Edgar Rice Burroughs'
TARZAN THE INVINCIBLE
Studley Burroughs Art ~ Publishing History ~ Summary
Cast ~ Chapter Titles ~ Lord Greystoke's Cover Gallery
Blue Book Magazine: 1930 October through 1931 April
Tarzan, Guard of the Jungle pulp title
Laurence Herndon: Tarzan cover art on first 6 of 7 issues ~ Frank Hoban: many interiors
ERB Inc. Tarzana: November 20, 1931 ~ 318 pages
Studley Burroughs: DJ and frontispiece
Grosset & Dunlap: 1933
Grosset & Dunlap: 1940 ~ elephant head on title page is only interior art
ERB Inc. Tarzana: March 26, 1948
Ace paperback: March 1963 ~ 220 pages
Frank Frazetta cover and title page
Ballantine paperback: March 1964 ~ 192 pages
Richard Powers cover
Ballantine paperback: April 1970
Robert Abbett cover
Ballantine paperback: November 1975
Neal Adams cover
Nkima ~ very smart little Manu
Comrades — Zora Drinov ~ Russian communist (apparently)
Peter L. Zevri ~ Russian, hopes to be Peter I of Africa
Raghunath Jafar ~ Asiatic Indian communist, fond of Zora
Miguel Romero ~ Mexican communist
Antonio Mori (Tony) ~ Filipino communist, with Colt
Wayne Colt ~ American communist (apparently)
Abu Batn~ Aarab Sheykh
Kitembo ~ Chief of the Basembo
To-yat, Ga-yat, Zu-tho ~ Apes of Tarzan's old tribe
TARZAN of the Apes ~ John Clayton, Lord Greystoke
Jad-bal-ja ~ Tarzan's pet lion
Wamala ~ Zora's servant
Kahiya ~ Chief of expedition's askari
Oah ~ New High Priestess of Opar
Dooth ~ Priest of Opar
Michael Korsky, Paul Ivitch ~ with Sveri at Opar
La ~ Imprisoned High Priestess of Opar
Darus ~ Priest of Opar, loyal to La
Ibn Dammuk ~ Sheykh's son
Bukula ~ Black serving Abu Batn
Nao ~ Oparian priestess in love with Colt
Firg ~ Oparian jailer
Hajellah, Fodil, Dareyem ~ Aarabs
Muviro ~ War chief of Tarzan's Waziri
from Ballantine Books
La was in trouble. The high priestess of the Flaming God in the ancient city of Opar — forgotten outpost of Atlantis — had been betrayed by her people and locked in the eon-haunted dungeons until Tarzan came to rescue her. La still loved Tarzan but Tarzan had brought her to his people, and then left her. Now, together with a strange woman of Tarzan's kind, she lay bound in the tent of an Arab slave-trader, dreading her certain fate. Meanwhile, Tarzan was beset by a strange band of men who had invaded his land . . . led by a madman bent on evil subversion!
II. The Hindu
III. Out of the Grave
IV. Into the Lion's Den
V. Before the Walls of Opar
VII. In Futile Search
VIII. The Treachery of Abu Batn
IX. In the Death Cell of Opar
X. The Love of a Priestess
XI. Lost in the Jungle
XII. Down Trails of Terrors
XIII. The Lion-Men
XIV. Shot Down
XV. "Kill, Tantor, Kill!"
XVI. "Turn Back!"
XVII. A Gulf That Was Bridged
Lord Greystoke's Gallery
Blue Book Pulp Magazines
US Paperback Covers
UK Paperback Covers
From BLUE BOOK, where it was first published as a seven part serial from from October 1930 to April 1931 (under the title "Tarzan, Guard of the Jungle"), this is for the most part a dreary, confusing mess. Although it gets off to a strong start with a band of international Communist conspirators setting out to loot Opar and closes with a very effective sequence as Tarzan conducts a war of nerves against the invaders, In between, however, is a pointless jumble of characters wandering aimlessly through the jungle. Apes and Arabs carry off the white women, lions stalk hungrily, Tarzan drops down on an antelope for a meal, all familiar stuff. The book might have worked much better as a short novella, leaving out most of the padding in the center. As a coherent story of an attempted conquest of Opar, with the Apeman helping La regain her position, TARZAN THE INVINCIBLE would have had much more impact.
There are some great moments, as when Tarzan`s quick thinking deals with being trapped in a dungeon between a hungry lion and a crew of unruly Oparian goons, or later when he is tied up in the jungle and watching a hyena slowly circling in. But the effect of the good scenes is muffled by the surrounding filler which brings the story up to book length.
Burroughs, who previously had demonized the Germans as barbaric Huns in TARZAN THE UNTAMED and who later would go after the Japanese as "cowardly monkey-men" in TARZAN AND "THE FOREIGN LEGION", was in 1930 enraged about the Communists. He has an assortment of thugs from different nations bullying their way through Africa, hoping to find enough gold in Opar to finance revolutions in Mexico, the Phillipines, India and elsewhere. Now, every writer of adventure stories needs villains, and the nationalities suitable change over time. But Burroughs portrays the various Communist agents here as absolutely vile... greedy, braindead or secretly planning to start a new African Empire of their own; they are not shown with any depth or subtlety, and are basically fiends with BAD GUY practically painted on their shirts.
To be honest, Burroughs often seems to hate the human race in general. The only reason he admires animals is because he glamorizes them and gives them virtues they don`t in actuality possess. (The extent of his research into wildlife is shown as he invariably has solitary lions and elephants wandering through the deep jungle, instead of living in groups on the savannahs.) Except for Tarzan himself and his loyal Waziri, there are few human beings in the second half of the series that are likeable or even tolerable. (Although there is always the mandatory young couple to go through the usual ritual of misunderstandings and romance.)
One exception to the tired recipe is La, the High Priestess of the Flaming God. She actually comes to life on the page, with a vivid personality and presence. La is not exactly a New Age tree hugging sweetheart, of course, since she has spent most of her life stabbing victims to death on the altar of her people`s god. (And in fact, in this book, she promptly kills a guy who presumes to grab her by the shoulder. He`s not the last one she does a little open heart surgery on, either.) But she also is human, willing to make friends with Zora Drinov when they fall in together. La is a passionate little wildcat, openly telling Tarzan she is ready to be his mate then and there. The potent image of this gorgeous, barely dressed* woman,, offering herself to the even more naked Apeman has gotten generations of young readers worked up.
It`s strange, but when Tarzan firmly turns her down, he never mentions his own mate. In fact, he gives no reason at all. (Hey, Tarzan! If YOU don`t want her....) After his return from Pellucidar, the Apeman seems to have abandoned his wife, his plantation, his son and the rest of his family. Instead of Jane and Korak, his companions now are Nkima (the bloodthirsty troublemaking monkey) and the Golden Lion himself, Jad-Bal-Ja, always an imposing figure. These are friends he doesn`t have obligations to protect or care for, either, as they wander off at will. Tarzan invariably appears as a lone wanderer in the wilds of Africa, as if his marriage and his kinfolk never existed. It`s a real loss to the series, as is the dual nature of our hero being both a savage Apeman and a cultured English lord at the same time. This simpler, cartoonlike interpretation is not nearly as satisfying.
*La, maybe it`s none of my business, but just how comfortable can those gold breast plates be in the hot African sun? My God, didn`t it ever occur to you to borrow a strip of cloth from Zora to wear?
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Ed Stephan's Tarzan of the Internet
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Clark A. Brady's Burroughs Cyclopedia
Heins' Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Bradford M. Day's Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Bibliography
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