A Tribute to the of






One of the genre’s we haven’t covered in a lot of detail is the tried and true jungle adventure. Oh, sure, we’ve covered B’wana Beast [Sage #107], a little Tarzan [Sage #368] and even a Korak, Son of Tarzan story [Sage #281], but let’s face it; we love the superheroes at the Silver Lantern. Just the same, this time around, let’s fast forward into the Bronze Age for one of DC’s better experiments in the jungle.

Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games…-Guns ‘n Roses

In the spring of 1974, DC Comics rolled out a new series titled Rima the Jungle Girl. The first four issues were an adaptation of a novel from 1904 authored by W. H. Hudson titled “Green Mansions.” Robert Kanigher supplied the adaptation scripts under the editorial guidance of Joe Kubert, who also did both the covers and layouts. The stunning interior art was provided by Nestor Redondo.

Joe Kubert, of course, had his own bona fides in the jungle genre, having produced, pretty much single-handedly, the Tarzan series under license to DC beginning the spring of 1972. Despite the fact that Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher had been a long-time team, working together for many years on titles like Sgt. Rock and Enemy Ace, their roles had become reversed by this time when Kanigher stepped down from his editorial duties to return full-time to scripting.

The cover to issue #1 of Rima shows a nearly ethereal blonde jungle girl with an orange moon in the background. The statement above the title asks the intriguing question, “Is she BEAST or HUMAN…?” The foreground shows a jaguar advancing on a man in tattered clothing wrapped up in a massive constrictor, fighting for his life.

As we open the cover, the tale unfolds in South America, deep in the Venezuelan jungle, where that same man staggers about, lost and half delirious from some sort of poison. “Spirit of the Woods,” then treats us to a double-page splash with a beautiful woman surrounded by the creatures of the jungle, reclining on the jungle floor.

It was at this point I recalled the last time I’d been exposed to the incredible rendering talents of Nestor Redondo. As a boy I had a copy of the oversized treasury volume, Limited Collector’s Edition #C-36, Stories from The Bible. Once again it was a Joe Kubert-edited and laid out piece along with Joe’s distinctive artwork on the cover with Nestor Redondo on interiors and the results were simply breathtaking. The man could draw realistic figures, be they animal, gorgeous women or chiseled men. I knew I was in for a visual feast and was not in any way disappointed. [More of Redondo's original artwork is seen here. This blog features more artwork and info.]

Later, the man who had lost consciousness gradually regains it inside a hut where an old man in similarly tattered garb stands watch with his two large canines. The old man, named Nuflo, offers nourishment and explains that the poison of the dreaded Bushmaster snake is usually fatal. He then wants to know his guest’s story. The recovering man explains his name is Abel and he’d been involved in the Venezuelan Revolution in Caracas, but his fellow revolutionaries, while filled with zeal, were no match for their adversaries and were quickly taken down. He managed to escape into the jungle and followed the Orinoco upstream until encountering a native tribe.

He finds a place with the people and begins to regain his health and strength while learning something of their ways when he spots a place a short distance away that captures his imagination. The natives warn him away, calling it “Tabu! An Evil Place!” Abel will not be denied, however, and before dawn he ventures over, discovering a massive tree and wildlife that seems to behave strangely.

Abel then believes he sees someone and hears the song of a bird, but in a distinct and odd melody. He tries to locate it, but fails and is soon back at the village where he is again warned of the dangers where he has trod. “Within those woods lives a witch who can change form…from beast to human! Some of my own young men had ventured there…never to return!

Non-plussed, Abel is drawn back to the forest, feeling no fear and still hearing the reassuring tones of the songbird. He returns to the massive tree and wonders aloud if it is the spirit of the place when the lovely woman appears and it turns out is the source of the haunting songbird’s melody. Then, she disappears from sight, only to be seen high above in the branches of the tree, then in the reclining position on the jungle floor among the creatures. Soon, she begins to nearly float away, beckoning Abel to follow, which he eagerly does.

When he spots her in a clearing, he notes the Bushmaster and runs to protect her, knocking her out of the way. The snake then strikes Abel in the thigh, sending him into blackness.

We are then back in the hut when Abel says he must have imagined it all, from the tree to the beautiful girl. He thanks his benefactor for saving him, but Nuflo says it was not he who drew out the poison, but his granddaughter, Rima, who has just appeared in the hut’s entrance, ending the first 16 pages of this 4-part origin tale.

Jungle Love, it’s driving me mad, it’s making me crazy… -The Steve Miller Band

Issue #2 features the same creative team and another cover scene of Rima aiding a distressed Abel.

Inside, Abel has once again struck out from the safety of his surroundings to investigate more of the Venezuelan jungle’s mysteries. As Nuflo and his dogs slumber, Abel returns to the great tree, trying to understand what’s been happening. “Flight from Eden” then exposes him to the latest menace in the form of a jungle cat, but before it can pounce, the sound of the songbird again fills the air and Rima appears. She tells Abel that she and the jaguar are good friends and she demonstrates by nuzzling the predator before it slips away.

Abel asks how she can communicate with the jungle inhabitants and she explains her origin, how her grandfather brought her here to the forest after her mother’s death and the jungle became her world and life. She communed with the creatures and learned the songs of the birds and even her garb is from the spun web of the spider.

