In Review: Savage Dragon #210

This book had me at Tiki Monsters!

The cover: Malcolm and Maxine are on their honeymoon on Hawaii and seem to have lost their way. Unfortunately they’ve been found by four Tiki monsters. Mr. Larsen, you have me at “Tiki monsters.” This image recalls the Golden Age of superheroes, where one protagonist is oblivious to the danger that he or she is in, while the other sees the peril before them. I love the construction of all four creatures, which is unlike anything I’ve seen before (and that’s saying something for a geezer of my age). The colors are also big and bold, which is another element I like about this book — the colors hit the reader as much as one of the Dragon’s punches. Erick Larsen and Nikos Koutsis have done an excellent job with this cover. Overall grade: A+

The story: With the newly married couple out of the city, it falls upon stepsister Angel to defend the streets, and the issue opens with her taking down six villains. “You don’t even have powers — just funky-looking heads!” As she takes them down she tells them that they and those like them will never succeed. It’s a power packed four pages that show Angel has got things well in hand. Not doing so well is Frank who identifies Tierra’s body. He’s obviously shocked by her death, but more so by how it occurred. Away from all this drama are Malcolm and Maxine who run afoul of the foursome on the cover. Erik Larsen has crafted a fun story that continues running plot lines as well as creating a fun, stand alone fight, featuring a villain from way back in this series’ past. The action is tops, as it always is, but it’s the dialogue between the husband and wife that’s the star. Seeing this pair together makes readers wonder what their relationship will be like, given the horrible time Malcolm’s father had in maintaining a “normal” relationship with a woman. With this couple married, I wondered how long it would be before Maxine gets smashed by a baddie; Larsen addresses this on Page 12, and not in the way I had expected. I liked the verbiage of the Tiki monsters, which made them even creepier: it’s not often that villains are encountered with such speech. This was a fun read and that’s all I ask of my comics. The back up story is also by Larsen and is titled “Identity Crisis!” It features the Deadly Duo encountering some familiar faces and it, too, was fun. Overall grade: A

The art: One can always bet on Erik Larsen illustrating some major fights in his books. When people throw a punch it’s going to land someone in the air or through a wall. Right out of the gate Larsen does this with Angel battling six goons. On the first page she’s knocking out a fantastically mutated freak, followed by a double-paged spread of her taking down the remaining five at once. I love the spiral Larsen puts on this defeated characters as they go flying, with their paths easy to chart where they’ll land. He could have completed this without a background, as the focus falls on the characters, but he renders a good city backdrop, complete with two police officers watching from afar. Page 5 shifts to non-super heroics and the super serious, with Frank in the morgue. His look of shock, turning to pain tells readers that the character has something paining him more than Tierra’s death. The layout on Page 6 is pretty slick, with five equally sized horizontal panels. The first establishes the setting, with the remaining four showing the new couple. However, notice how the characters are in motion, but stay on the same side of each panel: this allows the reader to fill in the gaps of motion, while keeping the reader aware of where each character is in relationship to other. This is followed on Page 7 with a horizontal panel showing the path the couple is taking. The exact same layout of this page is mirrored on 15. This is some smooth layout of pages. The reveal of the Tiki monsters was great, as was their leader. I love the look of this issue, especially the Tiki monsters — I can’t get enough Tiki monsters in my comics. The back up story is illustrated by Frank Fosco. The line work is pretty thick, but that’s fine for this night time adventure, with two teams clashing. The opening splash was well done, with the point of view good. The female antagonist (or is that protagonist?) gets the most work in this issue, with her looking spectacularly horrific at the top of 4. Overall grades: Both A

The colors: Mike Toris provided the flats and Nikos Koutsis the colors on the main story. As stated in the cover comments, I want the colors of Savage Dragon to smack me in the face and I’m not disappointed in this issue. The orange, yellow, and tan work used on the opening four pages instantly alerts readers to the power happening in the panels. Additionally, this color scheme allows Angel to really stand out from the background and villains with her patriotic colors. This explosion of colors also allows the drama of Page 5 to hit the reader, since it’s lacking any bright hues. Colors return on Hawaii with Malcolm and Maxine and greens are the focus since it’s a tropical paradise. Having Max in a yellow top has her stand apart from the vegetation, her husband, and the Tiki monsters. When the monsters appear readers should take at look at the surroundings. Obviously the characters are the focus of what’s occurring, but notice should be given to the work on the ground, the greens, and the rocks. Rather than have such elements colored in a solid color, which would have been fine, each is sprinkled with highlights, creating depth to the settings. Doing so makes the art much more vivid when the reader encounters it. Attention should also be brought to the final page, which has the couple under an umbrella. Check out how the colors have darkened on the pair. This is an excellent job. The back up story is colored by Adam Pruett. It’s very dark, but it’s supposed to be because it’s set in a back alley at night in the suburbs. When bright colors do appear, such as with blasts, sounds, or bites (you’ll understand when you see “it”), they provide an excellent punch to the evening activities. Pruett does a good job and now I want to see what he’ll do in the daytime. Overall grades: Both A

The letters: Sounds, dialogue, screams, yells, an editorial notation, and some text on a newspaper are provided by Chris Eliopoulos. I love the big sounds. So many books today are mute: sounds are woefully lacking. It seems as though Savage Dragon is doing quadruple duty, picking up the sounds from those silent books and using them here. Every punch or explosion spectacularly spills off the page. Why can’t other books sound this good? Overall grade: A

The Funnies: The inside back cover features two “funnies.” The first is Ultiman, which is a serious origin of this hero, drawn in the Golden Age style of art. It’s by Eckler, Carlson & Simpson. The final is Truth Serum by Jon Adams. It’s a simple joke, but it did make me laugh. Ultiman was okay and Truth Serum was funny. Overall grade: B-

The final line: Action, laughs, and Tiki monsters! I so enjoy reading this book. 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.

    2 Comments on this post.
  • Andrew Clayterman (@Clayterman44)
    3 January 2016 at 9:00 am -

    Unbelievably lame.. this book has fallen on hard times lately.. this issue is less than a “dreaded deadline doom” fill-in..

  • Patrick Hayes
    3 January 2016 at 7:02 pm -

    I thought it fun.

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