At The Bottom Of The World. The Coldest And Most Remote Place On Earth.
Yet There Is A Hot Prehistoric Jungle. Where Time Stopped Tens Of Millions Of Years Ago.
Where The Dinosaurs Still Roam…
“STOP! Release my friend: Karl Lykos, costumed one, or face the wrath of Ka-Zar, Lord of the Savage Land!” – Ka-Zar.
“This guy owes me, Blondie… but since he’s your buddy, I’ll be glad to take on you an’ your pussycat, too” – Wolverine.
Although X-Men: Apocalypse sadly failed to deliver the goods for me as hoped, nevertheless my penchant for Prof Xavier’s team remains undimmed– so another mutant Post had to be done.
My introduction to Prof Xavier’s team stems back to 1987/88, when Classic X-Men reprinted stories that originally appeared in 1978, added extra pages of art, and included new bonus stories illustrated by the incomparable John Bolton!
What an introduction!
The X-Men’s adventures in the Savage Land – a spellbinding land that would look absolutely sensational if it ever reached the big screen – became an instant, mesmerising hit with me.
Writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne swiftly became my fave creative duo, delivering all the amazing mutant thrill-power one could eat. In fact, their awesome partnership made me seek out some of their other works.
The concept of a lost world in Antarctica looked especially intriguing; as a kid, one of my fave fantasy films was The Land That Time Forgot (1974), starring the irrepressible Doug McClure, in which a First World War U-Boat inadvertently surfaces in Caprona, a primordial land located deep within – yes! – Antarctica. Although the indigenous name for the “Savage Land” is never given in the comics, part of me will always fondly accept this as Caprona.
Classic X-Men #21 was sheer class, and – by the wonders of the worldwide web – here is the cover:
“Mortal, in attacking me, you have sown the wind. Now shall you reap the whirlwind! I am the personification of forces that were ancient before your race was born! I have seen death and suffering enough to make God himself despair” – Garokk.
The Savage Land has played a vital, recurring role in the X-Men comics universe. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, it made its first appearance way back in X-Men #10, March 1965.
My introduction to this land that time forgot came with Classic X-Men #20. Having escaped the Antarctic lair of their arch-foe: Magneto, the tired and weary X-Men – mistakenly believing that Jean Grey and Hank McCoy are dead – seek sanctuary in this secret paradise. There they have to do battle with the evil Pterosaur-Man: Sauron.
Classic X-Men #21, (a reprint of The Uncanny X-Men #115 (Nov 1978), was essentially an intriguing ecological sci-fantasy fable. Sauron, defeated, reverts to his human persona: Karl Lykos, who relates the tale of discovering the Savage Land. No sooner had he “become one with the land,” he stumbled upon a temple wherein the High Priestess: Zaladane was initiating a ritual to secure the resurrection of the Petrified Man – the living embodiment of Garokk, the Sun God. This powerful ancient being, craved control over this primordial enclave, and through slave labour, constructed a fabulous metropolis for himself.
“Somehow though, the city upset the delicate ecological balance that, throughout the aeons, had kept the Antarctic icecap at bay. Now, for the first time, the Savage Land knows Winter.”
Having met Ka-Zar – the Savage Land’s version of Tarzan – they unite the tribes of the Savage Land in a desperate struggle to oppose the oppression of Garokk – the Petrified Man.
Cue magnificent aerial combat: Garokk’s Slave Army riding on Pterosaurs, while Ka-Zar and Karl lead the attack on the city atop their flying sharks.
“This place reminds me of my home in Africa…” – Storm.
Considering what a major fixture the Savage Land is, it only seems logical that a future X-Men big screen outing should feature this magical location. Will this green jungle ever emanate from a green screen?
Come on: mutant superheroes and dinosaurs in the same movie(!) — now there’s a blockbuster worth watching! Who WOULDN’T pay to watch an X-Men/Jurassic World mash-up?!
So, what are the chances of an X-Men movie like that being produced?
First of all, it would have to be determined whether either Fox or Marvel actually “own” the Savage Land, and then, in separate interviews, X-Men insiders have, annoyingly, been decidedly cagey about how much – if anything – they can reveal.
Garokk in particular would present a fantastic opportunity for Andy Serkis: Motion Capture King to weave his special magic…
Interestingly, the bonus story of Classic X-Men #21: First Love told how Colossus found the love of his life: a member of the hunter-gathering Fall People named Nereel by saving her from a rampaging T Rex.
This stunning artwork by John Bolton (below) just had to be added here:
“Back home, even at the height of our Siberian summers, I never sweated as much as this… All this greenery. So unlike the Rodina, my Motherland” – Colossus.
Strangely enough, not just the X-Men have had adventures in the Savage Land.
Even Spider-Man got tangled up in this jungle, going in search of Gwen Stacey who had been kidnapped by Kraven The Hunter.
In The New Avengers, it was suggested that S.H.I.E.L.D. operated in the Savage Land mining vibranium, utilising various tribes as slave labour. Naturally this is classified information, of course; the mine was obliterated by a missile-strike from the Avengers’ Helicarrier. The Avengers survived by a force field energised by Iron Man.
And in The Avengers vs. X-Men (Yes folks! There IS such a storyline!) Gambit fought Captain America in the Savage Land.
“Be proud, mutant! Your power will make Sauron invincible!” – Sauron.
Mostly, 1988 was quite a crap year (pop music turned awful; nothing worth watching at the cinema the whole year(!); and school sucked big time), so the discovery of Classic X-Men could not have come at a better time.
The work of Claremont and Byrne provided quality fantasy fare in which to escape; those were difficult times which made me wish that something could teleport me away to the Savage Land.
Let me have fought dinosaurs instead of those teenage problems any day.
Surviving in the jungle dressed in that classic pulp way: a pair of sturdy boots, some clean undies and a utility belt, armed with an impressive array of primitive weapons, Brad would be in his element.
Why, my pulsating pecs alone should ward off even the most curious raptor…
“Eventually, I reached the Savage Land. In a strange way, I felt like I had come home. Over the months that followed, my wounds – physical and mental – healed…” – Karl Lykos.