By Dustin Cabeal
I’m going to try and stay as positive as possible on this opening. Savage is a great looking book. It is by far some of the best art coming out of Valiant at the moment, and Lewis Larosa and Clayton Henry only seem to get better every time I see either of their work. If you go for art over the story, then this is the book for you.
Staying on the positive side of things, Brian Reber’s coloring is fantastic and compliments both Larosa and Henry’s art styles. The coloring is so consistent that if Larosa didn’t rely more on shadowing, you’d be hard pressed to tell there was an intentional style shift. This is what great coloring looks like because it connects two different artists without being abrasive.
I’m unfortunately out of positive things to say. Well, at least positive in the sense of gushing about it. I’ve called out Valiant’s formula for storytelling from the early days of their comics; it’s a house style that works and the creators that embrace it have told some fantastic stories. It also allows Valiant to stick to a strict schedule because they get two artists to do half the work and make their deadlines. It’s not a style I have a problem with because the creators typically use it in a creative way. Backstory mixed with character development and it’s honestly surprising how many times I’ve found it to be compelling and entertaining.
Then there’s the way that writer B. Clay Moore used it. Essentially splitting the book in two and have two different storylines. The result ends up feeling like what’s typically found at Marvel and DC most weeks, five pages of where the story is going and then the rest of the issue is spent working back to that point. It’s a little different here in that we don’t go back to the beginning timeline, but I kept waiting for it. Why? Because there was nothing of substance given to me in either story and so I figured there must be some payoff, that’s waiting to tie them together. There isn’t.
What’s worse about this storytelling in which Moore has decided not to embrace the Valiant house style and find an interesting way to have two stories coincide together and instead just two timelines, same book, is that it’s a lost island filled with Dinosaurs.
I’m a thirty-four-year-old man. I still fucking love dinosaurs, but I’ve had my fill of dino-islands and children being raised among them and shit. In fact, any story in which a child is raised in the wild by any animal can politely go fuck itself. I don’t need Jungle Book plus whatever is popular minus all the bullshit. The one and only thing that’s interesting about this story is the fact that one of the characters is a Pro Soccer player. Of course, the story instantly diminishes him as a character making him a drunk, having his wife list all his faults and the very obvious David Beckham coming to America reference which feels as dated as that sounds. He’s a drunk, they have a baby with them, she’s getting sicker and sicker, but neither of these seemingly intelligent people seem to realize that she’s fucking dying and we already know that the kid is raised on dino-island by himself so… why do I care what they do until they die?
That’s why the “tease what’s to come” doesn’t work for this story. I know what’s to come based on the solicit. Show me something interesting. Show me the family on the island and a flashback of the parent's careers and what lead them to this point. Show me an old man, well dressed, changing for bed and laying on the floor because even after all these fucking years he still can’t sleep in a bed. Show me anything that doesn’t instantly devalue what you made me read for the rest of the issue because I gotta tell you; this was the first time that I really, really, really disliked a Valiant title and that’s blowing my mind.
I love the art. I could stare at the art all day, but this story offered nothing and I mean absolutely nothing new. It was the safest premise and the safest first issue that I’ve read all year, and if I didn’t know it was Valiant, I would be shocked to discover it was. I mean, the fucking cliffhanger is the dude coming face to face with a dinosaur after we already fucking know there are dinosaurs and this dude doesn’t make it… shocking. I would like to pretend that I’ll give this a few more issues, but more than likely it’ll continue to be much of the same, and it’s likely that my opinion isn’t going to sway the sales, so this will be it for me. They can’t all be winners, and I’m sure that I’ll end up in the minority on this one, but this wasn’t a strong showing.
Writer: B. Clay Moore
Artists: Lewis Larosa and Clayton Henry
Colorist: Brian Reber
Publisher: Valiant Comics