Zabu is a fictional character in the Marvel Universe, a superhero who is connected primarily to the Savage Land, and the X-Men, and most recently the Avengers (by way of the "Pet Avengers"). He is the last known living Smilodon and is a companion and ally of Ka-Zar.
He first appeared in X-Men #10 (Mar 1965). Zabu starred in the Pet Avengers series.
Fictional character biography
Zabu was born in the Savage Land. While still a cub, his mother and siblings were killed by human hunters. He wandered the Savage Land on his own, teaching himself how to survive as he grew to adulthood. Zabu encountered a young boy named Kevin Plunder as he was about to be attacked by a group of human Savage Land natives. Zabu saved Kevin, and the two became companions. Zabu protected the boy as he grew to adulthood, and eventually took on the name Ka-Zar, which means "son of the tiger." Zabu was brought to near-human intelligence due to exposure to radioactive mists.
Zabu helps Ka-Zar battle many enemies. For example, in Ka-Zar: Lord of the Hidden Jungle #3 they confront 'El Tigre' and 'Man-God'. This particular battle resulted in El Tigre mentally controlling Zabu for a time, causing him to attack Ka-Zar. El Tigre lost control before any serious injuries happened. The assistance of Bobbi Morse was vital in rescuing Zabu's mind. Later, Zabu is involved with one of the earlier confrontations with the demonic Belasco. This involves the seeming death of a good friend, 'Dherk'. Zabu teams up with the X-Men to root out villains in the Savage Land.
Zabu's family grows by two when Ka-Zar marries Shanna the She-Devil and they later have a son named Matthew. Zabu befriends the Savage Land native, Zira, who becomes Matthew's nanny. He also assists when Gregor, a hunter, kidnaps Matthew.
New York, New York
Zabu left the Savage Land in at least one instance, venturing to New York City with Ka-Zar during marital difficulties; his master was having difficulty controlling an addiction to outside technology. Zabu had many adventures in New York City, as he assisted Ka-Zar and Shanna against Parnival Plunder, who wished to kill them all. In a follow up to these sequence of adventures, as Kevin attempts to clear out their New York holdings, Zabu is forced to act as a seeing eye tiger. His master had been temporarily blinded and deafened in a subway shoot-out, framed for it and pursued by the police and the Punisher. During this, Zabu practices his jumping, as he keeps blowing them, causing property damage.
In a Spider-Man family one shot in issue six, the secondary story is about Zabu having emotional troubles, knowing he has no family left. Ka-Zar asked Peter to watch Zabu while he attends a world summit on global warming. Later, Peter's Aunt May (completely unaware Zabu is hiding in the garage, because after Uncle Ben was killed, she tries to stay away from there) told Peter that this is how she felt, knowing she has outlived her friends, husband, and relatives. Peter used this to bond with Zabu. Peter took Zabu to a museum to interact with the fake sabretooth tigers on display, and they were almost caught by a guard. Peter told Zabu to pull a "Calvin and Hobbes" maneuver, to which he played as though he were a stuffed animal, leaving Peter stunned at Zabu's intelligence. Afterward, Zabu felt better and Ka-Zar picked him up from Spider-Man. Zabu and Ka-Zar, returned apparently months later, and teamed up with Spidey to fight Sauron. Zabu jumped on Peter/Spider-Man and seemed to be hugging him; Ka-Zar said this was a sign that he was part of Zabu's family, and that he had not seen Zabu do this for quite some time.
Around this time, hyper-evolved dino-humanoids try to take the entirety of the Savage Land. Zabu fights in a resistance cell with an array of inhabitants, hampered by the fact that Ka-Zar is psychically bonded to the forces controlled by the evil Brainchild. In the end, involved X-Men make friends with the humanoids.
Zabu is part of the resistance army when the Savage Land comes under attack by resource-stealing Skrulls disguised as S.H.I.E.L.D agents. An array of Avengers help beat back this invasion, unaware of the Skrull involvement. During the Secret Invasion, Zabu was present when the Skrull ship landed in the Savage Land. He helped Shanna and Ka-Zar battle the Skrulls, killing the Skrull pretending to be Jessica Jones. Tie-in issues at this point flashback to Zabu assisting his family in battling the murderous SHIELD impostors.
Zabu joined with other animal sidekicks to form the Pet Avengers. Mentally linked to each other by one of the Infinity Gems, they joined to fight Thanos. The gems were noted for increasing the intelligence of the animals. During the series, Zabu survives a confrontation with Devil Dinosaur and being swallowed by Giganto.
Zabu becomes involved in the fight when a zombie infestation, caused by the infected alternate reality version of Deadpool, reaches his homeland.
Zabu and the Pet Avengers become involved in a power struggle in the land of Asgard; this situation could lead to the end of all reality.
House of M
In the House of M reality, Zabu appeared as a picture in a Daily Bugle article about Ka-Zar and his seeking of asylum in the United States.
Zabu and Ka-Zar are seen infected with the zombie virus, eating Barbarus and other super-powered inhabitants of the Savage Land.
In this reality, Zabu is actually a tiger with sabre-teeth rather than looking like a traditional smilodon, as he looks in the main Marvel universe. Flashbacks reveal that Zabu, Shanna and Ka-Zar have been together since childhood.
In other media
- Zabu appeared in the 1981 Spider-Man episode "The Hunter and the Hunted." J. Jonah Jameson hired Kraven the Hunter to capture Zabu, so that he could be the mascot for the Daily Bugle, much to the objection of Robbie Robertson and Betty Brant. Ka-Zar traveled to Manhattan to rescue Zabu. When the chain on the airport crane holding Zabu's cage broke, Zabu got loose and Spider-Man tried to subdue Zabu only for an allergy to smilodons to kick in. Spider-Man did manage to trap Zabu in his webs. Kraven later uses Zabu for bait when it came to hunting Ka-Zar. When Ka-Zar ended up tangled up in Kraven's vines, he managed to swing to Zabu's cage and release him. He and Ka-Zar managed to trick Kraven into one of his cages. After Kraven was handed over to the police, Ka-Zar and Zabu returned to the Savage Land.
- Zabu also appeared in the 1990s X-Men: The Animated Series episode "Reunions." He fought alongside Ka-Zar against Sauron, and for the safe return of Shanna the She-Devil, whom Sauron captured. In "Savage Land, Savage Heart," Zabu helped Ka-Zar, Shanna, and the X-Men fight Sauron and Zaladine.
- Zabu appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Stranger From a Savage Land" voiced by Steven Blum. A scientist had captured Zabu to help prove the existence of the Savage Land. Around Zabu's neck was a Star Quartz that would bind and merge any metal in the presence of Vibranium. Doctor Doom sent Batroc the Leaper, Sabretooth, Thunderball, and Toad to break Zabu out of the Super Hero City Zoo. The Super Hero Squad fought the villains on top of a construction site where Zabu assisted Ka-Zar and the Super Hero Squad by attacking Batroc the Leaper and Sabretooth. After Doctor Doom was defeated, he and Ka-Zar returned to the Savage Land. In the episode "Brouhaha at the World's Bottom," Ka-Zar and Zabu help Captain America fight Baron Strucker and HYDRA when they target a S.H.I.E.L.D. base in the Savage Land.
- Zabu makes a cameo appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in Amaterasu's ending.
- Toy Biz's 1997 "X-Men: Savage Land" had Ka-Zar and Zabu in one package.
- Sculptor Mark Newman did a 7 inch tall Ka-Zar and Zabu statue.
- In the Heroclix Collectable Miniatures Game Zabu is featured on the duo-figure of Ka-Zar in the Incredible Hulk expansion set.
- at Marvel Wiki