Following his transformation into Sauron, Karl Lykos’s alter ego, he stands defiant, as Ororo’s fellow X-Men arrive. After siphoning the energy from Storm as she relaxed by a pool, Sauron tells them that, just as he claimed her life, so shall he claim theirs. Then, Sauron shall rule this Savage Land. Wolverine wastes no time with any pleasantries and leaps towards Sauron, slashing at him with his adamantium claws. They narrowly miss, as Wolverine replies that the only place he’s going is to hell.
Cyclops calls for him to stop. He’s doing exactly what Sauron wants him to do. Wolverine isn’t listening and continues his assault, but Sauron informs him that he should have listened to his leader while he had the chance. Now, it’s too late. Sauron glares into Wolverine’s eyes and begins to mesmerize him. Wolverine knows he has to bust free but his grip is like an ice-cold vice and his hypnotic gaze soon takes its victim by surprise. Wolverine is helpless to resist, as Sauron takes over his will and turns his head to face his fellow X-Men. Cyclops knows that Wolverine’s been zapped, just like Angel was the last time they fought. Unless he’s very much mistaken, his comrade no longer sees X-Men anymore, but a trio of walking nightmares.
Wolverine does indeed visualize the X-Men to be demonic in form and, as Sauron drops him towards Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Banshee, Sean sees the strange look on his face. Scott knows that, under Sauron’s spell, Wolverine could cut them to pieces long before his effect wears off, unless he stops him first. Before Wolverine lands, Cyclops unleashes an optic blast, which topples him. Sean begins to ask whether that was necessary but Cyclops orders him to get airborne after Sauron and to ensure he doesn’t allow him to make eye-contact. He adds that Sauron has a hypnotic zap that makes Mesmero look like a rank amateur.
Banshee does as he is asked and Sauron is surprised to find a flying ‘savage.’ Sean tries to maneuver himself between Sauron and the sun, and give him an education he’ll never forget. Sauron tells him that he’s wasting his time. His strength alone will be more than enough to smash his screeching body to a bloody pulp. ‘Is it now?’ Sean thinks, and he fires off a forceful scream directly at his opponent, who is sent crashing into the jungle floor and through a tree.
Cyclops heads off after them, asking Nightcrawler to remain there and make sure Storm and Wolverine are okay. Kurt bends down and tries to wake Wolverine. However, as he shakes his friend, Wolverine instinctively swings his mighty fist around and connects with Kurt’s face, knocking him clean unconscious. He then makes his way towards Cyclops and, even though Scott is actually using his blasts to fend off Sauron, in his hypnotized state, Wolverine only sees him attacking Jean Grey, the woman he loves. He leaps towards Cyclops and, luckily for him, he hears Wolverine just in time. He pivots only slightly but enough to save his life.
Wolverine clambers on top of Cyclops and raises his fists, ready to deliver a fatal blow, but Cyclops doesn’t give him the opportunity. Again, he blasts him away into the jungle. He hates doing it, but it’s for his own good. Sauron, meanwhile, gloats that Cyclops is doing his work for him. Once he’s finished him off, the rest of the team will be easy prey. As he flies between Cyclops and Banshee, Scott calls to Sean to give him the high-low, “Now!” Banshee’s scream stuns Sauron by slamming him in the back with the force of a train, whilst Cyclops fires upwards, finishing off the one-two combination. Sauron screams in pain, but manages to soar away to recover. The energy shock to his system is almost more than he can stand and he has been drained of most of the life-force he absorbed from Storm. He begins to feel his metamorphosis begin, back into Karl Lykos.
Sauron has nothing but disdain for the snivelling Lykos and would rather die than revert to him again. He suddenly sees Piotr who is pulling storm out of the lake. He senses great power in him and closes in, as Piotr asks the unconscious Ororo just what has happened to her. Sauron grabs Piotr around the face and his power begins to leech into the mutant pterosaur. Piotr’s body stiffens in silent agony, as Cyclops runs towards him, calling for him to change. Somewhere in Piotr’s brain, a psychic relay closes and an awesome physical transformation begins. He turns into Colossus and, just as Cyclops hoped, the huge amount of expended energy hurls Sauron backwards, almost putting him down for the count.
