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Marvel Universe 

Savage Land


Marvel Universe

Antarctica, approximately 69º 30’ S, 68º 30’ W



Points of Interest
Eternity Mountains, Gorahn Sea, Lost Lake, Mount Flavius, Mystic Mists, Naghen Island, Stock Lands

Numerous tribes (Aerians, Ape-Men, Awakilius, Bhadwuans, Cat People, Cliff Forest People, Disians, Durammi, Fall People, Golden People, Gondorans, Gorankians, Gwundas, Hauk'ka, Hill-Forest People, Jeriens, Kantos, Karems, Klantorr, Lemurans, Lizard-Men, Locot, Man-Apes, Mutates, Neo-Men, N'Galans, Nhu'gari, Nowek, Palandorians, Pterons, Reptile Men, Saurids, Snowmen, Sun People, Swamp Men, Sylandans, Tandar-Kaans, Tokchis, Tordon-Naans, Tree People, Tribe of Fire, Tubanti, Uruburians, Vala-Kuri, Waidians, Water People, Zebra People, others)

First Appearance
(Unidentified) Marvel Mystery Comics #22 (1941); (identified) X-Men #10 (1964)

The Savage Land is a tropical region surrounded by volcanoes deep in Antarctica, created over 200 million years ago by the alien Nuwali as one of several planetary "game preserves" for the mysterious godlike Beyonders. The Nuwali stocked the Land with Earthly life of the era, most notably dinosaurs; as Earth's flora and fauna changed over succeeding millions of years, they supplemented their preserve with prehistoric mammals and early hominids, or "Man-Apes." When Earth's continents shifted circa 50 million BC, the Nuwali augmented the Land's volcanoes to preserve its tropical status. Following the Nuwali's departure in 200,000 BC, little is known of the Land's history for over a hundred millennia, although a faction of superhuman Eternals dwelled there at least briefly, leaving a temple complex behind. Circa 18,500 BC, it was colonized by humans of Atlantis, who exported prehistoric life throughout their empire while importing unicorns and other mystic creatures. Atlantean scientists extended the tropical effect, creating a recreation/commerce center called "Pangea," then genetically altered Man-Apes into humanoid versions of birds, monkeys, fish, and other animals. The beast-people, put to work as laborers, became dissatisfied with servitude and, following Pangea's automation, rebelled in the First Pangean War and were allowed to colonize unpopulated areas rendered habitable by the Nuwali effect.

In 18,000 BC, alien and mystic conflicts resulted in the Great Cataclysm, sinking Atlantis and ending its empire, but the Land and Pangea were protected from inundation by surrounding mountains. The Beyonders, having observed their preserve over the millennia, sent Fortisquian operatives, later called the Caretakers of Arcturus, to repair its environmental system, but nonetheless, over half the population perished. Some survivors clung to Atlantean culture in cities like Lemura and Sylanda; others forgot their origins, becoming ancestors of the Swamp Men and other tribes. The animal-people developed their own societies, sometimes, as with the Aerians and Pterons, resorting to war. Every thousand years or so, high priests needlessly conducted human sacrifices to "protect" the Land. Circa 3000 BC two godlike aliens briefly made the Land their home, and at some point Sagittarians stored a Planet-Destroyer there with a gigantic robot, Umbu, to guard it. In the mid-13th century, exiled sorcerer Khor took up residence. In the 1380s, another sorcerer, Belasco, also found his way to the Land, supposedly in conflict with poet Dante Alighieri. Less than two centuries later, an unnamed Englishman was washed ashore and became the embodiment of the god Garokk, worshipped since pre-Cataclysm days.

In the 1770s, Captain James Cook became the first human explorer to cross the Antarctic Circle, but apparently neither he nor most subsequent explorers discovered the Savage Land. In the mid-19th century, the Atlanteans - that is, the underwater race whose culture was based on Atlantis's remains - relocated to Antarctica, as did Lemurian rebels called the Ancients. Mysterious beings such as Torg and the Ice King also made their home in the region. Vague reports of underground realms and surviving dinosaurs appeared in the work of such authors as Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne, suggesting rumors of the Land were spreading. By 1915, human expeditions had discovered "anti-metal," the destructive metal also called Vibranium, in Antarctica, but the greater deposits within the Land remained unknown. Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler claimed Antarctica in 1940, and a year later, a British destroyer and a Nazi u-boat vanished into the Land, fighting a private war for decades; the u-boat in question may have attacked the Antarctic expedition of Elton Morrow, who became the superhuman Blue Diamond following such an attack. Months later, Khor teleported an ship to the Land and enslaved its passengers but was defeated by the extradimensional Vision; two years later, an Antarctic dinosaur, presumably escaped from the Land, was given a human brain and fought Captain America. At some point the Nazis constructed a base within the Land whose goals and fate are unrevealed, but its work may have moved to a nearby island. Following the war, scientist Montgomery Ford, armed with a laser prototype, found his way to the Land, and rumors circulated that high-ranking Nazis had fled to Antarctica. Indeed, unverified reports claim when explorer Admiral Richard Byrd launched expeditions to the South Pole in 1947 and 1956, he discovered the Savage Land, perhaps even clashing with Hitler's so-called "Last Battalion," although this claim seems dubious. Meanwhile, spatial warps occasionally brought ships and planes into the Land, where survivors joined the populace.

