GAROKK the PETRIFIED MAN
Kirk Marston, Lazarus, Sun God, Sun King
Astonishing Tales (1st series) #2
Object of worship, former sailor,
radiologist (host bodies)
Empire of the Sun
• Deity cast into living avatar with stone-hard skin and
immortal lifespan, able to harness outside sources of
geothermal power or other energies to fuel superhuman
strength, optical disintegration beams, vast manipulation
of matter and spatial warps, and transformation into a
pure energy form capable of traveling at the speed of light
• Sensitive to the worship of his followers so that he will
hear them in his dreams and respond to their prayers, as
well as clairvoyant awareness of the Savage Land as a
whole and all the life within it
• Temporarily assumed a giant form of half-molten rock and half pure crystal, with greater overall strength, durability, and bodily generation of intense light
The origins of Garokk are lost in the origins of the Savage Land. First created as a prehistoric preserve by the Nuwali on behalf of the Beyonders, the Savage Land and its neighboring land Pangea were colonized by the people of the Lost Continents while they still sat above the waves before the Great Cataclysm during the Second Host of the Celestials. Though often plagued by madness, Garokk has claimed to be the spirit of the Savage Land itself, bound to its people and its lands for all time, feeling their pains as if they were his own. According to one account, Garokk worship extends back over 20,000 years to the people of Atlantis, Lemuria and Volusia who first settled the Savage Land. It was a priest's prayers to the Sun God that saved the Savage Land from tidal devastation and the deep freeze when the Cataclysm sank Atlantis and rewrote the world map. [Ka-Zar: Lord of the Hidden Jungle #1] The most prominent of his worshippers were known as the Empire of the Sun, a powerful but typically peaceful tribe.
The first known humanoid manifestation of the Sun God began over 500 years ago. An English sailing vessel called the H.M.S. Drake was caught in a storm and capsized. An unnamed sailor was caught in the currents around Antarctica that fed into the Savage Land, and drifted into warmer climates. Dazed and confused by the tropical environment where there should be nothing but ice, the sailor wandered the Savage Land until he found the temples of Garokk maintained by the Empire of the Sun. Wracked with thirst, he found a goblet of liquid at the base of Garokk's statue and consumed it, only to find the contents weren't water at all.
As his insides burned, the sailor was chased away from the temple by Garokk's worshippers. Miraculously, the man found his way back to civilization and England. Over time, however, he realized that he was no longer aging. Decades passed, then centuries, and yet he remained. While his body did not grow older, it did change. The sailor slowly metamorphosed into the spitting image of Garokk's stone idol, and he became known as the Petrified Man. The confused Englishman had become the immortal, living avatar of a god he never knew or worshipped.
In modern times, the Petrified Man began to feel a pull back to the Savage Land. Zaladane, the unusually warlike priestess of the Sun People, had begun interpreting the signs of prophecy as an excuse to strike out at their neighbors in the name of Garokk. Her war-mongering "worship" came to the Petrified Man in his dreams, prompting him to take action. The Petrified Man reached out to Ka-Zar, Lord of the Savage Land, during his visit to the outside world. The former sailor explained his origins to Ka-Zar and warned him that war would be coming to the Savage Land.
Upon returning to the mythical land, the Petrified Man and Ka-Zar learned that Zaladane had already struck at the Fall People and now led her sky-riders against the Lizard People of Vala-Kuri. While Ka-Zar and his friend Tongah sprang to the defense of the innocent, the Petrified Man found himself drawn back to the statue of Garokk, where he first began his transformation centuries ago.
By making contact with the statue, the Petrified Man received the full power and awareness of Garokk. Claiming the mantle of the Sun God, Garokk assumed an energy state and flew to Vala-Kuri, where he ordered Zaladane and the Sun People to stand down, in his name.
Back at the Temple of the Sun, however, the growing power within him caused the Petrified Man to grow unstable. His desire for peace was twisted by paranoia and mania, leading him to conclude that only death would bring true peace to the Savage Land. Garokk attacked Tongah and Zabu before the prayers of his priestess, Zaladane, brought him back to the Temple of the Sun to confront Ka-Zar. The crazed Sun God attacked his former friend until Ka-Zar dunked Garokk into the molten liquid flowing beneath the temple, the same fluid responsible for the sailor's original transformation. As the aspect of Garokk fled his body, the Englishman quickly succumbed to his true age. He made peace with himself and Ka-Zar before dying, however, and thanked his friend for allowing him to finally die. Never learning his true name, Ka-Zar christened the sailor "Lazarus" in his memory after he passed. [Astonishing Tales (1st series) #2-5]
Zaladane's thirst for power was undeterred by these events, and months later she found the opportunity to revive Garokk and lead the Empire of the Sun anew. Using the molten oils from beneath the Temple of the Sun, Zaladane held a ritual that transformed the outworlder Kirk Marston into a reincarnation of Garokk, the Petrified Man. Garokk aligned himself with his priestess to deal with the peril for which she summoned him: a dimensional overlap of the Sheenarian realm which plagued the Savage Land. With a single blast from his eyes, the Sun God undid the dimensional warp, sending the Sheenarian dimension and everything native to that universe back where it came from.
