Shanna story and nicely utilized the more violent and lurid approach that the black & white format made possible. It’s like a salute to the old pulp magazines and movie serials that Raiders of the Lost Ark would pay tribute to years down the road.
Synopsis: Dr. Shanna O’Hara has been back at the Dahomey Reserve in Africa with her leopards Ina and Biri for a few months. One day, the She-Devil’s old friend the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jakuna Singh is traveling through the jungle with multiple people.
He is on a Top Secret journey to seek Shanna’s aid once again, when his foes – Thuggee assassins – ambush his party and kill them all. Dr. O’Hara and her leopards hear the sounds of the violence and head for the locale.
The She-Devil notes the slaughter and furiously kills two of the Thuggees herself while having Ina and Biri kill one each. Shanna renders the last Thuggee unconscious to be questioned and races to Jakuna’s side.
He is seriously wounded and starts to warn her about the menace he came to consult her about – a Thuggee Cult headquartered in the modern-day jungles of India. The cult is led by Raga-Shah, who possesses actual mystical powers through the blood magic of the Thuggees.
Jakuna Singh tells the She-Devil she needs to contact his sister Sarapha in Calcutta for more information about Raga-Shah. Suddenly, charging from the jungle at Jakuna and Shanna is a golden bull statue given life by Raga-Shah’s magic.
Our heroine battles the beast but is unable to stop it from finishing off Jakuna. Shanna mourns her dead friend, recalling the deaths of her parents and of Warden Patrick McShane as well. The surviving Thuggee kills himself before he can be questioned.
Within a day or two Dr. O’Hara has her private jet fly her from Africa to Calcutta in India to meet Jakuna’s sister Sarapha. In civilian clothes and with her leopards on leashes, Shanna shows up at Sarapha’s home.
Unfortunately, Raga-Shah’s cult has already abducted Sarapha and left a mixed male and female Thuggee team at Sarapha’s home to kill the She-Devil when she shows up. Naturally, Shanna and her leopards defeat them all.
Our heroine charters a boat to take her up the Ganges River toward where Jakuna told her Raga-Shah’s temple, Daka-Jur, is located. Days later, Shanna, Ina and Biri are deep in the Indian jungles headed for Daka-Jur.
At that Thuggee temple, the She-Devil finds Sarapha, who explains to our heroine that Raga-Shah used to be her romantic partner until she realized his true nature. Through blood sacrifices he and his followers are able to animate gold statues to do their bidding.
Their ultimate goal is to perform one massive sacrifice to Kali that will enable them to animate their enormous, Statue of Liberty-sized gold statue to go on a rampage, leaving untold numbers of dead in its wake.
That enormous statue is kept securely on the other side of a moat made up of acid. In the meantime, Raga-Shah shows up and uses his powers to leave Shanna the She-Devil on a plain outside the temple, where he sacrifices her leopards Ina and Biri as the last two deaths needed to animate a gold elephant.
This statue, which he calls Ghamola, is, of course, much larger than the golden bull statue that killed Jakuna Singh. Shanna does battle with Ghamola, struggling to stay alive against it as Raga-Shah and his followers look on, expecting her to be crushed to death at any moment.
Fighting more savagely than ever under the circumstances, the She-Devil eventually decides upon the tactic of using her knife to carve out the jeweled eyes of the golden elephant. This leaves the animated creature blind, and, riding atop it, Shanna “drives” Ghamola to stampede the cultists and rampage through the temple.
Our heroine thus inflicts a LOT of damage, including starting many fires, then drives the blind Ghamola into the moat of acid. Naturally, Dr. O’Hara leapt off before the creature fell into the acid and was dissolved into slag.
Raga-Shah and his surviving cultists flee the fire and their Statue of Liberty-sized statue is melted down by the raging inferno. Shanna sadly mourns the loss of her beloved leopards before setting off on the trail of Raga-Shah.
SAVAGE TALES Vol 1 #10 (May 1975)
Title: Blood Purge
Villains: King Aculdi and Raga-Shah
Synopsis: Dr. Shanna O’Hara has spent days pursuing the fleeing Raga-Shah northward and has arrived in the wilderness around Nel-Ireso, a fictional country in Northern India, somewhere between Varanasi and the Nepal border.
The She-Devil’s agility allows her to survive a sudden stampede of yaks and tahrs, following which she discovers what caused the animals to panic. She sees that it was a still-raging battle between the army of Nel-Ireso’s usurping King Aculdi and the rebel forces of Prince Telmah, the rightful heir to the throne.
NOTE: To provide this tale a sword & sorcery feel, writer Carla Conway depicts Nel-Ireso as a nation where firearms of all kinds are forbidden. The two armies clash with swords and knives.
Because King Aculdi’s forces are allies of Raga-Shah and his Thuggees, Shanna sides with the rebels. She uses her martial arts skills and her knife to save Prince Telmah’s life and single-handedly turns the tide of the battle, letting the rebels win.
Shanna the She-Devil is about to move on, when she learns from the prince that Raga-Shah is currently in Nel-Ireso’s capital city as a guest of King Aculdi. The usurper reigns with Prince Telmah’s mother, a follower of Raga-Shah, at his side.
For a chance at revenge, Dr. O’Hara decides to spend a few days with the rebels, since Telmah is planning a sneak attack on the royal palace at the capital. Presently, the attack is launched, using a secret underground passageway into the palace.