Over twenty years ago, British nobleman Robert Plunder, searching for Vibranium, found his way into the Savage Land. Back in England, Plunder was threatened by those who coveted his secret, and he returned to the Land with his nine-year-old son Kevin, who was orphaned when Robert was slain by the Man-Ape Maa-Gor. Nurtured by the sabretooth Zabu, Kevin, perhaps enhanced by the Land's mysterious "Place of Mists," became known as "Ka-Zar," or "Brother of the Tiger," his uncanny skills and heroism won him respect throughout the Land while still in his teens. Ka-Zar was photographed while exploring the Land's upper limits, provoking investigation by the mutant X-Men, whom he befriended. When the X-Men's nemesis Magneto took the Land as his base and transformed simple Swamp Men into the Savage Land Mutates, Ka-Zar helped the X-Men defeat their foe, and then fought alongside Garokk against the renegade priestess Zaladane. The Land, so long a source of rumor, became worldwide news when the Daily Bugle ran a feature on it, an endeavor that brought the heroic Spider-Man to the Land, where he aided Ka-Zar against another would-be ruler, Kraven the Hunter. Soon afterward, Ka-Zar provided S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists with dinosaur samples which were misused by a researcher who, with the aid of the cryptic They Who Wield Power, transformed himself into Stegron the Dinosaur Man.

Although the United Nations banned commercial exploitation of the Land, the Bugle's exposure brought explorers and treasure-hunters to Ka-Zar's door. Soon after, Malgato, last of the high priests, attempted to sacrifice Ka-Zar and African adventurer Shanna The She-Devil, then briefly mutated Maa-Gor into godlike form, though both met defeat. The Land was next beset by plague, the armored Volcanus, Vibranium-induced madness, and invasion by the dimension of Quorl. The latter was repelled when Zaladane re-incarnated Garokk into radiologist Kirk Marston, but the two then sought to conquer the Land, which was saved from environmental disaster by Ka-Zar and a new team of X-Men. While outside menaces such as MODOK, Klaw, and others vied for the Land's resources, the intellectually evolved Brainchild led his fellow Savage Land Mutates in a scheme using Magneto's abandoned technology. However, Sauron, a psychic vampire mutated by pteranadons, wrested control from Brainchild, only to be defeated by Ka-Zar, the X-Men, and Spider-Man. Ka-Zar, now in Shanna's company, explored Pangea and helped establish peace between its many races, despite intervention by Belasco and others; the two adventurers wed and were soon to be parents, but their happiness was short-lived when Jorro, servant of the alien scavenger Terminus, decimated the Savage Land and Pangea and, despite the Avengers' best efforts, destroyed the technology preserving Ka-Zar's world, leaving most of its population to perish. Ka-Zar and Shanna found refuge in America, where their son Matthew was born, but the Land now held only sparse survivors, some of whom became the team Alpha Prime under the amnesiac hero Vindicator.

However, several Land/Pangea inhabitants had been rescued by the extradimensional M'Rin. When happenstance brought the X-Men and the genius geneticist High Evolutionary to Antarctica, M'Rin returned the exiles, and Garokk, saner since breaking with Zaladane, sacrificed himself to renew the Land, repopulated with cloned animal life and ruled by the new United Tribes. But Zaladane's ambitions resurfaced and, commanding the Savage Land Mutates, she stole magnetic power from the X-Man Polaris and threatened the world before meeting seeming death at the hands of a reformed Magneto. The Savage Land was declared a sovereign kingdom, and although menaced by a string of would-be conquerors - including Apocalypse, the Super-Skrull, Prime Evil, the Warlord, Sauron, Mister Sinister, the High Technician, and A.I.M. - its security was repeatedly restored by Ka-Zar, the X-Men, and other heroes. The Land again faced internal crisis when Nuwali technology mutated natives into monstrous Neo-Men, while melting glaciers threatened a new inundation; Roxxon Oil, pretending humanitarian motives, secretly hastened the process in hope of claiming the Land's resources but were foiled by Ka-Zar, Spider-Man, and others. Following an aborted claim by the Titan Thanos, the technology was revitalized, and Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy, adventurers from time and space, emigrated to Ka-Zar's realm.

Brainchild, supported by new Mutates, sought to rule the Land but was defeated by X-Men and new emigrants, mutated reptiles called Saurids, who were welcomed into the United Tribes. Later, the Hauk'ka, a homegrown reptilian race, conquered the Tribes and attempted to restructure Earth's biosphere but were defeated by the X-Men, Ka-Zar, and Brainchild's Mutates. Most recently, in pursuing Sauron to the Land, the Avengers discovered undefined alliances between Brainchild and outworld criminals, while renegade S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were exposed as enslaving natives and mining Vibranium, demonstrating the Savage Land's threats from within and without are far from over.

Contributors: S05bf0d4 and Jstephens