In Review: Savage Dragon #209

A great change of pace from Erik Larsen and a good entry point for new readers.

The cover: Malcolm looks a little nervous, though bride-to-be Maxine looks ready — ready to get married and ready to pop. A nice moment before their lives change forever courtesy of Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen. In the background several wedding guests can be seen and they also add a lot to the moment, with one person looking happy, another annoyed, and one about to say something to ruin the moment. Heroes just can’t seem to get a break, even when they get married, can they? The coloring on this cover is also well done, with the powder blue sky serving as the perfect backdrop for the bright red title. Overall grade: A

The story: Angel and Maxine have a quick conversation before the wedding, such as did Malcolm invite Tierra (his old girlfriend)? Maxine wanted to, but Malcolm said no. Angel still can’t believe that Tierra told Malcolm she was pregnant, but that’s soon dismissed because it’s time to get married. In another room, Malcolm and Frank are also talking about Tierra, who’s Frank’s ex. His friend wonders if he’s serious about marrying Maxine, “She sounds like a troublemaker.” Malcolm says he’s sure. “Maxine is kind a crazy but it’s a good kind of crazy. She’s so awesome. I think I’m making the right choice.” P.J. comes in to get the two friends before the priest and then, to quote the Dragon, “Annnnnnd–Action–!” This is the most unusual issue of the Dragon I think I’ve read because there are no fists flying or evil deeds being plotted. Malcolm and Maxine get married and it’s a traditional marriage with the expected antics afterwards that one would expect at any wedding. The highlights aren’t from the joy that the new couple are feeling, it’s the reactions from those in attendance. Try to imagine hearing everyone’s thoughts at such an event, some would be happy, others doubtful it’ll last, while a few would just keep their mouths shut to not voice their displeasure. This truly is a slice of life moment for the Dragon where nothing upsets his day. Though, Erik Larsen has one character appear on three pages whose input will change the Dragon’s life in the future. It’s horrifically shocking, and reminds readers that even when the Dragon is having a moment of joy, something is always on the horizon to cause problems. Enjoy things while you can, Malcolm… Overall grade: A

The art: This must have been a nice change of pace to illustrate for Erik Larsen. No epic battles, no one yelling or screaming, no debris to send flying, just a backyard wedding and the revelry that occurs after it. I like how Larsen eliminates backgrounds to have a reader wholly focus on the characters, even in non-fighting situations, it makes the moment much more important, such as the book’s first panel; Page 3, panel one; P.J.’s congratulations; and Maxine’s entrance. The splash page where the couple kiss is like a photograph that would be taken at such a moment, and I’m glad that Larsen then cut to people’s reactions to the climatic kiss. I really liked seeing his super powered friends at the wedding, with several characters looking nice in suits. The tossing of the bouquet and the garter were fun to see, as was the cutting of the cake, which was unexpected. The three pages that follow the wedding are completely different. It’s an extremely serious moment that starts with heartbreak, becomes graphic, and then Larsen turns it up to 11 with the dramatic close up in the second panel on the penultimate page. The visuals take another sharp turn for the final page, to give the reader the exact opposite of what was just seen. As with the story, this is an excellent visual change of pace. Overall grade: A

The colors: Nikos Koutsis makes everything bright and bold for this ceremony, and isn’t that the way the couple would want it? He begins with a colorless background for the first panel, instead coloring the pair’s dialogue to have it stand out. I love the choice that Koutsis went with for the roses at the bottom of the page, strengthening the action that’s about to occur. The shading he puts on characters’ faces is really strong, and this can be found on every page. After the ceremony and the couple and guests have gone inside, Koutsis goes with a warm yellow for the walls which makes the event even warmer. The three key pages that change the tone of the book also have colors that can be found nowhere else in this issue: dark blues and deep crimsons, which are pumped up with a splash of deadly violet. This is a case where one can argue that the colors increase the emotion, because Koutsis certainly does so. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Dialogue, a scream, and a yell are crafted by Chris Eliopoulos. No sound effects are needed this issue, so it’s primarily dialogue, though the two outbursts near the story’s close will echo in the reader’s head for some time. Overall grade: A

The final line: Seldom does a hero get a day without violence, but Malcolm does and it’s like being a fly on the wall. A great change of pace from Erik Larsen and a good entry point for new readers. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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