Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Publisher: Image Comics
Without a doubt, withdrawal has set in. Since November of last year there have only been four issues of Savage Dragon. Early on, the problems stemmed from a change in printing companies, but recently, the schedule was thrown off by writer/artist Erik Larsen taking on the position of Publisher at Image Comics. Heap that in with the fact that Larsen decided to make issue #115 one-hundred pages in length, and we’re talking some serious delays.
But were the delays worth it?
Story Title: Final Battle
Written, Penciled, and Inked by: Erik Larsen
Colored by: Bill Crabtree
Lettered by: John Workman
â€œFinal Battleâ€ is thirty pages of familiar faces, spectacular fight scenes, and lengthy character-building exposition. With the extensive dialogue the regular reader is brought back to speed on what’s happening in the title; hey, March was the last time Savage Dragon shipped, and everyone forgets. It also serves as a neat way to give new readers a deeper understanding of what’s been happening in these pages. It’s not just a recap, though. We’re also given some interesting revelations about Sgt. Marvel and Dart, as well as a neat little deus ex machina that is going to play a part in upcoming stories. As always, the proceedings are rife with the Erik Larsen style of wit that makes this book a must read.
The story centers on Dragon pulling together an enormous cadre of heroes to rescue Angel, the daughter of Dragon’s wife, Jennifer. Larsen brings back a vast array of old faces from the decade-long run of Savage Dragon. Artistically, Larsen brings everything to life in his inimitable style that you either love or hate.
The fight scene is a hell of a lot of fun, but the story is a bit anti-climatic. The opening story does serve as a nice setup for upcoming issues, though.
Score: 7.0 (out of 10)
Story Title: Together Again for the First Time
Written by: Erik Larsen
Art by: Mark Englert
Colored by: Dash Martin
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Color flats by: Joe Keatinge
Does anyone remember Freak Force? It was a series created by Erik Larsen that spun from the pages of Savage Dragon during Image’s superhero glory days of the early-to-mid 90s. The series featured a team of Larsen-regulars fighting crime. The entirety of Freak Force is long dead, as the Earth formerly occupied by Dragon is long-destroyed and all of the team with it.
The alternate world that Dragon currently calls home never had a Freak Force, but the heroes that would have made up that team all do dwell here. Larsen has as the crux of the story an ultra-rich mogul, August De Blieck Jr. (a nice nod to real life a columnist at Comic Book Resources and probably the biggest Savage Dragon fan there is) who, after reading Dragon’s autobiography, â€œMy Life,â€ decides to bring the parties together from this Earth as Freak Force. Unfortunately, Dart is dead, Barbaric and Ricochet are chubby television stars, Mighty Man is currently inhabited by a psycho, and Rapture is an obscenely-disgusting prostitute. On a positive note the rest of the team isn’t so bad.
The story follows the rise and fall of the new Freak Force. Larsen’s story is briskly paced. There’s plenty of time to bring the team together, have some disgusting moments centered on Rapture’s whore predispositions, as well as some excellent moments of carnage with Mighty Man. Everything comes to a self-contained conclusion that leaves little room for more tales of Freak Force.
Mark Englert has been on a fast rise in the comic industry. He’s in the middle of a ten-part Mighty Man story, which has its seventh part later in this issue, done Capes with Robert Kirkman, as well as the upcoming Savage Dragon: God War, also with Kirkman. This story is a perfect showcase for Englert’s clean, animated style. He’s got the superhero storytelling style down pat, and I can’t wait to see more of his work.
This story makes the book for me! Larsen’s script is one of the funniest in a while, and the artwork is beautiful.
Score: 9.5 (out of 10)
Story Title: The Never Ending War Against Evil: Part 7 â€“ Prisoners of War
Co-Plotted and Scripted by: Gary Carlson
Penciled and Colored by: Mark Englert
Co-Plotted and Inked by: Erik Larsen
Lettered by: Robert Kirkman
Mighty Man is a fun homage of Captain Marvel (we’re talking Shazam) that’s been appearing in Savage Dragon stories since the very early days. Mighty Man has normally been a female nurse named Ann Stevens. The whole female in a man’s body was always good for some laughs. This series of shorts has the identity of Mighty Man transferred to the grandson of the previous Mighty Man, Billy Berman. Berman is more than a bit-of-a-psycho, and he’s taken some liberties with Mighty Man’s powers.
This time, Mighty Man has taken to personally reducing the prison population to make room for the criminals he’s currently incarcerating. Mighty Man’s idea is to rid the world of death row inmates to make room for the lesser criminals that in his mind, deserve to live. Mighty Man’s actions put him at odds with Dragon and a big brawl ensues.
Carlson, Englert, and Larsen are fashioning a winning story that would have been made a hell of a lot better if it hadn’t taken so long to come out. This story started last August and it’s only half over. I need some closure.
Sorry, I’m all right now.
Score: 8.0 (out of 10)
Story Title: Dragonslayer
Whole mess by: Erik Larsen
Lettered by: John Workman
This six-page story originally appeared in the pages of More Fund Comics, which is a charitable book to raise money for the worthwhile Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I’m thrilled to see it published here as I am not an owner of the original publication, and it features one of my favorite characters the other-dimensional, diminutive menace of Ba-Goom.
Ba-Goom’s a little red guy that lives in Dragon’s housed and serves as Angel’s plaything. He’s been trying to kill Dragon since he got to this dimension, and he always fails. This story gives us a deeper explanation of his motives and is utterly hilarious in that absurd Erik Larsen way.
This is silly, but fun comic entertainment that does the Silver Age proud.
Score: 9.0 (out of 10)
At a $7.95 cover price the book strains the wallet, but the one-hundred pages of goodness without a single ad makes it worth the price of admission. The cumulative score below is based on taking the two opening stories (30 pages each) scores twice, and then the last two stories (seven and six pages respectively) once, then adding that up and dividing by six. The average came out to 8.3, so I rounded up.