At the moment he lands, Wolverine begins to shake off his miasma. He looks at Sauron and remembers how he twisted his skull inside out and tried to make him ace the X-Men. Sauron changes back into Karl Lykos but Wolverine isn’t too bothered about his appearance. He grabs Lykos by the hair and pulls his fist back, asking if he has any last requests. He doesn’t take kindly to people messing with him.
Out of nowhere, Ka-Zar appears on a banking beside them with the faithful Sabretooth Tiger, Zabu, by his side. He points at Wolverine and orders him to release his friend, Karl Lykos, or face his wrath. Wolverine isn’t shaken by his appearance and replies that this guy owes him but, since he’s their buddy, he’ll be glad to take on him and his pussycat too. Cyclops and Banshee arrive in the nick of time and Scott calls for Ka-Zar to stop. Ka-Zar remembers him and he tells Scott that is was he and his companions that he and Lykos were on their way to see. They need the X-Men’s help. “Bub, you sure got a funny way of asking,” says Wolverine. “Cool it, cat. I’ll make nice with your pal.”
It takes quite a while for some understandably hot tempers to cool. Even so, the air is thick with tension when everyone gathers in the village Council House. Storm and Wolverine continue to give Lykos daggers across the fire. Scott asks what Ka-Zar has in mind. They need an explanation. Karl Lykos recounts the tale, beginning with himself.
Lykos begins his protracted explanation on the night that the X-Men stopped him from murdering the father of the woman he loved. He was mad then, consumed by the evil side of him that is Sauron. To deny that evil, he fled, half way around the world to Terra del Fuego. He hoped to die there, but Tanya found him first. Rather than survive by taking her life, he decided to take his own. The X-Men had seen him fall into a seemingly bottomless pit. What they didn’t see is that he landed, semi-conscious, on a small ledge a few meters below the top.
He awoke later and made his way slowly down the cliff face. He didn’t know what to expect when he reached the bottom, but anything would be better than the hell his life on the surface had become. He felt at home in the Savage Land. Over the months that followed, his physical and mental wounds healed. Though he still needed life-energy to survive, he took it from the lesser animals around him. He finally became a man at peace with himself.
Then, what must be a few weeks ago, he chanced upon a strange procession. Priests and acolytes, he presumed, led by a beautiful woman, made their way to a nightmarish temple. The woman spoke. “Hear me o’ Garokk! Hear the words of Zaladane, your anointed priestess.” She wore a red outfit, with a long red cape with feathers on the shoulders and back. She explained that part of the ancient prophecy had been fulfilled. Once again, a man from the outside world had come to their land, to be touched by the hand of God.
She held her arms outstretched, facing a large face cut into the rock with glowing eyes. With torches burning all around her, she said, “Rejoice, oh lord of the sun, for the time of the apotheosis is at hand. Today, begins Godbirth!”
She gestured and a massive, stone slab was raised from the floor of the temple cave, a slab with a man chained to it. The man, Kirk Marston, pleaded for mercy, insisting there had been a terrible mistake. Zaladane reached into a bowl of flaming oil with a brush and told him that there was no mistake. He was the chosen one and she told him to be silent, as she daubed his breast with blessed oil made from the ashes of ‘him who was their god.’ She painted a circle on his chest, with Marston petrified and helpless to do anything about it. The oil burned and his body began to glow. When that glow had faded, standing in Marston’s place was a figure that appeared to be hewn from the rock itself.
He looked at his hands and asked what madness was this. He…died, consumed by the starborn fires that gave him birth. Yet, now, once more, the Petrified Man lived. Zaladane bowed before him and held out a golden medallion for him to wear. The rest of her people bowed also, as she introduced herself to him. She was Zaladane, his priestess, and she had summoned him from the shadow kingdom. Death and worse now stalked the Savage Land. His people, she explained, cried out for him.
