LORNA THE JUNGLE GIRLMedium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1953
Creators: Don Rico (writer) and Werner Roth (artist)
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Comic book jungle girls began in the late 1930s with Sheena and, directly or indirectly, spread from there. But not right away, and not in all parts of the industry at once. Tho there were a couple of early ones like Camilla, the real proliferation didn't come
until the time of Rulah and Tiger Girl, years later. The company that later became Marvel, then identified as Atlas, didn't get in the act until well into the '50s.
Marvel's first entry in the genre was Lorna the Jungle Queen, whose first issue was dated July, 1953. Less than a year later, she was demoted to Lorna the Jungle Girl, the name she's remembered by now — to the extent she's remembered at all, of course. Lorna is not one of your "household word" characters. She was published for four years, more than half a century ago, and survives into the modern world only in the fact that Marvel Universe characters are seldom left entirely behind. Later Marvel jungle girls include Leopard Girl, Jann of the Jungle and Shanna the She-Devil.
Lorna was created by writer Don Rico (The Sorceress of Zoom, Daredevil) and artist Werner Roth (Apache Kid, X-Men). Rico stayed with her as long as she lasted, but Roth stayed only a couple of years. After that, she was drawn by Jay Scott Pike (Dolphin, Black Rider).
Lorna was raised in the African jungle by her widowed father, whose reason for living there was unclear, but he seemed to like it — until he was incapacitated by a lion attack (he eventually died from those wounds), leaving Lorna to fend for herself. Fortunately, she'd already acquired most of the skills and jungle lore she'd need. This included friendship with the animals, even some ability to order them around, from ordinary monkeys and elephants to Agu the Giant, an ape the size of King Kong (or, in comic book terms, Konga), whom she encountered a couple of times.
Her father's native friend, M'tuba (who had cared for the old man after the injury, even to the point of amputating a leg when necessary), helped her get started. Among other things, he taught her not to rely on technological devices like rifles, but on her brain and less fallible weapons such as knives. It was M'tuba who gave her Mikki, her equivalent of the movie Tarzan's Cheetah. Once she was self-sufficient, Lorna took off for the deeper jungle, in search of people needing her help. After leaving M'tuba, she still retained a supporting character, jungle explorer Greg Evans, who had his own series in the back pages. She also maintained a good relationship with local authorities, both colonial and native.
Queen or Girl, Lorna the Jungle person lasted 26 issues. The last one was dated August, 1957. Once she'd run her course, she was pretty much forgotten by the company — except, of course, for the ever-present possibility of turning up unexpectedly in a superhero story. That's what happened to The Yellow Claw, Venus, Namora, and any number of obscure Marvel characters from that approximate time period. Lorna hasn't joined them yet, but you never know what next month's releases might bring.