Back Issue #144 July 2023 (magazine review).

This latest installment of ‘Back Issue’ delves into the diverse realms of various savage lands. In the opening article, Jarrod Buttery reveals that when Doug Moench asked artist John Buscema about his preference between Conan and Ka-Zar, the artist picked the latter.

Buscema appreciated that Ka-Zar didn’t involve drawing cityscapes. Considering that Ka-Zar has a lengthy history, stretching back to 1936, and was reintroduced in Uncanny X-Men #10 with the Savage Land, it’s not surprising. These narratives, combining Tarzan-like elements with dinosaurs from the onset, have long captivated artists and readers. However, Buttery’s article halts before reaching the Brent Anderson era.

I have an issue with Buttery’s characterization of the two types of vibranium as ‘isomers’. For a fictional metal, vibranium has always been depicted as an element. Therefore, if there are variations, they would likely be isotopes, not isomers. The sidestep to adamantium, also portrayed as a pure metal, introduces another twist, as it has only ever been utilized as an alloy. Captain America’s shield is an amalgamation of adamantium and vibranium, while Wolverine’s bone coating is supposedly a blend of adamantium and steel. Accordingly, vibranium must be considered an inert metal, as it doesn’t form compounds. The positioning of these metals within the Periodic Table is debatable. However, their inability to form compounds implies that their outer electron shells are filled and they lack half-lives.

Is Marvel’s Negative Zone a savage land? Quite possibly. Annihilus, ever prepared to annihilate anyone trespassing in his territory, makes it a decidedly hostile environment. Jason Shayer delves into the character of this alien insectoid and the strange reality bordering ours.

Gold Key’s distribution was never particularly consistent in the UK, and I’m not particularly keen on sword and sorcery. Likewise, Don Glut wasn’t either, although he wrote ‘Dagar The Invincible,’ which often recycled plots. If this is your area of interest, Ed Lute’s article on the short run series should prove enlightening.

The ‘Rough Stuff’ section showcases a captivating assortment of pencilwork for covers, including pieces from John Buscema and Gene Colan. My personal favorite is an unused Ka-Zar cover draft by Mike Kaluta.

I have only a vague familiarity with Atlas Comics’ ‘Planet Of Vampires.’ Douglas R. Kelly provides a thorough overview of this series that spanned just three issues. The first issue’s cover was created by Pat Broderick and inked by Neal Adams. At the time, Broderick was also learning from Adams at Continuity, leaning heavily on photographic references for expressions.

I’m more conversant with early ‘2000AD’ and its series ‘Flesh,’ penned by Pat Mills. Paul Burns revisits its history. While it was essentially a blend of cowboys and dinosaurs, the unique premise of dinosaurs being harvested for their meat, a clever solution to a meat crisis, is not addressed.

Wolverine’s solitary expedition to the Savage Land in the graphic novel ‘The Jungle Adventure’ arose when artist Mike Mignola expressed interest in illustrating the Wolverine Annual, provided Walt Simonson wrote it and centered the plot around a jungle. Bill DeSimone reveals the unfolding of this event.

‘Turok: Dinosaur Hunter’ from Valiant is outside of my usual purview, but Brian D. Stroud chronicles the history of the title. This series is notable for being one of the few instances where a Native American character is seen interacting with dinosaurs. I concur with Stroud on the effectiveness of the artwork.

In summary, this issue presents a diverse array of savage lands. While you might not want to visit these destinations on your vacation, they certainly offer fascinating adventures for comic book characters.

GF Willmetts

June 2023

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $10.95 (US))

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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