Unfortunately, Prince Telmah’s mother informed King Aculdi about the passageway, so his troops ambush Shanna, Prince Telmah and his soldiers. A lengthy battle follows, in which the She-Devil wields a sword as well as her usual knife against Aculdi’s men.
Shanna’s desire for vengeance has made her as blood thirsty as Wolverine at his most violent, and she kills plenty of enemy soldiers. Eventually, numbers tell the tale, and the king’s army wins out.
Dr. O’Hara and Prince Telmah are taken alive at Raga-Shah’s command, but the rest of Telmah’s defeated army is slaughtered.
Before long, the bound Shanna and Telmah are brought before King Aculdi for judgement. He tells Shanna that Raga-Shah’s fear of her prompted him to flee the city the day before, but he left orders for her to be killed.
Both our heroine and the prince are taken to a very deep dungeon beneath the palace, where Aculdi’s soldiers and Raga-Shah’s Thuggees run the Pit of a Thousand Deaths. Aculdi and his wife look on as Shanna and Telmah are tied to a Pit and the Pendulum style death trap.
O’Hara turns the tables and frees herself and the prince. She fights off the surrounding enemy forces and, in the nick of time, the rest of Telmah’s army storms the palace at news that the prince had been captured.
The arriving rebel army helps Shanna defeat King Aculdi’s men. The king would rather destroy the capital city than surrender, so he opens a massive door which lets a lava flow from a nearby volcano flood the palace and the city.
The She-Devil uses her sword to kill King Aculdi and his wife, then leads Prince Telmah, his troops and the civilian populace out of the capital city to safety. The next day, the new King Telmah resolves to help his people rebuild, and asks Shanna to become his queen.
Shanna declines, and leaves to continue her hunt for Raga-Shah.
RAMPAGING HULK Vol 1 #9 (June 1978)
Title: The Wrath of Raga-Shah
Synopsis: This story opens up with narration informing us that, after spending two years searching for Raga-Shah with no results, Dr. Shanna O’Hara gave in to her frustration and returned to the United States a year ago to settle down in San Pedro, CA.
Shanna regularly sees a female psychiatrist, Dr. Betz (no first name given), to discuss her feelings regarding Raga-Shah killing her friend Jakuna Singh and her leopards Ina & Biri. Shanna conceals from Dr. Betz the fact that – being very wealthy – she maintains a portion of her San Pedro home as an internal reproduction of a rain forest and has a pet boa constrictor she named Ananta. She acquired the snake during her global hunt for Raga-Shah.
Shanna has been taking refresher courses to get caught up on all the improvements to veterinary care for jungle animals during her three years away from her career. She has befriended divorcee Madeleine Wickes, a dental hygienist taking part-time art courses at the same university.
One day Dr. O’Hara drives over to pick up Madeleine and the two head for a brand-new shopping mall called the Taj Mahal Mall. As the name would suggest, it is Indian-themed, and while walking around the mall Shanna bumps into a man who turns out to be … Raga-Shah. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.)
Shanna attacks the man and in turn is attacked by his Indian security guards. To avoid arrest, Shanna stops her murderous assault. Raga-Shah, who owns the Taj Mahal Mall, tauntingly dismisses our heroine as mentally disturbed and has her banned from the mall.
The distraught Shanna spends the night venting about her feelings to Madeleine back at Maddy’s apartment. The next day she visits her psychiatrist Dr. Betz, who is very skeptical that the leader of a Cult of Kali would suddenly show up as a mall owner near where our heroine has settled down.
Furious at being doubted, the She-Devil storms out of her session early and tells Dr. Betz she will never come to see her ever again. Out in the hallway, Shanna encounters several of Raga-Shah’s cultists getting into ambush positions for when she would leave.
Because Dr. O’Hara stormed out early, they did not have time to get set up. Shanna strips down to her costume and fights it out with the cultists in a battle that leads out onto a fire escape and then the alley below. She defeats most of the cultists but the last one standing manages to inflict a blow with his drugged knife, and our She-Devil soon passes out.
Shanna comes to later, chained to an altar in a secret sub-level of the Taj Mahal Mall, where Raga-Shah has established his new temple. He does a Villain Rant in which we learn that he had been hunting the She-Devil as she had been stalking him.
He wants revenge for the destruction of his temple in India and of his plans to unleash animated statues on killing sprees dedicated to Kali. He has fallen into such disfavor with the goddess that he no longer has any mystic powers but used his money to open a new temple near where he found Dr. O’Hara to be living. He used the shopping mall as a cover.
With his new band of Thuggees gathered around the altar, Raga-Shah boasts that he will use his knives to torture Shanna to death over the course of days, beginning with blinding her. The She-Devil frees herself just in time and begins fighting Raga-Shah and his men.
In her fury she wipes out all but a handful of the Thuggees, who flee in terror. Now she faces Raga-Shah one on one and defeats him. In a stunning finale, she takes him to her home and feeds him alive to her boa constrictor Ananta.
Shanna notes with satisfaction the swollen innards of Ananta as she digests Raga-Shah and plans to return to her life in the jungle, taking Ananta with her.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE VERY FIRST APPEARANCE OF GAMORA CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE EARLY STORIES OF THE SUPERHEROINE TIGRA CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT THE EARY STORIES OF THE SHE-HULK CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LOOK AT SATANA THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER CLICK HERE.