In Review: Savage Dragon #213

Revelations are given and decisions made, but all may be moot by a great cliffhanger.

The cover: PUSH! That’s the word that definitely sums up the cover of this month’s issue. She started to deliver last issue, and Erik Larsen shows what it was like for Maxine and Malcolm to go through child birth. Maxine has got a very realistic reaction, as does Malcolm. Ah, nature. It should be stated that the actual cover is much more vivid with its colors than the poor scan that I made accompanying this review. Overall grade: A 

The story: Dart is walking, okay slinking, through a room that’s filled with bodies of several super powered individuals. There’s debris everywhere from the fight that’s occurred, as well as a generous portion of blood. A new body is seen flipping backwards in the room she’s about to enter. On the next two pages, which is a double-paged spread, Barry, the son of Dark Dragon and Battleaxe, is beating down the remaining members of the Vicious Circle. He screams as he takes them down, “Leave me alone! I hate you! Just leave me alone!” His rampage is halted by the villainess’s arrival, who calms him down. She says that he has friends he doesn’t know about, like her, and she gives him a passionate kiss. They leave the room, holding hands, with a wake of death behind them. This ominous friendship is momentarily put aside to show Malcolm holding his new child, and things become very serious. As joyous as this occasion is, Angel makes a very pointed comment at the bottom of Page 7 that can’t be ignored. I’ve only begun rereading this series, and even I had the same thought running through my head. The conversation that ensues on 8 is not the sort of postpartum discussion that should be occurring in the birthing room, but it needs to be said. With all that’s being said between Angel and Maxine, Malcolm stands up for the right cause in this. Sure, he may be caught up in the moment after Page 6, but he makes the adult choice. The top of Page 10 practically makes the argument null, and Erik Larsen does so in a very humorous, and believable, way. 12 has a return to the characters from the opening and “Wow.” That’s all I can say about that. 14 returns the conversation to two very important supporting characters, with their fates their taking a very dramatic turn on the final page. You’ve got to hand it to Larsen, he bookends this issue with action, but everything in the middle is what a character or reader would want addressed. Overall grade: A

The art: The first page serves up some nice contrasts in a full paged splash: an attractive woman, seen from the back, walking past a scene of violence: bodies, blood, and debris everywhere. Her goal is a door that shows a character spiraling backwards, a trail of blood showing his path. The beautiful and the ugly, all on one page. The double-paged spread that follows is the type of powerhouse visuals that Erik Larsen excels at: a massive slugfest worthy of two pages, with a character beating the tar out of group of opponents who are flying every which way from the power of his fists. My favorite contribution to the page, and Jack Kirby is the artist who inspired it, is the open mouthed character in the bottom right, showing the reader that there’s just enough room on the two pages to show all the bodies that have gone airborne. The fourth panel on Page 5 would have any reader falling for the character’s words. The splash on 6 is terrific, with the sizes of both characters being perfect. Due to his rapid healing ability, Malcolm’s left eye is absent in his opening few pages, due to a fight last issue, but as this issue progresses his eye returns: a nice touch by Larsen that receives no explanation from any of the characters, but one the reader can easily discern. There’s a lot of dialogue in this issue as the characters work out what the paths should be for younger characters. Larsen keeps things fun to look at by moving the point of view around, pulling in tightly on a character to show the intensity of his or her opinion, and showing the individuals that are being discussed, instantly garnering reader sympathy. The final page is a nice kick in the pants to the tone the previous page has, showing the reader that though things may seem settled, other characters have other, more violent, opinions. Well done. Overall grade: A

The colors: The coloring on this book is just beautiful. Yes, people die, but darned if the colors don’t make it awesome. Nikos Koutsis is credited with the colors and Mike Toris with the flats. There’s a lot of detail with Larsen’s art on the first three pages, so the colors are extremely important to give visual clues where one’s focus should be. The bright colors on Dart on the opening page tells the reader to be looking at her, with the tinted orange of the open doorway directing the reader to where she’s headed. The same bright colors on Dart on Page 2 create a focus, leading to the dominant greens on Buddy and the explosion of white and yellow from the power of his fist. Those pale blue eyes on Dart are enough to make any man sway, and the outstanding greens on 6 remind the reader that, even given this moment, this book is about the Dragon. Special mention has got to be given to Malcolm’s left eye, which is sensationally disgusting in red. Given the pale nature of hospital interiors, it was obvious that the Dragon and his ilk would pop out against them, but by giving Maxine a violet jacket, she also stands out nicely on a page. The dark coloring on the final page emphasizes the covert operation, but by making the individual’s head on the ground receive just a titch of pink alerts the reader that it’s not a natural angle. Koutsis and Toris are to be congratulated for such fine work. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Chris Eliopoulos brings a lot of dialogue and one sound to this issue. Within the dialogue the characters get some of their words italicized to show the emphasis of their speech, allowing the reader to better hear what they’re saying. There’s only one sound, and it’s important one. It’s big, it’s funny, and Eliopoulos gets it right. Overall grade: A

The Funnies: Every issue of this series ends with several comic strips that contain humorous three panel gags or excerpts from fictional comic books that poke fun at the medium. Erick Larsen handles all six pages this month focusing on “Reggie the Veggie!” Are they in poor taste? Yes. Did they make me laugh? Yes. Am I going to Hell? Quite possibly. The gags aren’t funny, but the repetition and the slight changes in the visuals make them funny. The format and style of artwork is very reminiscent of gags from the 1970s. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Revelations are given and decisions made, but all may be moot by a great cliffhanger. Savage Dragon consistently is fun, unpredictable (Page 12 — WOW!), and epic. 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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