One of the most difficult cases, where I had to use all my valor and all my knowledge to defeat crime.
One of the most difficult cases, where I had to use all my valor and all my knowledge to defeat crime.
When we last left our hero, Kalimán had just spooked the living bejeesus out of our favorite man-monster Makón by apparently returning from the dead and hurling him into a pyramid wall. Since all this would be a little hard for anyone to take in — and not just speech-impaired Neanderthals — Kalimán is immediately peppered with questions from his tomb-raiding pals.
Being a man of mystery who believes in the grand traditions of his time-honored trade, Kalimán of course tells them to get bent. Then he takes of his shirt.
Finally explaining that he used the “actus mortis” to feign death and avoid injury, Kalimán does a little flexing and then takes Professor Farrel, Farrel’s daughter Jane, Zarur and young Solín deeper into the pryramid in search of the evil Eric Von Kraufen and Nila, the Egyptian princess he’s taken hostage.
Meanwhile, Makón has managed to channel his panic into a full-on sprint that takes him to Von Kraufen. Knowing Kalimán is on his trail, Von Kraufen tells Nila — who is privy to the secrets of the tomb — to stop screwing around and tell him where Ramses’ legendary treasure is before he starts torturing her the way he did her love, Zarur. Finally relenting, Nila presses some ancient buttons, flips some hidden switches and reveals …
… the biggest damn emerald you ever saw outside of a Zale’s Arbor Day sale.
But it might be too late because Kalimán is right behind them. Makón makes the first move, and it’s on!
At the same time, Zarur sees Von Kraufen — the man who kidnapped the love of his life, tortured him at the end of a whip, and attacked his friends — and promptly loses his shit.
Hey, you know how the Comics Code Authority censored comics in the United States for decades, supposedly shielding impressionable kids from the evils of boobies and awesome violence? Well, there was no CCA in Mexico and nothing stopping Zarur from dispensing a righteous beating and a little desert justice.
Mmmm — that’s some good justice. On the other side of the tomb, Kalimán has also decided to use the squeeze-’til-he-stops-breathing strategy. Though he does it a little … differently.
Hey, he’s a man of peace, remember? And if that means subduing the beast-like Makón with an enthusiastic bear-hug, so be it.
But Makón recovers!
Man, I’m just glad there aren’t traps laying around that tomb, like deep pits or giant spikes or …
Oh. Uh, well. Let’s mo … let’s move on.
With the bad guys … taken care of … and the mystery solved, Kalimán takes a moment to pray for his enemy’s smooth passage to the next world. Then the gang assesses their situation: Professor Farrel will lead a team of fellow archaeologists through the tomb’s once-secret chambers, Nila and Zarur are reunited, and Jane will just sorta hang out. But as Nila tries to explain to Solín the philosophy of living a tranquil life (which will no doubt be of comfort to him when he goes back to being a street urchin) she lets slip that his family tree has deeper roots than anyone thought.
How does she know this? It’s apparently not for us to know, but Professor Farrel picks up on it and figures something out — Solín is the descendent and rightful heir to the Ramses dynasty! And then a mummy shows up.
Y’know, getting smacked in the face is bad enough, but getting smacked in the face with what’s probably a small statue of yourself is just insulting. Luckily for anyone worried about ancient curses, the standard mummy doesn’t usually shoot out sparks and loose wires when it takes critical damage. This mummy was a robot, the last evil invention of the mad genius Eric Von Kraufen!
The danger finally past, Kalimán says his good-byes and boards a ship to continue his travels and to bring peace and balance to the world. But what has long been a solitary mission becomes something else when he turns to see Solín, who tells Kalimán that he has renounced his title and his riches in order to join him on his quest, beginning what will be a legendary partnership and ending … “Los Profanadores de Tumbas!”
Hey, you remember that the last time we saw Kalimán he was just starting to crack the mystery of “Los Profanadores de Tumbas,” right? And how — aided by his ward Solín, friend and archaeologist Professor Farrel, Farrel’s daughter Jane, and Farrel’s protege Zarur — he discovered bad-guy Eric Von Kraufen had kidnapped the princess Nila, who was also the beloved, promised bride-to-be of Zarur?! And then that Von Kraufen was hiding out in the pyramid tomb of Ramses, where he planned to uncover the pharaoh’s legendary treasure with the strong-arm help of man-monster Makón?!?