Garokk, the Petrified Man held one arm out, and sensed both truth and falsehood in her words. She spoke of death and worse than death. He asked her to show him. Zaladane took him to the edge of a great valley where a great city existed. In its space, a small planet and its moons proved that this was an extraordinary place. She explained that, days ago, the place was a swamp, but now a city sat there. Even the sky was tainted by its blasphemous presence. Garokk said a part of him remembered. War, conquest and base betrayal of those who trusted the man he was.
Karl Lykos had watched, unseen, and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But that paled in comparison with what was to come. Garokk could feel, even from that distance that it was the source of untold suffering its alien people had brought to his domain. His eyes began to glow and he said that they shall bring no more. Beams fired from his eyes and, in and instant, Lykos saw the entire city and the universe around it simply, disappear.
Lykos tells the X-Men that he still can’t believe it. Somehow, Garokk manipulated a trans-dimensional warp, like a sculptor molding clay. Ka-Zar adds that his friend is right. Garokk is indeed like unto a god. He offers his side of the story.
The night Garokk was reborn; he was leading an attack on the City of Sheenars. At the time, he thought he and his friends had been transported to the Sheenar dimension, whereas in reality, it seems that parts of their world had been transported into ours. Suddenly, in the midst of battle, the flying shark he was riding faded away beneath him, as if it had never been there. The Sheenar’s craft also vanished and, having no wings himself, he plummeted to the ground through a canopy of leaves. Karl Lykos and Tandy Snow found him and, together, they nursed Tongah, the outworlder Kloss and Zabu back to health. They had almost died at the hands of the Sheenar vampire race.
Lykos told him of Garokk’s resurrection and Ka-Zar knew it boded ill for the Savage Land, but he could do nothing until his friends had fully recovered. Alas, by the time they did, it was too late. Using slave labor, Garokk had built a great metropolis in the central lake.
Ka-Zar says that Garokk means for all who dwell in the Savage Land to live there. Those who refuse are slain; a regrettable but necessary step to ensure the common good, he says. He thinks Garokk’s goal is admirable but his means are an abomination. Tongah’s Fall People and he have tried to stop them, but they also failed. With the X-Men’s help, maybe they can succeed. Wolverine grins, replying that this sounds like his kinda fracas. Banshee echoes his sentiments. Cyclops, on the other hand, explicitly says no. Wolverine asks what he means, no, but Scott says that as much as they’d like to help out Ka-Zar, they can’t.
Wolverine asks what it’ll take. Does blondie have to go down on his knees begging? Cyclops tells him to figure it out for himself. They survived the volcano but what if Magneto did too? His next target would be Professor X. He’s sorry but their first duty is to the Professor. Ka-Zar is magnanimous and places his hand on Scott’s shoulder. He tells him not to worry. The Savage Land is vast and they know it well. Garokk and Zaladane’s warriors will not find them. Cyclops explains that, as soon as things are sorted out on the surface, they’ll be back; he has his word. Wolverine fumes silently. He doesn’t like cutting and running and is getting pretty sick of having to do it.
The X-Men leave at dawn, with Ka-Zar and Zabu escorting them to the underground tunnel that leads out to the open sea. Colossus waves at Nereel and she waves back, telling him that she will cherish him always. By late afternoon, they are near the cavern entrance. Storm points out that the trees look withered, as if they’ve been hit by a sudden, killer frost. Cyclops can see his breath. The air has turned cold. The questions pile up as they cross the final miles and arrive at the great river itself. They see that their way out is blocked by a sheet of solid ice. Scott says this is impossible, as it’s a tidal estuary, fed by a warm water current.
It suddenly begins to snow and Ororo senses it will be a heavy one. Kurt picks up a fistful of snow and says it’s not the first one either. He hurls a snowball at Wolverine, who responds by eagerly wishing to have a one on one. “Choose your snowdrift; loser buys the beer,” he says. Their levity is halted by Ka-Zar, who says they don’t realize what’s happening. Kurt says it’s only a snowfall; they happen all the time. Storm points out that they don’t happen here. Somehow, the sun-god has upset the ecological balance of the land; the tropical hothouse effect that has kept the Antarctic cold at bay through the aeons. Ka-Zar ominously states that this is no mere snowstorm. For the Savage land, it is death!