It begins in New Mexico. Tanya Anderssen, a young woman with haunted eyes, is being brought to the home of Warren Worthington III in a helicopter, her eyes trained on a special issue of National Geographic she is holding. Finally, the chopper nears Warren’s very private mountaintop chalet, with Warren’s girlfriend, Candy Southern, already waiting. Candy welcomes Tanya to their aerie and Tanya immediately asks for Warren. Candy cheerfully tells her that they probably passed him on the way down. He’s visiting some friends.
The high-flying Angel is up in the air, soaring alongside some eagles. After being an X-Man and heading his own team – the Champions - Warren has finally settled down to run the family business left to him by his dead parents. He spies that his guest have arrived and, saying good-bye to the eagles, whom he has christened Daedalus and Icarus, he flies down to greet Tanya.
After brunch, Warren finally gets down to business and asks what he can do for Tanya. Hesitatingly, she replies that she wants him to help her find Karl Lykos. Who? Candy inquires and Tanya quickly tells her the tale Warren already knows.
Karl was Tanya’s childhood friend and, later, the man she loved. Tanya and her father first met him as a boy in Tierra del Fuego, where he saved Tanya’s life. In gratitude, Anderssen raised Karl after his own father died. Karl put himself through medical school and became a brilliant, though unorthodox, physician. But nothing he did made him worthy of Tanya’s love in her father’s eyes. None of them knew that he lived under a terrible curse. To live, he had to drain energy from other living beings. Finally, an overdose of such energies transformed him into the monster he christened Sauron. As Sauron, he tried to kill Tanya’s father, fought the X-Men, then fled to his home in Tierra del Fuego. After the human side of his personality won out, he jumped down a chasm, sacrificing himself rather than risking killing Tanya.
After that, Tanya never spoke to her father again. She joined the Peace Corps and spent two years working in the Andean highlands. But she could never forget that Karl had become an energy vampire because of her. He’d been infected by Pteronodons, which still exist in Tierra del Fuego and whose nest Tanya had unwittingly disturbed. Had she stayed with him, defying her father, perhaps she could have saved him.
Warren advises her to stop breaking herself up abut “ifs.” What’s done is done. As she said herself, Lykos is dead. That’s what she thought, Tanya explains, until she read an article about the Savage Land. A picture taken less than six months ago caught her eyes. She shows Warren and Candy the picture: beside Ka-Zar, his friend Tongah, Zabu and another female warrior stands a man who looks like Karl Lykos. She wants to find him Tanya explains and she’s asking Angel to help her. She’s crazy, he protests. She offers a million dollars to the charity of his choice. His help isn’t for sale, he explains, but has it occurred to her that Lykos, if he is alive, might not want to leave the Savage Land. Perhaps he made his peace with his curse down there. Why not leave him be? Tanya breaks down crying, telling him she loves Karl. Angel tries to calm her and Candy smiles, knowing that her softy of a boyfriend is going to help.
During the next few days, Warren pulls a few strings to get clearances and assistance for the trip to Antarctica. While the project is meant to be kept quiet, some people learn, after all - for example, in the Daily Bugle, where publisher J. Jonah Jameson shouts at his managing editor Joseph “Robbie” Robertson and photographer Peter Parker to at once come into his office.
He quickly informs them of Worthington’s planned expedition. He’s managed to secure exclusive world rights for the Bugle. They need someone to cover it, say a staff member who’s been there before, meaning of course Peter, who protests: Not a chance! He almost got killed last time, he reminds Jonah. Think of the fame and glory, Jonah entices him, the chances for a Pulitzer. Maybe he should go then, Peter suggests. Though he might change his mind for money… Jonah scoffs and Robbie diplomatically reminds Jonah of Peter’s bills for college and his sick aunt and finally Jonah relents.
A hundred hours later in a helicopter flying from the main American Antarctic base towards the forbidding Eternity Mountain range that surrounds the Savage Land, Peter is starting to wonder who conned whom in Jonah’s office. Things have changed since he was here the last time, he thinks. Maybe this trip will be dull and boring for once.
