By Kevin Mahadeo
The Savage Land gets even more brutal this April when the Son of the Hulk smashes his way into the forest-filled landscape in the five-issue limited series SKAAR: KING OF THE SAVAGE LAND by writer Rob Williams and artist Brian Ching.
"Skaar's the Hulk as an impetuous teenager crossed with Conan the Barbarian," says Williams, "That impetuous nature is naturally going to get him into trouble, and then you put him in an environment like the Savage Land with all its monster dinosaurs and crazy alien tech and it's a recipe for widescreen high adventure. And smashing. There has to be smashing."
Skaar came to Earth in search of his dad with one goal in mind, and it didn't involve tear-filled hugs—the space-born savage wanted to battle, defeat and kill the Green Goliath. The patricidal off-worlder finally got his chance during the recent World War Hulks event, but the battling behemoths eventually creased their quarrel and made peace as father and son. With closure on his side and that sole motivation now behind him, Skaar embarks on a new journey that seeks to give him personal purpose once more.
|Skaar: King of the Savage Land #1 cover by Michael Komarck|
"When we join him he's an itinerant alien, aimless and without a home," explains Williams. "There's something about the Savage Land that speaks to him—the untamed wilderness, an environment where the strong prosper, and he figures he's the strongest one there is. Of course, he may be wrong. Our story is one of Skaar growing up a little. Having to decide a path of his own that doesn't involve revenge on his father; having to make a home of his own."
A home of his own filled with a particular stable of elements that includes aliens, beast men and lots of dinosaurs, all of which the writer says play a role in the story. Williams also plans to bring back a long lost villain from Marvel history and other "incredibly cool and very unexpected cast members." Of course, two incredibly cool and very expected cast members will be the Savage Land's most famous couple: Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil. As such, while the story contains its fair share of action, Williams posits that with that high adventure almost always comes romance.
"Ka-Zar and Shanna is really the Savage Land's major romance,” he notes. “After all, they have so much in common; they're made for each other, really. Certainly, their relationship plays a major part in our story. As our story opens, they're kind of bogged down in the details of their everyday lives and responsibilities and it's putting a barrier between them; the kind of thing that happens to long-term couple. This story puts everything they hold dear in jeopardy. Reminds them what's important."
As the title of the series suggests, the current king of the jungle suddenly finds himself dethroned, but as to by who and why, Williams leaves that much secret for now.
"I don't want to give too much away, but the status quo of Ka-Zar as democratic leader is going to be ripped to pieces early on," he teases. "A very old player with a strong tie to the Savage Land will reemerge and it will lead to civil war between the tribes along with the shutting off of links to the outside world. This is a war for the soul of the Savage Land and Skaar finds himself forced to choose a side."
|Skaar: King of the Savage Land #2 cover by Ed McGuinness
This leads to many characters vying for the metaphorical crown. Williams hints at Skaar himself as a possibility—going off a Darwinian mindset of the strongest there is ruling—and Ka-Zar's Queen, Shanna, as another. However, all this undoubtedly depends on what makes a good ruler. While many characters see the role in different lights, Williams shared his opinions on what he thinks one needs to effectively lead a Savage Land:
"The awesomeness of Zabu cannot be understated, certainly, but I think Ka-Zar's heroism, altruism and leadership made him an excellent leader for the Savage Land. And the fact that he's managed to, in effect, 'conquer' the Savage Land being an ordinary human is pretty extraordinary.
"But part of the role of leader is dealing with the disparate tribes and their varying ethos. Some resent the fact that an 'outsider' is their leader. Some respect only strength. And some are willing to grasp brutality in order to seize power. If you can punch out a T-Rex that helps, also."
Artist Brian Ching, whose previous work includes IRON MAN: KISS AND KILL as well as issues of INCREDIBLE HULK, joins Williams on the title. The writer says that Ching brings dynamic pencils and high sci fi energy to his new gamma-irradiated gig.
"Brian seems heaven sent for this type of environment,” says Williams. “He's got a great vibrant, visceral style and he draws amazing dinosaurs. I enjoy writing in a big 'widescreen movie' style and Brian can knock you [out] with a double page splash. This is a great looking book with big, big action set pieces. Brian's making it look like 'Avatar' in the Marvel U."
As for what else to expect when the title smashes its way onto comic stands, Williams offers a few more teases:
"We've got Skaar, Ka-Zar [and] Zabu; Shanna living up to her She-Devil title; giant dinosaurs, giant robots, and giant dinosaurs fighting giant robots. And a story that completely changes things for the Savage Land in the Marvel [Universe]."
SKAAR: KING OF THE SAVAGE LAND #1 smashs into stores this April