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Public Domain Super Heroes

La of Opar

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Queen La
QueenLa

Real Name

La

First Appearance

The Return of Tarzan (1913)

Original Publisher

Frank Munsey

Created by

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Origin

La is the high priestess of the Flaming God of Opar (the sun), and by extension, the Queen and highest authority of the ancient city of Opar. In the thousands of years since Opar was built by the ancient Atlanteans, the men have become increasingly hideous and beast-like. The women, however, have largely retained the physical perfection and beauty of their forebearers. The office of high priestess, being passed down from mother to daughter from the line of an Atlantean princess, has allowed that line to select the finest breeding stock, making La the most beautiful and physically perfect woman in Opar.

When the hero Tarzan appeared in Opar, looking for its legendary stores of wealth, he was captured and brought bfore La. Just before La could sacrifice him with her dagger, one of her subordinate priests, Tal, went mad and began killing the other priests. Tarzan managed to free himself and save La's life, killing Tal. In return, La agreed to help Tarzan escape, at the risk of being killed as a traitor by her own people. She had become infatuated with Tarzan who seemd to be of the same kind of physically perfect stock that she had dreamed that ancient Atlantean men might have been like. From that time on, La and Tarzan had a mixed relationship. La's undying infatuation with Tarzan made her jealous of his mate, Jane. La captured Jane and intended to sacrafice her, so that she could become Tarzan's new mate. However, Tarzan rescued Jane from the mad priestess. However, La and Tarzan continued to help each other at times. Their relationship continued to alternate between friend and enemy.

Upon her first meeting with Tarzan, she was described thus:

"She was a young woman with a rather intelligent and shapely face. Her ornaments were similar to those worn by her votaries, but much more elaborate, many being set with diamonds. Her bare arms and legs were almost concealed by the massive, bejeweled ornaments which covered them, while her single leopard skin was supported by a close-fitting girdle of golden rings set in strange designs with innumerable small diamonds. In the girdle she carried a long, jeweled knife, and in her hand a slender wand in lieu of a bludgeon...Her voice was soft and musical."

Like other citizens of Opar, she is said to be white, though she has been played by a half indian woman, and is sometimes depicted with darker skin (possibly a result of her worship of the sun god). She is said to have large eyes, long lashes, and "perfect" arms.

Her feelings for Tarzan were described thus:

"She had grown to young womanhood a cold and heartless creature, daughter of a thousand other cold, heartless, beautiful women who had never known love. And so when love came to her it liberated all the pent passions of a thousand generations, transforming La into a pulsing, throbbing volcano of desire, and with desire thwarted this great force of love and gentleness and sacrifice was transmuted by its own fires into one of hatred and revenge."

She is described as a conflicted creature:

"A strange anomaly was La of Opar—a creature of circumstance torn by conflicting emotions. Now the cruel and bloodthirsty creature of a heartless god and again a melting woman filled with compassion and tenderness. Sometimes the incarnation of jealousy and revenge and sometimes a sobbing maiden, generous and forgiving; at once a virgin and a wanton; but always—a woman. Such was La."

It is unclear if La had any actual supernatural abilities, but she did carry a wand, and a golden ceremonial dagger, which she used for blood sacrifices. She seemed to posses an extremely commanding presence, allowing her to communicate her will with a simple glance and assume the respect and loyalty of people she only just met. She spoke a modern dialect of the language of the ancient atlanteans, and she spoke Mangani, the ape language, allowing her to communicate with Tarzan, most primates and some other animals.

Public Domain Literary Appearances

  • The Return of Tarzan (1913)
  • Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916)
  • Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1922)

Public Domain Film Appearances

  • The Adventures of Tarzan (1921)
  • Tarzan the Tiger (1929)

See Also

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