Well, good. Because in the interest of getting this ball rolling again we’re going to skip over the rest of the story and get right to the final issue in this storyline. Don’t worry, though — Kalimán: El Hombre Increible #10 is good ‘n’ crazy.
We pick up the story with a confrontation between Kalimán and Makón, and it’s not going well for our hero.
“They have killed him!
Having gotten the better of Kalimán, Makón smashes the mystic warrior against the catacomb wall in a blow so savage pretty much everyone assumes he’s kaput. Von Kraufen uses a somewhat suspect technique to check Kalimán’s pulse and, laughing, calls the time of death.
“Ha ha ha! Ladies and gentlemen, this time Kalimán is dead!
Have I mentioned Von Kraufen is kind of a dick? Satisfied his greatest obstacle has finally been eliminated, the monocle-jockey tells his mutant handyman to dump the body in the desert.
“May the vultures enjoy a succulent meal …”
See what I mean? Was that really necessary? What a douche.
And he’s just getting started! Knowing that what set the whole adventure off was Nila’s kidnapping, Von Kraufen offers to reward their efforts by taken them to her at gunpoint. Naturally, Zarur wants to jump the mohawked German right then and there, but Professor Farrel tells him to wait — when the time is right, they’ll make their move.
After negotiating the winding hallways of the pyramid’s lower levels, the group finally comes to a long and dark hallway. Eventually they see a light at the end of the passage, and there they find the imprisoned Nila.
“Here you have it …”
Er, I mean … Von Kraufen reveals Nila, whom he has kept prisoner so he can get the secret of Ramses treasure out of her. The visit is just a tease, and Von Kraufen quickly has Makón throw everybody into a dank cell. That is, except for Zarur, someone Von Kraufen realizes can be used as leverage against Nila’s stubborn refusal to break.
“Zarur … my love …”
Seriously, how awesome is Makón? And just as a quick aside, I think it’s fantastic that — of all the things one could say when caught in an arm-breaking hold by a monstrous Neanderthal — Zarur chooses to say, “Hoo!”
Von Kraufen’s plan is simple — chain Zarur to a wall and have the shit whipped out of him until Nila agrees to share the secret of the treasure. And have the shit whipped out of him he does.
Panel: Brutally, the whip shreds Zarur’s flesh … without him uttering any protest …”
Having seen that Zarur is sufficiently bad-ass, Nila continues to refuse Von Kraufen’s demands. Finally, though, she can’t take Zarur’s suffering any longer and relents — she’ll show the evil mastermind how to reach Ramses’ treasure.
“That’s better, princess … stop, Makón!”
Makón seems like a guy who enjoys his work, doesn’t he? He’s not the only one, and confidence is at an all-time high in the Von Kraufen organization. Delighted to be on the verge of some old-school Egyptian riches, Von Kraufen has Nila lead his to the legendary tomb while Makón returns the tortured Zarur back to the cell. But out of nowhere, poetic justice makes an appearance!
“Suddenly, an arm of steel squeezes the throat of the bloodthirsty slave …”
Never let it be said Kalimán isn’t above dishing out a little of the bad guy’s own medicine. Or injecting it with the wall of a pyramid. Needless to say, Makón is thrown off (heh) by this turn of events, and Kalimán’s friends are plenty surprised themselves. To give them credit, they do handle it better than Makón does.
“Makón fled, horrified, believing he had seen a ghost …”
Makón, I heart you so much.
But how did Kalimán survive Makón’s vicious attack? How will they find Nila and the nefarious Von Kraufen in the maze of tunnels? Will there be a completely awesome fight scene at the end?! Come back next week to find out in the tomb-wrecking conclusion of “Los Profanadores de Tumbas!”
From Kalimán: El Hombre Increíble #10 “Los Profanadores de Tumbas”
When we last saw our friend Kalimán in the comic pages, he and his newly acquired orphan/ward Solín were traveling through Egypt, beating up Bedouins, getting shot at and choking cobras at their leisure. (That’s not a euphemism — this ain’t an early Batman comic.) Since then … well, a lot has happened so let’s sum it up.
Kalimán, taking some time out from dispensing justice in the Egyptian desert, has visited his friend and archaeologist Professor Farrel. Farrel is on the verge of making a major discovery concerning the Tombs of Ramés, and has been getting unwelcome attention because of it. Joined by his daughter Jane and his protege Zarur (who is originally from the area), the professor asks Kalimán for help, which is a good thing since Jane is promptly kidnapped.
