Until Savage Dragon #192 was released in November 2013, I cannot remember the last time that I read the title. It had been one of my favorites back in the early days of Image Comics and I used to devour issues every time I could get my hands on them. Unfortunately, I drifted away from the Dragon (and comics in general) for quite some time. When I returned to comics just a couple of years ago with a vengeance, Savage Dragon was not one of my pulls. I think I read one trade during that time and I noticed that it had been so long since I had followed it, that I had missed a whole lot of this character and his evolution. It was a pity as Erik Larsen is one of my comic heroes and the fact that he has remained with his baby, The Savage Dragon, for all these years is proof positive of his commitment. It really is one of the few titles that has such a strong continuing dedication from its creator in the modern era. Back in November 2013, when the opportunity came up to review Issue #192, I jumped right at it. I wanted to see how things were going and I had heard that big things were beginning to drop on the title. How could I resist? I did review it and though it felt great to unite again with the title, this wrap up story just didn’t get my attention as much as I would have hoped. It had good elements, but was simply fair in a continuum that has been exceptional through the years. Still, it was able to prick my interest enough to give Issue #193 a shot. Man. I am glad I did. In what is promised to be the “1st issue in a bold new direction”, I am happy to say that Larsen and Image have delivered and in this new telling of Savage Dragon, I believe lifelong followers and newbies can begin and develop evenly as the next realm of the Dragon is entered. I really dug on it.
In this issue, Son Malcom Dragon has taken over the reigns of the family business and during early flash backs, we see that knocking heads and taking care of business in the physical arena is no problem for our lad. He has all the strength, speed, and agility of his father to go with a more bronze color tone of his skin. He can handle it. But living on his own, going to high school, and engaging socially… Now that just may be a whole lot tougher for him.
Larsen does a super job in establishing Malcolm’s awkwardness as he constantly is harassed, gawked at, touched, and chased by teenagers galore while at school. He has moved into a dive located in downtown, but he hasn’t unpacked and just appears to be an absolute stress case in handling his literal “big man on campus” tag.
We then cut to young Malcolm getting called out on a job. He has to stop one destructive piece of creature/creatures (You have to read it to understand what I mean here) that is knocking down buildings, killing innocents, and causing big trouble for the city. Malcom enters into this scrap as an entirely different character and he looks as smooth and relaxed in this action sequence as a hero can be in dispatching a creature. The study in contrasts is wonderful and I think within these opening pages, we are getting to a very interesting story of Malcolm and his struggles; struggles of being the son of the Savage Dragon, struggles of dealing with parents of girlfriends who don’t approve of their daughter dating a dragon… struggles with trying to “blend in” when you simply can’t because you dwarf everyone with sheer size and a nice streamlined fin on your head. And finally, those struggles of dealing with curious persons who are wondering and asking if you have scales all over your body, all over your body to include those delicate parts. It all is a lot for our young man to handle, but Larsen has written and drawn it in a way that it will be a most interesting adventure to be sure.
With the art, Larsen just rocks heavy. Malcolm looks like some bronze reptilian god, ready to kick ass at one moment, then he cuts to some of the most innocent eyes and facial expressions of a man who is unsure of himself in social situations. Things are in top form and the Dragon is back. Also, Dad is still around too. I think it is going to be nice to see the mentoring relationship between father and son here as well.
I may have been a little down on Issue #192, but Erik Larsen has come back strong on #193. The promise of a “bold new direction” is kept and I am looking forward to following Malcolm to wherever he may go.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Erik Larsen Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/19/14