Or – “That OTHER Marvel Universe…”
There have been a lot of complaints about the event-driven nature of today’s comics industry but if you look hard enough, you can find books that don’t force you to tie in to everything else going on, and maybe even feature guest-appearances from people who aren’t X-Men. But, does that necessarily make them a better reading experience?
Previously, on Skaar: King Of The Savage Land: During his exile on the planet Sakaar, The Hulk managed to father not one but two children with Caiera the Oldstrong. Skaar has made his peace with Papa Banner, but has set out to find a more familiar life in the wilds of the Savage Land. His timing bites, however, as a creature called The Designer has also come to the jungle to rule. Possessing Shanna The She-Devil, The Designer has set out to methodically wipe out the peoples of the Savage Land, leaving Ka-Zar, Skaar and Devil Dinosaur as the last line of defense against disaster…
This issue opens in the middle of the madness, as the people of the Savage Land (and, oddly enough, what seems to be a lost colony of Sakaarans) are under attack by dinosaurs under the command of The Designer. Skaar proves himself a capable enough combatant, but not so much with the hero or leader, when he manages to save a mother and child, but lose Ka-Zar’s kid to the invaders. There’s a pretty cool sequence wherein the Son of Hulk headbutts (!!) a thunder lizard to the ground, but his characterization is otherwise a bit flat, and when Ka-Zar rages at him, he delivers a snotty line about their relative strength levels. It gives Skaar the slightest hint of Stan Gable-Alpha Jock-Bully which I don’t care for at all. Skaar, Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy set out together to recover the boy, while Ka-Zar stays behind to play Captain Picard and hold the remaining refugees together.
What’s HE Doing Here?
The art is interesting, veering back and forth between late 90’s era Top Cow (the sequence where a scantily-clad Shanna uses The Designer’s powers to create a new citadel are cheesecakey, but well-designed) and current Marvel house-style, but I’ll say this: Devil Dinosaur looks phenomenal. And the architectural elements like that citadel look pretty good, as well. From a story perspective, it’s funny to see Moon Boy as the smart one, and his subtitled speech (“Green violent one! Be calm! The devil beast only wishes to covertly transport you within his mouth!”) is both funny and a nice tribute to his Kirby origins. Things get really wonky when they infiltrate the dinosaur stronghold to find the leader of the horde: Kid Colt??? That’s a bit weird…
The Verdict: A Lot Of Fun Elements
So, the main plot here (mysterious force from beyond threatening to take over the Savage Land) is pretty familiar by now, seeing as how it was the plot of the first appearance of Belasco back in ’82. To overcome the contempt that comes with that, writer Rob Williams throws a lot of elements in, and the kitchen sink may be in reserve for next issue. He’s tying a lot of extant plot points together (but when did Kevin and Shanna have a kid again?) in interesting ways, but there’s still some hard-to-define element of style missing. Skaar is kind of a cipher throughout the issue, and there’s very little context for what might have happened in the previous two issue. Still, it’s self-contained, it’s well-constructed, and best of all, it has Devil Dinosaur in it, allowing me to forgive a great many sins. If the plot twist at the end has a believable reveal, this could be the next big underground Marvel miniseries event, but even taken solely on it’s own merits, Skaar: King Of The Savage Land #3 earns a strong showing and 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. My only fear is that it will be forgotten and swept aside by the next big thing and never referenced again, no matter how good it ends up being…
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: With Two-Gun Kid already running around the modern Marvel U, does it make much sense