Angel and Tanya are also lost in thoughts. Angel remembers the last time he was here, chasing Karl Lykos. He almost died then but Magneto, of all people, saved his life for reasons of his own. Tanya prays she’s doing the right thing. The odds of finding Karl are huge – but she has to try.
The pilots intend to begin their descent but, all of a sudden, a giant Pterosaur appears out of nowhere and collides with the chopper. Everybody jumps or falls before the chopper explodes, with Angel jumping after the falling Tanya, who has no parachute. Neither has Peter but, thankfully he can whip one up courtesy of his webshooters.
Some time later, he finds Tanya, Angel and the remains of the burning chopper, all the time telling himself that he’s gonna punch Jonah and, afterwards, himself for falling for this. Peter informs the others that he saw the pilots on the cliff near the top. They’ll radio for help.
Angel tells the others that there is a navy emergency station on the far side of the mountains. He should fly them there. Tanya protests that they can’t leave now. They have no supplies, Angel reminds her. Peter suggests they could at least have a look around.
Angel relents and, a little later, Peter helps Tanya up a slope. It gets darks soon here, he reminds her. So they’d better go find a shelter for the night. In the meantime, there isn’t much harm in sightseeing. As he recalls, the highlands are mostly barren. Most of the nasty beasties live lower down in the jungle. Angel alerts them from above that he has found something.
A little later in the valley below them, they see what is left of the ruined citadel that once was erected in honor of the man-god, Garokk, who came into conflict with the X-Men.
One thing about the X-Men, you can generally tell where they’ve been, Angel jokes about his sometime teammates.
Peter wants to get some pictures but, at that moment, his Spider-sense alerts him to danger. He turns around to find they are surrounded by an army of barbarians. Angel recognizes them from the X-Men’s descriptions as servants of Garokk and his high-priestess, Zaladane. He tries to get airborne but finds that he is expected by barbarians, who are flying on pterodactyls. Angel joins the battle, certain that he can outmaneuver them, but, suddenly, the world turns topsy-turvy for him. He loses his balance and it is easy for the barbarians to strike and capture him.
On the ground, Peter decides that he can’t be coy about his secret identity now and fights with all the enhanced strength he possesses. He and Tanya are at the edge of the cliff and a river is beneath them. Peter pushes her into the water while he holds off the barbarian horde. In the battle, his clothes come off and he stands revealed in his Spider-Man costume. He seems victorious when, all of a sudden, his senses too go haywire. He cannot get a bearing and he hardly notices that the giant warrior attacking him has four arms before Barbarus pounds him into oblivion.
Later, further down, Tanya struggles through the undergrowth. She’s heard a victory cheer and realizes that means Peter has been captured or killed. She curses herself for her stupidity as she stumbles but tells herself that she can’t give up. She needs to find Ka-Zar, who might be able to rescue Peter and Angel. She looks up to see a giant Tyrannosaurs Rex above her and it looks hungry.
Elsewhere, Spider-Man awakes to find that both he and Angel are in a kind of laboratory and have been fastened to some slabs. A machine is pointed at them. The dwarf with the grotesquely huge head who sits at the controls marvels that he recovered so quickly. He welcomes him to the citadel of their creator – Magneto. He is Brainchild and he is the master here. His comrades are Gaza, Barbarus, Amphibius and Vertigo. They are mutants and, with their help, they will soon rule the Savage Land. The device was used by Magneto to evolve them from simple swamp savages into their present super-powered incarnations. When Angel and the other X-Men defeated Magneto, the genetic transformer was destroyed but they have since repaired and modified it. Now, it can also devolve living beings. Angel and Spider-Man will be their first test subjects.
Spidey tries to break his manacles but once more gets dizzy, as Vertigo uses her powers on him. Brainchild activates the transformer and Spidey is slowly stripped of his humanity. He feels himself drowning and a scream follows him into the darkness. With his last rational thought, he realizes that the scream is his.