Abel is enchanted by her and his surroundings, comparing it all to the Garden of Eden. Rima leads him back to the hut so he can rest further, but he awakens when Nuflo leaves the hut and he follows, only to discover a spit and roasting meat. Nuflo explains that his granddaughter does not approve the trapping or eating of meat. Later when they return to the hut, a reproachful gaze from Rima is what they encounter and Abel decides to return to the village.

The villagers are glad to see Abel is well and warn him again that the jungle girl is a witch who can control animals and change men into them. Later, like the proverbial moth to the flame, Abel is headed back to the habitat of Rima.

He finds her in the midst of a thunderstorm, beneath the massive tree where she says she has been waiting for him.

Interestingly the text (remembering this is in the days of the Comics Code) states: “Amidst flashing lightning and rumbling thunder and pouring rain…a primal force merges two beings into one!” The panel merely shows an embrace. You have to wonder…

Later she leads him back to the hut where he is greeted by Nuflo, who serves nourishing soup. Rima then tells her grandfather she wishes to go to the mountains where her mother came from and boldly begins to lead the way, closing out this chapter of her beginnings.

“Better run through the jungle…”-Creedence Clearwater Revival

The third installment in issue #3, with yet another distressed Abel with Rima by his side on the Joe Kubert cover, is titled, “Riolama.”

Rima is determined to reach the homeland of her mother, but Nuflo tells Abel it is a place of doom and sorrow beyond those mountains. He begins to recount when he was there as a young man, a revolutionary, who, along with his comrades, began to be less civilized than the idealistic justice they fought for. He began to be disenchanted with the direction things were going, but feared being killed if he were to leave his companions.

Then one day, while scouting in the mountains they discovered a beautiful woman, who quickly fled. Nuflo could not pursue, but later when he went to investigate, found his fellow revolutionaries dead. Unnerved, he then hears a sound like an imprisoned bird. He then finds her, trapped with her leg wedged between river rocks, making the unearthly sound. Nuflo frees her, but the pain causes her to lose consciousness. He attends to her for weeks, beginning to think of her as his “daughter.” He hopes his actions will atone for his past misdeeds and soon finds his hands more full when she gives birth to a baby girl.

Soon a mountain lion arrives, but is silently ordered away by the unspeaking beauty. Later she passed away peacefully and Nuflo buried her there in the mountains, taking Rima, his “granddaughter” away until they discovered the massive tree that held her attention. So there they settled and the young girl thrived in the jungle. The natives, however, called her daughter of the Didi, or evil one and she abhorred them because they hunted and ate the animals of the forest. When they tried to attack her, she seemed to have the ability to turn their weapons on themselves, sending the blow-darts back to them in mid-flight.

As Nuflo’s story concludes, Rima announces that they’ve found the place, closing out this third chapter of Rima the Jungle Girl.

“Let’s bungle in the jungle --- well that’s all right by me…”-Jethro Tull

Issue #4 shows our Rima, again backdropped by the moon, hurtling in to save a trussed-up Abel from hostile natives, courtesy of Joe Kubert.

“The Flaming Forest” opens with a similar scene, where the hapless Abel is again on his own, mooning over Rima when the hostiles capture him and tie him up to the crossed poles. They accuse him of being consort to the Didi. He tries to explain that Rima is gone, but they refuse to release him.

The next day they lead Abel to the woods when a massive crocodile appears, followed by others. Abel seizes the opportunity of the confusion and escapes his captors. Finding his way back to Nuflo’s hut, he is stunned to find he and his dogs are dead. He must find Rima.

He heads back to the huge tree, only to find it has been charred. He then goes into sort of a trance where he can see Rima being confronted by the hostile natives. She flees as only she can, but in his vision, Abel is convinced that his love, Rima, has been destroyed by the native tribe.

Page 10, by the way, is a remarkable artistic accomplishment, with a full-page close-up of Abel’s face serving as the backdrop to the tree, a hostile native wielding a torch and the figure or Rima.

Abel goes back to the tribe of friendlies and soon the two groups meet and battle to the finish. Abel and his friends are triumphant, but Abel takes little satisfaction in matters, because his Rima is lost. He buries Nuflo and then wanders aimlessly in the jungle until he hears something and turning sees the vision of loveliness that is Rima the Jungle Girl.

She explains that she could not leave her forest and that while the flames he’d envisioned had scorched her, she escaped.

The final panel shows the lovers heading into the jungle, hand in hand, never to be again parted.

So, as you can see, while it took 4 books to do it, the origin of Rima is one couched in both jungle lore and a little bit of mysticism, which put a different twist on the typical tale of jungle adventure, not to mention being in a slightly different setting as most stories seemed to be located in deepest, darkest Africa.

The feedback in the “Messages from the Didi” letter column, while possibly cherry-picked, was overwhelmingly positive and it seemed Rima was off to a solid footing. There was even one from Arlen Schumer of New Jersey, the author of The Silver Age of Comic Book Art, so it’s a bit puzzling that Rima lasted for only 3 more issues, taking a final bow with #7 in April/May of 1975.

Rima has never seen a reprint, but remains a fondly recalled effort to chronicle the classic jungle adventure genre with some interesting twists. The artwork by Nestor Redondo is not to be missed and cannot adequately be described with the written word. You’ve simply got to see it for yourself.

For some time spent with good, entertaining fare, by all means, check out Rima the Jungle Girl.

Send your comments and other feedback to this handy address: professor_the@hotmail.com. The webmaster and I are always interested in what you have to share.

Join us again for the next installment in this ongoing feature and don’t forget…

Long live the Silver Age!



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