You might be asking yourself who Kulan Gath is before reading Savage Avengers #0 this week. The solicitation for this issue reads:
The looming threat of Kulan Gath reunites Dr. Strange and Magik on Krakoa. The fate of the world will rest in what they discover. Re-presenting a pair of classics, UNCANNY X-MEN 190 & 191 by Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr, in the context of a great new sequence illustrated by the impeccable Greg Smallwood.
Gath is an interesting character in part because he has fought Marvel heroes over the years, yet he is a Conan the Barbarian villain. I guess you can’t keep a good evil wizard down, and thus traversing realities is no big deal. In Gerry Duggan and Greg Smallwood’s Savage Avengers #0, they aim to set in motion a reminder of how powerful Gath is and how his threat is rising.
This is a thicker read than your regular 20-page comic book, but only eight pages are new material. The rest is a reprinting of Uncanny X-Men #190 and #191 by Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr. It opens with Doctor Strange waking up on Pyro on the beaches of Karkoa (does this make Doctor Strange the first human to set foot on Krakoa?). He’s soon butting heads with Cable and asking for Magik.
This sets up the reminder that Kulan Gath is still out there, which transitions us well to the Uncanny X-Men reprinting. This two-part story revolves around Gath taking over lower Manhattan. Anyone who penetrates a magic wall is turned into someone else–likely a person from Gath’s world and time–except for Spider-Man. A crack-shot team of heroes is sent in to save the day. Crazy stuff ensues, like Xavier combining with Calaban, Spider-Man being strung up like Jesus on a cross, and Captain America going with long blonde hair and looking a lot like Thor. It’s a suitable mini-event that mixes things up and can safely call itself rather original in its approach. It’s worth noting John Romita Jr.’s art is very different from what he’s known for as it has a more classic look and feel.
The reprinting serves a purpose to set up Gath and remind us how powerful he can be and now he’s even more so. Smallwood’s art in the new pages is gorgeous and should be applauded for its depiction of Magik and Doctor Strange. Duggan has done well to bookend Claremont’s story without taking away its teeth, either.
Overall this is a neat approach to bringing back an old story many have probably not read. It’s a fun way to play with Marvel history and also pay respects to the past while setting up a brand new story.