Although this series is done in the style of a novel adaptation, it is very much NOT the Travels of Marco Polo. It begins the same way, young Marco, his father and uncle travelling to the court of Kublai Khan at the behest of the Pope. War breaks out behind them, and though deserted by many of their companions, they press on.
There are a few animal attacks added to the tale right from the start. Travels of Marco Polo is a fascinating book, but far from action-packed. This adaptation holds fairly steady until the reach Iran, and then it quickly becomes a fictional adventure tale. There had been a movie,’Adventures of Marco Polo,” in 1938, with Cary Grant, but the plot of that does not resemble this serial. I would expect that it was viewed as a tie-in though.
In Kerman they stay at an inn harassed by bandits, and Marco falls for the beautiful, but engaged, Shela. After Shela is captured by the bandits, Marco joins in the battle, rescuing Shela, but moving on when her wedding day comes.
They reach the palace of the Rajah Dagh, and are taken cheetah hunting. Marco kills a mother, and takes the cub to raise as his own. This allows more animal action, which the artist clearly enjoys drawing.
Proceeding east, Marco and his family are attacked and captured by slavers, and separately sold off at auction. Marco escapes his owner, finds and frees his father and uncle, and then gets a big chase/battle scene on the Great Wall of China. No matter that the original book does not mention the Wall in any way.
Marco and his family join with other tribes in the region to defeat the slavers, but the series ends at this point. I bet he did it. This Marco Polo could do anything.
Shame he never made it to Kublai Khan’s palace though.
Marco Polo: Action Comics 1 – 17 (June 38 – Oct 39)