My Lost Lands Five

When I was a little boy, there was a closet in my room that my mom deemed “The Forbidden Closet”. This 3' x 3' x 2' nook in the wall had two doors and no lock, but I respected the proclamations of a 5' Sicilian woman with a wooden spoon. And so a drum, a cap gun, and any other toys she deemed inappropriate or annoying vanished into this closet, not to be seen again until I was a slightly braver teenager. I vividly remember a dream in which, beckoned by a light between the doors of The Forbidden Closet, I flung them both open to find the stairs leading to my basement. I followed these down, at the bottom of which was our local beach. The mystery of what was beyond those doors was solved, at least in my subconscious, and I experienced my first blended dreamscape. Since then I've visited many such hybrid locales in my sleep, and I've always been fascinated by tales of interesting places that were hard to reach or not entirely what they seemed. Inspired by a recent Newsarama article, I've decided to list my five favorite lost lands:

5) The Savage Land:
Like most things Marvel, I first became aware of this prehistoric preserve in the pages of The Transformers, where it played a key role in the origin of The Dinobots. Over time, that series quietly phased out the fact that it was set in the Marvel Universe and placed it in its own continuity, despite the use of The Savage Land and an appearance by Spider-Man early on. The Dinobots in the animated series briefly made their home on a temporarily time-displaced prehistoric island. In mainstream Marvel, the Savage Land continued to play an important role. It was a concept Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced in the pages of the X-Men back in 1965, a tropical valley in Antarctica kept warm by volcanos and machines, in which prehistoric life still thrived thanks to alien intervention. Notable Marvel characters who call this strange land home include Ka-Zar, Shanna the She-Devil, Sauron, and Garokk, to name a few. Of all the places Stan and Jack could have hidden a prehistoric land, it's pretty cool that they chose Antarctica, the last place I'd look.

4) Dark City:
If you've never seen this movie, I suggest you avoid SPOILERS, skip to the next land on my list, and come back after you've seen this outstanding and oft-forgotten sci fi film from the late ‘90s. Rufus Sewell plays a man in the middle of a noiresque murder mystery that, given the presence of an automat and the style of some of the buildings and cars, could be set in the 1930s. The presence of strange bald men with psychic abilities is the first clue something is off, as is the gradual revelation of the abilities Sewell's character possesses as he tears away at the illusion to reveal that the “city” is actually a construct floating through space. As part of an experiment, each night things change. Buildings grow or disappear, and people's memories are erased as they're placed in new roles. The moment of the big reveal of the city floating in space is particularly memorable, as the camera pulls back to show us that we're not remotely where we thought we were.

3) Narnia:
Of all the books I checked out from the library as a boy, C.S. Lewis' Chronicles were probably the ones I took the most. I loved the notion of this fantasy land that could be accessed from our world through furniture made from the wood of that land, or special rings connected to pools in an enchanted forest. Besides all the interesting creatures and adventures hidden in a world adjacent to our own, time moved differently, and characters could experience a lifetime while only seconds passed here. I even nicknamed a section of our local beach “Narnia” because it could only be reached when the tide was low enough to walk under a dock. There were no talking lions or any other interesting creatures on the other side, but it didn't change the fact that these books stimulated my imagination more than anything else I'd read.

2) The Realm of Dungeons and Dragons:
A group of kids on an amusement park rollercoaster are pulled into the same realm as the role playing game, where a small guide known only as Dungeon Master grants them special weapons, ranging from an energy bow to a magic hat to an enchanted shield and more. It starts out with a similar premise to Land of the Lost, at least in regards to people from Earth going on a wild ride that leaves them Somewhere Else. But the unique weapons and personalities of these kids, as they face threats like the dark wizard Venger and the five-headed dragon Tiamat in their quest to get home, made it something unique, and one of my favorite cartoons growing up.

1) The Island from LOST:
I've been hooked on this show ever since a plane crashed and deposited a handful of interesting characters on this strange and mysterious island. Like The Prisoner, our friends found themselves in a place that was more than it seemed, and not so easy to escape. With one season left, mysteries have been answered while new ones have been raised. At this point, all I know with slight certainty is that the island's location is not fixed, and can only be reached by maintaining a very specific heading at a very specific time. In the 70s, a scientific group built a number of stations on the island, experimenting with a strange electromagnetic energy source at its core. The stations were taken over when the scientists were purged by the island's native inhabitants, who are more likely not natives but descendants of pirates that crashed on the island. The energy source, when disrupted by a strange wheel, can also affect time, and people on the island can be displaced. There's some kind of black smoke that seems to scan memories, occasionally turns solid to kill, and may impersonate the dead. There's some kind of chaotic being who may or may not be the smoke or the one who impersonates the dead, and there seems to be some kind of being who may or may not represent order, who apparently touched the lives of many of the survivors of that initial plane crash, for reasons yet unknown. There is evidence of ancient Egypt on the island, such as the ruins of a four-toed statue of a deity, and symbols that for some reason were included in the counter of one of those scientific stations monitoring and containing the electromagnetic mystery force. The island also seems to have healing qualities, ranging from the paralyzed walking to cancer patients going into remission. Pregnant women are less likely to survive, especially if they conceive on the island, and DUIs are strongly frowned upon by the Powers That Be. And that's about as close as I can come to explaining that place right now. Hopefully at the end of the next and final season, when I find out that most of what I just wrote is wrong, even with qualifying statements, I'll know exactly what the deal is with The Island.



Anonymous SwanShadow said...

I'm loving the Savage Land reference. It's Pellucidar, only Marvel style.

Dark City is one of my favorite movies ever. Easily one of the five best films of its decade.

Would you believe I've never seen an episode of Lost? By the time I would have considered it, the storyline was so far along that there was never a point in trying to catch up.

6/04/2009 7:07 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

It's a finite series, one with a definite timetable and (hopefully) a plan. There are 18 episodes left, which won't start airing before 2010. In a way you're luckier than the rest of us, because where we had to wait a week or months for the next episode, you can just hit forward on your DVD player. It's kind of a cool way to watch TV shows. I did it with Galactica, starting from the beginning when they were already in the second to last season, and I marathoned through all 10 seasons of Stargate, two movie sequels, and 5 seasons of Atlantis last year.

You can easily catch up on LOST. And should. You might not get hooked in the first episode, but in the second or third when you get your first glimpse of Locke's backstory, I suspect you will....

6/04/2009 9:10 PM  

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