Savage Land: The Secret History of Marvel's Prehistoric Alien Jungle

Ka-Zar Savage Land feature

Of all the unique, strange locations in the Marvel Universe, one of the most fantastic fan-favorite locales is the Savage Land. Hidden in a warm pocket of Antarctica, the Savage Land is a tropical, prehistoric world that brings back a land that time forgot, populated by flora and fauna native to the planet millions of years ago.

In addition to all of that, the Savage Land also serves as home to several prolific characters, and it's been the site of some of the biggest moments in the history of the Marvel Universe. Now, we're taking a closer look at how the Savage Land was formed, who lives there and what's happened there.

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Who Created the Savage Land?

While a version of the Savage Land had first appeared in 1941's Marvel Mystery Comics #22 by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby and Syd Shores, the modern incarnation -- including its familiar name -- was introduced by Stan Lee and Kirby in 1965's X-Men #10. Under the behest of the Beyonders, the alien Nuwali created the Savage Land in a hidden portion of Antarctica so he could observe evolution in a relatively controlled setting. Before abandoning the experiment, Nuwali had cultivated dinosaurs, prehistoric Man-Apes and other mutates in the region which thrived long after its main species had gone extinct or evolved themselves.

Rich in the rare metal vibranium, the Savage Land and its resources have long been exploited by various nefarious organizations and corporations within the Marvel Universe including Roxxon, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Skrulls and more. While publicly known by the wider world after its initial discovery, the isolated nature of the domain has also made it the secret headquarters of many supervillains including Sauron, Kraven the Hunter's family and Magneto.

Who Lives in the Savage Land?

Ka-Zar Shanna Zabu

One of the most well-known residents of the Savage Land is the superhero Ka-Zar. Born Kevin Plunder, the oldest son of the explorer Lord Robert Plunder who was killed on an expedition to the Savage Land, Kevin was saved and survived with the help of his loyal sabertooth tiger, Zabu. Taking on the name Ka-Zar as he began his new life in the tropical environment, Ka-Zar is the most visible figure within the Savage Land, often teaming up with superheroes that find themselves in his domain over the years. Years later, Ka-Zar would marry Shanna the She-Devil when the hero relocated to the Savage Land after years of working as a zoologist in Africa and New York City.

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One particular villain that often is found in the Savage Land is the longtime X-Men antagonist Sauron. After being transformed into a mutated pterodactyl, Karl Lykos migrated to the Savage Land where he continued his dangerous, unethical genetic experiments largely unhindered. Leading his own army of dinosaur mutates known as Saurians, Sauron has eschewed much of his former humanity to embrace the prehistoric possibilities of his usual hideout.

What Happened in the Savage Land?

The Savage Land faced cataclysmic destruction when Nuwali's machines that had long maintained the tropical environment were destroyed by the invading alien Terminus. Several races were saved through the intervention of M'rin, who teleported them to her native dimension as a safe haven, while Ka-Zar, Shanna and Zabu wandered the Earth for a time. The visiting High Evolutionary would restore the region in its original place, along with its prehistoric wildlife and flora, just in time for Shanna to give birth to her child with Ka-Zar.

Later, S.H.I.E.L.D. was discovered to be mining vibranium in the region, forcing indigenous populations into slave labor. The operations were halted by the New Avengers and destroyed by S.H.I.E.L.D. In the crossover Secret Invasion, This development would be revisited when it was discovered that much of Earth's superhero population and S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by Skrulls for years, with Skrulls mining the Savage Land for vibranium. Both of the main Avenger teams would team up with Ka-Zar to repel the Skrulls before battling the main invasion force in New York City.

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