Brothers of the Spear

"Brothers of the Spear" was a long-running backup feature in the Tarzan comic-book series created by American company Western Publishing and published first through Dell Comics and then through Gold Key Comics. Though published as part of a licensed Edgar Rice Burroughs franchise, this original series was owned by Western.


The Brothers of the Spear were Dan-El and Natongo. Natongo was the son of a Zulu chieftain in the land that would become Botswana, and Dan-El was his adopted brother. They became sub-chiefs, swore brotherhood and had adventures together. They learned Dan-el was king by right, whose throne had been usurped. What was notable was that Dan-El was white, and his kingdom was that of a lost white tribe in Africa (Aba-Zulu), while Natongo was black (later ruling neighboring Tungelu). The first two years of the series dealt with them winning their thrones. By that time, they had individually gotten married. But even being kings and husbands, they continued to have adventures together, many times with their wives.


The feature was created by writer Gaylord Du Bois and artist Jesse Marsh in Tarzan #25 (1951), and ran continuously through #156 (1966). Artist Russ Manning did some of his earliest comics work on this series, beginning in Tarzan #39 (Dec. 1952). The ending of the series was due in part to Russ Manning moving to take over Tarzan from Marsh in #154. New stories would appear in #160-161 (by Manning), and later in #202-203 (by Mike Royer).

An additional story appeared in Dell Giant #51 (Tarzan, King of the Jungle).

While DC Comics licensed the rights to Tarzan in 1972, the Brothers of the Spear remained with Gold Key Comics, which published the 17-issue Brothers of the Spear series (June 1972 – Feb. 1976). Whitman Comics published issue #18 in May 1982, with reprinted material only. Du Bois wrote the series beginning with issue #2. Jesse Santos did the artwork for the first 12 issues, followed by Dan Spiegle.

In 2012, Dark Horse Comics started a hardcover archive series. The first volume reprinted strips from Tarzan #25–67. The second volume reprints strips from Tarzan #68–109. The third volume reprints strips from "Tarzan" #110-156, #160-161 and #202-203.

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