Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Angola in the Comics, Part 3 of 5: Camilla

As I continue my look at early comic book depictions of Angola, the focus finally shifts away from 1942 and into 1952 - albeit, still within Fiction House's Jungle Comics series. Turning to issue #150 (June, 1952) we have an adventure of the jungle queen Camilla by Victor Ibsen & Ralph Mayo!
As you can see from Jess Nevins' entry on Camilla at his Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes site, Camilla was once a less-conventional jungle heroine, being a true queen and rather villainous. Over time, her stories became much like the rest of Jungle Comics' fare as she switched to the typical Sheena-wannabe swimsuit garb. Much the same thing happened to Fletcher Hanks' wonderfully bizarre Jungle Comics heroine Fantomah, who became a typical "jungle girl" when Hanks left the series. Camilla's adventures seemed to be around the Congo area, so moving her to Angola for a feature isn't unbelievable.
We open on a safari led by Jules Ranier (our villain, as his cigarette-smoking and scowling eyebrows denote) travel through the jungle upon elephants (which is, admittedly, a very cool means to safari; sadly, Angola's current elephant population is - like all of their habitats - much smaller). Jules' aim is to reach a "confab" (as he terms it) of chiefs who are meeting together to discuss peaceful free trade; Jules intends to set the chiefs at each other's throats in order to line his own pockets as he owns a lot of land in the territory. However, the blonde, bikini-clad Camilla attacks Jules and scampers into the jungle with him as a prisoner. Jules' men try to pursue, but Camilla brought back-up - armed guards who start a fire to block off the elephants. Undaunted, Jules' men bring in local trackers who hunt using cheetahs as bloodhounds. Whoa, seriously? That is, again, very cool (and even true-to-life)!
The bloodhound cheetahs almost catch Camilla, but she leads the cheetahs right into the path of a band of gorillas, "their enemies of old." Wow, forget about the warring tribes, I want to know more about the gorilla-cheetah war! Camilla next evades warriors loyal to Jules by placing masks on some monkeys to trick the warriors into following a false trail while she escapes down the river with Jules (at this point I'm wondering why she wants to keep Jules alive, considering all the trouble his followers are making for her). Jules' men hunt Camilla's canoe into the night, but find only a decoy canoe with dummies set adrift in crocodile-infested waters. Once again, Camilla has won precious time and ultimately the peace treaty between the chiefs is made; one of the chiefs credits Camilla for making peace possible.
This wasn't that bad a story, so far as those "jungle girl" type tales go. Mayo's Camilla is easy on the eyes and the story makes no particular missteps in depicting Angola.
I should also note the story makes repeated references to kraals, a term used more properly in South Africa or Namibia for a cattle enclosure. It's not entirely right, but it's not completely wrong either. It will have no effect upon the final score. Speaking of which:
  • +4 estrelas for using four animals actually found in Angola
  • +1 estrela for bloodhound cheetahs
  • +1 estrela for Camilla's bikini
TOTAL SCORE: Seis estrelas!
Tomorrow: another Jungle Comics tale!

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