Savage Dragon is an ongoing comic book series created by Image Comics co-founder and Chief Financial Officer, Erik Larsen. It is about a superhero cop, Dragon. He has amnesia, so most of the origins of his abilities and powers are a mystery. Once Dragon passed on, Malcolm, his son, took over as protagonist of the series. The only original Image title still written and drawn by its creator, Savage Dragon is more than impressive, and no less than genius.
This issue starts out with Maxine and Malcolm getting frisky in bed, when one of their kids comes in. To add to the distraction, Maxine’s mother calls with bad news: her father is in the hospital with cancer. Maxine suggests that Malcolm can do something to help the situation.
So, Malcolm has a difficult task at hand. How can he help his father-in-law? Should he use Freak-Out (his blood) for a transfusion? What are the risks? Well, it could save him—or kill him—or transform him. Unfortunately, Savage Dragon is one of those books where the deaths are more often than would be both expected and enjoyed. It’s actually quite nice that Larsen isn’t afraid to kill characters off. He has done it in the past and he’ll probably do it in the future. It makes the story much more relatable when anything can happen—just like in real life.
I must say, though, that my favorite part of this issue is the end, when—after a day long enough—Malcolm and Maxine are watching Trump on TV with the election results as a tear drops down Maxine’s face and Malcolm exclaims, “We are so [f**ked].” This is Larsen’s way of making sure the story gets a healthy dose of reality. I repeat: it makes the story more relatable when things like this happen. We’ve seen this. We were up at 3:30am on election night (the morning after, rather) watching Trump give a speech about his team and how they’re going to change America. Larsen is incredibly clever here to make these characters as sympathetic as they are.
Maxine goes through some character development here, having faced this bomb of a life change. A death in the family is a big deal, and has made her realize just how great life is in the “real world.” She is pretty adamant about Malcolm finding a way to help her father, which shows both how much faith she has in her husband and how unrealistically she can think. Sometimes, there are things superheroes can’t fix.
Larsen’s artwork is as wonderful as ever. He plays around with the panels enough that we stay interested and keep up a good, stable pace while reading. A few layouts are repeated, but it actually works well enough to tell the story. If the artwork can make an entire story, even a simple conversation, interesting, it’s some damn good artwork. The final panel has nothing to do with the story, but is an accurate representation of what most of us feel as of late. I understand why Larsen included it, and it speaks more than any caption boxes, thought clouds, and/or speech bubbles could.
Larsen has done an amazing job continuing Malcolm Dragon’s story, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. For long-time fans, I don’t have to tell you how amazing Larsen’s work is. New readers: Even though Savage Dragon is at issue #218, it’s still worth it to start reading. I strongly suggest that all of you (of age—18+) head out to your local comic book shop and read up on this series.
Written & Illustrated by: Erik Larsen