Jane isn’t even the first victim; Nila, who is the daughter of Alí Faruf — King of the Sons of the Desert — has already been kidnapped by the sinister Eric Von Kraufen, who is hiding out in a pyramid chock full of ghouls, zombies and assorted Things-That-Are-Not-Good-For-You. There may have been a pit full of crocodiles. Nila is also the (so far secret) promised bride of Zarur going back to an arrangement made when the two were still children. The hot-headed Zarur loves Nila, and is determined to save her from Von Kraufen.
When he’s not busy polishing his +3 Monocle of Evil, Von Kraufen is the one harassing Professor Farrel, believing the archaeologist can get him into the Tomb of Ramés. The tomb will give Von Kraufen access to treasure and power and even more treasure and power, and then he can really start messing things up! Mwa-hahaha!!!
Eventually, Kalimán and his group rescue Jane, then make their way into the pyramid lair where they start running into one horrific creature after another. None, however, make an entrance quite like … Makón!
If you’ve ever been to Mexico, you might’ve noticed that most of the local business have a … casual … attitude about international copyrights. Whether it’s a gang of unlicensed piñatas in the mercado or a pizza joint named after a certain spinach-chewing sailor man, it’s not hard to find images of copped characters in the country. Kalimán himself wasn’t immune to borrowing a little juice from his American comic cousins, which is how we got Kalimán versus …
Kalimán: “I’m losing. My strength is abandoning me completely.”
I especially like that last one — the way Kalimán kneeling on the edge of the cliff echoes the classic Silver Surfer-on-his-board pose is pretty clever. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read an issue of Kalimán where he fights a robot that only almost looks exactly like the one from Lost in Space.
Besides being the scourge of evil cultists, sorcerer crime lords and the Panthers of Istanbul, our pal Kalimán was also a genuine media sensation. As we’ve already seen, Kalimán made a successful leap into comic books and a mostly decent hop into movies, but until fairly recently he never strayed from his birthplace — radio.
The man of mystery came to life in 1963 after Radio Cadena Nacional broadcast its first Kalimán episode on channel 1110 AM in Mexico City. The show starred Luis Manuel Pelayo as Kalimán and Luis de Alba as Solín, though Pelayo wouldn’t get on-air credit since once of the conceits of the broadcast was that it was hosted by Kalimán himself. Joined by the smooth narration of Isidro Olace, the exploits of the peace-lovin’, face-punchin’ hero was pretty much a hit from the start.
Before it was over, the show would log more than 100,000 hours of radio, planting an iconic character so deeply into the Mexican psyche that you can’t bring it up to someone from Mexico without them belting out, “KA! LI! MAAAANNN!!” Like, right in your face. The same goes for Colombia — using the original radio plays and Colombian actors, broadcaster Todelar would have similar success with Kalimán, and no doubt just as much shouting.
Back in Mexico, Kalimán enjoyed a place on the airwaves with both original episodes and reruns as recently as 2008, where shows were still being broadcast on XERL Radio Colima. As far as I can tell, though, there aren’t any stations broadcasting Kalimán anymore, anywhere. And it’s a shame, but these radio shows (and the comics, for that matter) aren’t even available as any kind of collection. Just as it happened with Golden Age comics in the United States, it’s the fallout from producing something the general public viewed as disposable at the time and there’s precious little of it out there now. So if you’re sitting on a stash of Kalimán stuff, you let me know, OK?
Luckily, some Kalimániacs out there seemed to have grabbed some of the radio plays (recording it right from the speakers, from the sound of some of them) and put the original audio on YouTube and for download from … ahem … other sources. Even it is limited, we’re lucky to have anything out there at all, and a lot of it is great. Take, for example, Kalimán in “The Queen of the Gorillas.” Oh, yeah … you heard me.
The show starts with the classic Kalimán opening, thundering out the hero’s name and going on to describe him as, “A gentleman to men! Gallant with the ladies! Tender with children … RELENTLESS WITH EVIL-DOERS! That is Kalimán — EL HOMBRE INCREIBLE!”
Unfortunately, that’s almost how it ends, too: This is the only part of the episode that’s available. C’mon, YouTube user Alisal88, get crackin’!
Still, for something that comes in at just a little under five minutes it’s packed fat with action. The story opens with Kalimán and Solín finally reaching a life-saving, secret oasis in an African desert, where they fill their water bags and plan to catch up to an expedition that will surely croak without their help. Suddenly, shots ring out — someone is shooting at Kalimán and Solín! So much for secret oases!