Garokk's mad quest for peace continued from his previous incarnation. The Empire of the Sun joined with slave laborers on Garokk's behalf to help create a massive citadel atop the geothermal reservoirs of the Savage Land. Garokk intended the citadel to be a place for peace where all the tribes of the Savage Land would live together in harmony... and any who refused would be utterly destroyed. Ka-Zar and the Fall People began a resistance to Garokk's rule, and were soon joined by the X-Men. The threat to the Savage Land became even more dire once it was learned that, by draining power from the Land's geothermal reservoir, Garokk's citadel was reverting the Savage Land to the Antarctic climate that surrounded it.
When several of the X-Men were captured by his sky-riders, Garokk intended to put them to death in his arena of worship as a message to all his followers: peace or death. The remaining X-Men intervened to free his captives, and a brawl broke out in the arena. Garokk was still weak from using his power to help raise the citadel, and needed to recharge before confronting his enemies. He fled the battle to reposition himself over the geothermal core and draw power from the Savage Land itself. Cyclops of the X-Men pursued Garokk to the core and they exchanged fire, countering and parrying with their respective optic blasts. The ground gave way beneath the combatants and, as Banshee rescued Cyclops, Storm flew down the growing chasm to save Garokk as well. The ever-darkening pit began to press inwards on the claustrophobic Ororo's mind and, when some falling debris shook her concentration, Storm missed Garokk's outstretched hand and the Sun God continued to fall into the endless dark. [X-Men (1st series) #115-116]
Garokk's fall was somehow halted by Magneto, who rescued the Sun God and forced him into service. Garokk was made to guard the Master of Magnetism's Antarctic base, from which the X-Men had been fleeing when they first encountered Garokk in the Savage Land. Magneto's rescue seemingly came too late to preserve Garokk's appearance, however. Garokk was horribly disfigured after his fall into the Savage Land's geothermal reservoir, apparently by the heat and pressure found therein. Half his body had become molten like magma, while the other side was crushed by the pressure into purest crystal. The transformation also caused Garokk to nearly double in size and warped his mind even further. The Petrified Man blamed Storm for not catching him when she had the chance, and was eager for revenge.
When the X-Men's search for Magneto's current whereabouts brought them back to Antarctica, Garokk seized the opportunity for vengeance. He attacked their youngest member, Kitty Pryde, and lured Storm into a confrontation with him. When Storm was momentarily defeated, Garokk used his eye beams to recreate the same sort of bottomless pit he fell into months earlier, and prepared to hurl Storm to her death. The frightened Kitty regained her courage long enough to throw Garokk off balance, sending both him and Ororo into the pit. With the other X-Men as moral support, Kitty air-walked down into the pit to look for any sign of Storm's survival, and she found Ororo positioned on a tiny ledge. Garokk was there as well, hiding in the shadows, and unthinkingly lunged at the intangible child, missing contact completely and continuing his fall down the bottomless pit. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #149]
Through unrevealed circumstances, Garokk survived this fall as well and became the latest in a line of beings forced to wear the armor of the Celestial-stalker, Terminus. In a battle with the X-Men and the High Evolutionary, he was removed from the armor and his mind restored to him. The Savage Land had been destroyed in Garokk's absence, victim of an attack by the previous Terminus, leaving behind a barren valley devoid of life. The High Evolutionary had assembled the necessary elements to restore the Savage Land to what it once was, with the assistance of Garokk's unique connection to the land. The Evolutionary cautioned that the process would spread Garokk's essence across the Savage Land as it worked, depriving him of human form. Garokk had no qualms about the sacrifice, however, aware that he had died and been resurrected time and again already. With Garokk as his living power source, the High Evolutionary was successful in revitalizing the Savage Land, returning it to the lush, vibrant ecosystem it had been before Terminus's strike. [Uncanny X-Men Annual (1st series) #12]
The essence of Garokk was eventually restored to life inside one of his stone idols. Entering one of his periods of madness again, Garokk joined with a Death Cult offshoot of his Sun People worshippers. They foretold a time of great chaos and strife in the Savage Land. The cult's priestess intended to resurrect Garokk into human form using the body of an outlander, so that he could destroy the Savage Land before the prophesized cycle of destruction and recreate their lands as a paradise. Ka-Zar's wife Shanna was kidnapped by the cult to be their sacrifice. Ka-Zar freed his wife before the sacrifice could take place at the appointed time, and Garokk's statue and temple were buried in a rock slide. [Ka-Zar Annual '97] Garokk's physical form eventually manifested on its own, but the Savage Land became highly unstable due to the presence of outlanders. Ka-Zar sought out Garokk's assistance in stabilizing the Land, only to discover Garokk's connection to the Savage Land caused him to physically deteriorate due to the same problems. [Ka-Zar (2nd series) #20]
Garokk seemed to mellow with time, and retired to the Temple of the Undying One atop the Lonely Mountain, a suitable resting place for a god. His connection to the Savage Land left him sensitive to changes in his kingdom, and Garokk detected the arrival of Ex Nihilo's origin bomb from the Garden on Mars. He monitored the birth of the immortal Zebra children with great interest, and was disturbed when the High Evolutionary arrived to exploit the children. With great deference to The Universe, Garokk alerted Captain Universe and her Avenger teammates to the location of their missing charges. Only time will tell which version of Garokk will emerge from the Savage Land next: sage, god, madman or tyrant. [Avengers (5th series) #12-13]