Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sometimes The Savage Land Doesn't Suck...


I'm going to be honest right up front, I'm not a fan of the Savage Land. Every time a book sends it's characters to the Savage Land (I'm looking at you X-Men) I have to stifle a groan. I mean c'mon Sauron, Garrok, Zaladane, Magneto: King of the Mutates? Big Fat Yawn! Am I right?

The one exception to this rule is when Spider-man visits the Savage Land. When the web slinger visits it ain't about hypnotic were-pterodactyls or angry shakespearean rocks - oh no. When Spidey hits the land we get J Jonah Jameson versus dinosaurs, we get Gwen Stacy pre-historic underwear model, not to mention Kraven the Hunter and his pet 30 foot alien monkey (and all that awesome happens in one issue: Amazing Spider-Man #201).

With that in mind we're going to gird our loins and talk about one of Spidey's more recent visits to the Savage Land: Sensational Spider-Man #15.

Initially I worried this issue was going to be just another dreary visit to the Marvel 'Land That Time Forgot' homage that won't die. I mean it prominently features everyone's favourite eye roll inducing Tarzan knock-off Ka-Zar for a start. What is it with that guy? His best friend is a sabre-toothed tiger and his wife has the coolest name in the history of comic book jungle gals (Shanna the She-Devil) - and yet he still manges to show up and suck every time.

Sadly, this issue does not deviate from this tradition. The jungle king gets his awesome on by using all his formidable jungle skills and sabre-toothed tiger commanding mojo to give the ruthless, black-hearted villain of the piece....a stern talking to?
I Wanna Talk To Your Supervisor

The black hearted villain in question is an evil Roxxon scientist who is planning to melt some glaciers and flood the Savage Land in order to gain access to the oil beneath it. See what I'm saying? It sounds like a storyline from Dallas (minus the secret pre-historic jungle of course) not a pulse-pounding four colour yarn in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

Fear not, true believers, this is Spidey in the Savage Land. So like a bolt from the heavens a big, honking pile of awesome crashes this snow-capped, tropical yawn-fest in the form of... Stegron the freaking Dinosaur Man:

C'mon other Marvel writers - Stegron and the Savage Land- it's a no brainer. He controls dinosaurs for crying out loud! This guy being the big bad in the Savage Land makes a hell of a lot more sense than Magneto and yet another secret citadel and another band of third rate mutant wannabes.

I love me some Stregon. An evil scientist who turned himself into a big honking manosaur!! That's awesome baby, even if all he ever uses his superior scientific intellect for is hitting dudes with his big spiny tail.

Unfortunately, even with the unstoppable greatness of Stegron standing against them the evil scientists of Roxxon still manage to trigger their Glacier melting whoozit and the Savage Land is flooded.

Luckily Todd Dezago and the late great Mike Wieringo have a mind-bending deus ex machina stashed up their sleeves. The raging flood waters are sucked down a giant sink-hole created completely out of nowhere by the The Incredible Hulk who arrives all of a sudden fighting with a humongous prehistoric chicken!!
Bet You Didn't See That Coming!

I hope the scientific community is paying attention to this one. The solution to Global Warming is right there in the pages of this issue. The sea levels start to rise? Just get a gamma irradiated nuclear scientist with a bad temper and have him punch a giant pre-historic chicken until everything works out right! Bet you guys are kicking yourselves that you didn't think of that.

Anyway despite the presence of Ka-Zar and his Savage Land related nonsense, the distinct lack of flat-tops, alien monkeys and bikini clad co-eds, this issue is still worth a look. Where else can you see a dinosaur man and a really big chicken team-up to save the world?

If you look real hard you might find Spider-man in it somewhere too.
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