The pair hit the dirt, and Kalimán soon figures out that they must have been followed, as well as that the shooter is using a Winchester automatic. (When Solín asks him how he can tell, Kalimán tells him he recognizes the sound of the gunshot. Dude’s good. Real good.) Solín tells Kalimán that he’s worried about the horses, since if they get shot they’ll be screwed seeing as they’re out in the middle of a desert that was close to killing them already. Kalimán tells him not to worry; the shooter is alone, and only has three shots left. He’ll get him to waste those bullets and then grab him while he’s reloading, using himself as a target.
Telling Solín not to move, no matter what, Kalimán stands up as another shot ricochets past and says, “Come, assassin! You’ve failed again! Shoot! SHOOT!”
And then … cliffhanger! Argh! It’s like a shot to the gut with a Winchester automatic.
It’s hard to overestimate how popular Kalimán is in Latin America, especially Mexico. The best and easiest parallel I can come up is the phenomenon that was The Shadow in the 1930s and ’40s, when the pistol-packing vigilante burst onto the scene and into every form of media. Kalimán moved just as easily across pop culture, capturing imaginations in radio, comics and movies, cementing his spot in the cultural psyche.
But while there have reportedly been thousands of hours of radio shows produced and almost 30 years worth of weekly comics published, so far there have only been a measly two movies made. This, my friends, is what we call bullshit. Still, the movies we do have are pretty great in that special 1970s way, and there have been announcements that a new, updated Kalimán movie is in the works. In the meantime, what we’ve got is well worth revisiting.
Premiering in 1972, “Kalimán, El Hombre Increíble” is a retelling of the first comic book story, ““Los Profanadores de Tumbas” (“The Defilers of the Tombs”) — I promise I’ll stop talking about that first story soon. “Profanadores” was shot on location in Egypt with an international cast, and was reportedly the most expensive Mexican movie ever made for 20 years after its release. Filmmakers followed up on “Profanadores” with 1976′s “Kalimán En El Siniestro Mundo de Humanón” (“Kalimán in The Sinister World of Humanón”), which was also based on an original comic and radio story but didn’t prove as popular the third time around.
“Kalimán, El Hombre Increíble” was a different story, and put asses in the seats of movie theaters for a full year. Starring American (I think) actor Jeff Cooper as Kalimán and Nino del Arco as an appropriately precocious Solín, the movie is everything you could hope for; casual dubbing, unfortunate face-painting, a waka-chow soundtrack and more pure awesome than you can handle. For your viewing pleasure, here is Exhibit K, in which Kalimán chokes a man out by wrapping his own arms around his head, and then scares everyone else away with what I can only describe as his Black Panther Stare. There’s also some dungeon-torture, a little veil dancing and Kalimán without his turban (hint: He’s blond).
I should also mention that all this happens in just eight minutes of a 107-minute long movie.
Later he karate chops the head off a robot-mummy and blows up a pyramid. Ka! Li! Mán!
In my previous Kalimán post I mentioned that our mystical hero’s first comic book story was “Los Profanadores de Tumbas,” which prosaically translates to “The Grave Robbers” but more excitingly to “The Defilers of the Tombs.” I think we’ll go with the “Defilers” title. I also mentioned how, early in that adventure, Kalimán uses his powers of hypnosis to put the kibosh on a cobra.
You didn’t think I was going to just let that go, did you?
Up to this point in the story, Kalimán has run afoul of some renegade Bedouins in the desert, but scares them off by using a convenient solar eclipse to make them think the sun god Ra has sent them a bad omen. Now on his way to what is probably Cairo (it’s never actually specified — weird), Kalimán fluffs up a sand dune and calls it a night. But a wandering cobra has other plans …
Panel 1: Far from there, Kalimán sleeps in the desert while a cobra slithers toward him. Panel 2: His fine hearing let’s him perceive the slithering of the reptile, a little late perhaps. Panel 3: Any movement could cost him his life. Panel 4: And his powerful gaze stabs into that of the cobra. Panel 5: The hated enemy starts to become paralyzed. Panel 6: (Caption) And then he takes her by the neck. Kalimán: Now that you’re hypnotized, I’ll finish you! Panel 7: (Kalimán) Thanks to my hypnotic power, I am alive!
Man! I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to resist putting exclamation points all over this translation! Exclamation points!!!From Kalimán: El Hombre Increíble #1 “Los Profanadores de Tumbas”